Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. We know Dr. Doom is back and that he means business. In vol. 3 #68 legacy #497, he makes his first move.
Previously, Dr. Doom reunited with lost love Valeria, also the namesake of Reed and Sue’s baby daughter. Doom sacrificed his Valeria to become an all-powerful sorcerer, magically transforming her dead body into his new supernatural armor. This issue begins with a lighter tone, with a week’s worth of gags with Johnny acting as the FF’s chief financial officer, refusing over and over again to give Ben an increase in his allowance. At the end of the week, Ben drops a gigantic water balloon with his own face on it onto Johnny.
Cut to another dimension, where Reed and Sue are exploring, and under attack by froglike monsters who speak only in long streams of numbers. While fighting and escaping their way through the place with lots of Reed’s technobabble, Sue brings up the mysterious event that occurred in baby Valeria’s bedroom (from vol. 3 issue #61). Sue’s theory is that the event was magic. Reed says he doesn’t believe in magic, and that what other call magic is that which science hasn’t yet explored.
Cut to the moon, where Medusa and Crystal are babysitting Franklin and Valeria. Franklin is trying to get Valeria to say her first word, but Medusa says she’s still young to talk. Sue appears through a portal/teleporter thingie to pick up the kids. Johnny is still mad at Ben for the whole water balloon thing, and Reed uncharacteristically joins Johnny in plotting a revenge prank. Sue, meanwhile, sneaks some allowance money to Ben, while Ben also tries to get Valeria to say her first word. Ben wonders if Valeria will grow up to be a genius like Reed. Sue breaks down, remembering that Valeria would not have survived her birth without Dr. Doom’s help, and she wonders if the baby is safe. She sets the baby aside to play with some blocks. Once Valeria is alone, she sees an image of Dr. Doom on the block, telling her “I am your godfather.”
Cut the other end of that conversation, where Doom is in his castle talking to a giant protection of Valeria’s face (it looks really weird). He recaps the story of Valeria’s birth. He then says that her birth was a gift to him, and how she is the means for him to finally get his vengeance against Reed. He says the baby is his familiar, his eyes and ears inside the Baxter Building, and a conduit for his sorcery. He restates that he made a vow that Valeria would forever be under his protection, but that vow did not extend to the rest of her family.
In Reed’s lab, he, Johnny, and Franklin are whipping up a device that will make Ben burp for a week. But then it malfunctions, with strange green energy flowing from it. Johnny fights the energy while Reed gets Franklin to safety, except that the energy seems focused on Franklin. Reed sends Franklin through the portal to the moon. Elsewhere in the building, with no knowledge of the battle going on, Sue thinks Valeria is trying to say something. And then the big moment – baby Valeria says her first word…
Back with the others, Franklin is about to step through the portal and return to the moon, but Reed senses something is wrong. The portal transforms, and now there are demons on the other side. The snatch Franklin and run off with him, as he cries out, “Daddy!”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed’s expedition to the trinary code universe was to collect photonuclear crystals, which can be used as batteries and advance solar power tech by several years.
Fade out: Is it out of character for Sue to suggest magic rather than science as a possibility? Remember that in the miniseries Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms, Sue’s first big adventure involved magic and vampires, so this has been a deeply-buried part of her personality since the start.
Clobberin’ time: When Ben finally gets his allowance from Fantastic Four Inc., it’s only $20. How much did the giant water balloon cost?
Flame on: The issue suggests that Ben’s water balloon temporarily shorted out Johnny’s powers, even though we’ve seen him be so powerful that water can’t douse his flame anymore. I think we can assume he’s merely angry after being embarrassed.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Both Medusa and Crystal are shown as doing just since the Inhumans relocated back to the moon. The FF and the kids have apparently become regular visitors on the moon.
Four and a half: Franklin expresses excitement about helping Reed in his lab. I don’t recall him being a wannabe scientist previously.
Our gal Val: Lots of foreshadowing concerning Valeria. All this talk about her inheriting Reed’s genius and her weird connection to Dr. Doom. This issue basically establishes who Valeria will be as a character.
Commercial break: Am I reading this right? NBC, Amazon, Warner Bros., and the BBC all had a hand in making this show?
Trivia time: The Marvel Wiki identifies these demons as “Neitherdemons” (note the use of the letter “i”), but their Wiki entry just leads to a page about demons in Marvel in general.
Fantastic or frightful? A fast-paced issue that flies by as you’re reading it, so you’re barely able to take in how huge the Doom/Valeria revelation is. The science vs. magic conflict is set up for the next few issues though, and it’s going to go places. Brace yourself.
Next: To Hell and back.
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