Karl Kesel wraps up this volume of Fantastic Four, and whilst this run will always be a bit of a missed opportunity due to Matt Fraction’s departure and the change in writers, this was still a fun issue that mostly wraps everything up in a way that makes sense. It’s only half of the story though, as we still have to wait a week for the final issue of FF.
The bulk of this issue takes place in the so-called ‘Doomed Universe’, with our Fantastic Four and the alternate reality team having to team up and try and defeat Doom The Annihilating Conqueror, who is finally here and ripping shit up. The two teams try as hard as they can, but DTAC is way too powerful, and he even manages to send Marvel Girl back to her original time period. He’s also able to use the Time/Space Ship to have a peek at the ‘real’ Marvel Universe and see what’s going on there, which is Ant-Man going up against the ‘real’ Doom, which is cause for amusement for this Doom. He views the Marvel Universe as weak, and is going to claim it for his own, so now this guy isn’t just a threat to 1 universe, but all of them. Luckily (it’s not really luck, it’s explained later), just as this point, for some reason DTAC’s headquarters are blown up and he heads off to investigate.
This allows the two FFs to come up with a new plan, and use that machine from last issue to transfer the Doomed FF’s powers to the actual FF, powering them up for 4 minutes before it kills them. The new FF Squared attack DTAC and basically kick his ass, and then, the Doomed FF fly the Space/Time Ship into him, scattering him across, well, space and time, defeating him. But even though DTAC is defeated, there are still issues to be dealt with, as the FF need to give the other team’s powers back before they die. They do die, but for less than a minute, and there is a half-hearted attempt from Kesel to make us actually believe they are dead for a page or too, but we all knew it wasn’t to be.
Basically, the day is saved, but it may not be for the Marvel Universe. Because of the tampering to the FF’s powers, the universal constant of two different Fantastic Fours teaming up to take down DTAC has been broken, which is way over in FF, Scott Lang and his team are on their own. It’s a cool explanation I think, and even though I probably haven’t explained it properly myself, in the comic, it works.
The team then finally heads back to their own universe, where they are reunited with Franklin and Val, and meet up with the Old John Storm who’s been hanging around in FF. He touches Johnny, absorbs his memories and realises that he is the one who blew up Doom’s tower to cause that distraction, and so warps off to his own universe to sacrifice himself. It’s all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, but it works.
To honour his alternate self’s sacrifice, Johnny has a barbecue on the Moon, and we get a very fun epilogue with the Fantastic Four and the FF just hanging out with The Watcher and Silver Surfer having fun and reflecting on what’s happened. There are a few spoilers for FF #16 here, which is slightly annoying, but it was good character stuff, especially with Johnny Storm and Ant-Man. I also really liked She-Hulk and Thing’s conversation, as well as the stuff with the Watcher and his girlfriend, man, it’s actually going to be emotional when he dies.
The art for this epilogue is from Mike Allred, so I wonder if maybe we’ll see it repeated next week? It was a bit jarring to go from Ienco to Allred, but I don’t think it would have worked with Ienco’s darker style. This was a party, and it needed Allred’s cartoonish style, whereas the big fight scene needed some grittiness.
So, it’s goodbye to this era of the Fantastic Four, I’m excited for FF #16 to explain some of the stuff teased in the Barbecue, and let’s see what James Robinson has up his sleeves for Marvel’s First Family.