Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Like all stories about corporate espionage, vol. 3 #66 legacy #495 ends with a giant blog and giant bugs.
In the previous issue, Johnny, in his new role as the FF’s chief financial officer, uncovered industrial espionage involving the team’s unstable molecule tech. But when a rival businessman swiped some unstable molecule fabric, he put in a lab, where the fabric became even more unstable, growing wildly out of control. As the issue begins, Johnny provides a little more explanation, saying the molecules are adapting to anything they touch, rapidly transforming them molecule-by-molecule. Johnny, his assistant Jian, and rival businessman Suarti escape Suarti’s building, which is rabidly being consumed by blob-like molecules.
Back at the new Baxter Building, Reed and a partially-shrunken Ben continue to fight the giant insect that followed the team home from an adventure in another dimension. Reed aims his shrinking machine at the insect, only for it short out at the last minute. Reed finds Sue driving along a country road (where is she?). He gives Jian Sue’s car and flies off with Sue. Then we’re back with Reed and Ben, where Reed reconfigures the shrinking ray to the opposite, growing Ben to gigantic size. With his new size comes new strength, and he punches out the insect.
At Suarti’s building, Johnny wants to Sue to surround the building with a force field. She says she’s not able to do a force field that big (what’s not mentioned is how she once surrounded all of Manhattan in force field). They briefly bicker about this being his fault with how he ran the FF’s business, and he argues that she’s the one who should have known better. He tells her she’s the one who needs to be responsible, so she tries the force field, sealing the entire building.
At HQ, Ben sends the insect back through a portal, to its home dimension. Reed gets a call from Johnny, and rushes off to get the unstable molecules under control. This leaves Ben stuck in the room in his giant state. He tries using the shrinking machine to get himself back to normal size, only to shrink himself all teeny-tiny.
Later, Sue does some damage control at the FF office, finding a comprehensive business plan written by Johnny and Jian. She says it’s filled with good ideas. She promotes Jian with a raise, and says she’ll keep Johnny on as financial manager on a provisional basis. Johnny says he can do the job, stating “I’m not always fourteen.” Sue says the job has some perks, as she puts Johnny on the phone with Ben as Ben asks for an increase in his allowance.
Unstable molecule: The insect manages to bite Reed in the arm, injuring him. This is a rare instance of his stretchy powers not able to block something sharp from hurting him.
Fade out: I don’t recall seeing this blue convertible sports car of Sue’s. She did have a cool car during Heroes Reborn, though, so maybe this is her retaining some memories from her time in that other universe.
Clobberin’ time: If Ben owns 25 percent of Fantastic Four Inc., then why does he have to come to them asking for an allowance? Maybe he’s the one who needs help with money management, not Johnny.
Flame on: Johnny’s assistant/coworker Jian will later return in the 2003 Human Torch solo series, where it’s suggested that she and Johnny have a bit of a romance brewing. Her only other appearance will be in issue #525, which briefly revisits Johnny’s businessman subplot.
Commercial break: Cereal should not be lime green.
Trivia time: This is the final appearance of businessman Jacob Suarti, as well as industrial saboteurs Ethan and Christi. This issue’s wrap-up reveals that Ethan and Chrisi were fired, and Suarti is off to prison. While the Marvel wiki identifies the alien insect as a “Leviote,” it has no entry in the wiki.
Fantastic or frightful? I’m not sure that I get the moral here. Sue wanted Johnny to learn responsibility, but she’s the one who really needs to learn responsibility? When has she ever been irresponsible? All the plot threads get wrapped up in a nice bow, and there’s some fun bits along the way, however, so I guess it’s all good.
Next: Skin job.
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