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Fantastic Four (3rd series) # 7

Issue Date: July 1998

Story Title: Seize the Child!

Staff: Chris Claremont (plot), Salvador Larroca (pencils), Art Thibert (inks), Comicraft (letters), Liquid! (colors), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description:
Alyssa Moy and Franklin Richards are on the run by the bounty hunters known as Technet, who are in pursuit of Franklin. Finally, they meet some policemen on the street but discover they are actually none other than the monstrous Warwolves in disguise, who don’t hesitate to kill a real policeman when he intervenes. Franklin unleashes a psychic cry of agony that can be felt by various beings such as Spider-Man, Phoenix and Dr. Strange. Alyssa uses her wits to create an impromptu communication device through which she sends the Fantastic Four a distress call. After escaping from the Warwolves, Alyssa and Franklin prevent the gang of female warriors known as Bacchae to slaughter the members of a rivaling gang. Meanwhile, Reed and Sue are having a romantic dinner in Rockafeller Center until they see Alyssa’s distress call. Sue rushes to the aid of Alyssa and Franklin. She is soon joined by Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch. Reed frees the Thing, who was a captive of the Technet. In the ensuing battle with the Technet, the Fantastic Four gain the upper hand even though Sue is briefly transformed by Joyboy into Namor’s Atlantean consort, hinting at this being her heart’s desire. However, the battle is far from over as the Fantastic Four realize they now also have to face the assembled might of the entire Captain Britain Corps.

Full Synopsis:
Alyssa Moy is frantically running through the deserted streets of lower Manhattan, carrying young Franklin Richards in her arms. They have just been attacked by the Technet; now they can only run for their lives. Suddenly, Alyssa is more than happy to see a police car approaching her. “Help me, officers! For the love of heaven – Help!” she screams.

Alyssa reminds Franklin what she had told him – that everything would turn out fine. They’ll report to the officers what happened, they will notify Franklin’s parents and his Uncle Ben will be rescued. Franklin asks her if she’s sure it’ll all turn out like this. “Scout’s honor, Franklin!” Alyssa assures him.

As the police car casts some lights on them, Alyssa tells them their names and that they come from the warehouse on Pier Four, the new headquarters of Fantastic Four. Alyssa pleads them to believe her, no matter how crazy it may sound: the warehouse has just been attacked by some aliens, bounty hunters who were after Franklin and who captured Ben Grimm, the Thing, in the process. “Nothing to worry about, miss” one of the officers assures her. Another one states it sounds rather serious whereas the third one insists that Alyssa and Franklin are safe now.

Alyssa urges them to radio for backup: call Franklin’s parents or even the Avengers, as the three officers can hardly be a match for the Technet. One of the officers assures her they are all trained professionals and can manage just fine on their own.

Alyssa is puzzled to listen to New York cops speaking with English accents. She realizes something is not right and asks the “policemen” who they really are. One of them tells her she doesn’t need to react like that; all she has to do is to step over by the car and her troubles will be over. Suddenly, another voice can be heard: “Hold it right there!”

Another police car appears with an officer proclaiming “This is the police”! The fake policemen insist they are the police, too. “Gimme a break here, pal!” retorts the other policeman and stresses out the fact the logo on the fake policemen’s car reads “London Metropolitan Police.”

Suddenly, the fake cops reveal their true colors and assume their actual form: they are the monstrous beings known as Warwolves! One Warwolf attacks the policeman, telling him he shouldn’t interfere. The Warwolf drains him of his life energy. Alyssa covers Franklin’s eyes, telling him not to look.

Alyssa gets into the officer’s patrol car, urging Franklin to close the windows and lock all doors. She is horrified to realize the ignition is empty: the keys are missing! One of the Warwolves is mockingly holding the keys: they all tell Alyssa that if she gives them what they want, maybe they’ll let her keep her skin. After all, there’s nowhere for them to run or hide. Alyssa, of course, knows they won’t let her survive; she hastily puts something out of her pocket that might as well save them: her self-made passé-partout or as she calls it “a handy-dandy universal key! Indeed, her plan bears fruit and Alyssa drives away The Warwolves are not concerned: the boy won’t escape; they have his scent.

