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Fantastic Four Flashback #3

The cover to Fantastic Four #234 shows the FF cowering before a white silhouette of a man and asks the following questions: "Who is he?" and "What is he?" The first page brings us the answer to the first question (though not before a Shakespeare quote); he is L.R. "Skip" Collins, "who may be the most powerful man who ever lived." The second page fills us in on "Skip" a bit more - he's an average guy; he's a bit sexist, wishing his spouse would keep up on her "wifely chores"; and he has some sort of power to make his wishes come true. The first almost 7 pages are devoted to Skip and his family relationships, his work life, and how his powers came to be (not that Skip really knows about those). He flies to New York City and finally, in the last panel on pg. 7, we, or he, finally runs into Reed and Sue.

The focus shifts pretty dramatically to the FF at this point. Reed and Sue combine to save first a girl and then a crowd from a collapsing building. That building isn't a single incident, however, as widespread destruction sweeps not only across NYC but all over the world. The Thing and Johnny are drawn into the danger as well (Ben was drinking when things went haywire and Johnny was trying to reconcile with Frankie). The team convenes at the Baxter Building before going their separate ways in the "old" Fantasticar; Johnny once again mentions using that mode of transportation in order to conserve his flame. Reed stays behind to investigate the cause of the problem while the others go out to help and help they do.  Speaking of help, Skip shows up to where Ben is trying to hold up a bridge and unknowingly uses his powers to allow Ben to complete his task.

Reed then summons everyone back to the Baxter Building because he's used his big brain and determined the problem is gravity waves from beyond the solar system. The team heads to space in their rocket and Skip sees them go. He is distraught at what is happening and thinks that it should never have happened. That wish turns into reality and his power burns itself out putting Earth back together as if it had actually never happened. The FF are already out of Earth's atmosphere by this point and are not affected by the changes Skip unwittingly made. Out in space, they discover who is responsible for the gravity waves - Ego, the Living Planet!

This is an odd structure for a super-hero comic but it ends up being a pretty solid issue. Skip's power is a strange one. Even stranger is that neither he nor the FF ever find out about it. He saves the world for the FF and no one knows that it even happened. The cliffhanger is a pretty good one, though, and Byrne's art really shines during the action sequences. Three issues in and I'm still interested.

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