101. Bedlam in the Baxter Building

Fantastic Four Issue One Hundred and One 101 cover

Issue One Hundred and One, August 1970

Too late! The gas has already done its work! They’re beaten at last! The Maggia has won!”

SUMMARY
The Fantastic Four receive a warning to evict by a certain time after the building which contains their headquarters is bought by The Maggia, a family crime syndicate. Later, while out for a walk in the park, they notice a helicopter landing on the Baxter Building — the Maggia is invading — and the FF run back to try to fend them off. Sue takes Franklin away to Agatha Harkness’s. Reed, Johnny, Ben, and Crystal are defeated and placed in concrete coffins and dropped into the sea. Freeing themselves, they head back home. Meanwhile, Sue has engaged the attackers on her own, waylaying them long enough for the others to attack. The home invasion thwarted, a doorman seen earlier in the issue appears and shoots the man leading the attack. The FF turn on the doorman and find that he is the Top Man, the leader of the Maggia, who they quickly arrest.

Fantastic Four Issue One Hundred and One 101crystalCOMMENTARY
This issue takes an odd tack with its antagonists. The Fantastic Four versus an organized crime syndicate. Although they are unlike any villain they have fought before, they stand as a paper tiger in this issue. There seems just not enough time to do them justice. The premise of them buying out the FF’s headquarters is interesting but although that is referenced a few times, that’s not the central problem of the issue. Again, as in issues 95, and 97, the plan was, on the face of it, pretty sound and all that the Top Man had to do in order to win was just sit tight. So what possessed him to actually invade the Baxter Building ahead of time, thereby breaking the law and thwarting his own plan? And why spend so much time as the doorman? This three-pronged attack, infiltration, attack, and legalism could have worked quite well as a story if only all those elements were coordinated, but as it is they do as much to defeat themselves as the FF do and so a different type of villain does not really get a fair shake, which is a shame.

Fantastic Four Issue One Hundred and One 101The scene with the FF breaking out of their undersea coffins is interesting and actually provides the greatest part of dramatic tension and action of the issue. And Sue by herself going up against a house full of trained killers is also compelling, but it would have been more satisfying to see her actually incapacitate more of the invaders. She starts out strongly but very quickly she tries only just to keep out of their way until the rest of the team comes back home. Sue is so powerful, and yet the creators have always insisted on treating her like a Lois Lane instead of a hero in her own right. Sue shouldn’t need rescuing in these circumstances, she should be standing over a room full of unconscious bodies by the time the other team members get back.

EVALUATION 4/10

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