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    From the Files of the Baxter Building #3: Together Again, Naturally

    By | November 20th, 2018
    Posted in Annotations | % Comments

    From the Files of the Baxter Building comes Multiversity’s monthly deep dive into the comics and characters that inhabit the world of the First Family of superhero comics: The Fantastic Four!

    This month: it’s a triple-bill comic book catch-up as we check in with not one but two issues of “Marvel Two-in-One,” as well as the latest (not to mention late) issue of “Fantastic Four!”

    Please note: there will be major spoilers for “Marvel Two-in-One” issues #10-11 and “Fantastic Four” #3 throughout this article.

    The whole gang is finally, inarguably back together! It may have taken three issues but we finally get to see the whole family fighting alongside each other for the first time and years. Reunited and it feels so good. That’s all in “Fantastic Four” #3, but before we get to that, there’s a little matter of the Mad Thinker and his Fantastic Faux, and tying up that little storyline from “Marvel Two-in-One” #10.

    When we last left Ben and Johnny (two months ago now, blame Marvel’s strange schedule) they were fading fast in the desert of some backwater planet they had been stranded on by Rachna Koul. Here in issue #10, we find out that Sue Storm-Richards has visited them at their lowest point and given them back their powers. It’s not really explained how or why, but this appears to be the real Sue, due to what she says at the end of the issue…

    After Ben and Johnny, newly re-powered, wipe the floor with Mad Thinker and his chums, the version of Amadeus Cho from this world claims that his messages through space had also been through time, meaning that their connection to past versions of their friends had somehow jump-started their powers. The implication seems to be that these constant holes being poked through time and space somehow reached Sue and Reed, which makes sense, seeing as Sue herself tells Johnny in “FF” #3 that the Future Foundation had also been jumping through time.

    Yeah, I know, something-something science blah…

    -Exactly. Whatever the reason, Ben and Johnny are back to full strength, and have the means to jump home, which they do, placing them handily in exactly where we needed them to be at the start of “Fantastic Four” #1. Very handy, that. With this issue and issue #11, we’re starting to get a sense of how these two books are going to interact with each other moving forward. Before we get onto “Two-in-One” #11 though, let’s clear up the other cliffhanger from last time, shall we?

    “Fantastic Four” #3 concludes the opening arc of Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli’s new series, and it ends in a suitably ‘FF’-y way, with everyone working together and proving that there’s nothing as powerful as family. The initial reunion is short-lived, however, thanks to the Griever and her tendency to want to kill everyone and everything. There is time for one quick group hug though…

    The major thing this issue gets right is nailing this reunion. Fans have been waiting for these characters to find each other again for so long that it had to be handled with the weight that it deserved. What they also get right is acknowledging the threat that the Griever poses, while simultaneously diminishing her effectiveness once the FF is truly back to being a fully functioning team. It’s not just the core members that are back together either, Ben and Johnny get to see just how big their niece and nephew have gotten (thanks to that pesky four-year time difference), and again, their reunion is touching and rewarding.

    As if there were any doubt, with the whole gang back together (not to mention everyone who’s ever been a member of the FF along for the ride) Griever is soon defeated. As Reed reveals, she’s an embodiment, a cosmic abstract. Much like Eternity, Infinity, and the In-Betweener, Griever is a physical representation of a universal constant, and as a being of pure destruction, she is unable to create anything for herself. Bust up her only ride home then, and she either has to run away while she still can or face being stuck in a barren universe. Simple.

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    With another adventure over, it’s time for “Marvel Two-in-One” #11, which came out before but is actually set after “Fantastic Four” #3. We’ll have to wait for “FF” #4 to see if this slots in right after issue #3, but it feels like it should, purely because “Two-in-One” #11 is essentially a long conversation between Reed and Ben, but more than that, there’s a passion and an energy to it that wouldn’t make as much sense if it happens after a bunch of adventures together. It’s the kind of conversation that is itching to be had as soon as possible, and as the instigator of the conversation, Ben has a lot to say to his long-lost best friend.

    In many ways, “Marvel Two-in-One” #11 is the best of these three issues. Sure, you get the heartfelt reunion in “FF” #3, but here you get the honesty that follows once the excitement of seeing each other again has worn off. Here, Ben lays into Reed about why he thought it was such a good idea to leave him and Johnny behind while the whole family went off into the multiverse, and worse, why they had to be left thinking that their family was dead.

    Reed’s answer isn’t at all what you’d expect. It starts off with him saying that the family was done with being superheroes. That all they wanted was to explore the multiverse, and if Ben and Johnny were around then adventuring would follow. Plus, he says, he thought Ben and Johnny would find this new life boring. Overthinking has always been Reed’s problem, and here it’s no different. He had assumed on behalf of Ben and Johnny, to which Ben replies that they deserved the chance to make that choice themselves. That’s when things take a turn, in a direction that not only ties in with past issues of Marvel “Two-in-One” but directly to the ending of 2015’s “Secret Wars.”

    When the Future Foundation left to explore the multiverse, not only did they leave Ben and Johnny behind, but they left a newly reformed Victor Von Doom. The damage to his face had been unwritten, and he stood on the balcony of his castle in Latveria seemingly a changed man. It was never fully explained why this happened, but he nevertheless capitalized on this, becoming the “Infamous Iron Man” and striving to be a better man. As it’s revealed here, though, this was all part of Reed’s plan. It turns out that, long before “Secret Wars,” he had spent time in a different dimension with another Victor Von Doom, one who was this better man that our Victor was striving so hard to be. The reason why he was a good man? Reed was dead.

    With the conclusion of “Secret Wars” giving him a unique opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, Reed faked his and his family’s death so that not only could they go off and explore the universe unimpeded, but that Victor’s new start could be just that: new. He’d never before had the chance to begin again out from under the shadow of Reed Richards, but now he could. It’s a fascinating twist on their dynamic, and it’ll be interesting to see if it plays out in later issues. It seems likely, seeing as “Two-in-One” writer Chip Zdarsky laid the groundwork for this dynamic in the Annual for this series earlier in the year.

    With that, we’re right up to date. Both series have caught up with each other and twisted around each other in a way that implies their future relationship with each other, and all the loose ends are tied up. Well, apart from how the heck Iceman ended up fighting alongside everyone…

    Tune in next time for more fantabulous foursome fun!

    Oh, and one more thing. It wouldn’t be right to have a regular “Fantastic Four” article without honoring the memory of Stan Lee, without whom none of this would be what it is, or even here at all. So here he is with Jack Kirby getting kicked out of Reed and Sue’s wedding in “Fantastic Four” Annual #3. Excelsior Stan!

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    //TAGS | Baxter Building

    Matt Lune

    Born and raised in Birmingham, England, when Matt's not reading comics he's writing about them and hosting podcasts about them. From reading The Beano and The Dandy as a child, he first discovered American comics with Marvel's Heroes Reborn and, despite that questionable start, still fell in love and has never looked back. You can find him on Twitter @MattLune


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