Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #502

The cover to Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #502.
That’s a lot of asparagus.
From Series: Fantastic Four (Vol 1)

What Happened:

Franklin Richards is hitting kids at Coney Island and not in a fun “The Warriors” way. He’s doing it in a very un-fun “You touched my child and I have called the cops” kind of way. Fortunately, being famous has many perks. Since Franklin is with his mother Susan Storm (The Invisible Woman) and his uncle Ben Grimm (The Thing) of The Fantastic Four, the cops arrive at the scene but don’t uphold any peace. They sort of just pop in and pop out.

Meanwhile, Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) is being very stupid. Very stupid. He has decided that he is an expert at post-traumatic stress disorder and grief therapy. He has decided that all previous methods of dealing with these conditions do not work. He has decided the method which will work is to travel back in time, find your patient’s attacker as a happy child, then let your patient point a laser rifle at their head.

Thus we find Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) pointing a laser rifle at the young and innocent Victor Von Doom. During The Fantastic Four’s previous adventure, Doctor Doom had trapped and tortured all of the Fantastic Four. He even threw Reed’s son Franklin into Hell (which is one of the two immediate reasons why Franklin is currently have a bad time at Coney Island). So Reed has been understandably a little sad. He is allowed to be sad!

But Johnny has other plans hence the time travel, laser rifle, and ham-fisted lesson of “You wouldn’t kill a child in cold blood with a laser rifle so you shouldn’t beat yourself up”– BUT THEN REED FIRES THE GUN AT THAT KID’S HEAD.

JOHNNY ALSO DECIDED TO BRING REED’S INFANT DAUGHTER VALERIA. HE IS VERY DUMB.

Back at Coney Island, Ben and Susan have figured out why Franklin is lashing out. He still believes he is trapped in hell and his family is doing anything to save him. Sue uses her powers to make everything besides Franklin, Ben, and herself disappear but it does not help. It also probably made the planet Earth look like one of those fun beads a kid would buy at a science museum gift shop.

Ben steps in to take over. He tells Franklin that life sucks and there are no guarantees now that he is growing up but having a family makes things better. Ben’s tactics are less nurturing but over-all successful. Franklin starts to engage more with Ben and Sue but it is clear this is only the first step toward of his recovery.

Meanwhile, remember when Reed shot that kid?! It was a total fake out. He “misses” the target and an angry young Victor Von Doom swears vengeance on whomever is attacking him from afar. Johnny starts to understand that both his plan and himself are VERY DUMB and takes away the laser rifle. By lighting it on fire. That’s an dangerous explosive weapon Johnny maybe you shouldn’t light it on fi– you know what? Let’s just accept that he’s very dumb and move on.

Meanwhile, Reed didn’t miss! He shot off a bit of young Victor’s hair and took it back with him through the time machine. He’s doing lab stuff with Doctor Doom’s hair! That is probably not a project going anywhere sunny.

What I Learned From This Issue:

The Thing goes through a lot of pens.

The Creators:
The Creators:
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler, Inker: Casey Jones
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editors: Tom Brevoort

Coney Island is a Nightmare – Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #501

The cover to Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #501
Looking for bugs.

From Series: Fantastic Four (Vol 1)

What Happened:

After Doctor Doom (Victor Von Doom) nearly destroying the Fantastic Four things are looking pretty bad. Things are so bad The Thing (Ben Grimm) has started journaling. Journaling! Like a boring person on a European vacation! I’ve never seen things so rough.

Bearing the worst of the attack was Franklin Richards, the son of Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) and The Invisible Woman (Sue Storm). He was trapped in literal Hell by Doom for a couple of days and that will do stuff to a kid’s brain. The child psychologists are understandably out of their depth with this particular client.

In a Hail Mary play, Sue and an invisible Ben take Franklin to Coney Island. I guess they are trying to compare literal Hell to a figurative one and show Franklin it’s not all that different? Who knows. They spoil the kid rotten with rides, prizes, and junk food but it doesn’t fix all his mental issues despite, like I already said, they spoil him rotten with rides, toys and junk food.

