“What does she mean — the humans?? What does she think she is? They can’t be merely a race of mutants — or the X-Men would have found them! They’re something more than that! But– what???!“
Evading the collapsing building, the Fantastic Four find, when the dust has settled, that Sue has been carried off by Dragon Man. Johnny pursues her and together they convince the simple monster to return her. The Sandman and the Trapster break out of prison. Johnny decides to go for a walk and comes across a beautiful girl who escapes as a sudden gale whips up. The next day, Johnny returns and comes across the girl again who takes him to meet her family — the Inhumans. Back at the Baxter Building, the FF try to cope with Dragon Man. Threatened by Gorgon, Johnny escapes and makes a burning 4 in the sky, summoning the rest of the FF to the entrance of the Inhuman’s hideout where they are attacked by two characters, one of who is named Black Bolt.
Oddly, the discovery of the Inhumans does not have to do with any of the Fantastic Four following up on the events of the last issue. Instead, it is because Johnny happens to come across a beautiful girl sitting alone at night in a New York sidestreet. It’s a stretch, plot-wise, but the ‘mysterious stranger’ element is a compelling device. It’s hard to mind too much since the pacing of this issue is brilliant, tightly packed with a superb amount of action, intrigue, and character. It’s nice to see Reed and the others trying to accommodate the massive, childish Dragon Man and taking an approach to dealing with him that doesn’t amount to violence. (Unfortunately, this plot strand will be forgotten.)
There are some fantastic visuals in this issue. The first page is a splash panel showing the FF falling through a collapsing building, and the luscious graphic standard is maintained throughout. There is also some really good Kirby Tech visible in the machines Reed uses to help Dragon Man and to find The Torch and the Inhumans are brilliantly designed, not just in the costumes they wear, but the outline of each one is unique and striking, different not only to each other, but to any other character in this title.
Reading this story in the context of all the others that have gone before, it feels a little odd and disjointed, but what is happening here is something unique so far: this isn’t a complete story. It isn’t even a part of a complete story. What it is is a continuation of plot lines from the previous issue, without any real structural consideration, and that’s not to disparage it. They story is moving into a more organic form, where events grow out of previous events, and less attention is paid to deliberate rises and falls. Depending on how you feel about that, it’s either a good thing or a bad thing.I think it’s fantastic.