Where: Fantastic Four #3 When: March 1998
Writer: Scott Lobdell Artist: Alan Davis
The story so far...
Heroes Return saw the triumphant return of Marvel's core cast of characters after a lengthy hiatus from the "616" universe, and the styles that have made them famous.
Having overcome a universe of trouble in Heroes Reborn, the Thunderbolts stealing their home, trouble in France, and a single-celled Iconoclast; the FF were overdue for a visit from a more familiar nemesis.
Staying back to finish some analysis work before a New Year's Eve ball, Reed Richards is available to receive a call ending in distress from an ESU scientist, where Reed is a consulting Professor.
Tale of the tape...
There's a clichè amongst comic fans regarding characters' supposed potential to be the most powerful character in the universe. While in some cases it's an exaggeration, there are sometimes some very real points to be made, and where Reed Richards is concerned, this issue is part of one of those arguments.
Intelligence: 6 (Genius)
Agility: 6 (Rubber)
What makes Mr. Fantastic so fantastic is probably his almost unparalleled genius, and capacity for invention. If you need evidence, check out the last entry, which featured an invention by Richards capable of creating life in the most barren of locations.
Of course, intelligence is really quite relative, and if Richards has a downfall, it's his ability to see the potential in applying his genius to other areas. Areas such as combat, where his rubber malleability, and control over the density of his structure could potentially make him one of the most impressive super powered fighters in comics.
Every character has flaws and weaknesses, and this is Mr. Fantastic's.
On your average occasion, matching wits with the Red Ghost and his Super Apes, I would probably call it 50-50. Sheer numbers are probably more than an equializer against Reed Richards, whose greatest strengths in the field are as a team leader, and cooardinator.
What went down...
Ever the marital moron, Richards is hanging out in his lab, instead of going to a New Year's Eve charity benefit, with his dressed up wife. It's not all bad, because it means when Dr. Polombo of ESU leaves a message that ends in distress, Professor Richards is able to answer the call.
When he arrives he finds something rather surprising. Those damn dirty Super Apes are not only in control of their cosmic powers, but they're also super intelligent now too, at the cost of the Red Ghost's intelligence, it would seem.
Richards shows an uncharacteristically tactical approach to the fight, stretching his eye through a drainage grate to get a scope on the situation.
As it so happens, the Super Apes efficiently incapacitated the lone security guard, and scientist, leaving them to pump powerfully toxic nerve gas into Times Square.
The fun is interrupted by an innocent knocking at the door - or is it?
Using his powers to great effect, Richards takes one of the Super Apes out with a flying fist, before emerging from his hiding place in the drains.
Mikhlo the stretchy orangutan does what he can to wrap the good professor up, but Richards continues to show his offensive enginuity, stretching his head out, and then snapping it back full force. Not the most effective application of his powers, but still impressive.
With the other apes incapacitated, and the Red Ghost tied up in a test bunny's pink eyes, it leaves Richards in a showdown with Praetor - the brains of the group.
Praetor's advanced powers and intelligence prove to be a worthy challenge.
Intangibility and magnetikinesis make for interesting foils for Mr. Fantastic's versatile abilities, but ultimately he's able to get a hand free, and finish the job with the drain grate he came in through.
The remaining members of the Fantastic Four arrive just in time to apprehend the... delighted Red Ghost, still engrossed in the colour of the rabbit's eyes.
Ever the thinker, Reed Richards finds his victory hollow, as he ponders what potential threat merging genetic makeups could pose, as a result of their cosmically irradiated bodies.
As mentioned last week, this was a relatively deliberate choice for a battle. With the release of Fantastic Four on DVD, I thought it would be appropriate to mark the occasion appropriately, by dipping into the FF longbox.
I'm sure we can all gladly agree that Mr. Fantastic came out with the win, rather conclusively. Something I always like to see in a comic book fight, but don't see terribly often.
Next week I dare say it'll be something from the DC bin, just to assure everyone we're not playing favourites. Of course, this entire website is fairly dependent on my meager comic collection, so equality isn't exactly an option...
Feel free to drop a comment, or even recommend or suggest a comic fight. Cheers!
The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4.5 [July 17, 2006]