Fantastic Friday: Herald the duck

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In issue #520, Johnny becomes the new herald of Galactus. We’ve got space battles, a special guest star, and even a kissing scene.

Recap: Aliens attacked the Earth in hopes of killing Sue, so they could invisibly hide from Galactus forever without Sue’s power to make them visible again. Reed tricked the aliens by switching Sue and Johnny’s powers. Then Galactus arrived on Earth in person, transforming Johnny with a powerful energy blast.

We begin with Reed, Sue, and Johnny falling from the new Baxter Building, with Ben commenting, “That was a short fight.” Sue tries to fly Ben to safety, but she’s still getting used to controlling the flame powers. Reed instead saves Ben by stretching around him and using his body to bungee-jump Ben to the sidewalk below.

Reed deduces that Galactus has recruited Johnny to become his new herald. Reed blames himself, but a furious Sue says, “It should be me.” The three of them rally, planning to venture into space, in pursuit of Galactus and Johnny. Reed hopes to find them before Johnny unknowingly leads Galactus to an inhabited world.

On board Galactus’ ship, Johnny is pestering Galactus, asking him where the bathroom is. Using his newfound invisible force field powers, he flies around the ship making wisecracks, until Galactus ejects him into space. Johnny says it’s like letting a dog out into the yard. An alien with a flaming sword approaches. He is Karragan the Unforgiving, and he’s come seeking revenge against Galactus after Galactus destroyed his planet.

At the new Baxter Building, Sue is in the shower while flamed on, causing steam to go everywhere. She’s finding it hard to keep the fire in check. She has a flashback to her and Johnny when they were younger and living on their own. He was driving her crazy while bouncing a basketball around inside the house, only for her to find a Mother’s Day gift for her, with a note saying, “For the best sister in the whole world.”

Reed affixes Ben with a “combination deep-space survival suit and flight unit.” Reed adds that he’s called an old friend for help to reach Galactus’ ship. Ben talks with Alicia on the phone. He assures her that the alien invasion was just a “drop-in,” and he asks her to look after the kids while the team in away. Ben has a flashback to his and Alicia’s first date, which is awkward until Johnny flies by outside with a message, “Now kiss her, you lummox.” And he does. Back in the present, Ben says, “I hate ta admit it, but I honestly care about th’ kid.”

On the roof of the HQ, Reed, Sue, and Ben meet up with Quasar. He says he hoped to stop Zius and Galactus on his own, what with him being the official protector of the universe and all, but his “personal priorities” got in the way. With the power his quantum bands, they take off.

In space, Johnny tries to talk Karragan down, but all the alien wants to do is fight. Johnny exclaims “Back off!” as he draws upon the Power Cosmic, which is given to all heralds of Galactus. Johnny then vivisects Karragan in a gory way, only to them put him back together again. Johnny returns Karragan to the wilderness planet where he currently lives, and says he can sense the alien healing already. Overwhelmed, Johnny remarked that he only blinked and unleashed power that Sue never dreamed of. He asks, “What am I becoming?”

Unstable molecule: Reed at one point tells Sue to stop the “hysterics.” I think the idea is to illustrate that the fire powers are affecting Sue’s personality, but this is still not a good look for Reed.

Fade out: Sue’s flashback recalls that she was left to raise Johnny on her own after their criminal father hit rock bottom.

Clobberin’ time: Not counting those times when he turned human, this is the first time we’ve seen Ben and Alicia kiss. It’s also a different side of the normally rough and tumble Ben as he speaks eloquently about her sculptures and about the perfume she’s wearing.

Flame on: Johnny assumed Reed and the others are already on their way to rescue him. He adds that it will be difficult to pull Reed away from all the far-out tech inside Galactus’ ship.

Trivia time: There’s a reference to Quasar being the FF’s former tenant. For most of Quasar’s solo series, he operated from an office in one of the lower floors of Four Freedoms Plaza, the team’s former HQ. This was established in Quasar #3, and it remained that way until his final issue in #60.

What is the personal business that kept Quasar busy during the invasion? Unknown. His last appearance before this was when the Avengers split up in the recent Avengers: Disassembled event.

The Marvel Wiki states that this is the first and only known appearance of Karragan the Unforgiving. I’m curious about the “only known” phrasing. Does someone updating the Wiki think that Karragan might be drawn into a background of some other comic?

Fantastic or frightful? After the last issue with checking a bunch of boxes to get the story set up, the plot properly gets under way this time. There are a lot of great character moments as Waid, Wieringo and Kesel take some time to explore this new premise. Great stuff.

Next: Hot rod.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH.
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