Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In issue #412, Reed decides he’s finally had enough of Namor the Sub-Mariner. I’ve never been a Namor fan, so it’s pretty easy for me side with Reed on this one.
Picking up from the last issue, Sue has been knocked unconscious after the fight with the delusional Black Bolt. Reed and the rest of the FF rush her to the lab at Four Freedoms Plaza. Reed calls a Dr. Clooney to join them. Reed blames Sue’s condition on Nathaniel Richards, saying that Nathaniel pushed Sue too hard when she led the team in Reed’s absence. Clooney orders them to stop fighting, saying Sue needs her rest.
In another part of the lab, Black Bolt is in stasis, until his antenna weapon can be repaired. Reed checks in on Black Bolt, only to be interrupted by Namor, who demands an update about Sue. Reed tells him to stay away from Sue, but Namor won’t listen. In another part of the building, Ben is still struggling with his newfound romantic feelings for Lyja. Lyja, however, still has feelings for Johnny. Johnny flies off to attend a car rally, leaving Lyja and Ben to commiserate about the whole unrequited love thing.
Sue wakes, only to find Namor at her bedside. He tells her he loves her, and he tries to convince her to leave Reed and run away with him. Reed walks in on them and decides he’s had enough. He punches Namor out through the window. Sue tells Reed to take it easy, and that Namor’s just reacting to having recently lost his kingdom. Reed says Namor has crossed a line, and now he’s going to pay. Reed jumps out the window to pursue Namor. Sue tries to stop him with a force field, but she’s still too weak from the Black Bolt fight. All alone, she says, “Oh, Reed… it’s you I love! Only you!”
Out in the streets of New York, Reed and Namor fight. The slugfest includes a lot of classic Mr. Fantastic moves, such as Reed stretching his arms into glider wings, turning himself into a spring, turning himself into a catapult, and wrapping himself around Namor like a big snake.
Back in HQ, Black Bolt becomes destabilized and needs Reed’s genius to help. Ben uses the alien machine he got in issue #405 to temporarily turn himself human again. He says he’ll go look for Reed, but is wracked with terrible pain. In the city, Reed leads Namor to a construction site, where there is less chance of their brawl harming civilians. This includes more classic moves from Reed, such as turning himself into a bouncing ball, and then a big balloon.
Lyja transports Sue to the construction site, in the hopes of stopping the fight. It doesn’t work, as the two guys continue their fight. Reed gives a big speech about his own self-pity, and how he unintentionally kept Sue from reaching her true potential. Reed then does the classic makes-his-fists-gigantic move and beats the crap out of Namor.
Namor is knocked unconscious, and Sue and Reed reconcile. They head back to headquarters to deal with Black Bolt. Lyja stays behind to take are of Namor. Namor awakes, and Lyja tells him she could tell he was faking it, and that he let Reed win the fight. Namor admits to doing so. So it seems like Namor did the right thing, until the last few panels, in which he says this is all part of his plan to eventually win Sue back. He flies off, suggesting that he and the FF are enemies again.
Unstable molecule: In addition to revisiting all his classic fight moves, Reed also does a bit where he turns one of his arms into a fan and blows a “maelstrom” of debris at Namor. Let’s assume he taught himself to do this while living in that cave in Hyperstorm’s timeline.
Fade out: We’re told that Sue’s powers are on the fritz not just because of exertion, but because she’s been tapping into hyperspace to generate her force fields.
Clobberin’ time: This issue makes it clear that Ben is suffering ill effects from his alien machine. Just how far those effects go remain to be seen.
Flame on: What is Johnny doing flying off to a car rally while Sue is gravely injured? Maybe this is just his way of dealing with the stress of it all.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Ant-Man is put in charge of Black Bolt’s medical stasis device, and is on the verge of panic when Reed’s not there to help. Remember he’s with the FF as an electronics expert, so medical science is outside Ant-Man’s expertise.
Kristoff sits this issue out, unless that’s him and not Ahura standing beside the Inhumans (they’re both little brown-haired kids).
Medusa is here with the rest of the Inhumans. She says she has faith that Reed will save Black Bolt. Reed returns the favor, saying the Inhumans have always been there for the FF. (Have they, though?)
Four and a half: Teenage Franklin is only in a few background panels in this issue. A note in the letters page states that any readers who had a monthly subscription to the cancelled Fantastic Force spinoff will now get a Fantastic Four subscription in its place.
The Alicia problem: During the fight, Lyja shape-shifts into a Barsoomian snow ape to slow down Namor. “Barsoomian” just means “Martian,” right?
Commercial break: Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare.
Trivia time: This Dr. Clooney character has no entry in the Marvel Wiki, so I’m guessing he’s not going to be a major character. The question is, will he ever appear again after this story arc?
Fantastic or frightful? I believe the creators were hoping to pay off the Reed vs. Namor tension created by Reed coming back from the dead, but knowing that that we’re only a few issues away from the big reboot, it feels like this is the payoff to Reed vs. Namor tension that’s been brewing for more than 400 issues. If this one ended with Namor taking a dive for Reed and Sue’s stakes, it would have been great. Those last few panels, though, undoes that. This “nothing has really changed” ending makes this a missed opportunity.
Next: What year is this?
Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.