Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Walt Simonson’s cosmic time travel tale continues in issue #340, in which the FF confronts a godlike Celestial.
The FF, Thor and Iron Man have traveled to the future, where Galactus has built a giant device to let him devour the entire universe. Our heroes have convinced the Shi’ar Empire to send its entire fleet to attack Galactus. On Earth (future Earth, even though the previous issue made it sound like present-day Earth) the Dreaming Celestial has awakened from under his mountain and walks the Earth. Except he doesn’t hang out on Earth for long, because he immediately teleports onto the surface of Galactus’ device. Why is a Celestial a big deal? This one waves his hand through the air and doing so destroys the entire Shi’ar fleet.
Our heroes regroup aboard the Shi’ar weapon platform, the only ship to survive, and compare notes. Iron Man gives a short history of the Dreaming Celestial, saying it was meant to sleep forever under its mountain. Our heroes plot a course back to Earth to investigate this mountain. (The script conveniently forgets that the FF visited this mountain not long ago, in issue #323.)
Thor stays behind while the rest of the heroes break into the mountain and explore the high-tech complex inside it. There’s a few pages of fighting where the heroes are attacked by alien deviants who live there, to protect the Celestial. When them gone, Reed and Sue access the mountain’s computer, and get an even longer history of the Dreaming Celestial. He was once the greatest of all Celestials, but he broke their laws and was sealed inside the mountain to sleep forever, dreaming of revenge. While sleeping, the Dreaming Celestial somehow engineered this whole Galactus-devours-the-universe plot, just so the Dreaming Celestial can rule the new universe that will rise in our universe’s place.
While all this has been going on, remember that Johnny has become possessed by the mysterious blue-skinned woman who’s been following the team around. He/she finally makes a move by knocking Sue unconscious and running off with her. At this point, more Deviants attack. We’re told that there are millions of them this time, far too many to fight, forcing everyone to go back to the Shi’ar ship. Reed refuses to leave without Sue, but Ben knocks him out so that everyone can escape.
The FF and Iron Man escape aboard Reed’s time sled. Thor and Gladiator, who is running the Shi’ar Empire in the future, launch the weapon platform at Earth and destroy the Celestial’s mountain, cutting off the Celestial’s power supply. Reed, now awake again, believes Sue is dead. Reed doesn’t blame Ben, but instead puts all the blame on the Dreaming Celestial.
Reed confronts the Celestial, threatening to go back in time and tell the other Celestials of his plan while the Celestial sleeps. The Dreaming Celestial won’t have this, and chases our heroes through time. Reed outsmarts the Celestial by bringing him straight back to Galactus’ device, where Galactus devours the celestial. With his hunger temporarily sated, Galactus looks at Reed for a second with a sense of sorrow in his eyes. Then he goes back to devouring the universe. Reed says he has an idea on how to stop Galactus, adding that it is, “nothing short of insane!”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: After he believes Sue is dead, Reed lashes out at Thor, calling Thor “windbag” several times. He later says that this was an act, acting angry so the Celestial would not see his true intentions.
Fade out: Sue uses her force fields to interact with the mountain’s computer, using them in precise, tiny ways to readjust the alien circuitry. I wonder what else she can do with itty-bitty force fields.
Clobberin’ time: Now that he’s human again, what can Ben do in a fight against the Deviants? Only pull out a freakin’ GUN and start shooting away. What, is he the Punisher now?
Flame on: While masquerading as Johnny, the mystery woman fights the Deviants as well, just to avoid suspicion.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Once again, they’ve given Sharon a lot of technobabble dialogue, hoping to portray her as a science genius as well as the team’s muscle.
Commercial break: Master the power!
Trivia time: This issue’s cover calls the Dreaming Celestial “the Black Celestial.” This is one of many names he has gone by, including “Tiamut the Communicator” and “the Renegade Celestial.” He first appeared in Jack Kirby Eternals miniseries back in 1977, and he often pops up whenever the Eternals’ enemies the Deviants are up to no good. The Marvel wiki insists that he doesn’t die in this issue, because this is merely an alternate future.
Fantastic or frightful? This issue feels like filler. Our heroes fight the Dreaming Celestial, only to start back where they began. Also, most panels only have a plain white or pale blue background, making it hard to follow who is where at any given time. On the plus side, the action and fighting are fun, and there’s the overall sense of operatic “cosmic Marvel” that we all love.
Next week: Nebulous.
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