Rereading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Time for a milestone: Issue #100!
Our heroes are returning from meeting with the Inhumans last issue, when something destroys their flying saucer. Crystal uses her powers to float everyone safely to the ground. There, they fall under attack from the duo of Kang the Conqueror and Dr. Doom. They fight, and the Reed discovers that it’s not really Doom and Kang, but lookalike androids. As the FF wonders what’s going on, we cut to Puppet Master and the Mad Thinker, where Puppet Master is cranking out a bunch of living puppets out of his radioactive clay.
Johnny finds some camels (where are they?) which the FF use to cross the wilderness, only to have them be attacked by more of their foes from previous adventures. Reed has gone ahead and deduced that the Puppet Master is behind this, and that he’s found a new source of radioactive clay to create the androids. From this point, the whole issue is one fight scene after another, with the FF duking it with replicas of their rouge’s gallery. Here’s the lineup:
- The Senty (gets beaten up by Ben)
- Dragon Man (Johnny traps him in a volcano)
- Namor and a bunch of Atlantis warriors (Blown back to sea by Crystal)
- The Hate Monger (Sue trips him (!) while invisible)
- Diablo (Sue hits him with Hate Monger’s shield)
- The Super Skrull (blown out to see with the Atlantis guys, I think)
- The Red Ghost (Falls into a hole in the ground created by Ben)
- The Wizard (Crystal sucks him into a tornado)
- Paste-Pot Pete, um, I mean the Trapster (Sue uses her force field to cover him in his own super-paste)
- Sandman (Sent into the sky with one of the Wizard’s anti-grav discs)
- The Red Ghost’s Super-Apes (Again with the anti-grav discs)
Back in the lab, Puppet Master unveils his Hulk android, which he says is the most powerful of all. But the Hulk, as we know, cannot be controlled. He Hulks out, destroying the lab. Puppet Master fires a gun at the Hulk, not realizing that the Hulk is standing in front of a bunch of explosives. This destroys the entire lab in a huge blast. (I guess we’re to assume that Puppet Master and Mad Thinker are dead now, but we all know better, right?)
The FF hitch a ride on a passing NATO jet (!) where Reed reaffirms his teammates/family that they are “the greatest team ever!”
Unstable molecule: Reed does nothing in this issue, except announce who each villain is, and figure out that Puppet Master is behind it all.
Fade out: After so many issues of sitting on the sidelines, Sue finally gets in on the action, singlehandedly taking out Hate Monger, Diablo, and the Trapster.
Clobberin’ Time: In the fight, Ben’s first thought is his friends’ safety, picking them up and throwing them away from danger before clobbering the baddies.
Flame on: Johnny’s flame is powerful enough to bring a dormant volcano to eruption.
Fantastic Fifth Wheel: This one’s a showcase for Crystal, with her using her elemental powers in all kinds of ways. She uses “heavy” air currents to save the FF, she uproots a giant tree to crush Kang and Dr. Doom, she summons winds to create a tornado and to blow several villains out to sea.
Commercial break: This issue begins an odd experiment that had comics on the top of some pages, with ads on the bottom — an experiment that, thankfully, did not last long.
Trivia time: The story goes that this was originally going to be a double-sized anniversary issue, but it was changed at the last minute to a regular-sized one. As such, it had to be hastily rewritten and redrawn, cramming most of the action into a nine-panel grid.
Fantastic or frightful? I never like it when superheroes are just going about their day, only for villains to show up out of the blue and attack them, and that’s what happens here. I also don’t like when the villain is undone by his own bumbling instead of by the hero’s actions, and that happens here as well. There is a novelty factor to seeing a bunch of villains in one issue, but other than that, this is a disappointing way to celebrate 100 issues.
Next week: World’s greatest.
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