Fantastic Friday: Baby back

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Another reality-twisting comes to an end in vol. 3 #49, legacy 478. This is when we say goodbye to Valeria, and we meet… Valeria?  

To recap, the godlike villain Abraxas (not the one from the Jesse Ventura movie) is on a killing spree across the multiverse, because he believes the only way to achieve perfection is in pure nothingness. The FF went on a cosmic quest across other universes to obtain the Ultimate Nullifier, which is powerful enough to destroy Abraxas. An alternate universe version of Johnny’s ex Frankie Raye a.k.a. Nova betrayed the FF and gave the Nullifier to Abraxas. This issue begins with him contemplating the Nullifier, saying, “And so it ends.”

The FF have reassembled atop the new Baxter Building, along with Franklin, displaced teenage Valeria, Roma the daughter of Merlin, and interdimensional royalty Saturnyne. Abraxas summons a whole bunch of alt-universe versions of Nova who surround the building. They reveal Johnny’s current girlfriend Namorita, who appears dead after Abraxas removed her ability to breath on land. The FF put up a fight, trying to battle their way through all the Novas to get the Nullifier away from Abraxas. Ben gets closest, only to get flung across the city by a single breath from Abraxas.

Reed is severely burned by the Novas, and he can sense alt-reality versions of himself dying elsewhere in the multiverse. Sue, Franklin, Valeria, and Saturnyne crowd around Reed, who is out of it. Franklin says he has to do something, something good and brave, something to make things right. Franklin and Valeria grasp hands and… WHAT is this look on Sue’s face?

Anyway, Franklin and Valeria grasp hands. Then… it happens. Franklin appears telepathically in Sue’s memories, reliving when she was pregnant with Reed and Sue’s second child, and the subsequent miscarriage. Franklin says this is the only other time she’s ever been this frightened. We then see Franklin with Roma in the otherworldy Haven, where Franklin has been attending school of sorts. He says Roma showed him something, that baby Sue thought was lost was not lost at all. Franklin “went back” and saved the baby. He saved her in another world, where she returned as the current Valeria. Franklin adds, “We’re all here together, Mom, for a reason.” Valeria tells Franklin to make a wish, adding “You know who we gotta bring back!” This is followed by an image of Eternity, screaming in pain, high above the Baxter Building.

Franklin and Valeria float upward into space, as Valeria tells Franklin to show them why Roma was tending to Valeria “all these years in the heart of Eternity.” Eternity and his counterpart Infinity then appear in the sky, while debris and explosions happen all around New York. Then Galactus appears, and Valeria confirms that this is “our” Galactus, meaning the Marvel Universe’s Galactus. She says this is “the first Galactus,” and this is who Franklin was bringing back.

Abraxas still armed with the Ultimate Nullifier, confronts Galactus. Galactus says to Abraxas, “You hold nothing. You are nothing.” The Nullifier disappears, and Galactus says the Nullifier was a part of him all along. The Novas attack Galactus, but he blasts them all into skeletons. (Damn!) Reed conveniently recovers from his injuries, and Galactus hands him the Nullifier, saying, “This day can end only one way.” Reed says Abraxas never intended to fire the Nullifier, “for the very same reason I must!”

Turn the page and there’s a two-page spread of Eternity in pain as he seemingly breaks apart into pieces… of Eternity? Okay.   The next page is half blank, and then we return to the Baxter Building, where (mostly) everything is back to normal. Namorita is alive again, and she and Johnny reunite. The Watcher appears, and he has his memory back (he lost his memory at the start of this story arc). Franklin comments that Abraxas is gone, and so is Valeria. The Silver Surfer flies by, back to life after he was “permanently” killed in vol. 3 #46.

The Watcher explains (kind of) that the universe was just erased and then rebooted. (“A rebirth” is how he puts it.) He then says that Franklin used up the last of his cosmic power to help make this happen. Sue steps onto the building’s roof from below to reveal… she’s pregnant!

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: How did Reed recover so quickly from being burned? The comic doesn’t say, but we can recall from other issues that established the FF uniforms are fireproof, so Nova’s flames couldn’t have burned Reed that badly.

Fade out: In the flashback to Sue’s pregnancy the doctors on the scene are Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, and Michael Morbius, a.k.a. Morbius the Living Vampire. Look closely on the next page, and you can see the third doctor is Ben’s Uncle Jake.

Clobberin’ time: After the universe gets rebooted, Ben reappears on the FF’s roof and just says, “Huh.” I guess he’s been a member of the FF for so long that he has some sense of when a big cosmic event happened.

Flame on: There’s no mention of how Johnny’s powers have gone out of control in this issue. Previous issues established that he’s not currently wearing his special armor that lets him control his flame, yet there are several panels of him standing around in “flame off” mode. It’ll be a few more issues before his powers are canonically restored to normal.

Four and a half: Yes, Franklin’s reality-bending mutant powers will return, but not for a while. We’re entering his “ordinary human kid” years, and the powers won’t come back until the Dark Reign event.

Our gal Val: Let me see if I’ve got this straight. In this issue, Franklin reaches back in time to the birth of Reed and Sue’s second child. He time-displaces the baby into an alternate future where Sue is married to Dr. Doom. The girl is raised as Valeria Von Doom. As a teen, Valeria “time-dances” to the FF’s present to become a member of the family. And this was done so that Valeria could add her power to Franklin’s so Franklin could bring Galactus back to life to defeat Abraxas, after which Valeria was restored in the timeline back to being Reed and Sue’s unborn child. Is that it? I think that’s it.

Either way, this is last appearance of the Marvel Girl/Von Doom version of Valeria. Yes, she cameos in the recent Marvel Chris Claremont special, but that was yet another alternate timeline version of her.

I suppose this issue also the first appearance the “real” Valeria, although the birth won’t be for a few more issues.

Commercial break: Beyblade was huge that there were Beyblade ripoffs? Freakin’ Beyblade.

Trivia time: Not surprisingly, this is the final appearance of Abraxas. Considering more people associate that name with a cheesy Jesse Ventura movie and not Marvel Comics, I don’t think Marvel’s Abraxas will make a comeback anytime soon.

Who is this Infinity character? Just as Eternity is the living embodiment of all creation, Infinity is the living embodiment of all time. And the two of them are a couple, apparently.

Saturnyne and Roma are more or less done with Fantastic Four by this point as well, they will next appear in a Captain Britain story, with Saturnyne returning to her “Imperial Magestrix” villain status.

Other superheroes are briefly glimpsed during the battle include Spider-Man, Thor, Vision, Thor, the Rick Jones version of Captain Marvel, Swordsman, and Doc Spectrum from Squadron Supreme. But then the Marvel Wiki has to point out that these are – say it with me – alternate reality versions of these characters.

Fantastic or frightful? I don’t know. Going back and undoing the miscarriage still strikes me as being in horrible poor taste, but it’s a part of Marvel history now so there’s nothing more I can say or do about it. Then there’s Abraxas. For a cosmic, reality-ending threat, he never felt threatening. I suppose it’s because we only saw what happened after his attacks, but we never saw him actually use these powers on the page. For all this storyline’s importance, it feels like it’s been nothing but running around directionless. If you’re still reading along with me by this point, fear not – we’re ten issues away from the comic getting REALLY good again. As in, among the best it’s ever been.

Next: I’m speechless.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!

About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH.
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