54. Whosoever Finds the Evil Eye

Fantastic Four Issue Fifty-Four 54

Issue Fifty-Four

An editor’s note tells us that the other title considered for this issue was “Black Bolt Screams”, and that would have been a very strong one. The Inhumans story thread is picked up again and we see that those trapped inside the impenetrable dome barrier are eager and very frantically searching for a way outside. Maximus, ostensibly, has retreated into madness and is unable or willing to help his race out of the prison he made for them. Black Bolt makes a desperate attempt to destroy the dome, giving up his own life energies in the attempt. We are left not knowing if this worked.

Johnny is also desperate for the barrier to fall. He wants to be reunited with Crystal, who he has had only fleeting contact with. And so, when it comes time to leave the Black Panther’s hospitality, he decides to try to find a way through the dome in the time he has remaining in his college break. Wyatt Wingfoot decides to join him and they head off in an ingenious machine that T’Challa has given them.

Fantastic Four Issue Fifty-Four 54

A recreational interlude

At this stage, I think it would be fair to call Wyatt the first “fifth member” of the Fantastic Four, since he is the first character to accompany them on two consecutive, completely different adventures, as an active party. He’s an interesting character, having no powers, and no costume. He is an American Indian, although we aren’t told his tribe so far, and bears the stereotypical ability to “track anything” as well as being an all-round athlete. But still, in contrast to the FF, he is very “normal”. However, he has proven very useful, ably solving problems from a very grounded perspective, as we’ve seen in the last two issues, and in this one.

While journeying through a dessert sandstorm, Johnny and Wyatt fall into a crevice and discover Prester John, who has been sleeping, hidden, since Medieval times. Mythological characters are not uncommon in the Marvel Universe, but Prester John is a particularly random choice. It works, so I’m not criticizing, it’s just… odd. It’s also too bad that he’s a character that hasn’t been found and dusted off, reinvented, yet.Fantastic Four Issue Fifty-Four 54Prester John has accumulated some magnificent marvels during his travels, and the one he seems most fond of is the titular evil eye wand, which is a kind of multi-purpose creation/destruction ray which can make and remove barriers just like the one that the Inhumans are trapped behind.

The Human Torch must have it and immediately takes it from Prester John’s hands and flies northwards to free Crystal. However, he does not know how to use the device and it is in danger of exploding and killing him if he carries it much longer.

Black Bolt screamsAnd so it is Wyatt Wingfoot and Prester John who have to save Johnny from the only thing that will allow him to be reunited with the girl of his affections. It’s a profoundly sad moment, and also a very tense one as John and Wyatt cannot rely on anything other than their normal human abilities to resolve the situation.

Which is another interesting angle to this issue: none of the core FF themselves ever do anything heroic. They are completely supported by the supporting cast. It’s this aspect which keeps this early run fresh, even after all these years,  and which is why it’s good for the Fantastic Four, despite their name, to have a wide cast of recurring characters.

EVALUATION: 8/10

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  1. Pingback: 57. Enter Doctor Doom | Fantastic Four 1 by 1

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