Monday, March 24, 2014

Recap: Fantastic Four WGH, "The Cure"

Ah, Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes. A lot of people don’t even know this show exists. I discovered it back in high school, and I generally liked it, though certain things about it would often get on my nerves. Before we begin, I’d like to go over a couple things for the uninitiated.

Reed Richards, Ben Grimm (Reed’s best bud), Susan Storm (Reed’s girlfriend), Johnny Storm, and Victor von Doom go up into space, get hit by cosmic rays, and mutate. Vic becomes the evil Doctor Doom, and the rest become the Fantastic Four. …Nuff said!

Why does this episode fit in with my green-themed schedule? You’ll see! Now let’s begin Episode 18, “The Cure”!

Yes, but the Avengers are Earth's mightiest heroes.
The episode begins in New York City, where weird larva monsters and lava monsters begin attacking the city, for some as-of-yet-unknown reason. Suddenly, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, flies in alongside his sister Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. In the flying Fantasticar, Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, shows up and tells the team to keep the monsters away from the “geothermal extractor.” As Reed takes out a few monsters, the final member of the team jumps out of the Fantasticar and lands on the ground.

She-Hulk: “Don’t worry, Reed. She-Hulk is on the case.”

Where did they get a legless uniform on such short notice?
Back at the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four’s HQ, a surprisingly human Ben Grimm watches the live newsfeed, sadly delivering an ironic “It’s Clobberin’ Time.” From that, we fade back to earlier in the day. Reed, Ben Grimm (in his rocky form as the Thing), and Thing’s girlfriend Alica (a blind sculptress), are in Reed’s lab. Thing is wondering what’s going on as Reed explains his new idea to cure his friend’s stony condition. Basically, before the team went into space, they got their bodies genetically scanned by a medical computer, and Ben’s human form is still in the database. Reed plans to atomize Ben, and reassemble him in his pre-mutation form.

Alicia: “Reed, I’m sure you know what you’re doing, but… is this dangerous?”
Reed: “Of course! …not. I mean, of course not! It’s almost perfectly safe.”

Naturally, being a completely safe procedure, Susan and Johnny are watching from outside the building, with Sue using her invisibility powers to make the wall into a window.

Johnny: “If he blows up, I get his stuff.”

Alicia and Ben have the whole “It’s the man inside I love” spiel, but Ben ultimately decides that he wants to be human again. Reed tells H.E.R.B.I.E. (his AI computer, similar to Iron Man’s JARVIS, if JARVIS were less like Alfred and more like Robin) to begin the procedure, and H.E.R.B.I.E. is more than happy to comply.

H.E.R.B.I.E.: “Yes! I’ve always wanted to disintegrate something!”
Thing: “What?”

In a bright flash of light, the Thing is replaced with Ben Grimm, weary and groggy. Reed stretches over and puts a blanket over the shirtless man, and he freaks out at Reed’s rubbery spine. He falls off of the platform he’s standing on, but is saved by the arrival of Sue and her invisible forcefield.

Johnny: “Aw, man, Reed! What did you do? He’s hideous!”

Johnny’s head bursts into flame as he cracks up at his own “wit”, prompting a third freak out by our Mr. Grimm. Ben tackles Johnny with the blanket in an attempt to put him out, and has to be restrained by his flexible friend.

Reed: “Ben? What’s the last thing you remember?”
Ben: “We’re… we’re gonna launch for the space station tomorrow! I’m piloting… you wanted to run some tests!”

Reed reveals he has no memory of his time as the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing because his brain has been reverted to its pre-launch condition, too. He doesn’t remember the launch, the cosmic rays,  the Fantastic Four, or even the woman he loves.

Johnny: “Ben, just so you know, you owe me a thousand dollars. And you make my lunch every day. After you finish washing my cars.”
Sue: “Johnny!”

Ben naturally assumes that either everyone else is crazy, or he’s dreaming. With one statement of “I gotta get outta here,” H.E.R.B.I.E. sends him down the elevator into the rest of the building. Ben runs through an unfamiliar home while mutated versions of his friends chase him while telling him that everything’s fine. I think everyone’s had that nightmare. Reed tries to gently talk his friend out of running away… but since Reed’s stretched himself into an entire hallway to block Ben’s path, I don’t think he’s actually listening. Ben escapes down the elevator and leaves the building, a nearby news team recognizes him as Ben Grimm, and Reed saves Ben from the ensuing media circus.

Meanwhile, miles below the surface, there’s villainy afoot as the evil Mole Man commands his lava monsters to add more rocks to a stream of lava, which will make every volcano erupt at once. This is not how science works. His minions bring him a TV, and he sees the report on the now-human Ben Grimm. With one of his arch-enemies de-powered, Mole Man prepares to invade the surface world. Back at the Baxter Building….

