Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In issue #370, the Infinity War crossover finally comes to an end… of sorts.
Recap: Magus, the evil doppelganger of Adam Warlock, has created evil doppelgangers of all the Marvel heroes. While the heroes deal with that, Magus successfully collected all the Infinity Gems and the Infinity Gauntlet, giving him godlike power. After Reed was abducted by his doppelganger, Sue merged with Malice, a psychic entity who represents all of Sue’s anger and aggression, so that Sue could lead a task force of Marvel heroes into space to save the day.
Magus makes a big villain speech about how he’s now omnipotent, conveniently catching readers up to speed, while the Marvel heroes all fight doppelgangers of themselves. Johnny uses his powers to destroy the doppelgangers, knowing they’re mere constructs and not alive. Ben, however, can’t bring himself to destroy Sue’s doppelganger because she looks just like Sue. As the doppelgangers gang up (heh) on Ben, he thinks that after this battle, “nothing will ever be the same again.”
During the battle, Sue turned invisible and snuck into Magus’ high-tech stronghold, which is apparently nearby. She comes across Thanos fighting his doppelganger. Sue ponders how both versions of Thanos are the evil one. She uses her force fields to help Thanos defeat the doppelganger, and then she sneaks off again.
Sue then finds Reed and Iron Man, who had been abducted by their doppelgangers a few issues back. They’re in suspended animation, alongside Daredevil, Black Widow, Namorita, and Darkhawk. (We never actually see these abductions. I think we’re meant to think that they occurred between issues 4 and 5 of Infinity War.) Sue frees Reed, only for Magus to appear before them. Sue, who is now part Malice, attacks, demanding action. It doesn’t work, because this Magus is only a projection.
Elsewhere, Magus once again makes a big speech about how he’s a god now, and he has apparently captured all the heroes who were in the battle, holding them in his “trophy case.” Thanos interrupts, and picks a fight with Magus. This distracts Magus long enough for Adam Warlock to place his hand over the Infinity Gauntlet. Because Warlock once wore the gauntlet, he can withstand its power. This begins a battle of wills between Warlock and Magus, with the fate of the universe on the line.
All the heroes are released from the trophy room as the universe gets all twisted and psychedelic around them. Galactus has everyone gather on board his ship, where they fly to safety. There’s a huge explosion out in space, and the FF are immediately teleported back to Earth, with no explanation of what happened. You have to read Infinity War #6 for that. Warlock, Thanos, and Warlock’s pals in the Infinity Watch pulled a fast one on Magus, replacing the Infinity Gauntlet’s Reality Gem with a fake one, which gave Warlock a means to defeat Magus. The cosmic being Eternity then declared that the gems can never again be used in unison, no matter what the reason.
Back at FF HQ, Sue is still angry mode, calling Reed the team’s weak link because he was defeated by his own doppelganger. Johnny flies off, still pondering whether he should quit the team. Sue calms down to play with Franklin, showing that she’s not all evil, while Reed ponders whether he should step down as team leader. Then the Puppet Master shows up, telling the team that Alicia has been kidnapped.
In Earth’s orbit, we catch up with Devos the Devastator and Paibok the Power-Skrull. They reveal that Lyja is not only still alive but has returned to full health. She steps out in her sexy new battle armor as Paibok announces that she wants vengeance.
Unstable molecule: This issue’s character arcs (such as they are) have to do with fears over the team breaking up. Reed faces a loss of confidence over his leadership abilities.
Fade out: The Thanos vs. Thanos fight is the same one from Infinity War #6, except that one doesn’t reveal Sue’s presence or involvement in the scene, making her truly invisible.
Clobberin’ time: Ben seems to be the only one who can tell that Sue has changed, and tat the group is heading for a breakup.
Flame on: Johnny wonders if this experience with Infinity War is what’s causing his desire to leave the team, but then he dismisses this idea.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Former alternate team members She-Hulk and Frankie Raye can be seen in the background in Magus’ trophy room and aboard Galactus’ ship.
Four and a half: Franklin has a Rubik’s cube among his toys, a good ten years or so after its popularity.
The Alicia problem: Lyja appears to be a lot taller and more muscular than the last time we saw her, but I guess shape-changers can get away with that.
Commercial break: Barry Sanders was such a big deal that he gets an entire page of the comic devoted to just his face.
Trivia time: Of course this isn’t really the end. Warlock, Thanos, the Infinity Gems, the Infinity Gauntlet, and even Magus will all return a year later in Infinity Crusade. The Fantastic four will appear in that crossover as well, but not to the same degree as they did in Infinity War.
Fantastic or frightful? A lot of this issue is repeating Warlock/Thanos scenes from Infinity War, so that the Fantastic Four feel like supporting characters in their own comic. Beyond that, this should be epic space adventure with godlike cosmic beings fighting for the fate of the entire universe, but it all feels so ordinary, without any sense of wonder. What a waste.
Next: Where’s Shaft, Chapel, and Badrock when we need them?
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