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Fantastic Four #366: Review

Jul 1992
Tom DeFalco, Paul Ryan

Story Name:

The enemy within

Review & Comments

4 stars

Fantastic Four #366 Review by (August 27, 2021)
This issue was co-plotted by Tom DeFalco and Paul Ryan.

This is an Infinity War tie-in.

The fight between Mr Fantastic and his Doppelganger shares scenes with another view of it in IW#1. The Dop also uses the term Shade to represent what he is, and in IW#2 Magus will also use that term for the Dops.

Iron Man was also replaced by *his* Dop in IW#1.

Reed Richards developed the Encephalizer in #357 to store the team's brain patterns and monitor the team to check for takeover by eg Puppet Master. It helped to uncover the fact that the 'Alicia Masters' that Johnny Storm had married was actually a Skrull. He also used a portable version in #363 to track kidnapped Sue and Franklin in the Innerverse.

The female student is named Bridget O'Neil and Johnny Storm will for a while unsuccessfully seek a relationship with her.

The non-IW parts of this issue play on a lot of FF history.

Thing stayed on Battleworld for a while after the 1st Secret Wars (#264-265). At the same time the Skrull Lyja replaced his girlfriend Alicia Masters. (This will later be represented as a very early test of the Secret Invasion process.) She was supposed to use that connection to infiltrate the FF, but when Ben returned he quit the team so she switched her target to Human Torch and married Johnny in #300.

Meanwhile Ben met Sharon Ventura on the Power Wrestling circuit as Ms Marvel in his own mag. After he rejoined the FF Reed and Sue left and Ben took MsM in as a replacement (alongside Crystal) (#306-307). Later Sharon mutated into She-Thing (and Thing mutated into a less human form), but their relationship developed. Then Dr Doom reversed both mutations (#350) but Sharon left in #354.

Both Mr Fantastic and Alicia's father Puppet Master discovered in #356-357 that she'd been replaced by the Skrull Lyja. But Lyja helped the FF rescue Alicia (#358) from the Skrull War World where she was being held by Lyja's master Paibok the Power Skrull, a new version of Super-Skrull. Both Lyja and Paibok appeared to die when War World exploded.

The FF met Devos the Devastator in #359 on the way back to Earth and stole his spaceship to get home in, leaving him in the shuttle seen this issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Fantastic Four #366 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Magus and the Doppelganger of Thanos are watching on viewscreens fights between Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine and their Doppelgangers. And they also appear to be playing chess with human and Dop pieces. Magus claims to have initiated a plan to decimate the superhero community, and we see a view of the Fantastic Four's Four Freedoms Plaza HQ.

In that building Johnny Storm berates Reed Richards for his 'reckless' inventiveness which led them to the Innerverse (#362-365) and young Franklin Richards being abducted there. Reed agrees that it's worrying that events there may have triggered his son's repressed mutant powers. Johnny says he's missing the point. Reed replies that his scientific investigations have saved the world from many monstrous threats. Johnny counters that the investigations *attracted* many of them in the 1st place. All the while Johnny has been 'attacking' with his Human Torch powers and Mr Fantastic has been defending himself with his elasticity. Then Thing enters and separates them. HT flies off.

Reed walks away too wondering if Johnny was right. He goes to join his wife Susan Richards watching over their sleeping son. She too says that their lifestyle puts Franklin in danger. Reed promises that they'll make some changes. As they leave the boy's bedroom we see his eyes glowing.

Ben Grimm's blind ex-girlfriend Alicia Masters is out for a walk in Central Park with her father Philip, the FF's foe Puppet Master. She's grateful to him for helping the FF (#356-358) to rescue her from long captivity by the Skrulls. While she was away her Skrull replacement (Lyja) married Johnny, and Ben found another girlfriend (Sharon Ventura). Philip is sorry for her even though he never approved of her relationship with Thing. And he thinks to himself that he'll *make* things work out for her (presumably with Puppet Mastery).

The Thanos-Dop doesn't understand why Magus is messing around with the other Dops. His boss says it's all a cunning plan, he pushes a button to trigger the next step ...

... and a Mr Fantastic-Dop materialises behind the real MrF back in his lab. He attacks with elastic limbs but MrF squeezes free. The Dop claims to be Reed's dark side, his Shade, and he echoes Reed's current doubts that he has spent all his time on scientific research at the expense of his family and friends. He grabs a bolt gun from a rack of tools and fires bolts into Reed's body pliable body which rebounds them back at him. The Dop rams a hand down MrF's throat to choke him and Reed spins like a top, whirling his foe around.

Johnny has gone to Empire State University (he enrolled there in #362). Preoccupied with his own thoughts he doesn't hear some football players talking to him, and reacts angrily with a flaming face when 1 of them pushes him. A female student tells him off for the overreaction, and he's smitten.

The MrF battle continues. Reed realises that the Dop somehow knows everything *he* knows. The Dop claims to have been created his equal except without compassion. The Dop launches MrF like a crossbow bolt but our hero reshapes himself into a ball and rebounds back at the villain. The Dop prepares to 'bat' the ball but at the last instant MrF expands into a wide shape to smother his foe.

Ben has also gone out, to a gym where he test his strength against a specially ordered hydraulic press. Which he shatters in surprise when approached by Sharon Ventura (who approached Alicia last issue).

Back in the HQ MrF has the Dop wrapped up but the villain sneaks out an arm to grab another 'gun' from the workbench. They struggle over it but the Dop manages to shoot Reed in the face with it and he collapses unconscious. Then the Dop turns a hand into a mass of tentacles which expand and engulf the hero ...

... which sets of an alarm in the Encephalizer, a machine which monitors the team's brain patterns. Sue knows that Reed was going to focus it on Franklin so she rushes to check on their son. But since she has to pass Reed's lab on the way she looks in to see what's happening and finds MrF tinkering with the device claiming a minor malfunction. He disconnects it until he has time to fix it properly and then reassures her that everything's OK. But we see that he's really the Dop.

Then there's a final scene in deep space where a Skrull spaceship picks up an escape shuttle. Inside is Devos The Devastator who expects to further his 'peace' mission by killing some warlike Skrulls. But his rescuer is the lone Paibok The Power Skrull who suggests an alliance against a common enemy the FF. He reveals his master weapon floating in 1 of those typical containers of fluid. It's Human Torch's ex-wife Lyja.

Paul Ryan
Danny Bulanadi
Gina Going
Paul Ryan (Cover Penciler)
Paul Ryan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Jack Morelli.
Editor: Ralph Macchio. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Human Torch
Human Torch

(Johnny Storm)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

(Ben Grimm)

Plus: Alicia Masters, Devos The Devastator, Franklin Richards, Lyja, Paibok, She-Thing (Sharon Ventura).

> Fantastic Four: Book info and issue index

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