All of this happens under the watchful eye of Doom, who is monitoring the pair “Oh Benjamin… A lie? Really?” asks the knowing Doom, “Why would you say such a thing?”
Zdarsky, Cheung, inkers John Dell & Walden Wong, and colorist Frank Martin have delivered a timeless Fantastic Four story that not only hints at the team’s return, but also opens the door for Doom to revert to his villainous ways (if he hasn’t already). As much as it’s a tale of Johnny and Ben dealing with the loss of their teammates, it is also a story about Victor von Doom’s obsession with Reed Richards, and the Richards clan as a whole.
In some ways, Reed and Victor are the Yin and the Yang of the Marvel Universe. The return of the FF, and the restoration of Doom as a villain would certainly restore a certain equilibrium to the House of Ideas. However, we know that Victor von Doom, like Richards is too complex a character to fit into a tidy category like “hero” or “villain.” He is not only Reed’s intellectual equal, he’s also Valeria Richards’ godfather, and the two share a mystical connection.
That Doom knows more than he is letting on is fairly certain. After all, he is one of the few characters in the Marvel Prime universe appears to fully remember the events of Secret Wars. If he does know Reed, Susan and the kids are out there, reconstituting the multiverse, it may well be that his is the hand that is guiding Valeria back to our universe on the last page of Marvel Legacy #1.
Doom’s manipulations may also extend further than is immediately obvious. Although he is clearly using Ben to get to Reed’s secret, could it be that he is also manipulating Johnny? After all, he once “cured” the Human Torch of his inability to flame-off by channeling his extra energy to his sister Sue, thus helping her birth Valeria.
If he is indeed siphoning off Johnny’s energy, is it part of his plan find the Multisect, or is it part of his effort to bring back Valeria and other members of the Richards family? Or is there more to this scheme? If Johnny’s energy helped bring her into this world, could it help bring her back?
Marvel 2-in-One #1 is more than a nostalgia trip. Sure, it reminds us of why we love the Fantastic Four, but it also feels like the beginning of a new chapter for Marvel’s first modern heroes. Zdarsky nails the family dynamic, which is the most crucial element in a good FF story. He plays a pragmatic Ben off an impulsive Johnny, gives us a self-conscious Reed who thinks of everything—and blames himself for it—and a Susan who thinks about everyone else—and keeps it all together.
This is the classic Fantastic Four formula, in all the best ways. If the team is indeed returning, as strongly hinted here, then Zdarsky is firmly in the pilot’s seat, and this is a promising start. Marvel 2-in-One truly earns its Legacy banner.
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