Fantastic Friday: Circus Maximus

Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #47 continues all this craziness with the Inhumans.

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As we left our heroes last time, the Inhumans had taken off for their secret refuge, but not before villainous Inhuman unleashed Dragon Man into the wilds of New York. Before the FF can pursue him, they first have to deal with the Inhuman Triton, also left behind, who can’t survive outside of water. Sue creates a force field around Triton, which Reed fills with water. The Seeker, who’s still hanging around for some reason, announces that he’s working for someone named Maximus the Magnificent.

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We cut from there to Alicia’s apartment, where Alicia is melancholy over not having seen Ben in so long. Purely by coincidence, Ben and Johnny come crashing through the wall while fighting Dragon Man. Alicia flees to safety, while Ben and Johnny continue to duke it out with the monster. Johnny uses his flame to give Dragon Man a sunburn (!) which succeeds in knocking the beast unconscious (!!!).

Back at headquarters, the Seeker’s henchmen transfer Triton into a water tank, and they prepare to leave. Reed places a homing device outside their ship. We then catch up with the rest of the Inhumans as they arrive at their home the Great Refuge. Because Black Bolt doesn’t speak, the other Inhumans have to exposit about how great and powerful he is, to catch readers up to speed. It’s established that although Black Bolt was introduced as leader of the Inhumans, it’s actually Maximus who wears the crown, and is currently ruling the Great Refuge. We then finally meet Maximus for another shocking revelation – he’s Black Bolt’s brother! Not only that, but he has some kind of superweapon he’s keeping secret. Instead of using it, he sends the caveman-like Alpha Primitives out to destroy Black Bolt and his group. These mindless thugs are no match for the awesome Black Bolt, who takes them out with some help from Medusa and Karnak. (Gorgon, who singlehandedly defeated the FF back in issue #44, stand in the background and does nothing during all this.)

Maximus arrives and puts a stop to the fight. He proclaims that as the new king of the Inhumans, he gets to marry Medusa. Medusa seems somewhat indifferent to this, with an attitude of, “Whatever the king wants.” Black Bolt isn’t having it, though. Then, it’s the simplest coup of all time, when Black Bolt becomes king again by merely taking the crown off of Maximus’s head. All of Maximus’s henchmen see this and take off, making him essentially defeated. I guess Black Bolt can do all this because he’s just that awesome. Maximus, however, still has his secret weapon hidden away.

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We finally go back to the FF, remembering that it’s their book. They’re aboard a “conventional jet liner” to avoid attracting attention. Sure. They’re flying over the Andes, which Reed says is the perfect locale for a hidden civilization. “This must be what the TV ads mean by ‘fringe area,’” he says. (I tried Googling “TV ad fringe area” to see what on Earth this commercial could be, but all I got was promos for the TV show Fringe. Oh, well.) There’s a three-page comedy bit where Sue, feeling ignored, goes off by herself and changes her hairstyle, just so the three guys will notice her. “I’m your wife, not a piece of extra baggage,” she says. With that done, the FF find the Great Refuge and land the plane.

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Back with the Inhumans, it’s more exposition as Crystal (remember her? She’s why the FF are coming all this way, because Johnny is totally in love with even though they’ve barely met) explains that Maximus doesn’t just want to hide from humans like the rest of the Inhumans. Instead, he’s power-mad and wants to rule the humans. The FF arrive, and the Inhumans freak out, now that their secret home has been discovered. Johnny and Crystal are elated to see each other again, but Black Bolt separates them. Reed has a big heroic speech where he says that the humans are not the enemy and that human and Inhuman can live in peace. While this is happening, Maximus runs off to another part of the city, where he brings out his secret weapon, something called an “Atmo-gun.” He pulls the trigger, and…

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Despite everyone going on about powerful and unstoppable Black Bolt is, Reed has no problem telling him off.

Fade out: Three whole pages devoted to Sue changing her hair? On the plus side, she does save Triton’s life.

Clobberin’ time: Ben helps defeat Dragon Man in an all-or-nothing hero moment, by focusing all of his strength into a single punch.

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Flame on: There’s one moment where Johnny is pining for Crystal, and Reed says, “When a man thinks he’s in love, nobody can tell him he’s not.” Johnny then remarks that this is the first time Reed has ever called him a man. Male bonding!

Trivia time: This issue features a ton of exposition about the Inhumans, and yet what’s noticeable is how much isn’t explained. We’re not told why Black Bolt doesn’t speak, and we’re still not given a definitive look at what powers Crystal has.

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The Inhuman seen flying around in the sky as the FF land is named Aireo. He’s popped up on occasion throughout Marvel history, sometimes as a good guy, sometimes as a bad guy. He also goes by the name “Skybreaker.” The Marvel Wiki lists Oregon as his base of operations.

The Great Refuge will continue to be located in the Andes, until the entire city will be moved to a new location (!) during John Byrne’s run on the series.

Fantastic or Frightful: It’s more like an Inhumans story guest-starring the Fantastic Four. Still, Jack Kirby’s artwork really shines in the alien environment of the Great Refuge. A solid issue, but it’s in the next one that the action really takes off.

Next week: The story we’ve all been waiting for.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

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About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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