Last week’s issue of Fantastic Four gave us some hints about what would happen in this issue, but now we finally get to see it all go down, and it’s very satisfying indeed.
Much of this issue is a one-on-one fight and conversation between Ant-Man and Doctor Doom, and it’s a very gripping read indeed. The history between these two characters may not be as long as the one between Mister Fantastic and Doom, but it’s much more personal and tragic, as Doom killed Ant-Man’s daughter, so the stakes are high. Scott has to stand in Doom’s way to stop him regaining his cosmic power, and he does so, demonstrating surprising super-strength. The reason he has these powers is explained by The Watcher, as it’s revealed that Pym Particles don’t just have the ability to increase or decrease size, they can also do the same with density. This ties in Pym’s powers with that of his ‘grandson’ The Visions, and basically provides a whole lot of interesting connections and continuity for loads of different Marvel characters, and could, in fact, lead to Stature coming back from the dead, if Bentley’s words in the epilogue ring true.
But really, it mostly allows for Scott Lang to kick Doom’s ass, and even remove his mask to reveal a surprisingly un-scarred face. This is because, just like in Secret Wars, the first thing Doom did with his cosmic power was fix himself. This causes Scott to move on to a more verbal beatdown, as he rips Doom a new one, telling him he’s not some kind of noble warrior, he’s just a sociopath, like the guys Scott new in prison. I’m sure a lot of Doom fans won’t like this scene, as it’s bringing him down to the level of a common crook, and it’s actually a bit reminiscent of what Grant Morrison did with Magneto, which was divisive, but I dug it. Doom may be a grandiose villain, but he’s still a villain, and he deserves taking down a peg.
After Scott takes the fight outside (to under a Linden tree, which is where Cassie died), it is interrupted by the motherfucking Living Tribunal, who has come to punish Doom for daring to beat up The Watcher last issue. His punishment is that, from now on, every time Doctor Doom does something malicious and evil, he will get a new scar on his face. Nothing else can scar him but his own evil, which is a pretty cool twist. As Ant-Man says, every time he fixes his face, it always ends up scarred again, and this provides a compelling reason for it.
During this big fight, Lee Allred periodically jumps to ‘between realities’ as Ravonna sort of explains what her plan has been all along to Franklin. I think these scenes were probably the weakest part of the issue, as I still don’t quite understand what she and Kid Immortus were up to, and whether or not she is Future-Valeria or not. But I suppose it’s meant to be confusing. After the Tribunal does his thing, Scott proceeds to finally, definitively, kick Doom’s ass, humiliating him into saying he gives up in front of the Latverian people. However, as soon as Scott turns his back, Doom fires a blast at him, but instead of hitting Ant-Man, he hits a vision of Valeria that Ravonna had created. Doom is distraught, thinking he has killed his ‘niece’, and so ends the downfall of Doom. It interesting that it was a team of replacement Fantastic Fours to give Doctor Doom such a decisive defeat, and it’s an idea that I really like, the real FF would never have used these same tactics.
After this, we have the epilogue, which features some of the same pages as Fantastic Four #16, but also some new stuff, including the Moloids continuing to worship ‘The Ben’, Scott and Darla finally kissing, and , as I said, the various Future Foundation kids realising that they might be able to bring back Stature. We also see the various Inhuman characters set up the events of Infinity and Inhumanity somewhat, and there’s one last mysterious scene with Ravonna.
I am looking forward to James Robinson’s run with the Fantastic Four, but I must say I am a bit disappointed that there will only be one FF book, Hickman, Fraction and Allred have developed some really great characters in the Future Foundation, and it will be a shame to see them lose the spotlight a bit.
Overall, this series, much like it’s companion, is still a bit of a missed opportunity due to the change in writer, but I thoroughly enjoyed all 16 issues, in particular Mike Allred’s art, which, along with Joe Quinones as a fill-in (we even get Allred inking Quinones here, which is cool) was always perfect for the comedic tone the series had, and perfectly Kirbyesque. I’m very glad to see he’s going to be tackling the Silver Surfer next.