spreading the talent

Review: Fantastic Four #371

Review by: Rick Pipito

As I browsed through the discount comics, I came across an interesting looking cover.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for comic book promotionals.  This textured and single colored cover of Fantastic Four #371 (December 1992) features The Human Torch flying toward the reader as the remainder of the cover seemingly melts.  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Right from the first page this issue had my interest.  Alicia Masters had been kidnapped by a rogue Watcher, and to get her back, The Thing and Mr. Fantastic are working with their long time foe The Puppetmaster.  Why you ask?  The Puppetmaster, for those of you who don’t know, is Alicia’s father.  It is interesting to see the team up to say the least.

To add to the drama aspect of this issue (which is really what I feel is the strongsuit) is Sharon Ventura.  Sharon wants Ben Grimm’s love and attention, but at the same time, The Thing is really only interested in the love of Alicia.  When Sharon agrees to join the two members of the FF, in her full Ms. Marvel attire, on their quest to find her, it doesn’t bode well with the Puppetmaster.  He feels that it is a conflict of interest because of her feelings.

Not enough of an emotional rollercoaster for you?  Okay, so Susan Storm is not joining them because her and Reed are arguing.  Over what?  Sue once again tries to get his attention with a new costume that shows off plenty of her perfect body.  While us readers are drooling over the look of the costume, her husband barely notices.  Franklin, their son, also sees them arguing, and as a child, it bothers him.

On the other side of town, Johnny introduces himself to Bridget O’Neil, a fellow college student (and love interest).  The introductions don’t last long though as he is attacked by Lyja, Paibok, and Devos.  With Bridget frozen by Paibok, Johnny has to race to free her before it is too late.  Succeeding in her rescue, The Human Torch is forced into a standoff on Empire State University’s campus.  His only chance at survival is to go nova.  By doing this, he has set fire to the entire campus.

Across town, Invisible Woman races toward her brother’s distress call, as Agatha Harkness (the old witch) remains to watch Franklin.

When Reed, Ben and Sharon finally find Alicia, she appears to be in some sort of coma induced by Aron the rogue Watcher.  Uatu knows about Reed’s attempts to contact him, but his vows as a Watcher prevent him from doing anything, regardless of the fact that he wants to help.  Aron has the three heroes right where he wants them, and intends on imprisoning them in a micro universe that he created.

The suspense, drama and revelations in this issue just keep coming, and that is what I really liked about it.  The downside?  Well, on page 16 there is something that got by the editor.  The word “equipment” is spelled wrong (written as “equiptment).  I know, this is nit picky, but as a writer, I noticed it quickly.  I also was disappointed with the To BE CONTINUED on the last page.

I should have seen it coming, but now my curiosity has me wanting more.  Sure it is a 20 year old issue, but it holds its status.  I recommend it ONLY if you can find the issue/issues following it.  Does anyone know how long this story goes on for?  Please comment if you do.  Otherwise, as an issue, I give it a 7 out of 10, that goes by WAY too quickly.

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