160. In One World and Out Another

Fantastic Four 160

Issue One Hundred and Sixty, July 1975

“If it is power alone that will induce you to surrender — why, then, power shall be served!”

SUMMARY
A barbarian on a dragon, who calls himself Arkon, is hurling thunderbolts at The Thing, chasing him through central New York city. Alicia Masters comes to him just as he lies in smoldering wreckage, taking a piece of his clothing before Arkon arrives and they both vanish in a flash of light. Alicia hurries to the Baxter Building to tell the rest of the Fantastic Four, only to find that Ben is still with them. Intrigued by what Alicia tells him, Ben makes contact with Crystal and borrows Lockjaw in order to investigate what happened to the second Thing. Meanwhile, Reed calls the rest of the Fantastic Four into a meeting with a man called Mr De Voor. He reveals to his teammates that he is selling his 51% share of The Fantastic Four Inc. this man. During this time, Ben is using Lockjaw to chase the other Thing, arriving in a different dimension, but one that he has visited before. Appearing at a castle, Ben enters and saves another Ben Grimm and a Sue Storm from robotic monsters. They find that that dimension’s Reed — who is The Thing in their world — has been chased from his castle, which now bears a sign reading Inter-Related Technocracies. In our dimension, Reed signs over his interest to Mr De Voor, the papers of which bear another “IT” in the same typeface, this time of Interlocking Technologies.

COMMENTARY
Reed Richard as The ThingThe Fantastic Four are back to their first-act best in this issue, and it’s a nice surprise to see John Buscema back for an issue. The story starts off with a good hook: a terrified Thing, which is a Thing we haven’t often seen before, and definitely not without an ounce of braggadocio to throw against an absurdly preening foe. It is an unexpected but natural revelation to find that this Thing is not Ben Grimm. And as far as his storyline is concerned, it is a good one. It is slightly unbelievable that Reed would not want to solve the mystery of Ben’s doppleganger as eagerly as Ben would, but the way that Ben solves it is intelligent and true to his character, drawing on resources that he has used before. He ends up in the same place he did when he last journeyed with Lockjaw, back in issue 118, in the backup story “What Mad World”. It was a premise that was better than the short space it was given and here it kicks off the Two Things saga very nicely. There is a small amount of action and exposition and then a nice mystery that dovetails with the end of the B-plot of the issue.

Fantastic Four 160 Mr De VoorThe B-plot is a bit ropey. In it we are told that, at some unspecified point in the near past, the Fantastic Four became incorporated and shares of it sold on the market, with Reed maintaining a 51% majority, which he suddenly decides to sell to a Mr De Voor claiming that, even with the sale of his patents, the FF are no longer “in the black”. This seems a fairly thin excuse, financially speaking. Reed’s standoffish behavior towards his teammates about his reasons and justifications are sadly in keeping with his character, although it would be hoped that he would have learned to trust them more with his plans, even if this one turns out to be a lure or a ruse. It doesn’t make sense that he keeps a controlling interest — why would they not all own equal shares that amounted to a majority?

In any case, this subplot is redeemed by the revelation that Interlocking Technologies could be linked somehow into Inter-Related Technocracies, and that Ben and the rest of the FF are pursuing a larger mystery from two different ends.

EVALUATION: 7/10

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