Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #1 (1987, February)
It starts with one of Franklin Richards’ dreams. He sees Reed carrying a dead Sue, and he accuses Reed of having killed her, and the rest of the FF. He says it was logical and necessary, and that as a scientist, he’s always certain. Wolverine shows up to say he also killed the X-Men, and he attacks Reed, but misses and dies. He goes up to an altar, and picks up a book – his journal from university. Then he rips his costume off to reveal Doom’s armour underneath, and puts on Doom’s mask. And Franklin wakes up. He goes to see Reed in his lab, but Reed calls Sue to take care of him. She comforts him about his dream, then unpacks some boxes they found in storage, where she finds Reed’s journal. The same one from Franklin’s dream.
And then to Muir Isle. The X-Men have made it their new base. Rogue’s working on the jet, and brushes Havok off when he offers to help. Inside Moira’s lab, Moira says Kitty’s dying, and there’s nothing they can do. Luckily, Magneto calls to say he’s learned of a device Reed has made that might help. Out on the water, Dazzler and Longshot are riding around on a speedboat. Longshot dives in, and finds a fisherman from a wrecked ship. They decide to take him back to Muir.
Back in New York, Sue confronts Reed over what she’s read in his journal. In a Greenwich coffee house, She-Hulk is doing some legal research for a re-staging of the trial of Magneto. She’s playing the defence, and she says she finds it really complex. It would be. Ben Grimm is also there, reading up because he has to re-certify his pilot licenses. They start a brief argument about Magneto. There’s explosions at a nearby construction site, and they rush to support it, but they can’t do it. Luckily, Magneto shows up to fix it. As an aside, She-Hulk’s clothes get completely wrecked in this scene.
Back at the Baxter Building, Magneto asks Reed’s help saving Kitty. Reed’s reluctant, saying a lot could go wrong. He does agree to go. On the plane, Reed asks Ben if he’s ruthless, but Ben says he’s certain. That he examines a problem from every angle until he reaches his conclusion, and then does whatever he needs to do. He does wonder how Reed could’ve screwed up with the cosmic rays, though.
When they reach Muir Isle, Reed’s nearly paralyzed with uncertainty. He’s full of doubts. After doing some tests and examinations, he declares there’s nothing he can do. This creates some conflict, with Wolverine popping the claws and telling Reed to save Kitty or die. Because Wolverine is the height of rationality.
This is a great comic. The whole series is, really. This does lean more towards the Fantastic Four, but Claremont does a great job with them. He sets up the central conflict – Reed’s uncertainty – really well. We only briefly see Kitty in this issue, but the narration is really strong in it. She’s trying to put on a brave face, but finds it tough because she knows she’s going to die. There’s also some interesting stuff with Magneto, and the Fantastic Four’s scepticism towards him. She-Hulk, a defence attorney, has a more nuanced view of him than Ben and Johnny, who’ve tangled with him in the past. Ben actually says, “Once a crook, always a crook.”
There’s some good work with other characters, too. Franklin is written fairly well. He’s not too annoying. I’m not fond of children, so they’re pretty much always starting at a disadvantage with me. (I know it’s weird of me to say that when I just a few posts ago expressed my love of the X-Babies. But the difference is shut up.) And generally, the more effort a writer puts into making the character “cute” or “precocious,” the more likely I am to get turned off. Claremont does try a bit hard here. Franklin usually fell into that trap. So I’m not very impressed with him in this issue, but he does get a pretty awesome moment in another issue.
The art is good. Bogdanove’s style isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s very cartoony. I’m sure a lot of people hated it, and it was definitely a style that worked better on some books than others. On Power Pack, for example, it was a good fit. On this book, I can see a lot of debate about it. I liked it. I thought he did a good job. Expressive, but it can still be serious. It does a good job with tense moods. And pretty good with action. So I liked his work here. That won’t always be the case.
So I enjoy this issue. If you’re interested, this whole mini has been covered by Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men. They make some interesting insights and some pretty good jokes.