Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. A cosmic crisis just keeps getting more cosmic in issue #519, along with some big changes for our heroes.
Recap: The FF are facing a financial and PR crisis following the Latveria incident (it’s a long story) just in time for aliens to attack New York. The aliens, led by a guy named Zius, are survivors of Galactus. They have perfected invisibility technology to hide entire planets from Galactus’ near-omniscient senses. They’ve come to Earth to find and possibly destroy Sue, who they learned has the power to make the invisible visible. Despite her teammates’ protests, Sue surrenders to the aliens.
This issue begins with Zius strapping Sue to a strange device to prevent her from using her force fields while the other aliens keep the rest of the FF at bay. Zius says he is no murderer, yet this seems like an execution. Sue pleads for one last chance to say goodbye to her children. Johnny tries to fight back but is stopped by the aliens. Zius is about to. Then Reed busts through a wall with one of the aliens’ weapons. Instead of fighting the aliens, however, he turns the weapon on Sue and fires.
Sue collapses while Zius checks his instruments. Reed explains that he didn’t hurt Sue, he merely took away her powers. He says this is preferable to her becoming a pawn in a game played by alien demigods. He tells Zius, “Get off my planet.” Zius uses mind-boggling alien tech to return Manhattan island to Earth, instantaneously repairing all the damage that was done.
Reed gives a big speech to Zius, saying that the FF have defended Earth against Galactus multiple times and will do so again. He says that if Zius ever returns to Earth, “The Fantastic Four will make you regret it.” Because the aliens are still broadcasting their message to Earth, people all over the world hear Reed say this.
Cut to the roof of the new Baxter Building as the aliens are leaving. Ben insists that Reed use the weapon on him to make him human again. Reed says the weapon actually doesn’t eliminate anyone’s powers. He tells Sue to jump off the building (!). She does (!!) and then she flames on. She now has Johnny’s powers. Reed says the FF’s powers cannot be created or destroyed, but they can be reassigned. Johnny tries it, and he turns invisible, as he now has Sue’s powers.
Reed says the procedure can be reversed. He’s about to give Sue and Johnny their own powers back, when they look up to see a giant hand reach down and grab hold of the departing alien ships. There’s an image in the sky of Zius suffering in pain, and then the hand destroys the ships. Turn the page and we see it’s Galactus, looming large over the city.
Galactus fires an energy beam down at the building, striking Johnny. Johnny isn’t hurt, but instead is transformed. He’s glowing with energy and has a new outfit with a big eye on his chest. Johnny realizes it’s Sue’s powers that both Zius and Galactus are after. As Galactus’ hand reaches for Johnny, he says, “This bites.”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: I’m a little unclear as to how Reed’s plan works. There’s one panel of Zius checking out an image of Sue on his computer, and that’s all we get to see that he’s been tricked, even though he’s been shown to have nearly godlike power. Let’s just say his weapon also messes with their sensors somehow.
Fade out: Sue says Johnny’s powers have a frightening burning sensation as first, but then it is freeing as the flames make her lighter than air.
Clobberin’ time: Ben is mostly comic relief this issue. When Johnny turns himself invisible, Ben says, “It’s a good look f’r ya!”
Flame on: Sue’s advice to Johnny about how to turn visible is to imagine himself as being seen, and it works.
Trivia time: What’s Galactus been up to since he came back from the dead during the Abraxus storyline? He was a major player in the Annihilation crossover, in which he created the “Galactus event” to counter the deadly Annihilation Wave. Then, in Nova, there was a complicated storyline about Galactus and his conflict with the Proemial Gods, and his fight with a cosmic being called the Harrow. It’s nice that they’ve given him interests other than just devouring planets.
Also, this is the final appearance of Zius, so we can assume that he did indeed die in Galactus’ attack.
Fantastic or frightful? This is issue is fast paced, with a lot of big moments and dramatic revelations told in a short space. I feel like the creators were rushing through this one to check off a lot of boxes in order to set up the good stuff in the next few issues. Such is the nature of monthly comics, I suppose, with a finite number of pages to work with. Mike Wieringo’s artwork continues to shine.
Next: Storm in space.
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