“It’s clear you don’t understand the extent of my power. You think you can defeat me — that you can mock me and insult my manhood — and you’re wrong!“
The Thing and the Human Torch are enjoying some down time in New York when they notice the Baxter Building, their headquarters, pulsing with light. Returning to it, they find it has been invaded by a warrior calling himself Mahkizmo, The Nuclear Man. Meanwhile, Medusa comes across Thundra who tells her of two parallel future worlds, one where men are the aggressively dominant race, and also her own, where women are. Thundra reveals that the Baxter Building is the focal point of an unknown type of nexus. Further, she is having doubts about her mission to defeat earth’s most powerful male. Ben and Johnny fight Mahkizmo and Reed Richards arrives in time to see them defeated. He is punched unconscious and thrown off the building, just as Medusa and Thundra are passing beneath it.
Thundra has proved, in her short time being featured in the Fantastic Four, to be an original and compelling character. She is not seen much in this issue, but her backstory is significantly expanded, and the instance where she is seen to be questioning her original purpose in coming to earth shows that she is becoming an independent agent. She is central to the storyline and although she meets up with Medusa for a prolonged and meaningful conversation, it’s notable that this issue still fails the Bechdel Test. Also, bizarrely in the context of a storyline which seems to be angling for female empowerment, Sue Richards is not seen in the issue. Just two issues ago she was reunited with Reed, and so we would expect to see her here, but alas. It’s a dreadful oversight and one that can only be redeemed if Sue plays an important role in the resolution of the problem which, literally, sees the male members of the team defeated by the completely distilled essence of obnoxious male power. Not a very heavily disguised metaphor, but definitely a discussion we need to be seeing in this book — and which should definitely have been handled before now.
It’s also worth noting, and if it is not a coincidence, it is a greatly understated incident, the first scene in this issue is Reed and Johnny buying nice clothes for themselves. This is a scene that has opened more that one issue of the Fantastic Four, although it has usually been Sue who been buying the clothes. So this is a foreshadowing of what will continue to be a theme of gender role reversals and reinforcements in this storyline.
Although not much happens in this issue, Rich Buckler’s art is still top notch, and the plot is gearing up in an interesting and unpredictable fashion, so it just edges up to a 7/10 ranking.