Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nine-Tenths Of The Law


I don't think we need to preamble here. Why don't we just go to Condition Red, okay?




It's a rare day when we see two-bit thugs get up the nerve to attack a super-group, packing nothing but machine guns for weaponry. Of course, if you've got a lot of thugs, that's a lot of firepower you're bringing to the fight, so there's that. But you'd still better have the element of surprise on your side if you hope to have any chance of success.

That said--if you want to launch a surprise attack against the Fantastic Four with guns blazing, would you shoot your way into their private elevator and give them all the time in the world to prepare for you while you're stuck in an elevator going up almost thirty stories? Haven't thugs ever heard of Condition Red?



Speaking of which, you have to hand it to Reed--the man knows how to design alarms. Condition Red starts blaring even when your attackers are still out on the street shoving their way through New Yorkers. I'm surprised Condition Red doesn't go off every day at rush hour.

(And yeah, maybe Reed doesn't have his priorities in order. An alarm system is great--but what's not so great is an elevator that brings your attackers directly to you. How about at least a remote "stall" button, Reed? Knockout gas? Stun charges? Really loud muzak?)

Anyway, this crazy plan actually works, and these guys arrive unimpeded to open fire and start mowing down the FF:



Yeah, you're thinking what I'm thinking--wouldn't a nice force field thrown over the elevator entrance by a certain Invisible Girl have solved this problem? But then we wouldn't have gotten to see how the FF handle armed hoods (gee, at least now we know why they're usually called "hoods"):





But then, one of this group breaks away and actually makes a pretty good tactical move, if a desperate one:




So we learn they planned this attack for weeks. Ye gods--this was a plan? And weeks in the making? How about this off the top of my head: why not have a second group take hostages in the lobby at gunpoint? If things go sour in the attack against the FF, threatening to kill the hostages would have given the attackers the same kind of insurance that grenade was aiming for.

Now the Maggia had a plan. Instead of the direct approach, they attacked the FF through the law:



But since this comic is called Fantastic Four and not Law And Order, a reason had to be found for the Maggia to make an all-out attack on the Baxter Building instead of going through boring depositions. The answer came with a splinter group--led by Gimlet, an impatient subordinate of the "Top Man," who interpreted the law a little differently than his more careful superior and attacked the Baxter Building while the FF were all in Central Park. And you certainly couldn't argue with the Maggia's logic:



As you can see, Gimlet's strike force had the foresight to arm itself with specialized weaponry and outfitting--and they conducted this operation by the numbers, as opposed to our hooded friends above. While the Torch was getting captured, the rest of the FF came back, switched on their closed-circuit monitors, and got a look at what they were up against:



Gosh, Reed, I don't know if you noticed, but they've already made their move: invading your frickin' headquarters. How about terminating that two-way transmission and using that stretching power to snake through the building and rescue the Torch? But whatever. If you want them to make another move, they'll be glad to oblige you:



I guess Crystal forgot that all she has to do to foil a gas attack is to use that elemental power she has over air and wind. Anyway, that takes care of the FF--or does it? Luckily, Reed's chat with Sue while his attackers were wheeling in their gas cannon paid off, and she actually makes some headway against these goons:



She even slaps a force field around Gimlet himself, who stupidly opens fire and gets a nice little demonstration of the word "ricochet." Meanwhile, the FF regroup:



Of course, there's still the little problem of ownership here. Gimlet may have jumped the gun, so to speak, but this is the Maggia's building now, and the FF's lease was promptly torn up once those papers were signed. So isn't it the Fantastic Four who are at fault here? These guys may have arrived in force, but they were legally taking possession of their building when they came under attack by the Torch. Specialized weaponry or not, they were technically fighting the FF in self-defense, no?

But this drama hasn't played out quite yet. Before Gimlet can act, he's fatally taken out by, of all people, the doorman--though Reed puts two and two together to discover the truth. And you know how good he is at math:




I sure wouldn't want to be one of the lawyers who try to untangle this mess. Of course, we know from future issues that the FF stuck around and still called the Baxter Building home, so obviously the Maggia's legal claim to it was dismantled. Maybe the Top Man was stupid enough to affix his own name to the buyout papers. In any event, it's no wonder the FF preferred to stick to the super-powered variety of criminals, and leave the assorted hoods to Spider-Man and Daredevil.


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