116. The Alien, The Ally, and Armageddon

Issue One Hundred and Sixteen, Nov 1971

Issue One Hundred and Sixteen, Nov 1971

Gross bumbling insects! Will you never understand? Mine is the power of a billion brains! … There is no power in the universe that can constrain or defeat me — none!

SUMMARY
The Fantastic Four chase after Reed, possessed and loose on the town. They eventually track him down, running afoul of their landlord and some policemen. Ben and Johnny track him down — he is with Over-Mind who is trying to wear down his mind. Ben and Johnny start to attack him as Sue hangs back at their base. When she sees they are in trouble she comes to their aid, only to flee again when Reed comes after her. Agatha Harkness appears and tells Sue that she must make an alliance with Doctor Doom. She approaches Doom at the Latverian embassy and enlists his aid. Doom and Sue attack Over-Mind with some of Reed’s equipment, but eventually he and the rest of the Fantastic Four are completely defeated. At that moment a character appears who calls himself The Stranger — the mental conglomeration of the planet Gigantus. He shrinks Over-Mind down and exiles him on top of a speck of dust and then disappears. Reed is released and the Stranger disappears.

COMMENTARY
This is an extra-long issue wrapping up the Over-Mind storyline, and it is also the first issue of the Fantastic Four not to have a Stan Lee writing credit. This is also the first time that Doctor Doom teams up with members of the Fantastic Four.116followIt’s nice to have the extra space to create a different sort of rhythm to the story, and it gives an event feel to a story that’s been running for several issues now. It has some nice moments, but they’re unfortunately spread out between some rather stock ideas. The story of Over-Mind started with the villain subtly influencing the Mayor to lean on the FF legally and has no ended on him rampaging meaninglessly throughout New York. There’s no real point to his rage except that he’s angry and on Earth, which is very disappointing. Having the New Yorkers turn against the FF is pretty much the same as how the X-Men are treated, and the only way that Johnny and Ben deal with this new challenge is with insults, threats of violence, and property damage — not really a very compelling or attractive way for the FF to behave.116midwayThe better parts of the issue are seeing Reed mentally trying to stave off Over-Mind — a threat that we haven’t seen him up against before, and although it’s a little overplayed early on, to see him continually up against it through the whole of the issue is a good move — it’s a plot device that actually seems more effective the longer it is used. He never recovers until the problem is completely solved.

116sueThe inclusion of Doctor Doom is a good move and makes good sense — they need another genius to replace the one that Over-Mind is trying to turn against them. It would also have been nice to see the team cope without Reed, but seeing them begrudging work alongside one of their enemies heightens the tension. The dynamic doesn’t actually change that much — Doom runs in with a machine to defeat the alien threat. Seeing him fail and nearly get ripped apart is actually kind of gratifying and for a while we’re left in suspense as to how the story will resolve.

Unfortunately, the story resolves in the worst way possible — a new character that we have never seen before arrives, completely dispatches with the villain and then leaves. Nothing that the characters did affected this action AT ALL. No one contacted ‘The Stranger’, no one helped him, no one did anything. The Watcher arrives to tell them that they were able to wear Over-Mind down enough to allow the Stranger to defeat him, but it’s pretty clear that that’s not the case. The Watcher seems to be saying that to make him feel good.

EVALUATION: 6/10

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