Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. This time travel storyline that started ten issues ago finally comes to an end in issue #347.
As the result of all their time traveling, the FF have ended up on a time-displaced island with some soldiers and a whole lot of dinosaurs. The island rapidly being sucked back into the dinosaurs’ time, so our heroes have to find a way off, quick. Further complicating matters is that nobody’s superpowers work on this island, so Sharon is human again and Ben is carrying the team in his Thing-shaped exoskeleton. The issue begins with Reed and the soldiers building a raft in hopes of heading out to sea, and hopefully outside whatever time bubble the island is caught in. Ben and Sharon have a heart-to-heart where she reveals that she is enjoying being human again, and that she feels reborn.
A tyrannosaurus attacks, so we get a couple of pages of fighting. Sharon tries to sacrifice herself to save Ben, only for Ben to rescue her. They have another heart-to-heart, where she says she’d rather be a living monster than a dead human. Ben promises to talk to Reed about a cure for Sharon when they get home.
While this has been going on, the island has been experiencing temporal storms, causing the volcano at the center of the island to erupt. Everyone leaves the island on the raft, only to be pursued in the water by a Kronosaurus (one of the largest plesiosaurs, the comic informs us). Everyone fights the dino just as the raft passes through the time barrier back into the present.
The raft falls apart, only for Sue to create a new one with her force fields, revealing that the FF now have their powers back. Johnny flies ahead signal a passing ship for rescue. Sharon turns back into a Thing. She breaks out in tears over this, but Ben says he thinks she’s beautiful no matter what, and he promises a second time to help find her a cure.
We end with a one-panel epilogue, depicting an office environment in a place “where time has no meaning.” This reveals that all this business with the island was the result of a bureaucratic error, and that the temporal disruptions have been repaired. This would appear be a one-off joke in the style of Douglas Adams, but it’s actually the first appearance of the Time Variance Authority, who will show up again in just a few issues, and who will later complicate life for the Avengers, She-Hulk, and even Deadpool.
Unstable molecule: Reed spends this whole issue wearing U.S. military duds, after sacrificing his FF uniform to distract a dinosaur last issue.
Fade out: Every time Ben and Sharon have a heart-to-heart, it’s accompanied by Sue insisting that the rest of the team let them have their privacy.
Clobberin’ time: One of the soldiers suggests that Ben enlist, but he says he’s too busy being a superhero. What’s not mentioned is that Ben was an Air Force pilot before his FF days.
Flame on: There’s one panel devoted to Johnny still being obsessed with evil space babe Nebula, after she took over his mind a few issues back. He worries about how he’ll tell this to Alicia.
Fantastic fifth wheel: It seems inconsistent the way Sharon goes back and forth from wanting to be human versus not wanting to be human. I suppose that, realistically, she would have conflicted feelings about her situation, but an indecisive character is nearly impossible to write well.
Commercial break: Be a superstar!
Trivia time: The Kronosaurus was a real dinosaur from the Cretaceous period. It was approximately 30 feet long and weighed approximately 11 metric tons. In 1977, a nearly complete Kronosaurus fossil was found in Columbia, and is currently on display in a museum there.
The Bullpen Bulletins page in this issue announces a new venture, The Marvel World of Tomorrow, which would later become Marvel’s 2099 line.
Fantastic or Frightful? Another issue that’s mostly cool dinosaur fights, and little else other than the ongoing Ben/Sharon drama. But, if you’re only in it for the dinosaur fights, then you’re good.
Next: Days of future when?
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