Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. For readers who’ve been wondering if any of these storylines are going anywhere, here’s vol 3 #53 legacy #482 with the answers.
Gimmie a gimmick: This is the third of four issues with connected Mike Wieringo-drawn covers that create a single image, from top to bottom rather than from left to right.
Continuing with what the previous issues started, this one begins with another flashback to World War II, where the original android human torch battles a bunch of no-good Nazis. The mysterious children with glowing eyes flee the battle and run off to live in secret. On that day, they became… the Hidden Ones.
Cut to modern-day New York, where Dr. Doom has stepped onto the main floor of the United Nations, to challenge Reed and offer sanctuary to the Inhumans, whose presence has caused controversy throughout the nation. Doom takes the mic, giving a big speech about how, as a child, he was once considered to be an outcast and outsider. But, he also states that the Earth needs protecting from dangerous space aliens, and not the Earth-born Inhumans. He also takes a shot at the FF, saying they’ve failed to stop alien invasions in the past.
Cut to Stern Academy in upstate New York, where Franklin is attending school. Anti-alien sentiment is here as well, with kids and teachers fretting about the likes of the Skrulls and Galactus, and one bully saying the FF are in league with aliens. Franklin, who is there in a secret identity, tries to stand up for his family, but gets shot down when the bully calls him a “freak lover.” A pointy-haired kid named Robert stands up for Franklin, and they’re friends now.
Anti-Inhuman protests continue in NYC, as the Inhumans debate whether to take Dr. Doom’s offer of sanctuary. Reed cautions them not to, saying Doom must have an ulterior motive. Medusa says the Inhumans can’t stay as guests in the new Baxter Building forever, but must find a home of their own somewhere. Johnny returns to the Baxter Building just in time for all the power to go out, allowing the protestors to evolve into rioters, storming the building. Sue gets a message from the Guardsmen, the iron-armored guards of super-prison the Vault, who claim they have secured the Baxter Building for purposes of capturing the Inhumans. When Sue, who is pregnant, tries to block the Guardsmen with a force field, she collapses with glowing energy, saying “Something’s wrong!”
Reed, meanwhile, is at the Vault to discuss the anti-Inhuman sentiment, only to learn that the Guardsmen have abducted Ben and locked him up. It’s here we finally get the reveal that the mystery woman with the glowing eyes we’ve been following for several issues is Senso, one of the Hidden Ones. She has Ben trapped in a special Vault cell that won’t let him transform from human into the Thing. She says she plans to destroy both the Inhumans and the Fantastic Four. She adds that if the FF had never made their original spaceflight, then the Hidden Ones would have been free to continue living in secrecy. But the FF opened the door to superhumans of all kinds running around Earth, so Senso demands revenge.
Ben’s willpower breaks through Senso’s influence. He transforms into the Thing and escapes his cell. But then Senso zaps him again and he falls under her mind-control once more. We abruptly cut to Reed and Vault warden, where Senso steps through the door and now claims that world domination is also among her plans. She says she’s the one who shut off the Baxter Building’s defenses, and she zaps Reed with her psychic powers. At the Baxter Building, Sue explains how her baby is the same one she lost years earlier, who has been “restored” when Franklin rewrote the timeline a few issues back. Except that was a dangerous pregnancy, and now history is about to repeat itself. While the Inhumans fight off the Guardsmen, Johnny leaves, saying he’ll save Sue, even if he has to make a deal with “the devil himself!”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed mentions working on “Project Stellar Shield” with military leaders, but instead we later find him at the Vault. Did he skip the meeting? Also, he flies a new type of Fantasticar that has three seats, not four, which Reed named “Richards One.”
Clobberin’ time: There’s a reference to Ben’s “new girlfriend.” This would be Kate O’Meara of Damage Patrol who’s been flirty with Ben in recent issues, but maybe it’s gotten more serious than that.
Flame on: Johnny equates losing control of his flame with losing control of everything in his life, which gives him drive to put things right at the end.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Crystal and Johnny are awkwardly reunited, with her giving up and admitting that Johnny’s obnoxiousness is just him being Johnny. She later speaks on behalf of the Inhumans, declaring “We’re not monsters!”
Medusa seems okay with the idea of the Inhumans relocating to Latveria. She asks Black Bolt what he thinks, but they’re interrupted before he can get any sort of answer.
Four and a half: This is the only appearance of Franklin’s friend Robbie. Several fan sites believe that Robbie is actually H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot in disguise, as we’re getting reintroduced to H.E.R.B.I.E. in the near future. But this is only speculation, with nothing in the text stating it. (Freakin’ H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot.)
Commercial break: It was nice of them to give Mignola a shout-out.
Trivia time: As noted above, the Guardsmen are the high-tech guards at the Vault. So why are they running around NYC in these issues? Turns out they have a history of aligning with supervillains rather than locking them up. They’re often seen partnering with Justin Hammer in conflict against Iron Man, and they took on Iron Man himself during the Armor Wars crossover. After the Vault was shut down, the government still uses the Guardsmen armor for whatever suit-of-armor mission are needed.
Fantastic or frightful? All the story threads of the past several issues finally start coming together into a single plot, which is refreshing. It’s mostly setup for the next issue, but it does the job.
Next: How many pages?
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