Fantastic Friday: The Mighty!

Rereading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #70 finds us in the middle of a multi-issue arc, in which Ben has been turned into a murderous creature intent on destroying Reed, courtesy of the Mad Thinker.

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This issue jumps right into the action, with Reed, Johnny, and the cops storming the Mad Thinker’s hideout. It’s protected by killer androids, and we’ve already got everybody fighting everybody. The Mad Thinker is there, one step ahead of everyone as usual, flooding the room to attack Johnny.

Out in the city streets, the now-evil Ben is in hiding, using Raphael’s coat and hat trick. Enough time has passed that his rampage has made the newspapers, and New Yorkers are too scared to go outside, knowing the Thing could attack at any minute. Ben tries to get a tab, but when one doesn’t stop for him, he freaks out and starts trashing all the cars around him. The cops arrive and fire on Ben. He escapes into the sewer, blocking the path behind him with some wreckage so no one can follow him.

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Back at Fantastic Four HQ, Sue is bummed, afraid for Reed’s safety, and wishes she could do more. Crystal reminds her (which is really reminding the readers) that Sue is pregnant and must think of the baby. At the Mad Thinker’s place, Johnny has avoided the water and he continues to pursue the Mad Thinker, only to fly right into an “electro wall barrier.” The Mad Thinker decides it’s time to dispose of Dr. Santini, the scientist he kidnapped and impersonated to transform Ben. Red stretches underneath the energy wall and takes on the Thinker man-to-man. For two brainy guys, their hand-to-hand combat is impressive. The Mad Thinker apparently learned nothing from his last encounter with our heroes, because he makes the same mistake and doesn’t predict the human element. In this case, that’s Santini, who steps in and distracts the Thinker, letting Reed get the upper hand. Reed punches out the Thinker real good.

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Johnny breaks through the barrier, and the cops haul the Mad Thinker away. Reed says it’s not over, because Ben is still out there, somewhere. But wait – Ben is right there! He too figured out Santini was the Mad Thinker in disguise, and found the Thinker’s hideout (an earlier scene mentioned that he followed all the police cars there).

Reed and Ben fight, with Reed hoping to get Ben away from others. Johnny comes along too. Reed stretches up into the sky, grabbing a passing police helicopter. It carries him along under it, with Ben holding onto him. It takes all of Reed’s strength to hang on, but he makes it all the way to the Baxter Building.

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Back at the police station, the Mad Thinker is in a cell, but he uses his super high-tech wristwatch (why didn’t the cops confiscate that?) to summon one of his androids. Note that this isn’t his famous Awesome Android, but a green, human-sized one. Instead of sending the android to free him, the Thinker sends it to the Baxter Building to destroy the FF. There, they’re doing that already, as Ben keeps attacking Reed and Johnny, smashing up Reed’s lab some more, with Sue watching from the sidelines. Reed hits Ben with a “menta-wave unit.” It appears to stop Ben, but no. Ben’s not breathing. He’s… dead! And that’s when the android bursts through the wall, poised to kill everyone.

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To be continued!

 Unstable molecule: Reed goes to extreme lengths, physically and emotionally, in the hopes of finding some way to reach Ben, hauling him via helicopter-dangling all the way back to the lab.

Fade out: Although hinted at for several episodes, this is the first time Sue’s pregnancy is mentioned in the comic proper, after being introduced in annual #5.

Clobberin’ time: Although Ben has turned evil, he’s not a raging animal, as he’s able to use his smarts and figure out where Reed and company have gone, even surprise-attacking them there.

Flame on: Johnny’s in a supporting role in this issue, but he certainly sticks by Reed’s side no matter what.

Trivia time: According to the Marvel wiki, the android in this issue is the “Monster Android,” even though it’s not called that in this issue.

Commercial break: Ordering a monkey through the mail? Is that legal?

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Fantastic or frightful? Now this is more like it. While last issue just seemed to be building to this one, here we get some payoff. The fight between Reed and the Mad Thinker is great, and then following it with Reed ongoing struggle with Ben makes the stakes feel genuinely high. The little side stories with the cops and pedestrians give the feeling that the whole city is in turmoil due to this feud. Then it builds to a truly mind-blowing cliffhanger. What a great issue.

Next: The big finale.

****

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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