Forty-two weeks of writing this column has taught me a number of things. The Watcher looks better with a shirt than without. It’s always funnier when somebody destroys the universe. People cared way more about Namor in the 80s then they do now. And if Reed Richards loses his wife, he freaks the fuck out. So this week we’re exploring what would happen if Sue Richards died giving birth to future Deus Ex Machina and member of Power Pack, Franklin Richards. It’s not very good at all.
So Sue’s giving birth to Franklin and the whole thing’s gone wrong. This is probably mostly due to all the cosmic rays that Reed and Sue absorbed and not because of Reed’s terrifying elastic sperm. Good God, there’s an image I regret thinking. So Reed, Johnny and Ben leave Sue’s side to head into the Negative Zone which contains a Cosmic Control Rod. Apparently, in addition to giving the leader of the Negative Zone and metallic bug man Annihilus control over the Annihilation Wave or whatever the hell it was called back in the sixties, the Control Rod also makes for safer pregnancies. I honestly do not recall reading that in the “Did You Know” section of the Cosmic Control Rod’s trading card.
While the Fantastic Three beat the crap out of Annihilus, Sue sits in bed and remembers how she met Reed and I am very pleased to see this flashback does not include Reed meeting Sue when she was six and he was in college. That shit is canonical and also disgusting.
In the Negative Zone, Reed manages to snatch the Cosmic Baby Control Rod (That’s a baby controlling rod that is cosmic, by the way. Not a rod that controls cosmic babies. See Jack Kirby’s 2001 comic for that particular rod.) but then he, Ben and Johnny are captured by Annihilus instead.
They escape only when Reed stretches out his fingers to give Annihilus history’s grossest face massage. Only then do they escape back to Earth just in time… for Sue to already be dead.Whoops.
The Marvel Universe gathers for a funeral that would be quite touching if so many people hadn’t shown up in their long underwear. Seriously, Spider-Man. Rent a suit for God’s sake. And hey, Hercules. There’s not a “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign outside of the funeral parlor but trust me. IT’S IMPLIED.
Anyway, Johnny breaks down, Ben gives a speech that’s actually nice enough to be featured in a better comic than ‘What If’ and Reed… spirals into depression. And when the smartest guy on the planet gets depressed, you maybe want to keep an eye on that.
After the funeral, Namor offers to stick around for a while. Ben and Johnny both agree because who better to spend time with when you’re grieving than the shirtless dude who always wanted to bang the deceased. Namor’s… honestly a little worried about Reed. “Look, we’ve fought, we’ve been friends, your brother in law burnt off my beard when I was a hobo. I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Also stuff like this can be a good tip-off that someone isn’t happy.
That night, Reed swipes that weird jet suit that Silver Surfer wore back in issue 37* and heads back into the Negative Zone to kill Annihilus. Namor, doing the nightly bed check, discovers that the Baxter Building is Reedless and wakes Ben and Johnny. They manage to track Reed, finding him on an asteroid where he’s torturing Annihilus. Who is actually super pathetic. He’s already drained from the recent fight over the Cosmic Baby Control Rod and basically just begging Reed not to kill him. Also he didn’t actually kill Sue so he’s super confused about what the hell is actually happening. Poor dope. Unfortunately for him, Reed’s in full-on “My Wife Is Dead And I Am A Super-Hero Dealing With Real Issues” mode.
Johnny, Ben and Namor arrive and try to talk Reed out of murdering Annihilus and probably killing himself in the process but Reed’s having none of it. He shoots Annihilus with some sort of Jack Kirby ray or something and they both fall into the barrier between the Negative Zone and Regular Universe. Ben tries one last shot to save his friend, but Reed’s like “fuck it” and kills himself. Afterwards, Namor, Johnny and Ben head for home, wondering if Reed and Sue are finally together somewhere. I don’t know much about religion but if you buy into that stuff, murdering some guy and killing yourself are not, so far as I know, the keys to the kingdom of Heaven.
Meanwhile, back at the Baxter Building, literally everyone has forgotten about Sue’s still very much alive baby. Nice job, assholes!
*Issue 37, True Beliebers!