As Alyssa drives away, she wonders who those creatures were and whether they are part of the Technet. If they are, then Gatecrasher has a lot to answer for, since one of the Warwolves sucked the life out of that poor officer. She decides she has to stop thinking like that: it’s the kid that needs her now. She asks Franklin to give her the radio; once they’ll reach the cops, they’ll be safe.

Suddenly, Ferro2 of the Technet jumps on the car and uses his four swords – one for each of his arms – to damage the car’s engine so as to stop it. No engine also entails no power steering, which means no control over the vehicle – hence, as the car starts spinning around, Ferro2 loses his balance and falls off the car.

Meanwhile, more than sixty blocks uptown and another sixty stories above Rockefeller Center, in one of the most romantic venues of Manhattan, the fabled Rainbow Room, Franklin’s parents, Reed Richards and his wife Sue, are having a dance, celebrating the anniversary of their very first date. Charmed by the romantic time they’re having together, Sue notices he’s hardly said a word all evening. Reed states that, once upon a time, he couldn’t stop talking.

Sue replies she didn’t mind it then nor does she mind it now. She had never met anyone with so much passion, even if she couldn’t understand most of what he said to her on their first date. What mattered for her was the sparkle in his eyes that she immediately knew was for her alone. Reed assures her the sparkle’s still there and the passion still burns hot as ever. As he says this, he kisses her. They both feel free of responsibilities, knowing that their only child is being taken care of by the Thing.

Unfortunately for them, the Thing is currently a captive of the Technet, still contained within a narcotic sac on Bodybag’s back. Gatecrasher is disappointed to hear from Ferro2 of his failure to seize the child; Ferro2 replies he’s sorry. “Tell that to our employer” she scolds him. They all know the Omniversal Majestrix Opal-Luna Saturnyne does not tolerate failure.

Gatecrasher updates her team on what they’ll do: surface transport is to be closely monitored for their quarry’s lifesigns and surface transports and all forms of communication are to be interdicted. She also suggests a psychic inhibitor is to be employed to ensure no mental cries from the boy reach his blood relations. She reminds everyone this is a low-profile operation. They want no involvement with the local superheroes, particularly those annoying “X-creatures.” Their task couldn’t be simpler: they simply have to collect the boy and then their considerable fee for a job well done.

In the streets, Alyssa is still running, trying to calm Franklin down, assuring him everything’s okay. Franklin keeps crying and screaming incessantly “I want my mommy!” Thanks to Franklin’s vast powers, the echoes of his heartfelt cry flow outward over the continent to be heard by other individuals who also possess special powers: Spider-Man’s spider-sense kicks into high gear but he can’t see a threat around; Phoenix listens to the psychic voice of someone in deadly danger; Doctor Stranges realizes something menaces the child and promises to stand by his side; Roma knows Franklin has the power to reshape the very cosmos and in his primal terror, he could destroy reality; the Watcher notices that yet again a scion of humanity transcends his origins and the fate of all may hang in the balance, yet he can’t interfere since he’s charged solely to observe; and an unidentified man remarks that the boy challenged the might of the Celestials and that, if this power was his, he could destroy them all. Gatecrasher is shocked to see the circuitry of her module be overcharged by Franklin’s powers.

Alyssa tries to calm an extremely upset Franklin down. She wipes his tears off and asks him what the problem is. “We’re alone. The monsters got Unca Ben. They’re gonna get us, too!” he replies. Alyssa reminds him she had promised Ben to keep him safe. She’s a woman of her word; she tells him she saved his father’s life more than once in the past from a lot worse. Franklin is surprised she knew his dad. Alyssa replies she did, long before he met Franklin’s mom. She then asks him if he has any bright ideas.

Meanwhile, Gatecrasher’s tracking module has stopped sparking. Thug asks her if that’s for good or if they’re doomed. She replies that, the way their luck’s running, probably both. She does agree with Saturnyne, for once, though: as long as Franklin Richards is free, none of them will be safe.

