Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Writer Chris Claremont used his time on Fantastic Four to revisit a lot of characters he’d previously written in the X-books, and that’s true of the oddities who show up in Vol. 3, issue #6.
The issue begins with Sue… in battle! She’s at the Oracle Inc. skyscraper, current headquarters for Heroes for Hire, and she’s getting a martial arts lesson from the immortal Iron Fist. Also present are two former FF-ers Power Man and She-Hulk, as well Misty Knight and Colleen Wing of Heroes for Hire. Sue, somewhat improbably, gets the upper hand on Iron Fist, creating a fighting staff out of an invisible force field. Iron Fist strikes back by unleashing the full force of his titular power. Sue isn’t hurt, though, and instead says getting blasted by Iron Fist is the “best ride I’ve had in ages.”
Sue goes for a swim in the Oracle Inc. pool, where she is greeted rather erotically by Namor the Submariner. Namor says he feels haunted by living another life during Heroes Reborn, and he wonders what might have been. He wants her to come away with him and become the new queen of Atlantis. Sue insists that she will not betray Reed’s love, and a woman who committed such a betrayal would not be worthy of Atlantis.
Sue returns to Pier Four, noting that an unmarked police car had been following her the whole time. Inside, Reed surprises Sue with a room full of roses, and he says to take her dancing. Sue is also introduced to Reed’s ex, Alyssa Moy, a fellow genius we met last issue. Alyssa and Ben have an aside, where she worries that Reed might be acting strangely, but Ben doesn’t worry about it. We follow Ben and Franklin as they attend a Yankees game, and Sue, She-Hulk and the Wasp go shopping for fancy dresses for Sue and Reed’s date night. Dressed in their finest, Reed and Sue head out for a night of dancing and Rockefeller Center, while a mysterious stranger keeps an eye on Pier Four.
Ben prepares dinner for Franklin and Alyssa, with Alyssa still insisting that Reed is acting out of character ever since his telepathic fight with Crucible last issue. Strangely, part of Ben’s dinner turns into a cartoon bird like Tweety, but with a bomb in its head. Ben saves everyone from the explosion, only for Alyssa and Franklin to attacked by… Gatecrasher and the Technet.
Okay, who are these characters? The big blue-skinned lady is Gatecrasher. She is an interdimensional bounty hunter, who tracks down threats to the multiverse. She’s not a good guy, however, as she’s often in the employ of Opal Luna Saturnyne, an evil queen from another dimension. The Technet is Gatecrasher’s band of super-powered enforcers. They first appeared in Captain Britain and later became major players in Excalibur. Here’s the list:
- Numbers is a little lizard guy who sits on Gatecrasher’s shoulder and gives her important info.
- Yap is the other little lizard on Gatecrasher’s other shoulder. He’s a teleporter, who transports the team from dimension to dimension.
- Joyboy is the weird alien baby in the floating chair. He has the power to make anyone’s dreams come true, but with disastrous results. Kind of like that movie Wishmaster.
- Ringtoss is the guy in the gold armor. He can project energy rings that wrap around his enemies.
- Bodybag is the big dinosaur-like guy. He incapacitates his enemies by swallowing them whole and storing them in a liquid sac within his body. (Gross.)
- China Doll is the blue-skinned Medusa-like alien. She has the power to shrink her enemies down to teeny size.
- Thug is the little frog-like one. He has super strength – your basic brawler.
- Scatterbrain is the beautiful woman with the green hair. She creates trippy illusions that throw enemies for a loop.
- Ferro-2 is the werewolf with the fencing swords in each hand. That’s right — Swordfighting werewolf!
Gatecrasher says she has a warrant to extradite Franklin back to “the prime continuum.” Alyssa flees with Franklin while Ben fights the Technet. Joyboy turns him human for a second, but Ben sees through the trick and punches out Joyboy. Then Scatterbrain and China Doll team up to mesmerize Ben and shrink him. He’s then fed to Bodybag, with Gatecrasher saying Ben will be kept in stasis. Alyssa and Franklin get out of the building and make it to a pay phone, only for Ferro-2 to stop them and take them hostage. While all this has been going on, we occasionally check in with Reed and Sue and their romantic date, with Reed calling this, “the most memorable night of my life.”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed’s odd behavior (or is it?) won’t be addressed in full until around issue #10.
Fade out: The Sue/Namor conversation is interesting. Sue rebukes Namor in favor of Reed, but she does so in a way that Namor can understand. She finds a way to speak to him on his level.
Clobberin’ time: Not sure what the plan was for Alyssa at this point, but Ben has his arm around her in a lot of panels. He also shows off the FF’s new pogo plane, which is equipped with a whole bunch of missiles.
Flame on: There’s a joke about Johnny having set off the fire sprinklers at Pier Four, so Sue is making him clean the entire building.
Fantastic fifth wheel: With former FF members Luke Cage and She-Hulk now with Heroes for Hire, it makes sense that H4H be FF adjacent. The H4H are operating out of Oracle Inc., which is the mega-corporation owned by Namor when he is in his weird “billionaire CEO” mode. This also conveniently explains why Namor just shows up in the Oracle Inc. pool.
Four and a half: The comic spends two whole pages devoted to Reed and Franklin having fun at the Yankees game. Franklin catches a foul ball, and he does it without the use of his or his dad’s super-powers.
Sue-per spy: The 2019 Invisible Woman miniseries revealed that Sue had a double life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent all along. Could her sparring session with Iron Fist be part of her spy training?
Commercial break: Nightmare fuel!
Trivia time: What’s the deal with the exploding cartoon chicken? He’s also a member of Technet, named Hard-Boiled Henwy. He first appeared in Excalibur #31, and never appeared again after this issue.
There is one other member of Technet not appearing in this issue – an octopus-like alien named Waxworks, who can loosen his opponent’s molecular structure, making them all gooey like Jello.
The fashion designer who meets with Sue, She-Hulk and Wasp is named Kay Cera. More than just a pun name, Kay is a member of the super-family Clan Destine. She’s an 800-year-old being who occasionally fights evil under the name Cuckoo. She has great psychic powers, but like most members of Clan Destine, she is reluctant to use them.
Fantastic or frightful? Mostly a “hangout” issue, that sets the stage for upcoming events. It has a lot of fun character moments, and has the added bonus of the Technet being nice and weird. Some might argue that nothing happens in this issue, but I suspect that’s the point.
Next: Warwolves? There, wolves!
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