Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In vol. 3 #46, we’re continuing with yet another mind-blowing cosmic epic. It’s mind-blowing cosmic epics all the way down.
New math: It’s around this time that marvel starts dual-numbering issues, so this is both vol. 3 #46, and legacy #475. This means the anniversary 450th issue was vol. 3 #21, the one where the FF went into the underworld and fought Hades and Hippolyta.
Previously, in the 2001 annual, various alternate timelines were converging onto the Marvel Universe proper. The cause of the disturbances is a godlike being named Abraxas (no, not the one from the Jesse Ventura movie), who stole the Watcher’s medallion, leaving the Watcher with no memories. This issue begins with the Reed and Sue consulting with Code Blue, the NYPD’s superhuman crimes division. They’re reunited with Franklin and time-displaced teenage Valeria.
Back at the new Baxter Building, Johnny is bemoaning that he’s trapped inside a suit of armor to keep his powers from going haywire, saying this is the end of his acting career. His girlfriend Namorita tries to console him. Nova, an alternate dimension version of Johnny’s ex-girlfriend, watches from a distance. The entire FF family is reunited, to learn that a meteor shower is headed for Earth. Ben shows Franklin that he can transform into a human now, and Johnny is jealous, feeling his armor makes him the monster now. Nova tells Reed that the meteor shower is coming from Abraxas, and Franklin says he’s seen Abraxas in his dream.
The FF travel to the Watcher’s home on the moon, where the Watcher is comatose. They’re joined by the Silver Surfer Captain Marvel, Quasar, and Moondragon. (Note that this is the Rick Jones/Genis-Vell version of Captain Marvel from the fan-favorite Peter David series.) We learn a little more about Abraxas, how he is traveling from universe to universe, leaving death and destruction behind in each one. The meteors come crashing down, only they’re not meteors but armor-clad aliens. These are Abraxas’ troops. The heroes fight them off for a few pages. The aliens are after the Watcher’s body. The Silver Surfer flies in and teleports the Watcher away, but a great cost. The Surfer is consumed by the aliens’ flame weapons, and… he dies!
The battle ends when an image of Abraxas appears in the sky overhead. Moondragon telepathically scans Johnny, and determines that Johnny was also Abraxas’ target. Back during the original Galactus storyline, the Watcher selected Johnny to fly through space to obtain the Ultimate Nullifier, which could defeat Galactus. Abraxas wants the power of the Nullifier for himself, and Johnny must make that same journey again. But there’s another complication. Captain Marvel uses his “cosmic awareness” to determine that the Nullifier hidden in one of three places throughout the multiverse.
Preparing for the journey, Reed says Johnny’s special armor won’t survive in space, so Johnny leaves it behind. (All that drama about the armor for nothing?) He and Nova take off for space, while Reed, Sue, and Ben prepare the teleporter to search in a second location. Namorita stays behind to protect Franklin and Valeria, only for the red alert alarm to go off inside the Baxter Building. Cut to the moon, where Abraxas arrives in person.
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed dons a new version of his thought projector (from back in the Lee/Kirby days as well The Fantastic Four Roast) to help deliver exposition.
Fade out: Sue is depicted wearing earrings with little number 4s on them. That’s adorable.
Clobberin’ time: Ben says to Franklin that they can now play football and “wrassle” as they couldn’t before, for fear of him accidentally hurting Franklin.
Flame on: After all the drama of having Johnny trapped inside this suit of armor, it’s jarring to see him standing around without it at the end of the issue. I’m hoping this will be addressed in upcoming issues.
Four and a half: Another reference is made to Franklin being several inches taller now, as the characters attempt to age him up a little more during this time.
Our gal Val: Valeria explains that she and Franklin traveled from Haven to Earth, and then went searching for the FF at the site of the crisis from last issue. That’s where they were picked by Code Blue at the start of this one.
Commercial break: I’ve seen it, and it does not rock.
Trivia time: This issue’s letters page has a message stating that yes, the Silver Surfer is really dead, and he’ll never, ever, ever come back. I suspect shenanigans.
There’s a mention of the Avengers dealing with the destruction of the United Nations building. This happened during their battle with Kang in Avengers #21, seemingly unrelated to this Abraxas stuff.
You’ll notice Quasar has a bunch of little green blobs stuck to him. This is a side-effect of him having absorbed Ego the Living Planet during the Maximum Security miniseries.
Fantastic or frightful? Basically an issue full of set-up, promising big things in issues to come. Abraxas remains an unimpressive villain compared to other Marvel cosmic entities. The best stuff is the Johnny/Namorita/Nova love triangle, but not much space is devoted to it.
Next: Challenge of the super friends.
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