Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #518 is all about invisibility. Where’s King Mob and Ragged Robin when you need them?
Recap: The FF are still dealing with financial and PR problems following the Latveria incident (it’s a long story). Then a bunch of giant pillars flew down from space and surrounded Manhattan, lifting the entire island into the sky. With no Avengers to call on for help after the Avengers: Disassembled storyline, the NYC mayor had no choice but to call on the FF for aid.
We begin with a couple pages of our heroes rescuing civilians during the crisis. Then it’s back to the new Baxter Building, where Reed provides two-way comm devices to his teammates. He says that one of the pillars contains viewports, suggesting someone is inside while another pillar is putting out a massive amount of energy, making it the power source. He’ll check out the power source, while the other three investigate the viewports.
Sue, Ben, and Johnny punch their way through their pillar, only to be attacked by unseen force. Similarly, Reed stretches into his pillar and bumps into an invisible wall inside. Sue uses her power of turning invisible things visible, and reveals a giant two-headed monster. Ben clobbers the monster real good, while Sue reveals the entire space filled with other monsters.
Reed deduces that he’s in a room with invisible machinery, and he works on way to hack it. Sue, Ben and Johnny fight the aliens, with Sue discovering they are intelligent and have a language. Then the aliens’ leader appears, a wizard-like fellow named Zius. Cut to outside Manhattan, where TV reporters find their signal hacked by Zius. Everything he’s saying is also being broadcast throughout the country. He says he and the aliens have come to Earth in hopes of stopping the deadliest being in the known universe… Galactus!
Zius explains that his world was devoured by Galactus and that he was the only survivor. He sought other survivors, and over time they developed technology that could turn entire planets invisible, fooling Galactus’ near-omnipotent sensors. Then they learned of someone on Earth with the power to make the invisible visible. They narrowed their search to Manhattan and plotted to launch Manhattan into the sun. But now, Zius says Sue is the one they’re looking for, and he insists she surrender.
Sue says she would never willingly help Galactus destroy planets, but Zius says it’s only a matter of time before Galactus comes to Earth to take Sue’s powers for himself. Over the two-way comm, Reed asks his teammates to stall while he thinks of an alternative, but Sue merely bows her head and offers her surrender.
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: To figure out the invisible alien machine, Reed stretches his body around it to get a sense of its size and shape, and where its control panel is.
Fade out: This comic suggests that Sue is the only character in the Marvel Universe who can turn invisible things visible. Other than the cosmic, godlike beings, I can’t think of another with this power, unless Dr. Strange can do it with Eye of Agamotto.
Clobberin’ time: Ben punches out the first alien with no problem, but then the group aliens out-muscles him, pinning him to the floor.
Flame on: The aliens negate Johnny’s powers by dousing him with a yellow liquid that he can’t burn through. Let’s all hope it’s not what it looks like.
Four and a half/Our gal Val: Franklin and Valeria appear in the opening scene, and then there’s a line saying they’re going to stay with Alicia for the rest of this adventure.
Trivia time: The Marvel Wiki says the aliens’ planet-hiding invisibility tech is a reference to issue #48, the first part of the famous Galactus trilogy. In that issue, the Skrulls talk about “blacking out” their system to hide from Galactus.
Fantastic or frightful? A fun issue full of far-out sci-fi conceits. I like the idea of taking invisibility tech to extreme lengths. Mike Wieringo’s artwork really shines in the designs of all the kooky alien monsters. Big ideas, big action, and big drama – this is what Fantastic Four is all about.
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