Fantastic Friday: Death from above

Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The Doom/Tyros story arc ends in appropriately explosive fashion, in a way that may or may not shake up the whole Marvel universe, in issue #260.

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To recap, Dr. Doom gave the power cosmic to Tyros (formerly Terrax) and sent him off to fight the FF, weakening the heroes so Doom himself can deliver the killing blow. What Tyros doesn’t know is that the power cosmic is slowly killing him. What nobody knows is that Reed has mysteriously disappeared, leaving only Sue, Ben, and Johnny to fight back. This issue begins with none of that, as we’re instead treated to Namor the Sub-Mariner, flying around arctic waters. In a flashback, we learn a bunch of undersea barbarians came to Atlantis seeking refuge, claiming a great evil was threating their home. Namor is now investigating when his metal wrist bands dissolve and all the strength leaves his body. He sinks to the ocean floor.

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Then, we rejoin the battle with Tyros. Fighting! Tryos is able to use his earthbender-style powers to counter any attack that Ben, Johnny, and Sue throw at him. Sue fires her FF signal flare into the sky, in the hopes that Reed will see it and help. Dr. Doom, watching all this from his spaceship high above New York, also sees the flare. As the minutes tick by, Doom realizes Reed isn’t coming. Doom doesn’t want Reed to miss the deaths of his loved ones, so Doom transports down to the surface and joins the fight in person.

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Doom attacks Tyros, again insisting that FF can’t be defeated with Reed not there. Tyros says he must have his revenge against the FF for the last time they fought. He and Doom then duke it out, with Tyros finally fusing Doom’s armor so Doom cannot move. Tyros faces the FF, but before he can strike, the Silver Surfer flies down from the sky and kicks his butt. (Remember that the last issue ended with the Surfer going to New York to investigate a matter transportation beam from space.)

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While the Silver Surfer fights with Tyros, we focus on Doom. In his thoughts, he says there is one way out of his statue-like predicament, something he hasn’t tried in years. Then we cut to the crowd watching all this, which includes Peter Parker’s Aunt May. She wonders why it’s taking the FF so long to defeat Dr. Doom, and the man next to her tells her, “Be quiet, old woman!” and wanders off. Aunt May is an especially feisty mood, because then then tells the ‘80s punk rocker on the other side of her, “I’m not your granny!”

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The Silver Surfer grabs Tyros and flies him way up into the atmosphere. They both turn into a giant fireball flying back down to Earth. (It’s the whole “burning up in the atmosphere” thing.) They crash land right on top of Doom, causing a massive explosion. Sue contains the blast in a force field, which pushes her back. This is this issue’s opportunity to remind us that she’s pregnant, when she insists that neither she nor the baby were hurt. The Silver Surfer rises from the wreckage, saying he’s won. Tyros’ body has completely melted away, and Doom’s burned-up mask is found in the wreckage. Sue calls it, saying “the greatest evil the world has ever faced is… dead!”

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(Because this is a re-read and not a first time read, I’ll spoil it: Dr. Doom isn’t really dead. He switched minds with the guy standing next to Aunt May, using the same mystical mind-switch technique he used on Reed way back in issue #10. For readers at the time, however, we were meant to think that Dr. Doom was well and truly dead and that this was his final appearance ever.)

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In one text panel, we’re told that FF doesn’t just leave the scene of the battle, but that it takes some time to deal with its “economic and emotional” consequences. Hours later, Sue arrives at the Baxter Building with the Silver Surfer, who is weakened from the fight. He rests in the infirmary, while Sue checks out the building, to find it empty. She considers calling the Avengers (Reed was last seen at Avengers Mansion) when Namor shows up, looking beaten up and saying he needs her help. We end with, “To be continued in Alpha Flight #4.”

Unstable molecule: The characters finally start to wise up and realize Reed is missing. This won’t become a crisis until next issue, though.

Fade out: Sue’s first move against Tyros is use a force field to cut off his air. She’s become so hardcore that she goes for the lethal attack right off the bat.

Clobberin’ time: Ben’s nickname for the Silver Surfer in this issue is “Glinty.”

Flame on: Johnny confirms that he doesn’t need to say “Flame on” to activate his powers. During the battle he shouts “Flame on!” while already flamed on, just to get himself pumped up.

Commercial break: Is there any possibility that Solar Fox the game was as great as the comic in this ad? Because I want 200 issues of this Solar Fox comic:

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Trivia time: Here’s what happens in Alpha Flight #4: Sue and Namor help Alpha Flight defeat an alien known only as the Master, who is sucking nutrients out of the ocean to power his spaceship. The heroes destroy the Master’s ship and the Master disappears. AF’s amphibious hero Marrina agrees to live in Atlantis with Namor. There, all caught up.

Fantastic or frightful? The Silver Surfer saving the day is a total deus ex machina, but other than that, this issue is terrific. It has big action, a real sense of danger for our heroes, and the nifty twist of Dr. Doom’s “death.” Simply a classic.

Next week: To the stars!

****

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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