Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Howard Porter
Inks: Norm Rapmund
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Fantastic Four struggle to deal with the possessed Sue, we see Doom is using his new body to take a tour of Latveria, where he discovers Reed has been busy in his absence. What follows is a desperate battle where Doom jumps from host body to host body, and in the end the Fantastic Four are forced to kill one of their own to save the life of another. Oh my god! They've killed...
The idea of the death of a character is hardly new ground as even the Fantastic Four have faced this shocking surprise before, back during Tom DeFalco's run. In fact looking back on the team's history I'm actually surprised that the shocking death card hasn't been played more often as the simple mention of the Fantastic Three is enough to make most comic fans sit up and take notice. Now I'm not going to spoil the surprise, but I will say that the means of this character's death was a bit of a surprise, as the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D. has technology designed to take down each member of the Fantastic Four is a fascinating revelation, and I hope that there is some fallout regarding this betrayal (though I suspect that Reed might've played a role in the in the design and development of the technology). The issue also leaves the team in a very interesting place as not only is the team minus one of its members, but they've also lost the trust of the public, as well as the financial security that Reed's patents provided. In the end this is a highly entertaining finish to what has been a very exciting arc where Mark Waid has made it quite clear that he's not afraid to shake up the apple cart. Heck, Mark Waid even manages to make the final panel declaration sound exciting even if it acts to tell readers that the shocking death they've been treated to in this issue is about to be reversed. I can't wait for the next issue, and this is what makes for a great monthly series.
As for the art, Howard Porter is making a fairly convincing case for why I should be excited about his being announced as the new regular artist for the "Flash", as his work does seem to have become more focused since his departure from the JLA. The opening action scene where the team battles the possessed Sue is a highly energetic display, and the art does a pretty fair job of capturing the chaos of the situation without losing its ability to clearly detail the action. I also loved the sense of true evil that the art managed the convey when the various members of the team play host to Doom's mental energies, with our initial look at the possessed Ben being the highlight of the issue. The scene where our member of the Fantastic Four is stuck down is also quite impressive, and the art also does a nice job of conveying the collective grief of the team as they gather around their fallen teammate.
That sound you just heard last Wednesday was the collective gasp of all the Fantastic Four readers as they flipped through their copy of this issue to discover which member of the Fantastic Four Mark Waid decided to kill off. I mean as much as I want to offer up my two cents on his choice I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for anyone who has yet to encounter it, and as such all I can really do is offer up my belief that most reader will be completely floored by the member who is killed off. In the end I already know that this character is going to be brought back to life, so the more important aspect of the story is the new status quo that has been created for this team as the Fantastic Four are no longer the shining jewel at the center of the Marvel Universe. They are distrusted by the public, and with the income provided by Reed's patents cut off it would appear the team looks to have lost access to all those wonderful toys that made their adventures possible. Watching them get back to where they were should be a lot of fun.
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