Elsewhere, working some wires, Alyssa is using her brilliance to make a communication device, by tapping into the fiber-optic datanet that Con Edison uses to monitor and control the city grid. The message won’t be subtle but it will get the job done. Suddenly, Franklin warns her the monsters are coming! As the Technet appear, Alyssa and Franklin flee. Alyssa sees a nightclub and rushes in, hoping they’ll lose them in the crowd; on second thought, she fears they may follow and start shooting. Realizing she won’t find any help here, since the crowd couldn’t hear her even if she screamed at the top of her lungs, she looks for the back exit, oblivious to Johnny Storm being in the club and flirting with a girl.

Alyssa and Franklin leave from the back exit of the club, only to witness the female warriors known as Bacchae to be ready to execute some men in suits with their swords because they dared encroach on their turf. The men are kneeling on the ground, waiting to be killed. Alyssa can’t stand by and let anyone murdered. She throws herself on two of the Bacchae, startling them. The distraction provides a chance for the men to get loose and they start fighting the Bacchae.

One of the men, called Lu, warns another one whom he calls Lao Wei Chung to watch his back. Lao assures him he can fight his own battles. Carrying a gun, he tells the Bacchae he wasn’t encroaching on their turf. He just came here to listen to some music and have some good time. However, if they want war, they’ll have it. By saying this, he starts shooting and the Bacchae flee. One of the men suggests they leave as well before the Bacchae summon reinforcements or the law. Before leaving with his limo, Lao kisses Alyssa, telling her he owes her his life and assuring her that’s a debt the Master of the Golden Sword looks forward to paying!

Elsewhere, Reed and Sue are having a good moment; one they want to last forever. Unfortunately, Sue sees the Fantastic Four signal – courtesy of Alyssa – projected on the World Trade Center and realizes something’s wrong. Reed calls home but Pier 4 is off-line, voice and data both. Sue asks him if it is a system crash. “My hardware doesn’t crash,” he assures her. Invisible Woman realizes the signal must be an S.O.S. As she’s about to jump off the building, Mr. Fantastic asks her what she’s doing. She safeguards her family, she replies.

Invisible Woman projects her invisible force field, using it to cast a transparent ramp from building to building across the heart of midtown Manhattan. It is a frictionless slide that allows her to surf effortlessly through the midnight sky, faster than some of her fellow heroes can fly. People below her are watching this and admiring her. Sue herself doesn’t realize what would happen should her ferocious concentration waver.

Nearby, Alyssa apologizes to Franklin, telling him they should probably get a lift from that Lu guy and his limo. Franklin says he doesn’t like guns; Alyssa agrees. Suddenly, Sue slides down with her force field tramp. Franklin is exhilarated to see his mom and hugs her, screaming “We’re saved!”

The reunion is interrupted by the Technet teleporting there. Alyssa warns Sue they are bounty hunters and they’re after Franklin. Gatecrasher claims that theirs is as honorable profession. In this circumstance, the Technet represent the ultimate authority: the warrant for the boy’s extradition is valid across the continua. They can only defy it at their own peril! Invisible Woman claims that, where her child’s welfare is concerned, she’s the ultimate authority.

Using the fighting moves she’s been taught by Iron Fist, Sue starts kicking and punching Gatecrasher, using her force field to extend her blows well past the range of her limbs. Sue warns Gatecrasher to stay away from them. She doesn’t care what authority she represents: nobody takes Franklin away from his family. That happened once: never again! As she says these words, Ferro2 attacks her. Knowing he’ll expect a shield to block his swords, she manifests an invisible bo staff to keep him at distance.

With Invisible Woman distracted by Ferro2, Bodybag menacingly approaches Alyssa and Franklin. Mr. Fantastic suddenly appears and immobilizes Bodybag, stretching his hand inside her oral cavity and finally extracting the Thing from her narcotic sac. Reed jokes that he was expecting someone taller. Ben admits he liked Reed more before he started cracking jokes and explains he has been reduced in size by China Doll. He also explains that Thug is responsible for his lumps. Upon seeing Thug, Ben starts fighting him.

As the battle progresses, things do not look good for the Fantastic Four. Scatterbrain blitzes Reed’s consciousness; Waxworks turns Sue’s limbs to “silly putty”; Ringtoss imprisons Alyssa and Franklin within unbreakable circles of energy and China Doll prepares to shrink them down for transport. Gatecrasher rejoices in triumph, boasting that they are professionals and when they get a job, they get it done. Numbers reminds her there are four of them in this team. Indeed, at that moment, the Human Torch makes his triumphant entrance and unleashes his flames on China Doll. She screams she can’t abide his flames and is instantly knocked out.

