79. A Monster Forever?

Fantastic Four Issue Seventy-Nine 79

Issue Seventy-Nine

This is a puzzle of an issue — something seems to have gone wrong here. The creators are both obviously having an off-day. It’s a good idea to every once in a while have a slow issue after a lot of action in order to center the characters and give the readers a breather, but this is not the right time. All of the tension built up in the last issue — how will Ben be turned back into The Thing — is completely diffused. There is just so much time give at the start of the issue to nothing of consequence. We should be getting inside Ben’s head and finding out how he reacts to being human after all this time, and how others react to him. An entire issue wouldn’t be too much to devote to this rediscovery of his corporeal humanity. What has he found that he’s missed the most? What frustrations does he experience? What forgotten joys?

Instead, we get treated to the introduction of doorman O’Hoolihan, everyone’s favorite brogue-talking stereotype. We see Johnny give Crystal a piggy-back, and we see Reed Richards withholding serious medical information from his wife about her own health. We’re ten pages in before we are introduced to the conflict of this issue, and the catalyst for Ben’s change — an android created by The Wizard. It helpfully explains to us that it has been programmed to search for a special radio signal and then destroy whoever is holding the device.

This is the one interesting aspect of this issue - a powerless Ben going toe-to-toe with a superpowered robot using the fighting techniques he learned as The Thing. And beautifully illustrated.

Which of course makes perfect sense since it is the Wizard’s own gloves that are emitting the signal. Of course he would make a machine that would destroy them, and him, if it were ever released.

Fantastic Four Issue Seventy-Nine 79


And it makes equally good sense for Ben to bring them on his first human date with Alicia.

And for them to instantly turn him into The Thing when he sticks them on.

It could have been a great issue, with the burning humanity of This Man, This Monster, but it completely fizzes out. They did it once before, why not just rip off that issue? Why not just reprint it? Not just a disappointing issue, but a brilliant missed opportunity.


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