Rereading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In issue #282, we’ve got anger issues, a journey to innerspace, and a crossover that’s not a crossover.
We begin with Franklin, who is having another one of his prophetic dreams. If you’d been reading Power Pack during this time, you’d know that Franklin has new, dream-based superpowers. This dream is a mini-Power Pack issue, with Franklin fighting a Snark alien, befriending the Pack’s alien pal Kofi, and then meeting the Power kids themselves. This would seem to take place before Franklin joins the team, an event occurring simultaneously to this FF story arc. Oh, Marvel continuity, you and your confusing timelines.
Franklin wakes from the dream, to a reminder that the FF are now living at Avengers mansion. He makes his way to the lab, where Reed has rebuilt the FF’s reducto-craft, for traveling to and from the Microverse. Reed is unsure whether travelling to the Microverse right now is the right thing to do, knowing that the godlike Beyonder is currently walking around Earth unchecked. She-Hulk says there’s not much the FF can do in comparison to the Beyonder’s omnipotent power, but Reed wonders if he can reach the Beyonder on an emotional level and direct him toward doing good things with his power.
The debate pretty much ends when Sue shows up, because she is furious. She doesn’t care at all about the Beyonder, only about getting revenge for her being transformed into the villain Malice in the last few issues. It’s at this moment that comic finally, FINALLY reveals that Psycho-Man is the one behind Sue’s transformation and the attack on New York. It’s not treated as a big reveal, just dropped into the dialogue. Psycho-Man had fled to the Microverse, and Sue insists the FF go there to confront him, bringing him to justice for what he did. She goes on a three-page rant about she doesn’t want justice, but vengeance. Reed agrees to go along with her.
She-Hulk uses her awesome strength to move the reducto-craft into place, where everyone boards it. We see it shrink down into apparent nothingness, as our heroes enter the microverse. They fly through the trippy-looking mircoverse atmosphere, landing on some sort of planetoid. Reed encourages everyone to spread out, suspecting that Psycho-Man is likely already alerted to their presence. Johnny and Reed have an aside, where Reed says helping Sue work through her issues must be a priority, but he admits he’s still worried about the Beyonder running around unchecked.
Can we talk about Secret Wars II? Let’s talk about Secret Wars II. The gimmick was that during the event’s nine-month running time, the series would cross over into every other Marvel comic. The ambition is admirable, but it was not wholly successful. Some of the Marvel writers and artists managed some interesting stuff with the Beyonder character outside the main SWII series, but others did practically nothing with the Beyonder. Often, fans bought a comic with the Secret Wars II logo on the cover, only to find they’d spent money on something unnecessary to the Beyonder’s story. That’s the case with this issue, because as Reed mentions the Beyonder here, we get one measly panel of what the Beyonder is doing on Earth, a recreation of a scene from SWII #3. That is it for this crossover. (To be fair, though, writer-artist John Byrne will use the Beyonder to much better effect in issues 285 and 288.)
After some discussion about the nature of the microverse, Reed says it seems different somehow than before. Johnny flies off to do reconnaissance, only for a giant pair of hands to trap him and seal him in a glass tube. The others rush in, only to also be trapped in glass tubes. It’s Psycho-Man, who is towering over them as a giant, hundreds of feet taller than them. She-Hulk exposits why this is important by exclaiming, “He’s supposed to be the same size as us!”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed is so good at science that he not only rebuilt the reducto-craft from memory, but he did it all in only six hours.
Fade out: Sue’s three-page angry rant is pretty tough to get through, though she makes a point of how instead of following Reed into battle so many times, this time he’s going to follow her. I wonder if they were setting her up for taking over as team leader, with Reed merely being the brains of the group.
Flame on: Upon being captured, Johnny uses quick thinking to signal his teammates at the last second, before getting sealed away.
Fantastic fifth wheel: She-Hulk is astonished how the FF treat a dangerous journey into the microverse as if it’s another day at the office.
Four and a half: Franklin’s dream takes place in a destroyed New York. I guess we’re to think this is what would’ve happened if Power Pack hadn’t stopped those evil Snarks. Franklin’s “4 1/2” sweater makes a reappearance, and his pajamas have a fancy “F” monogram.
Commercial break: “You want Reese’s Pieces, do ya?”
Trivia time: This issue establishes that the microverse does not actually exist on a microscopic size. Instead, it’s merely an alternate dimension that can only be accessed by shrinking. A lot of fans over the years have debated the validity of this, apparently not knowing the difference between comic book astrophysics and real world astrophysics.
Fantastic or frightful? This is another in between issue, picking up where the last one left off and then setting up the next one. Although the Beyonder ended up not being all that great of a character, it’s still a disappointment to have this be part of the big crossover and not cross over at all. So, a mixed bag of an issue.
Next week: Kick ‘em while they’re down.
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