Friday, September 13, 2013

Four Once More!

On the way out the door from his brief stint on Fantastic Four after easing the transition from long-time artist Jack Kirby's departure, John Romita drew an interesting two-part story that proved he could throw the FF into chaos as well as anyone. "The Monster In The Streets!" was juggling three plates at once: (1) Sue Richards' stand-in on the team and now unofficial fifth member, Crystal of the Inhumans, had come down with a mysterious malady; (2) Reed was investigating another remedy for the Thing's condition; and (3) last but not least, a strange entity was roaming the city streets causing a great deal of destruction. Just another day in the life of the FF, of course. You wonder how these people can be everywhere dealing with everything at once--and, naturally, they can't, which is where the chaos comes in.

Let's take Crystal's situation first, since it gives us the opportunity to see the FF just being New Yorkers, which is always nice in terms of characterization but also reminds us that those FF uniforms aren't sewn into their skin. But as we'll see, trouble doesn't take a day off just because they do:

How clever to make Ben's indigestion the "catalyst" for these sudden tremors. But on another note, is it weird for me to wonder just how many hot dogs Crystal put away? There's just something wrong with that image.

But, jokes aside, it's indeed a crisis the FF face in Fantastic Four #105--and given that the crises just keep coming, it's no wonder that fast food is all they have time for.

Anyway, when the tremors turn into shockwaves that begin to cause serious damage to the streets and buildings, these FF members find themselves thrust into damage control. Unfortunately, they have other things to worry about as well, when the dizziness that Crystal experienced turns into something more serious:

Meanwhile, Reed, back at the Baxter Building--to whom a day off is probably spent building a new portal to the Negative Zone--is reminiscing about the FF's origin, and his thoughts turn to the only member in the group who didn't walk away from that rocket crash scarred for life. But Reed, as well, is about to have his attention diverted elsewhere:

Finally, let's check in on Sue, who likes to unwind practicing ninja moves--no, actually, Sue is indulging in her passion as a power shopper/clothes horse, though disaster can loom even for shoppers:

Hold on, Sue. Slow down. We can't have you trying to solve this mystery without Reed. Who do you think you are? But since Reed isn't around, how about a colleague of his in his place:

Actually, keep your eye on Dr. Rambow--he's not just some eager beaver scientist interested in this phenomenon. There's more to him than meets the eye. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he was on his way to see that hot dog vendor when all hell broke loose.

Back at the lab, Reed has some good news and some bad news. The bad news actually makes the good news possible, so there's that:

Yes, I know what you're thinking. We should all be jumping for joy at Ben's good news, but instead we're all wondering why Crystal is lying on that table in her FF uniform, when we know she was brought in wearing street clothes. If you're tending to someone who's collapsed, is changing her clothes while she's unconscious really the priority? Who does that in the middle of an emergency? "Quick, get her on the table! NO, WAIT! We've got to get her out of those clothes and into her uniform first!" Anyway, we don't need Reed for this diagnosis--we all know what's wrong with Crystal. She has a bad case of you've worn out your welcome on this team, so start packing. Thank goodness Reed has a lot more tact than FF readers, because he'll at least spin it into something official so that she doesn't walk out the door humiliated:

So the key to Ben's problem is because Crystal has a lousy immune system? Not following here, Reed. Still, I'm not about to quibble since I know about a zillion readers want Crystal gone just as fast as a teleporting dog can make her vanish. So let's get these goodbyes over with:

So that's that, though not before Johnny throws a tantrum while Lockjaw zaps Crystal away. Jeez, Johnny, you wonder why people always treat you like a kid? But since Johnny now happens to have some free time on his hands, let's catch up to him as he gets a little more involved with that disturbance in the streets. Especially since his sister is now in the thick of it:

As we can see, this entity has a draining effect on Johnny's power, depending on how close he comes--which turns out not to make much sense, since others like Sue (and later Reed) aren't similarly affected. So Sue decides to try and contain the entity--and while she's up to the task, this moving mass of Kirby krackle is no weakling:

If Sue and Johnny are depending on Reed, they picked a fine time, because they're not the only ones:

And so Part 1 of this story ends with Reed caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock, in this case, being the Thing, whose procedure is already in progress and which can't be interrupted or Ben's life may be forfeit. But if Reed doesn't intervene in Sue's desperate situation, it may cost his wife her life:

Man, I love it when Reed says "leader" things like "Since when does the Torch run for help?" You wouldn't see John Byrne's Reed Richards get all broad-shouldered like that. But if Reed doesn't think of a way out of this situation, there may not be much of an FF left for Byrne to work with. The only hint I'll give you as far as what happens in Part 2 is that Crystal doesn't show up to save the day.  Heck, why do you think this story is so good? Exactly--the Fantastic Four are back.

BONUS: Have a look at this issue's cover without all of those annoying word balloons!

Fantastic Four #105

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: John Romita
Inks: John Verpoorten
Letterer: Artie Simek


karl said...

Maybe Johnny's flame was affected because his power generated heat which was a main offshoot of the creature's power?
Love how Sue is aping Lynda Day George in her pantsuit look here.

dbutler16 said...

This just goes to show that comic readers don’t like change. Sue was a lousy character, even at this point. She didn’t bring much to the table other than token female to get captured as a hostage. OK, so Sue did actually do something in this issue, but still. At least Crystal did something in battle.

Yes, Johnny’s a moron. I like Ben and Reed, but you can throw Johnny and Sue in a blender, for all I care.

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