Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Writer Chris Claremont continues to bring his characters from Excalibur into the FF with vol. 3 issue #7.
Last issue, Reed was acting uncharacteristic and took Sue out for date night. At Pier Four, Ben and genius Alyssa Moy were attacked by interdimensional bounty hunter Gatecrasher and her oddball crew the Technet. They abducted Ben, but Alyssa escaped with Franklin. This issue begins with Alyssa pulling over a passing police car. She explains to the cops that Pier Four has been attacked, and the attackers are after Franklin. Alyssa then points out that the cops have English accents and are driving a London police car. The cops are revealed to be the Warwolves, hiding out in New York.
Okay, what are these things? The Warwolves were genetically engineered by weirdo alien Mojo to be his henchmen. After several fights with Excalibur, the Warwolves ended up as permanent residents of the London Zoo. They are able to kill humans and then wear their victims’ skin (!) making themselves look just like their victims. They’re also skilled trackers, which explains how they’ve found their way to Alyssa and Franklin.
The Warwolves attack some real cops while Alyssa tries to protect Franklin. She tries to escape in the police car, only for the Warwolves to swipe the keys. Then Alyssa produces an invention of hers, a universal key. She starts the car and she and Franklin take off. Just when it looks like they’ve escaped, they’re attacked by Ferro-2, the swordfighting werewolf from Technet, who jumps down from above and slices up the engine.
At the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, Reed and Sue continue their romantic evening on the town, with no idea that all this is happening. Cut to Ben, who has been shrunken down to tiny size and swallowed by Bodybag, another Technet creature. The Technet has gathered in a wooded area (Central Park, I’m guessing) where Gatecrasher says she wants Franklin found, with a lot of technobabble about how communications and transportation are being monitored in their search.
Out in the city, Franklin cries out for his mom, and certain Marvel heroes can psychically “hear” him – Spider-Man (thanks to his spider-sense), Jean Grey, Dr. Strange, the Watcher, Roma the Omniversal Guardian, and Kitty Pryde, who is not psychic but is still good friends with Franklin. Alyssa tries to calm Franklin down, promising to protect him.
In an alley, Alyssa is using some more of her genius tech to New York’s fiber optic data-net. Franklin acts as lookout, and cries, “the monsters are coming!” The run for it, just barely staying ahead of the Technet. They run through a busy nightclub hoping to lose the aliens in the crowd, not realizing they’re running past Johnny in one panel. Leaving the nightclub, Alyssa and Franklin next run into… the Bacchae. Who is this? Turns out this is the Bacchae’s first appearance. They’re a group of female cyborg assassins. They’re fighting a guy named Lao Wei Chung, Master of the Golden Sword, unrelated to all this Technet stuff. Chung escapes from Bacchae thanks to Alyssa’s interruption, and he gives Alyssa a kiss before running off.
At the Rainbow Room, Sue looks out a balcony and sees the “4” symbol lit up on skyscrapers all over NYC. Reed tries to contact Pier Four, only to find it offline. Sue, in her sexy evening dress, takes off over the skies of the city riding one of her force fields. Sue catches up to Alyssa and Franklin, just in time for Gatecrasher to show up. Gatecrasher says she has a legal warrant for Franklin, but Sue says that, as Franklin’s mother, she is the ultimate authority. Using the fight moves she learned from Iron Fist in combination with her force fields, Sue beats the crap out of Gatecrasher.
Reed and Johnny arrived as the rest of the Technet join the fight. Reed frees Ben from Bodybag. The Technet might have the FF outnumbered, but the FF have them outpowered. Ben knocks out Thug, Johnny stops China Doll with a wall of flame, and Scatterbrain’s illusions are no match for Reed’s intellect. The only advantage the Technet gets is when Joyboy looks into Sue’s subconscious desires and transforms her into the Queen of Atlantis and consort of Namor (!). The transformation wears off, though, putting the FF back into the fight.
Gatecrasher calls for the FF to surrender or face the consequences, and Ben answers “You and what army?” Gatecrasher responds, “This army!” The FF turn around and find themselves face-to-face with… the Captain Britain Corps, a whole bunch of Captain Britains of all shapes and sizes.
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed’s strange behavior isn’t addressed in this issue. He has a wristwatch computer tied into Pier Four, which alerts him to when the systems go down.
Fade out: Sue surrounds herself with a force field as if it’s armor, so she can properly beat up Gatecrasher.
Clobberin’ time: Reed frees Ben from Bodybag by reaching into Bodybag’s mouth and pulling Ben out. There’s no explanation of how Ben became un-shrunk, so I guess it just wore off.
Flame on: Look closely, and you see Johnny is in the nightclub that Alyssa and Franklin run though earlier in the issue. He’s too busy flirting with some girl to notice them.
Four and a half: Why Franklin’s psychic cry reached these specific characters is a mystery. Spidey, Jean Grey, and Dr. Strange make sense as all having some form of psychic power. Kitty because she and Franklin are friends. But why Roma? As the daughter of Merlin, she too was in Captain Britain and Excalibur and has a history with the Warwolves. That could explain why she got the call.
Commercial break: “Sure. We saved the world. I say we party. I mean, I got all pretty.”
Trivia time: These Bacchae characters showing up out of nowhere foreshadows them playing a bigger role in future issues. The Bacchae’s leader, not named in this issue, is Bloody Mary.
This appears to be the only appearance of Lao Wei Hung, Master of the Golden Sword. There was a martial artist named Chung who was henchman for crimelord Vachon in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and another Chung who was a security guard who helped fight the Hellfire Club in one issue of X-Men, but I doubt these are all the same guy.
Fantastic or frightful? It’s obvious by this point that Chris Claremont is using Fantastic Four as his excuse to write more Excalibur. I’m all for bringing something new to the series, but Heaven help any readers who hadn’t followed Excalibur or its predecessor Captain Britain and doesn’t know all these references.
Next: The rings of Saturn (-yne)
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