Monday, August 4, 2014

Target: The Richards Children!

Where the New York City Child Welfare Department is concerned, it's gratifying to see its attention to diligence--especially regarding the offspring of Reed and Sue Richards, children who have the love and best intentions of their parents but whose measures have proven insufficient to assure their children's safety and well-being while spending their childhood within the dangerous world of the Fantastic Four. We've already seen Simone Debouvier, a caseworker of the Department, pay a visit to the Baxter Building and inform Sue of her office's intent to evaluate the home environment of her children, Franklin and Valeria, to determine if it was suitable for them to remain in. Ms. Debouvier's initial interview with Sue and Franklin, to put it mildly, was quite a wake-up call for Sue, with Ms. Debouvier scheduling a follow-up visit to continue the investigation as well as to hopefully meet with the children's father, Reed--a meeting which occurred while Reed was pursued by Federal agents and, consequently, failed to win the Richardses any points with our caseworker.

Since that time, life for the FF has continued, in full crisis mode--with the Baxter Building suffering heavy damage in an alien attack, as well as the children (and their trial nannies!) barely escaping death. Under the circumstances, it comes as little surprise when the Department makes an interim decision pending a formal hearing:

Yet even now, the FF can't simply discard its responsibilities in other matters--and so Reed makes the call to send Ben and Johnny to deal with a current situation involving the Hulk on a rampage, while the kids' parents devote their attention to the domestic crisis:

Yet, when Ms. Debouvier arrives to act on the Department's decision, Reed and Sue are surprisingly cooperative. After all, they can hardly deny Ms. Debouvier's assertions as to the children's exposure to danger. But they seem to have a counter-proposal in mind:

Bureaucracy is a fine thing in theory--however, in practice, it often fails to look down the road and take into consideration other factors in play, particularly in a world where super-powered beings can often work around the red tape. But for Franklin and Valeria, has that realization come too late?

Fortunately, the Richardses are well aware of the world they live in.

Of course, Sue's declaration doesn't quite hold up under scrutiny--Franklin has suffered both physically and psychologically when his parents were powerless to prevent it, nor has their presence in the Baxter Building been much of a deterrent in preventing any number of blatant attacks on the FF while in residence. But Simone seems satisfied that, under the circumstances, the best possible solution for the children is already in place:

It was a nice sub-story by writer J. Michael Straczynski, appropriately taking place while the FF were in the middle of matters pulling them in all directions.  I think Simone sums up the lives of Reed and Sue and the choices they face very well, with the bottom line being that there are no easy answers for this situation--which can be as satisfying an end to an FF story as a simple checkmark in the "Win" column.

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