MARVEL 2-IN-ONE #6
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: Walden Wong
Colorist: Frank Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s the cosmic conclusion to the soul-stirring saga of “The Fate of the Four!” (This story just inspires Stan Lee-style alliteration; roll with it and read along.) But when all is said and done, any number of fates may yet be decided.
What You Need to Know:
All that’s left of one alternate universe that was devoured by Dr. Doom in the body of Galactus is the Earth and the Sun—and now Doom-as-Galactus is hungry again and returning for the last portion! A Fantastic Four made up of the Thing and Human Torch from our universe and the depressed Mr. Fantastic and the estranged Invisible Girl/Woman (who’s become the director of SHIELD) from this universe must somehow stop this “Grand Devouring”—and just when things are looking most dire, along comes the “reformed” Dr. Doom of our universe to team up with them! Meanwhile, Norrin Radd is no longer the Silver Surfer in this alternate world—and who is that former evil mutant we saw him with? And where are this universe’s Human Torch and Galactus?
What You’ll Find Out:
Is Dr. Doom really a changed man? I mean, really? He’s working with the Reed Richards of the alternate reality well enough. At one point as they’re throwing together the technology to battle the alternate Dr. Doom in the body of an alternate Galactus, Doom asks Reed to pass him a gadget called a “Sinnotyne”—a cute little call-out to the artist who worked on The Fantastic Four longer than Lee and Kirby themselves. But I don’t know. He’s trying to take on the role of an all-new Iron Man, but he still looks like Doom and he still gives off a very “Doom” vibe. He’s still the same guy who knows he’s better than everyone else and believes down to the bottom of his soul that he is the one rightful possessor of any great power in the universe. (This same conviction in his counterpart in this world is what’s gotten them all into this mess!) As we shall see, you can heal Victor Von Doom’s face and put him in a smartly, sharply redesigned armor, but Doom is still Doom.
Anyway, the gigantic Doom in Galactus’s body closes in on Earth, and our Torch, Thing, and Doom take the point in attacking him. And this is where it starts getting clever: for the technology that Reed and our Doom have whipped together saturates bashful Ben with Pym particles, growing the Thing to giant size to clobber the purple-armored predator. (All Marvel comic-book science buffs, you do remember that Dr. Doom independently discovered the Pym particles and weaponized them against the FF in Fantastic Four #10, don’t you?) With Sue’s force field reinforcing him, Benjy starts to lay a clobbering on the usurper of Galactus’s power.
Meanwhile, our Doom and the Torch have their hands full with the surfboard-riding Heralds of Doom. And this is where a truly brilliant twist happens, one that addresses a question I’ve been asking for the last couple of issues and provides an answer that I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t guess. You see, the Sun is not really the Sun. It’s a colossal device called “the Luminet,” and blazing at its core is the Human Torch of this universe, his powers amped to a super-cosmic level by the Power Cosmic of the Silver Surfer! That explains what happened to the alternate Johnny Storm: when Doom took Galactus’s body and devoured the universe, Johnny sacrificed himself to save the world by becoming the Sun! That also tells us what happened to the Norrin Radd of this universe, no longer the Silver Surfer, whom we found living as a farmer out in the midwest. (Though we are still left bewildered by his marriage to the White Queen! Of all people—her?)
Anyway, the cosmically empowered Torch joins the battle, while our Doom hurls our Torch into the space platform where Norrin and the Queen are preparing the final assault on the cosmic Doom. And this is where Doom shows us who he really is at heart: subduing Johnny, Norrin, and the Queen, Doom himself prepares to use the weapon with which they will smite his counterpart. Remember, if there is any ultimate power to be had, only Doom should possess it, right? He’s been passing himself off as a hero, but he’s running true to form. It actually takes Johnny to reason with Doom and make him come to his senses, releasing the White Queen and letting her use the final weapon as planned. And what does this weapon do? It switches bodies on the White Queen and Doom-as-Galactus! The mind of the cosmically juiced-up Dr. Doom enters the body of the White Queen, causing a fatal trauma for that body. As he lies dying in the physical form of the mutant telepath, the alternate Doom addresses our Doom and tells him with his last breath that he has “seen everything. They always return and you are forever their vill…” He expires in mid-word, but there is a world of meaning in what he gasped out in those final moments.
