Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In vol. 3 issue 33, we’ve got small town quirkiness, an alien invasion, and the return of one of Marvel’s earliest heroes.
The issue begins with a mysterious stranger teleporting into Pier 4 and setting a bomb to blow up the FF’s interstellar transceiver. Later, over the skies of Arizona, the team are aboard the Fantasticar when it malfunctions. They narrowly avoid crash-landing in a small desert town called Revelation, and this is followed up with some comedy bits where a small-town deputy threatens to write up the FF for traffic violations. Then more comedy bits with the FF checking into the local hotel.
That night, the deputy, whose name is Beau, visits a mysterious stranger and his daughter and says that the Fantastic Four might be looking for them. The next day, the FF work on the Fantasticar while offering some backstory. They’ve come to Arizona in search of the bomber from the start of the issue, who left behind trace minerals found only in this part of Arizona. Reed also adds that this small town has its own version of Bigfoot, called “the Howler.” As the others go off on various business, a figure in silver body armor attacks Ben, electrocuting him. The stranger attacks Reed next, talking about “pain and loss,” while Reed deduces this is the bomber, who also shot down the Fantasticar. There’s a fight, and Reed is also electrocuted.
Elsewhere, Sue visits a local antique store, which offers a magic mirror that shows people a different reflection each time. Sue doesn’t believe it, but when she looks into the mirror she’s teleported back to the Old West (!). She comes across western hero Kid Colt, and he believes she is someone named Constance Lyendecker. She helps Colt fight off an enemy cowboy, and the two of them head out into the desert while Sue hopes for answers.
Back in the present, Johnny flies recon around the desert where he runs into the Howler, who is some sort of goat/werewolf monster. As Johnny continues searching for it, it attacks him from behind and knocks him out. He wakes up on a roadside, where he’s picked up by a beautiful woman, Stasia Contrares.
Ben and Reed follow their attacker’s heat trace back to its source, a high-tech dome cloaked from the outside world. They enter it to find a jungle contained inside. They’re attacked by a dinosaur and spend several minutes fighting it off. They then meet the stranger from earlier, named Quinn, and his daughter Miranda, who is the bomber and attacker. Reed deduces that Quinn and Miranda aren’t human, and they shape-change into their original dinosaur-like forms. Quinn says they are survivors of an alien race nearly destroyed by a force called the Obliterator. They thought they were safe, but Reed’s interstellar transceiver altered the Obliterator to their presence on Earth. Now the Obliterator is on its way to Earth.
To be continued!
Unstable Molecule: There’s a short scene where Reed checks his phone messages, including one from his accountant saying there may be trouble. He says he and Sue have been too busy lately to pay closer attention the FF’s finances.
Fade out: While in Arizona, the FF set up a temporary headquarters in an out-of-business drive-in theater. Sue goes into fond memories about her and Johnny going to the drive-in with their aunt Mary. This is yet another reference to the Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms miniseries.
Clobberin’ time: Ben, on the other hand, says he’s never been to a drive-in theater, because he grew up in NYC. He always thought of going to one as being exotic.
Flame on: This issue has a reference to Johnny flirting with a tattooed guitar-playing girl, and he’s similarly flirtatious with new girl Stasi. But isn’t he supposed to be in a relationship with Namorita during this time? I’ve spent all week researching New Warriors, and all I can conclude is Johnny and Namorita split up off-panel sometime after New Warriors vol. 2 issue 6. If I’m wrong, write in and let me know.
Sue-per spy: The 2019 Invisible Girl miniseries revealed that Sue had a secret double life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent all this time. When she finds herself back in the Old West, Sue is no doubt using her spy training to blend in.
Commercial break: I never heard of this movie before today.
Trivia time: Let’s talk about Kid Colt! The character debuted way back in 1948, and Marvel published Kid Colt comics more or less consistently all the way up to 1979, though a lot of those later years were reprints. Because there wasn’t much in the way of continuity back then, there are two versions of the character, but the gist of it is that Kid Colt is an Old West take on The Fugitive, always on the run for a crime he didn’t commit. Once the Marvel Universe got going in a big way, numerous Marvel heroes met Kid Colt when traveling through time. Marvel then brought Kid Colt back in a big way in the 2000 series Blaze of Glory and 2010’s The Sensational Seven.
Fantastic or frightful? This issue and the next are from guest writer John Moore, and he certainly puts his own spin on Fantastic Four. It’s a fun puzzle-box type of story. It really demands readers pay attention to every panel, and then rewards readers for doing so. I really liked this one.
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