Writer: Adam Warren
Artists: Keron Grant (p), Derek Fridolfs with Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with the Fantastic Four racing the clock to finish a device that Reed hopes will provide a means to nullify the bizarre process that has Ben's hide spawning an endless stream of duplicate Things. Meanwhile, Ben has allied himself with a small group of duplicates who aren't obsessed with rending him limb from limb, but we see Ben's group is vastly outnumbered. As Ben & his allies use their handcrafted weapons to hold back the advancing tide of enraged Things, we rejoin Reed, and discover the device he's constructed speeds up the evolutionary process. We then see him place a chunk of Ben's organic hide into this device, and send it speeding through the evolutionary process, until it becomes a sentient life form. However, while this allows Reed to discover what is causing Ben's current condition, the pocket dimension that Reed sent Ben & his duplicates into collapses back into their reality, and the FF find themselves inundated with Things. However, the evolved chunk of Ben's hide is able to reverse Ben's condition, and destroy all the duplicates, but this solution does come with a price, as Ben loses the ability to turn back into his human form.
One of the ideas that a reader has to accept when they're following the Fantastic Four is the idea that there will be times when Reed will come up with a solution that will instantly solve the crisis at hand, while the rest of the team are left with nothing more to do than act as observers. Now some of Reed's quick fix solutions will require Johnny's flames as a power source, or Sue's force field to channel the energies of the device, but for the most part when Reed saves the day it's a one man show, and given that it wouldn't do much for Reed's reputation as the Marvel Universe's smartest man if the device proved to be a dud, Reed is pretty much batting 1000 when it comes to his hastily constructed, pulling the world's butt out of the fire inventions. With this in mind I really shouldn't be all that thrown by the abrupt climax we get in this issue, as Adam Warren did give us plenty of advance warning that Reed would be the one to save the day. I'll give him credit for at least attaching a downside to Reed's latest solution, as Adam Warren also manages to restore the status quo of a member of the FF before Mark Waid's arrival.
This issue is a pretty solid finish to what has been a fairly enjoyable, delightfully offbeat Fantastic Four adventure. I mean yes I did find the ending a bit abrupt, and Ben's fight against an army of evil duplicates got a bit tiresome toward the end. Still, this issue had itself more high points than low, as Reed's invention differed from most of his quick fix solutions in that the reader is actually let in on the secret of what it's doing before it solves the crisis it was created to deal with. The issue also has fun with its cast, as Adam Warren does display a nice understanding of each member's little personality quirks, such as the little opening exchange between Sue, Johnny & Reed about the device that Reed has pieced together. Plus, while her contributions to the conversation aren't exactly insightful, I must confess little Val's little word balloons made me smile. As for Ben's conversation with his evil duplicates, it was fun to see how many variations Adam Warren could twist Ben's collection of catch phrases into. Reed's one-sided conversation with the evolved version of Ben's hide was also did a nice job teasing the reader with information.
First off while I think Adam Warren's version of Sue isn't quite right, the cover to this issue is one great looking shot of the Fantastic Four. As for the interior art, I'd like to start off by mentioning the strong coloring work by GURU eFX, who I've never heard of before, but based on this issue I really hope to see again, as it's quite eye catching work, with some very nice coloring effects. As for Keron Grant's art, his work on this three issue stint is easily the best looking work I've ever seen from him, as his art has a great sense of energy, and it lacks the confusion that left me rather disenchanted with his work over on "Iron Man". The battle between Ben & his evil counterparts is a great display of action, as we see Ben & his allies tear into this army with ruthless abandon. The shots of the army of Thing's charging toward the reader are also quite impressive. Also while it's a little detail, I enjoyed the establishing shots of the Baxter Building with it's gaping hole, as it's such a perfect Fantastic Four visual, as is the final page where we see this chunk has been restored to its proper place.
This issue wasn't as much fun as the previous two chapters, mostly because it has to spend most of its attentions on wrapping up the crisis it was so busy building up in previous issues, and since Reed is the character who supplies the answer, the ending is a bit anticlimactic. Now the issue still has some clever ideas going for it, as Reed's invention is sure to have Christian scientists trembling with its ability to prove Darwin's Theory of Evolution, and it's put to an rather innovative use in this issue to provide the answer. The ending also does a bit of house cleaning as we see now see Val is the only element that is likely to survive into Mark Waid's run, as Ben loses the ability to turn back into his portly human form. In the end this was a fun, largely inconsequential romp, that made good use of its time, and made the wait for Mark Waid quite bearable. Plus, how can one not love the final words of the evil Things.
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