Fantastic Four #27
This month’s issue of The Fantastic Four is the story of what Franklin Richards got for Christmas.
New York City has seen plenty of parades—for Gay Pride, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving. This one, however, is different. This is a parade of refugees from hundreds of alien planets, fleeing from The Griever at the End of All Things. The aliens are all headed for 4 Yancy Street, where the Fantastic Four will put them up in the myriad rooms that are dimensionally folded up into the space of the building. But among them is a spy for the Griever, who has agreed to provide the Griever with intel about Franklin in exchange for immunity from annihilation.
Everyone has their hands full, shepherding all the aliens to their destination, and Sky, N’Kalla, and Jo-Venn all wonder where the shape-changing Lyja has gone in the midst of everything. Meanwhile, Reed goes into “Intense Problem Solving” mode and calls the Silver Surfer for help in relocating the refugees to another planet and for…something else that isn’t mentioned for us readers to hear. I think I know where this is going and so should you. Next, he brings the depressed Franklin an early Christmas gift: the suit of Fantastic Four/Iron Man armor that Reed used to help save Earth from the Cotati at the climax of Empyre! This is meant to assuage Franklin’s feelings of despair and uselessness at the complete loss of his once-infinite power. However, the spy is on the job and reports Franklin’s status back to the Griever.
At once, the grotesque Griever appears in Manhattan, bringing her horde of lamprey-headed monsters with her (to use a Stephen King reference, these things are like Langoliers with legs) and confronting Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Reed and Sue’s best efforts to stop the Griever are unavailing, and soon the embodiment of entropy is chasing the armored Franklin into 4 Yancy Street, where she thinks she’s caught him. What she’s actually caught is the armor, which Franklin is operating from outside via telepresence. Reed quickly has everyone out of the building, leaving only the Griever. Then, he remotely “deletes” all the dimensions inside of 4 Yancy Street, causing the entire structure to fold in on itself, trapping the Griever inside—or so it appears. (Lyja has caught the being who was informing for the Griever—of course it takes a spy to catch a spy!)
The Griever, being one of Marvel’s abstract life forms (those beings, like Eternity and the In-Betweener, which are living expressions of ideas), cannot be physically destroyed. The FF have only a minute to savor what seems to be their victory before she comes roaring out of the spatially and temporally compressed building, furious at the Fantastic Four and ready to destroy the universe—unless the other thing for which Reed called upon the Silver Surfer can be brought into play. But we’ll have to see how that plays out next issue!
To begin reviewing this ish, I really have to acknowledge the amount of ingenuity, thought, and imagination that R.B. Silva and company put into designing and drawing the dozens upon dozens of aliens who go stomping, floating, and slithering through this issue. Imagining sentient life forms that evolved in different biospheres from that of this planet is not easy, and these artists are to be applauded for coming up with so many thoroughly non-human beings (instead of a lot of variations on humanoid bodies) and doing it on a deadline. The myriad of thoroughly alien aliens crowding this issue reminds me of John Byrne’s storyline of “The Trial of Reed Richards” in FF #261 and 262. It’s a fine job they’ve done for this story.
I couldn’t tell you what is the most dreadful horror unfolding in this issue, whether it is the relentlessly unstoppable menace of the Griever, her horde of monstrous “Endling” creatures—or the continuing consumption of Reed Richards’s face by that damn beard. In some panels I swear Reed looks like a hobo ready to jump a train. It’s really no way for the leader of the Fantastic Four to look.
If I have any little misgiving about this story, it is that the alien refugees are symbolic, in a way, of what may be a potential problem for this book. Things are getting awfully crowded in the FF’s lives. Our principal cast has grown considerably, with the FF themselves, Franklin and Valeria, and Alicia comprising the actual Richards family, and Sky being added as a romantic interest for the Torch. As of last ish, we have Lyja returning, and the subplot of Johnny and Victorious was reintroduced two issues ago. The “Future Foundation” characters, who were written off to the universe to try to reconstitute the Molecule Man (a subplot referenced in a scene with Valeria and Bentley) are also back as of last issue. That’s getting to be quite a lot of characters in play. Back in the 60s the FF’s supporting cast also grew quite a bit with the addition of the Inhumans, the Silver Surfer, Wyatt Wingfoot, and the Black Panther, but Stan and Jack were able to juggle all those characters without having the book seem to be overcrowded. This large cast may need to be pared down somewhat (the Future Foundation can go again) to keep the book’s stories from getting too scattered. I’m not saying it’s a real problem—yet. We’ll have to see what next issue brings.
As heroes, the Fantastic Four specialize in dire cosmic situations, but it has seldom looked as dire as it does right now. Their homes—both of them—have been destroyed and the wrath of the Griever makes it look as if the universe may be next. Of course we know it won’t come to that—but will the FF actually dare to do what they seem to be about to do (something they’ve done once before) to stop the Griever? For January it will be a high-stakes situation to start the 60th Anniversary year of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!”
Fantastic Four #27: Leave it to the Griever
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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