Out in space in the meantime, the White Queen in Galactus’s body is expelling everything that Galactus consumed—restoring the universe! Which leaves just a couple of details to wrap up. We next travel to the grave of a man named Galen—that is, Galen of the planet Taa, the inhabitant of a prior universe who lived through the Big Crunch and the Big Bang to become Galactus. When Doom swapped bodies with Galactus, Galen, rendered mortal, couldn’t bear the guilt of having killed countless billions of beings to satisfy his hunger and immediately died. And finally, the Human Torch of this alternate universe has one last gift to give. With the last vestige of the Power Cosmic that made him a second Sun, he restores Norrin Radd to being the Silver Surfer and sends him out into space to be with his White Queen as she sets about re-creating everything that Doom-as-Galactus destroyed. And may they live happily and cosmically ever after.
Finally, the alternate Reed takes our Ben aside for a private moment. He tells the Thing his suspicions about Rachna Koul’s motives in traveling across the universes with Ben and Johnny. Reed, who knows exactly how to use the universe-jumping Multisect technology, searched the multiverse for the exact power signatures of our Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman—and couldn’t find them. Are the Reed and Susan Richards of the primary universe really no more? That question and many others will be answered over the summer—in Fantastic Four #1!
What Just Happened?
This issue ties up a very satisfying preamble to the return of Marvel’s first and still best title. There is nothing more delicious in all of comicdom than a really good Fantastic Four story, and these first six issues of Marvel 2-in-One serve us a really good story about the history and concepts of The Fantastic Four. This storyline was called “The Fate of the Four,” and while its central question actually was the fate of the FF, it managed to present a totally ripping and entertaining yarn that didn’t really answer the mystery of its through-line. Instead, it raised questions to which we’re not going to have definitive answers for a couple of months yet. Where are Reed and Susan Richards? How completely powerless will the Torch and the Thing become as a result of the entanglement of The FF’s powers and their separation from Reed and Sue, before their power loss is finally reversed? Are the Richardses going through the same thing, wherever they are? And why, now, is there no trace of them in the multiverse? The story of “The Fate of the Four” leaves us to wonder what their fate will actually be, while giving us an adventure that doesn’t make us feel cheated. The final answer to this dilemma is yet to come, and these issues of Marvel 2-in-One have fittingly left us to look forward to it.
Then there’s the matter of the last words of the alternate Dr. Doom. You know that last word he was trying to say was “villain,” right? He was telling the Doom of the main universe that whatever may separate or seemingly destroy them, the Fantastic Four will always come back and that the clash between the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom will go on. He was telling our Doom his obvious future, a future made clear by remarks that Dan Slott has made about his plans for the new FF book and the fact that Tony Stark will be returning in the main Marvel Universe and he’s going to want the role of Iron Man back. In a couple of weeks we’re going to have the Marvel 2-in-One Annual, in which Ben teams up with the so-called “Infamous Iron Man,” and we’ll have to pay attention to what develops for the “reformed” arch-villain in those pages.
Final Thought: Before we take our leave of Marvel 2-in-One until the Annual, it bears mentioning how good it is to have Jim Cheung back as penciler. Not that Valerio Schiti wasn’t doing a good job, and not that Schiti wasn’t developing well as the artist of this mag, but this great saga started with Cheung’s art and it’s good to have him on board for the wrap-up. He draws a great rendition of the Thing (in spite of the uniform that they have him and the Torch wearing) and his style is a welcome sight on these pages. He also draws a great Doom and Silver Surfer! Visually, the story of “The Fate of the Four” ends as it began, beautifully complementing Zdarsky’s script. It’s another winning note for a winning story.
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