“Weakling. No true man would have given up so easily — not for the life of a helpless friend.”
Reed tumbles from the Baxter Building and falls into Thundra’s arms. Climbing the building, she confronts Mahkizmo and the two of them disappear once they begin to fight. Reed devises a way to follow them adapting Doom’s Time Platform and with Johnny, Ben, and Medusa, he goes to Machus, an alternate version of Earth. Once again, they are set upon by Mahkizmo and defeated, brought in chains to where Thundra is being beaten and humiliated. Medusa is singled out by Mahkizmo to spend the night with him, but seizing the opportunity, she clubs him on the head and escapes. Moving quickly past the room where Reed, Ben, and Johnny, are caged, she returns to the terminal for Reed’s time travel device and leaves, apparently abandoning them.
The art in this issue has a very different feel to those previous. The reason is because Joe Sinnott is, for the first time in a very long time, not inking it, instead artist Jim Mooney has inked/finished the issue over Rich Buckler’s pencils. Mooney was a veteran artist and was just coming into Marvel after a twenty-two year stint at DC, which is probably why he was tapped for this assignment. At first encounter, his inks seem hasty and rushed, but very quickly they start to appeal in almost the opposite nature of Sinnott’s — Mooney’s blacks are thick and dirty, used often unsparingly. This lends the book an “underground comix” vibe, or even a bootleg feel. It’s somehow more intimate in being less polished, and the characters are a little more unpredictable for being that little more unfamiliar. The last paragraph of the issue is an apology for the changed standards of the issue (not literally making an excuse for the art, but almost), although it is patently not needed. Mooney has brought a fresh look at what have become some visually polished characters.
Meanwhile, the story is (again, unapologetically) thin. The plot is only advanced a small amount — the Fantastic Four (or most of them) end up in Machus. They were defeated at the end of the last issue, and they are defeated at the end of this issue. It is fairly puzzling why Reed would invest so much time in finding a way to follow Mahkizmo and Thundra, and not also spend ten or fifteen minutes conferring with his teammates and coming up with some sort of plan of action. They are, after all, going into a world full of beings just like the one that beat them all single handedly. Sue, a valuable team member, is left at home to work a machine that can easily be operated by a terminal that they’ve brought with them. It’s maddening how consistently she is sidelined in this title. And of the other women in the story, one of them is beaten and degraded while the other is called a traitor by her teammates. No doubt Thundra will get her comeuppance and Medusa will be vindicated, but the plain fact is that this issue is doing nothing to stand against the march of comic book misogyny in and of itself.