Synopsis: Fantastic Four 223 was written by Doug Moench, with art by Bill Sienkiewicz and Joe Sinnot, opening with the Fantastic Four (Dr Reed ‘Mr Fantastic’ Richards, Benjamin ‘The Thing’ Grimm, Susan ‘Invisible Girl’ Richards and Johnny ‘The Human Torch’ Storm) in the group’s pogo plane, heading towards the town of New Salem. Also on board are a devil hunter called Gabriel, former nanny Agatha Harkness and Franklin, Reed and Sue’s young son, who just happens to be currently possessed by Nicholas Scratch, the demonically powered son of Agatha Harkness.
We have some scenes of Reed and Sue, struggling with their worry over their son, whilst Johnny and Ben ruminate over their inability to do anything to help. Agatha blames herself for all this, because of her being in Franklin’s life at all. Everyone on the plane knows that Scratch has arranged this for the team to go back to New Salem, where he was banished from, they know it’s a trap. It’s their child, they go anyway.
In New Salem, the magically powered Salem’s 7, rail against their being trapped, but are freed by the disembodied Nicholas Scratch. The Fantastic Four and guests arrive at New Salem and find the Salem’s 7 have taken over the town and unprepared, the Four, Gabriel and Agatha are captured after a brief battle with the 7. Bound and held before Scratch in Franklin’s body, the team watch as Scratch tries to use the latent power of Franklin Richards to open a gateway and allow Scratch as well as the whole dark realm to enter the world. Gabriel sees his chance and convinces Agatha to bring the minds of the Fantastic Four into Scratch’s mind and defeat him from within.
Using the Four’s love for Franklin as well as Agatha’s power, Nicholas Scratch is stripped from Franklin and returned from his banishment, but now stripped of all his power is a broken and beaten man. Gabriel is gone by this point and the Salem’s 7 don’t seem to want to fight anymore. Agatha decides to stay in New Salem and the Fantastic Four, together and whole, return home.
Notes: Well that was an issue. The art is heavily inked, so the penciller’s usual style is hidden under long standing FF inker Joe Sinnott. The writing is a little clunky and melodramatic and does little to pull you in. As villains the Salem’s 7 aren’t very compelling and Franklin being both a danger and in danger isn’t particularly original. This is an ok issue, but the problem is, that’s all it is. I really wanted more to say about it, but to be honest I found it a bit of a struggle.
Next Time: A different Knight Rises.