This issue is a clever one, even if it’s not structurally as elegant as the last, it is still quite clever.
The dual threats in this issue continue quite well from the last, and both involve meaningful action and are completely resolved. The first threat is that of the Mad Thinker, who is defeated, and then that of the brainwashed Ben Grimm, who arrives on the scene just as the Thinker goes down. Reed and Johnny don’t even get a chance to take a breath before Ben bashes his way through the Baxter Building.
This is very satisfying. The alternative, I would suppose, would be to have the Thinker and the Thing work in tandem, but that would almost certainly, practically, only look like Ben crashing into things while the Thinker pointed menacingly in the background. This way it feels like you get a twofer.
Although the brain-de-washing of Ben is handled expertly, both in terms of visuals and narrative, the Thinker’s storyline wraps up in Mr Fantastic plainly beating him into unconsciousness with his fists, and that is far from clever and satisfying. There’s a little bit of human optimism thrown in as Reed gives a short lecture on the human spirit, but all it does is make him sound like a high-minded thug with a philosophy degree. What we have here is a super-powered ‘hero’ physically drubbing a normal (albeit intelligent) human being, which I find tasteless. Surely a battle between two towering intellects should end like this — the good guy hitting the bad guy in the head so much that he loses consciousness?
What pulls this issue’s rating back up to a seven from a five, however, is the last two panels. All the XY chromosome members of the FF have passed out due to exertion leaving Sue the only standing member — just as the Mad Thinker’s vengeance-directed Killer Android bursts through the wall. And Sue, as we have just learned in Annual #5, is pregnant…