As the story continues, Reed Richards is dying of an unknown disease that is breaking down of his cells and has taken his family with him on a trip to try and find a cure. Only his wife knows as he also wants this to be time spent with his family in case he couldn’t find a cure. In theory, the way they were going to travel they should have only been gone on 616’s Earth for just a few minutes. Anyone following the FF plot knows that this hasn’t actually happened. The time travel issue is semi-annoying as Reed gets a message from Black Panther that things are going horribly wrong on Earth in a time period where they didn’t return. Using the amazing science at his disposal, Reed transports his team to Earth in the ‘now’ while Age of Ultron is happening.
Confused yet? Annoying time travel issues aside (as I’m sure when the timeline is ‘reset’ after the Age of Ultron Marvel’s first family will be right back where we started) we see tow things happening at once. First we have the entire Fantastic Four telling the kids that everything will be OK in messages for them and the second story line is where the action is. I’m going to skim on most of these farewells aside from the fact that I honestly think Reed’s way of saying goodbye to his children felt the most real and thought out of all of them.
Side note: Dr. Doom’s origin may have been very quietly retconned in this issue. Something that is rushed past pretty quickly and almost slipped in. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
On the surface of Earth though we see the Fantastic Four appearing and their first sight is a devastated New York and the FF having clearly been defeated. The visuals from every moment of when they reach Earth really sine through. The post-apocalyptic setting is rendered beautifully and the emotions scream through on every panel aside from some of the facial expressions of Susan. We pan out to seeing the Four take out some of Ultron’s Ultrabots semi-sucessfully until it looks as if Dr. Doom is in their midst. This seems more of a play on Thing’s goodbye message to the children over any need to have one of the robots pretend to be Doom.
From this point forward we see Ultron pretty much kill The Thing and The Human Torch while Reed and Sue try to run. Finally we show Reed sacrifice himself before Sue to save her life and make sure that she can get away. So currently 3 of the Fantastic Four are dead with Sue on the run (who we know escapes as she’s in the first issue of Age of Ultron.)
I know we’re supposed to see a few characters die in this story line but with so many big names already being killed this is clearly going to end with a huge retcon or time travel preventative story line. There is no way Marvel can kill off this many characters (and so much of Earth’s population) permanently. It’s actually sort of anti-climactic to know that this early in the story and I really wish thee was less death overall at this point just so it wasn’t clear that things would be ‘undone’ at the end.
While parts of this still felt forced (with the Black Panther calling them and the various time travel issue I mentioned above) this is a great crossover issue. We had some great scenes, some great lines, and possibly one of the biggest origin retcons in years. The only downside of this retcon is that it meant Doom was right. Someone had sabotaged his experiment that caused him to become one of the greatest villains in the Marvel universe.
We close the issue with Franklin and Valeria (Reed and Sue’s children) realizing they are alone on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere with no plan on what they should be doing next. Will this be a further Age of Ultron crossover involving them? Will they continue on in an advneture while they wait for the return of their parents? Or will they be pretty much ignored until Age of Ultron ends? We’ll find out next issue!
Writer: Matt Fraction