Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. This is vol. 2 issue 6, continuing Heroes Reborn, in which superstar artist Jim Lee attempted modernize the FF for all the cool ‘90s kids.
We begin in NYC, where Alicia is concerned about Ben when he doesn’t show up for their date. She wonders if he’s in danger, and/or if he’s out saving the world. Then we get back to the main plot inside Castle Doom in Latveria. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Wyatt Wingfoot, who’s been secretly conspiring with Dr. Doom, is revealed to be a Super-Skrull, here to steal the Silver Surfer’s power cosmic. The FF, the real Wyatt, and their new pal Black Panther compare notes, saying that Silver Surfer came from the same mysterious space anomaly that gave the FF their powers. Doom and Super-Skrull fight, and Black Panther says the heroes must choose between the lesser of two evils.
Wyatt says the key to stopping the Super-Skrull is to transfer the power cosmic from him back into the Silver Surfer. The Skrull short-circuits Doom’s armor and says his goal is revenge against the Surfer, who he describes as the enemy of all Skrulls. He further explains that Silver Surfer is the herald of Galactus, giving us the first look at Galactus in Heroes Reborn, along with a one-page description of who Galactus is, and that using the Surfer’s power against Galactus is the Skrulls’ “final reckoning.”
The two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who arrived with fake Wyatt are revealed to also be Skrulls, and they announce that an extraction team is flying toward Castle Doom. The Super-Skrull easily destroys the ships. Ben and Johnny attack the Super-Skrull, who reveals he can mimic the FF’s powers, and he takes them both out. Black Panther continues to work on rejuvenating the Silver Surfer. Doom comes to and says only he has the reversion code to do so, and that makes him in charge.
Black Panther fights the Super-Skrull next, but this is a diversion. When the Super-Skrull attacks, Sue uses a force field to direct his energy blast away from Black Panther and back into Silver Surfer, just in time to Doom and Reed to do science and complete the process. The Silver Surfer is revived, and now he fights the Super-Skrull, who still has some Power Cosmic left in him. The Skrull says he knows the Surfer is really Norrin Radd, but the Surfer says Norrin Radd no longer exists.
The battle gets so out of control that it threatens to breach the fusion core underneath Castle Doom. Doom stays behind to repair the core while the FF, Black Panther and Wyatt make a run for it. The castle is saved, even though there wasn’t time for Doom to save the reactor. Reed suspects that are other forces at work. Back aboard the FF’s ship, Ben says the Latverian Air Force is on its way, so the heroes take off. As they do, the Silver Surfer watches them from a distance. The caption states that he’s the one who sealed the fusion core, because the humans are the first creatures throughout the galaxy who have ever shown him… compassion.
Then there’s a backup story, “Industrial Revolution Prologue,” in which we see Doom has survived. He’s monitoring the events of Heroes Reborn: Avengers #4 and 5, which introduced the Hulk. He’s then shocked to learn that the Hulk is none other than one of his old college buddies, Bruce Banner. He says he will monitor the situation, so that no matter who wins the upcoming conflict, he was stand tall among the wreckage.
Unstable molecule: Some great Reed Richards technobabble this time, when he says, “Now we have to hope that the flux inhibitor was able to stabilize the distillation process within acceptable energy levels!”
Fade out: Sue also gets in on the science-speak at the start of the issue, describing Doom’s plan to steal the power cosmic. This reminds readers that in this timeline, she’s also a big brain alongside Reed.
Clobberin’ time: Ben has something of a code of honor, in which he chides the Super-Skrull for taking out the extraction ships from a distance. Ben says it’s more honorable to fight up close, where you see your opponent eye-to-eye.
Flame on: The Super-Skrull calls Johnny “pup” multiple times throughout this issue, reinforcing that Johnny is the young, upstart member of the team.
Commercial break: Massive. Chiseled. RIPPED.
Trivia time: Alicia speaks on the phone to a friend named Cass. No idea who this character might be, as the Marvel Wiki lists a whole bunch of Cassandras running around. One Cassandra, interestingly, was the wife of Nathaniel Richards, who became the villainous Warlord of Other Earth from back in issue #272. Since Heroes Reborn is an alternate timeline tied into Franklin Richards, wouldn’t that be interesting to have Warlord Cassandra lurking in the background?
Fantastic or frightful? It’s an all-they-do-is-fight issue, but I’d say it works, because the Super-Skrull so outpowers our heroes, that nothing they throw at him works. It keeps you guessing throughout the fight. Jim Lee’s art continues to impress, in that old school ‘90s Image Comics way.
Next: Canon fodder.
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