Marvel 2-In-1 #9
Ben Grimm, the Thing and Johnny Storm, the Human Torch are having a falling-out. Ben has led Johnny on a search across multiple realities for Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic and Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman to bolster Johnny’s morale at the loss of his family and their fading powers, the powers of the Fantastic Four being dependent on their being in the same universe because of a strange entanglement. What Ben has failed to tell Johnny and what Johnny has just learned is that Reed and Sue are dead (or so Ben thinks; see Fantastic Four #1) and the whole thing has been for naught. Ben and Johnny are now stranded on an alternate Earth where the super-hero Civil War became an apocalypse and the world lives in fear of “The Spider,” a psychotic despot who used to be Spider-Man.
Into this world from “our” world comes an all-new, evil Fantastic Four, led by the Mad Thinker, who is now calling himself Mr. Fantastic, and including new villains Lumen, Smash, and Goodfire. They are seeking Ben and Johnny as the last remnant of the original FF, whom they must wipe out. The former Thing and Torch confront the Thinker’s band and manage to outwit and maneuver them in spite of the villains’ powers, proving that it takes more than powers alone to be the Fantastic Four. They then go on the run from the evil FF, only to have their truck hit a landmine. As they lie in the desert after Johnny has dragged Ben from the wrecked vehicle, they somehow begin to express their lost powers again. Johnny, on the edge of unconsciousness, sees what appears to be his sister Sue crouching down over him, wondering into what trouble her younger brother has gotten himself! But is this really the Invisible Woman of the regular Marvel Universe, come to save the day?
There is some confusion of continuity between this issue and last month’s Fantastic Four #1. In this issue and the last, the Torch is angry at the Thing for not leveling with him about the deaths of Johnny’s sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece (which we know isn’t true anyway, but Ben thinks this is the case, so to him and Johnny right now it is the “truth”). However, in FF #1 we find the Thing and the Torch returned to the regular Marvel Earth at what must be a time after these stories, with their powers restored, once again fighting over Reed and Sue being “dead” and Ben wanting to move on with his life and marry Alicia. These things are going to have to be cleared up.
Also, we know that the entanglement of the Fantastic Four’s powers makes them all dependent on being alive in the same universe to retain the full measure of their powers. When Ben and Johnny visited the Earth where a different Fantastic Four saw a different outcome to the first coming of Galactus (Marvel 2-in-One #4-6), being in the presence of a different Reed and Sue did not restore their powers. So how are they regaining their powers in the presence of this particular Sue? If she is the real one, who is it that appeared at the end of Fantastic Four #1? Next issue is going to have to shed a light on all of the above.
All such confusion aside, this is another very entertaining, well-written, well-drawn issue of a series that has been almost uniformly a pleasure to read (leaving aside the disappointing Annual). We learn in the course of this story that the Mad Thinker has used Rachna Koul’s technology to endow his three followers—a lot of riffraff typical of the kinds of characters that super-villains employ as their thugs and henchmen—with super-powers. By inference, we also learn that when Rachna and Dr. Doom disappeared from this world two issues ago, they reappeared in Rachna’s home and the Thinker and his henchmen took the Multisect from them, which is how they found their way to this world to menace our heroes. What they did to Rachna and Doom is yet to be revealed.
Ramon Perez continues to be an interesting artist whose development will bear watching. In this issue, his style looks a bit rough and sketchy on some pages and in some panels, but not nearly so much as that of Sara Pichelli over in the new Fantastic Four book. It might still be gratifying to see Perez given a chance to draw the actual FF title, but it would be even more gratifying to see him there if he could tighten up the look of his artwork much more than the way it appears now. All things considered, it would be most pleasing to see both this book and The Fantastic Four drawn in a much more polished and classical-looking style than what we are presently seeing from either one.
Tallying up this issue: The Mad Thinker is madder than ever and seems truly bent on trying to become Reed Richards. With the characters in this issue and some others who are soon to appear in the main FF book, Marvel seems to be having a bit of fun playing with our notions of what a "Fantastic Four" is. We should all be looking forward to Reed and company let it be known in no uncertain terms that there is only one foursome to whom that title truly, rightfully belongs.
MARVEL 2-IN-ONE #9 – THE FAST, THE FURIOUS, AND THE FANTASTIC
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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