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Fantastic Four #9, or Orange (Rocky Skin) is the New Black

Fantastic Four has had, well, a fantastic run of late, storytelling-wise. They've fallen so far: Reed's lost his reputation, Johnny's lost his powers, Ben's lost his freedom, and Sue's lost her kids. (Being declared an unfit mother seemed to hit her the hardest.) Now the group's in free fall. Funny thing is, if you look at someone in free fall, they don't appear to be moving at all. (Spoilers below.)

Reed's gotten a job in New Eden, a super-lab that deftly ignores the laws of physics. It's a perfect role for Mr. Fantastic, but he's the only one who seems to have landed on his feet. (How he handles working with superiors for once remains to be seen.)


Sue's at New Eden too, but she's not happy, and she's not shown in-panel or on-page with Reed. This was a deliberate choice, showing how distant they are. It's a sharp move to illustrate Sue's isolation. She's on the phone to Johnny, who's "having a few friends over", e.g. throwing a party so loud he doesn't have to hear himself think.

Another Human Torch, Agent Hammond, deals with fallout from the previous issue: SHIELD, the caretakers of the FF's large group of ragamuffins, has decided that Dragon Man needs to be deactivated... because of reasons. Hammond and the kids decide to mount a rescue, which goes off without a hitch. Agent Hammond takes the kids with him, so there's no real sense of risk involved, at all. The point is, the kids have their Dragon Man back, and Maria Hill, Director of SHIELD, looks the other way.

All pretty benign stuff up to now, which leaves us with Ben, already shuffled into The Raft, New York's own super-prison. In the quad, he runs into the Sandman, who helpfully exposits that power-sapper rays keep all the prisoners on par with each other. This justifies how three C-listers (Manbull, Armadillo, and Ironclad) are able to clobber the Thing and drag him before the Boss: Sharon Ventura, or She-Thing.


I did not see that coming. Did you see that coming? I sure didn't. I vaguely remember seeing Sharon/She-Thing before, ages ago, as a good guy. If anyone can point out in the comments where she went bad, please do so.


So... yeah. This issue is far from action-packed, but it's still a necessary part of the trip. The FF have lost a great deal, and I for one am curious as to when they're gonna realize they're being deliberately played, and when Johnny will inevitably get his powers back.

From clues in the first issue, we still have a little ways to go: Ben's not in solitary confinement yet, and Reed & Sue are still together, for now. I look forward to seeing what comes next.


How about you?

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