Fantastic Four versus the X-Men

By Chris Claremont, John Bogdanove & Terry Austin (Marvel)
ISBN: 0-87135-650-3

Here’s a good solid yarn from simpler times which serves as the perfect introduction to two fully developed franchises, but still won’t leave you reeling under an avalanche of new names and concepts. Originally released as a four issue miniseries in 1987, this intriguing mystery looks deep into the character of possibly the oldest character in the Marvel universe and turns its most trusted hero into a potential monster.

Everybody knows that Reed Richards is the smartest man on the planet, and how he took his three most trusted companions on a trip into space. Once there the ever-present cosmic rays mutated the quartet into the super-powered freaks now known as the Fantastic Four. How could such a colossal intellect forget something as basic as radiation shielding?

This tale takes place at a time when the mutant heroes and public fugitives called X-Men are being led by Magneto, and is the culmination to a story-arc where young Kitty Pryde is dying: her ability to pass through matter out of control and her body gradually drifting to unconnected atoms.

When Sue Richards finds an old journal belonging to her husband the trust and loyalty that bind the FF together is shattered. The book reveals that the younger Reed had in fact deduced the transformative power of cosmic rays and manufactured the entire incident to create a team of super-warriors. All the years of misery and danger have been a deliberate, calculated scheme by a ruthless mind that could only see life in terms of goals and outcomes.

When the X-Men bring their medical emergency to the FF, Reed, protesting his innocence to a family and team who no longer trust him and with his confidence shattered, falters. He knows that he didn’t plan to mutate his team, but he did make a mistake that altered their lives forever. What if he makes another blunder with Pryde’s cure?

And then Doctor Doom steps in…

This is a superb adventure stuffed with guest-stars that moves beyond gaudy costumes and powers to display the core humanity of Reed Richards and the true depths of evil his greatest enemy can sink to. As an example of sensitive character writing it has few equals and the stylish illustration of Jon Bogdanove is captivating to behold. Long overdue for reprinting this is a tale for all drama lovers, not just the fights ‘n’ tights crowd.
© 1987, 1990 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.