The Fantastic Four benefit from the confusion caused by the Torch’s appearance. Reed releases himself from Scatterbrain’s grip and the Thing knocks Thug out. Joyboy approaches Sue, intending to get her out of the fight by manifesting her heart’s desire. Joyboy’s eyes gleam… and Invisible Woman is transformed into a blue-skinned Atlantean, dressed in a royal Atlantean outfit and calling herself Queen of Atlantis, consort of Namor! The “Atlantean” Sue proudly proclaims that those who threaten the blood of her blood will face her wrath – and then easily takes Joyboy down with her force field.

Reed is shocked to see this is her heart’s desire but Ben tells him this must be a trick – the Technet are playing with their heads. Franklin tells his mom she looks cool, although she replies she feels as always – but then starts gasping for air. Sue screams she can’t breathe and Reed, in horror, realizes her physiology is now Atlantean and she breathes water, not air. In other words, she’s dying! Fortunately, Joyboy’s enchantment instantly wears off and she reverts back to normal.

Gatecrasher assures them Joyboy manufactures nothing; the images he warps come solely from the most heartfelt dreams of his targets. She then calls them to surrender once more otherwise they’ll suffer the consequences. “You and what army, blimp?” Ben asks. “Funny you should ask, misanthrope. This army!” she replies and triumphantly shows them they are now surrounded by the entire Captain Britain Corps!

Characters:
Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing (all Fantastic Four)
Franklin Richards
Alyssa Moy (Fantastic Four ally)

Bodybag, China Doll, Ferro2, Gatecrasher, Joyboy, Numbers, Ringtoss, Scatterbrain, Thug, Waxworks, Yap (all Technet)
Captain Britain Corps
Warwolves

Spider-Man
Phoenix IV/Jean Grey (former X-Man)
Dr. Strange
Roma
The Watcher/Uatu
Shadowcat (Excalibur)
Unidentified white-haired man

The Bacchae (gang of women warriors)
Lao Wei Chung, Lu and other members of rivaling gang
Officer Paul Vado (victim of Warwolves)
Unnamed people in nightclub and in the streets

Notes:
Alyssa, Franklin and the Thing were attacked by the Technet in the Fantastic Four (3rd series) #6.

Con Edison (short for Consolidated Edison) is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States. It provides electric service to New York City and most of Westchester County.

Among the individuals portrayed to “hear” Franklin’s psychic cry is a brunette in blue/yellow costume who appears to be Shadowcat. Actually, Chris Claremont intended at the time to introduce Kitty to the supporting cast of FF, making her nanny to Franklin/lab assistant to Reed, following the cancellation of the Excalibur series. The editors over in Uncanny X-Men and X-Men (2nd series) had priority, though, much to Claremont’s chagrin.

The Watcher’s reference to yet another scion of humanity transcending his origins, endangering the fate of all, is apparently an allusion to Jean Grey becoming the omnipotent, godlike Phoenix until being corrupted by her own power, threatening all creation. [Dark Phoenix Saga] However, it has already been proven that Jean had never been the being in question back then.

Franklin defied the Celestials in the Heroes Reborn: The Return limited series, when they tried to force him to choose which of the two universes – 616 universe and Counter-Earth – would be destroyed.

The “X-creatures,” of course, refers to the various X-Teams, in particular, Excalibur, who the Technet have encountered several times before.

One of the men admiring Sue’s ride on her force field ramp wears a shirt with the Final Fantasy VII logo on it. Final Fantasy VII is the seventh installment of a best-selling videogame role-playing series.

Sue was seen flirting with Namor in the previous issue.

When Sue mentions Franklin being taken away from his family once, she probably implies Franklin’s abduction by Onslaught in Fantastic Four (1st series) #415.

First appearance for the Bacchae. They will return in #20.

Issue Summary written by: Mesmerizer


Next Issue - Fantastic Four (3rd series) #11

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