After a slough of poorly conceived and executed tales, we’ve come up against one that isn’t entirely disappointing.
The dismal trends of recent issues are still present, however. Sue, the only female member of the team, is still bedridden and Crystal, who could replace Sue quite capably, is brushed out of the story with the excuse that someone needs to be around if she needs anything. Of course, that person isn’t going to be Reed, as he elects to go jetting off with Johnny and Ben to look for Wyatt Wingfoot. So very quickly the women are written out of the story yet again. The last we see of a female in fact, is Crystal waving the boys off, wearing an apron that she’d donned to do some housework. Why couldn’t she join them? Or why couldn’t just Johnny and Ben have an adventure and shake up the dynamic a little?
Wyatt has run into trouble. It’s not explained how he manages to send a letter from his reservation across to New York, nor why he specifically mentions the menace of this issue which oddly seems to take him by surprise once he actually comes across it. The FF arrive at the reservation and find themselves attacked, and it’s only when they come across Wyatt’s grandfather, Silent Fox, that they calm down and get on with the business at hand, defeating Tomazooma, the Living Totem.
Is this issue racist? Possibly. Wyatt’s tribe seem to be a muted analogue of the Wakandans. They are not naive or overly superstitious, yet don’t denigrate their own culture either. They sit on the ground and wear feathered headdresses, but also zip around in dune buggies and shoot shotguns. Instead of selling their oil-rich land, they actually bring up the oil themselves. Silent Fox still uses the old ‘many moons ago’ convention, but then he almost instantly puts together the origin of rampaging robot, being a ploy from the Red Star oil consortium in Soviet Russia.
So it’s kind of a mixed bag. And although Reed being squished down and blown into the totem’s mouth in order to disable it is rather ridiculous, we have a standalone tale that takes us into an environment that the Fantastic Four have not been exposed to yet. And the last panel, I feel, shows respect not only for the Indigenous Peoples, but also most people of faith who feel the material world too confining.EVALUATION: 6/10