Fantastic Friday: Do you take this Latverian…

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Vol. 3 issue #27 is a wedding issue! But it’s a phony wedding, because Sue isn’t marrying Dr. Doom, she’s marrying Reed pretending to be Dr. Doom. It’s what was happening at this time.

Recap: After a cosmic conflict with a Celestial, Reed’s body is now permanently trapped inside Dr. Doom’s armor. For reasons not fully disclosed, Reed has decided to keep appearances by pretending to be Doom. The FF are now in on the secret, and Reed-as-Doom has agreed to marry the Invisible Woman. This issue begins with news of that spread all over the world. The first four pages of the comic are short interviews with various Marvel characters reacting to the news. Most superheroes disapprove and think Doom is up to something, while other characters take a wait-and-see-where-this-is-going approach.

As paparazzi try to get a look inside Pier 4, Reed contemplates his situation. There’s a weird bit where Reed enters a virtual reality simulation of Doom’s castle to try to find an escape, only to be rejected and forced back into the armor. Outside Pier 4, Spider-Man catches up with Johnny and tries to get answers about the Doom/Sue thing. Johnny insists it’s “family business.” Spidey offers to help Johnny stop the ceremony, but Johnny says the fate of the world rests on the wedding going forward.

At the White House, we catch up with Dr. Valerie Cooper of the Committee on Superhuman Affairs, whom we first met back in vol. 3 #11. She too is concerned about how Dr. Doom appears to have taken Reed’s place in the FF. There’s a debate about whether Doom and his future “wife” Sue has diplomatic immunity. Cooper is also concerned about Doom’s fortress-like spaceship and his four superhuman generals on board. She says the generals represent a clear and present danger not just to the US, but to the world.

At the pier, Reed and Sue have a heart-to-heart, with him upset about being outsmarted by Doom’s tech and her being stressed about being a tabloid scandal. Reed suggests cancelling the wedding, but Sue says it’s necessary to earn the loyalty of Doom’s powerful generals.

At Avengers Mansion, Ben meets with the Avengers about their worries. Like Johnny did with Spider-Man, Ben says the wedding is “family business,” and that he can handle it. When Ben tries to leave, the Avengers try to stop him and he fights back. The Avengers pull their punches, which Ben uses to advantage to escape them. Outside the mansion, Captain America confronts Ben. Ben asks Cap for a leap of faith, and Cap accepts, letting Ben go on his way.

Sue goes shopping for wedding dresses with She-Hulk and the Wasp, only to get chased by more paparazzi. She-Hulk and Wasp fight off the photographers while Sue turns invisible and gets away. Namor finds Sue in the wedding shop. He offers to rescue her from Doom, but she asks him to trust her. Instead, he offers her a wedding gift. It’s an Atlantean necklace that is able to turn invisible. He says that if she’s ever in trouble, she can call him.

On the day of the wedding, Reed tells the FF that dark times might be ahead, and that those who were once their friends may be their friends no longer. The wedding goes off without a hitch, with both Doom’s generals and the Avengers in attendance. Sue is officially named the Baroness von Doom. There’s one panel of a bunch of Marvel comics staffers watching the wedding on TV, after which Reed-as-Doom declares that he, Sue, Ben, and Johnny are the all-new Fantastic Four!

Unstable molecule: Reed says Doom’s armor changes his voice and his retina scans, and its built-in A.I. keeps foiling his every attempt to get out of it.

Fade out: Sue compares the pretending-to-be-Doom thing to the FF’s first spaceflight, about venturing into the unknown despite the danger.

Clobberin’ time: Ben is able to out-fight the combined might of the Avengers because they’re going easy on him. When he confronts Captain America, however, Ben backs down. He says that Cap, of all people, would find a way to defeat him.

Flame on: While hanging out with Spider-Man, Johnny uses a controlled flame to melt the engine of an out-of-control car just enough to stop it, saving the lives of everyone inside. He says this is his equivalent of Spidey’s webs.

Fantastic fifth wheel: She-Hulk is interviewed, saying she is appalled by the Sue/Doom wedding. She later questions Sue about it, but the paparazzi show up before Sue can answer.

Namor (who got his official FF membership at the end of the first volume) is interviewed by the press, with a message telling Sue to walk away. He’s a lot less harsh and when dealing with Sue in person.

SUE-per spy: In the 2019 Invisible Woman miniseries, it’s revealed that Sue has been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent all this time. Given that the FF aren’t telling the Avengers or Spider-Man what’s really happening, it’s likely Sue’s not telling S.H.I.E.L.D. either. Nick Fury gets an interview segment, though, and he says, “We’re looking into it.”

Commercial break: The whole galaxy!

Trivia time: During Spider-Man’s scene, a caption tells us that Mary Jane Watson is dead. This is in reference to a controversial story in which a stalker blew up a plane Mary Jane was on. It was later revealed she survived the crash.

Sue gets her wedding dress from NYC fashionista Key Cera, who Marvel experts will recall is secretly a member of super-team Clan Destine.

The Marvel staffers watching the wedding are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, along with this issue’s creators, Chris Claremont, Salvador Larroca, Art Thibert, Bobbie Chase, and Bob Harras. Of particular note is another woman in the scene, Maria Pilar. The Marvel Wiki names her as a former Marvel employee but has no other information. There’s got to be more to it than that, though, because on the cover we see Larroca has dedicated this issue to her.

Fantastic or frightful? The reasons given for Reed to keep pretending to be Dr. Doom are pretty slim, making the tension over the situation feel not genuine. I’ve done a little reading ahead, and I’ll tell you that the Reed-as-Doom storyline doesn’t go on for very long, making all this issue’s drama even more hollow. The Thing vs. Avengers fight is pretty cool, though.

Next: Generally speaking.

****

Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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