Back at the Baxter Building The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) has a kooky plan to snap Reed out of his own funk. Reed blames himself for everything Doom did to the team. (Send his kid to hell, light his wife on fire, beat his best friend to a bloody mess, lock Reed into a library and make fun of him…) Also, since Doom permanently scarred Reed’s face (which his elasticity cannot fix) Reed will always be reminded of Doom’s actions whenever he see’s himself.

So Johnny grabs a laser gun and they jump into a time machine to spy on a young, innocent Doctor Doom.

At Coney Island, Franklin freaks out on a bunch of people trying to get autographs from his mom and uncle. Freaks out big time too! Curse words and everything!

What I Learned From This Issue:

Sue is not a supportive mother when it comes to her children’s artwork.

The Creators:
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler, Inker: Casey Jones
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editors: Tom Brevoort
Assistant Editor: Marc Sumerak & Andy Schmidt

Mister Fantastic’s Self Loathing – Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #500

The cover to Fantastic Four (Vol 1) #500
Well, you don’t look a day over 400.
What Happened:

WEBSITE NOTE: This is the first issue of Fantastic Four (Vol 3)’s returning to its original Vol 1 numbering. Since it is also the concluding issue to a Vol 3 story line this issue is listed as both a Vol 1 and Vol 3 series.

From Series: Fantastic Four (Vol 3)

From Series: Fantastic Four (Vol 1)

Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) has been captured by a magically souped up Doctor Doom (Victor Von Doom). Reed’s been given a chance to fight back by being locked in Doom’s library of magic texts. The challenge is for Reed to figure a way out of his magical prison by learning some magic from Doom’s archive of knowledge. It’s all an effort to humiliate Reed, who despite being a super genius, knows nothing about magic. He tries anyway though. Doom has sent his son Franklin to Hell, currently has his daughter Valeria, and is torturing the rest of the Fantastic Four with his magic. So… he probably should try REALLY really hard.

He stinks way too much at magic though! Luckily, the spirit of Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange) shows up to cover for him. Strange has also been incapacitated by Doom, but is able to use a little bit of his magic to assist Reed undetected. First thing they do is teleport out of the library to Strange’s house where Reed has a better chance of learning magic. Reed tries to read the teleportation spell like a mathematical formula and it puts them in the middle of traffic instead of Strange’s home.

See how far learning math will get you? It’ll put you right into harms way. Take heed, children.

Things don’t improve much and time runs out for the two of them. Doom pulls Doctor Strange’s spirit back into his captive body. Reed, still unable to wrap his head around the idea that there might be forces he’ll never understand, cannot cast a single spell successfully. Strange does gift him a tiny gun thing before he is zapped away and says it needs magic words to work.

After a lot of trial and error, Reed figures out the magic words are admitting he’s stupid when it comes to magic. Reed does a lot of self deprecating humor with grand magical results! The freed Fantastic Four then takes on Doom.

He gets cut up by The Invisible Woman (Sue Storm), knocked around by The Thing (Ben Grimm), and even roasted by The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) but Doom still won’t fall. Finally, Reed tricks Doom into admitting that he is not in debt to anyone, which goes against the the deal he made with demons for his new magical power. The demons are real mad they’re not getting credit for Doom’s makeover! They attack Doom and the Fantastic Four jump through their demonic portal to grab Franklin and bring him back.

While retreating back out of the portal, Doctor Doom tries to get Reed to help him escape but Reed will no longer be tricked by Doom. So, Doom makes sure Reed will never forget him. He magically scars half of Reed’s face with grotesque burns.

What I Learned From this Comic:

If magic actually worked like it does for Mister Fantastic, I would be the strongest magician in the world.

The Creators:
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Mike Wieringo
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Albert Deschesne
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Assistant Editor: Marc Sumerak & Andy Schmidt