159. Havoc in the Hidden Land

Fantastic Four 159 Cover

Issue One Hundred and Fifty-Nine, June 1975

“Get her! Slay her! The Invisible Girl must die!”

SUMMARY
The Fantastic Four (with Quicksilver, but not Sue) arrive in the Hidden Land and are captured by Xemu and his men. Imprisoning all but Medusa, Xemu explains his plan to her of getting Black Bolt to speak into the Thunder Horn device. Unable yet to do so, Xemu uses a sound gun on the machine and destroys a Chinese military installation, provoking them to attack the Hidden Land. Triton breaks the FF out of jail. Meanwhile, Xemu is taken off guard when jets with warheads arrive from China and he leaves our dimension. The Inhumans free themselves and Sue Richards appears to help them all out. The FF arrive to defeat Xemu’s remaining troops and Sue Reveals that she made the Great Refuge,  invisible so that the fighter jets couldn’t find anything to attack. Medusa decides to quit the team, and Johnny changes back into his classic blue uniform.

COMMENTARY
The less said about the plot of this issue, the better. Xemu has proven to be one of the absolute stupidest adversaries the FF have ever faced, unable to think even one step forward of his great plan, the aim of which is never eventually revealed. Exactly why does he want Black Bolt to speak into the device? What would happen if he does? Why does he need to blow up anything larger than a mountain, or a military installation, which he can quite ably do any time he wants. And then, after blowing up the military base in this issue and deliberately provoking armed retaliation, why wasn’t he ready to defend himself against it? Reed and the others meet an old man in the prison they are thrown into who tells them how to thwart and destroy the machine, but it isn’t they who do that, it’s Sue who wasn’t privy to any of that information. And why did Sue not act earlier? Why didn’t she free the FF? Why didn’t she prevent Xemu from using his device to blow up the base?

A dramatic return by Susan Richards, drawn by Rich Buckler

A dramatic return by Susan Richards, drawn by Rich Buckler

There are a few upshots of this issue. One, Medusa decides to go back to live with the Inhumans, ending her tenure as an official member twenty-seven issues ago. Looking back, she didn’t add a whole lot to the team dynamic, and wasn’t allowed to breathe as a character in her own right. The Fantastic Four, as a series, is more plot than character driven, and she always took a back seat to the boys. Her leaving also coincides with another Johnny Storm costume change, this time back to blue. And the last panel promises a reversion back to the old standard dynamic that the title was launched with, and really, why not? Sue has unique potential as a character — a superhero who is a sister, a friend, a wife, and a mother to the other members of the team. It’s a literary crime that she continually gets written out of this title.

EVALUATION: 2/10

159olddays

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