Ben: “So, let me get this straight… Reed can stretch, the kid goes on fire, and Susie turns invisible?”

Yep. Reed Richards is elastic, Sue can fade from sight, Johnny is the Human Torch, the Thing just loves to fight. Also, he used to be a rock-man.

To avoid the dilemmas of explaining that he had a girlfriend as well as disfiguring powers, H.E.R.B.I.E. chimes in that Mole Man is attacking. Ben wants to hear the story on the way to the fight, but Reed insists that he stay here with Alicia. Ben protests, but Alicia says she wants to show him something.

Back with the team, Johnny flies up alongside the Fantasticar, saying he was doing “stuff.” The Fantastic… Three arrives at Project: PEGASUS, where the threat is actually over. The whole lab was taken by a giant hand coming from the ground, but the scientists managed to save the experimental engine. Well, until the giant hand comes back, attached to a monster. It steals the engine and goes back into the ground. Reed deduces that the Mole Man must be behind this, but is hesitant to follow the beast without the Thing as backup. Thankfully, Johnny has already taken care of this problem. The team goes back to base, where it seems that Johnny has set up Super Hero auditions!

Ben, meanwhile, is shown pictures of back when he was a “monster.” Alicia gives the usual “You weren’t a monster, you were a hero” spiel, but Ben storms off anyway while the auditions begin! Captain Ultra is passed on due to his crippling pyrophobia, Frog-Man’s jumping has bad aim, Texas Twister does too much collateral damage, Squirrel Girl’s squirrels annoy Johnny, some guy I don’t recognize has no powers, Flatman’s powers are too similar to Reed’s, and the final applicant… is some short lawyer chick. Johnny’s not impressed. The short lawyer chick suddenly turns green, and bursts through her clothes, revealing a leotard-clad She-Hulk. Johnny screams like a girl as she picks him up by the face, Susan cheers in a fit of Girl Power, and a disaffected Reed notes a similarity to another green hero.

She-Hulk: “Yeah. The Hulk’s my cousin.”

As we know quite well by this point.

Ah, the Olympic Clean and Jerk. Johnny's the jerk, and she's gonna clean his clock.
She-Hulk joins the team as Ben watches from a window above. Suddenly, an alarm goes off, and She-Hulk is given a uniform before we reach where we were at the beginning of the episode. Reed doesn’t know Mole Man’s plan, but it must be bad. After all, he’s evil. Blah blah blah, start of the episode, fight happens.
Reed theorizes that blah blah SCIENCE! blah Mole Man’s building a bomb. Prima donna Johnny’s having some issues with the flame-resistant minions of the Mole Man, when a crack opens up in the ground, swallowing the team up. Ben gives the usual “I don’t have powers, but I have the heart of a hero” spiel, and commandeers the Fantasticar Mk I, which is built like a flying tub.

Back with the team, they’re tied to the Mole Man’s new toys as the Mole Man himself gloats over them all.

She-Hulk: “Are all the FF’s bad guys so ugly?”

Be glad that this picture of Mole Man isn't any bigger or clearer.
As it turns out, the team is restrained in such a way that it they escape, it’ll set off the geothermal bomb. Reed questions Mole Man motive, seeing as how the bomb would flood the surface and Subterranea with magma. Mole Man apparently didn’t realize that he was committing genocide and suicide, but decides to go through with it anyway. He commands his minions to activate the machine, and it starts up, crackling with SCIENCE! Ben Grimm arrives on the scene, distracting the villain long enough for She-Hulk to escape her shackles as Jennifer Walters, and she saves the rest of the team as magma floods the underground chamber.

Johnny: “Yeah, this is pretty normal for us. You get used to it.”

Ben unties Reed, who tries to deactivate the machine with Susan’s help (she saved them from the magma with her force field bubble). With little time left, Johnny flies the bomb into the sky, where it explodes harmlessly. As the chamber begins to self-destruct, the five escape in the nick of time. They explain to She-Hulk that the villains getting away is standard procedure for them, and she quits the team. Because they’re a family, and she doesn't want to come between them.

Johnny:WHAT!? Oh, come on, stay, please? You could replace Sue!”
Sue: “Johnny, I’m standing right here.”
Johnny: “We’ll talk later.”

Bookending the episode, we have Reed, Ben, and Alicia in Reeds lab as Ben tells Reed he wants the procedure reversed.

Ben: “All those memories… my time with the FF… you guys’re my family. That’s worth something to me.”

Reed hits the button, and the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing is back! Of course, to him, it looks like Reed’s cure didn’t work, and he gets a bit uppity. But as Alicia reminds him that he has a family, and as Johnny calls him a brickhead, Ben smiles, and the episode ends. On with the Review!

1 comment:

  1. Those fool! They rejected the greatest power known in the Marvel Universe!