Tuesday, September 16, 2014

1982: Frankie, The Fantastic Four's Fanatic part II: Bye Bye (not too) Bright Lady

By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)

In the first part of Frankie, The Fantastic Four's Fanatic we saw Frankie Raye's first outings as a member of Marvel's first family. Unlike Johnny Storm, this human torch showed callous disregard for the wellfare of others. That mindset might have worked for heroes in the 90s, but back in 1982, it didn't exactly make you fit to be a superhero...

Frankie Raye joined the Fantastic Four in issue #238, a few hours after discovering her powers and almost accidentally killing herself twice in the process. In her next two appearances, she threatened to kill an ordinary man for hitting his child and also tried to incinerate Quicksilver, figuring he must be a bad guy for showing up unannounced.

You'd think that Mr. Fantastic would have gotten the hint by then: Frankie was trouble. And sure, he did force her to stay behind in issue #240 when the FF helped the Inhumans move. But in #241, Frankie was back in action, accompanying the fabulous foursome on a trip to Wakanda to investigate a mysterious power source at the request of SHIELD.

Joined by the Black Panther, who pointed them to the black tower of M'Kumbe, the perilous trek through the African jungle began. And, wouldn't ya know it, they walked straight into an ambush.

"C'mon Johnny! Let's do something!"

This time around, the team was able to reign Frankie in, successfully keeping the fact they had powers under wraps just in case they might need the surprise later. Perhaps she was finally mastering the finer points of impulse control. Or maybe not, for after a three hour elevator ride, the captive FF arrived at the top of the black tower where they met the villain of the piece... A modern day Roman emperor with a taste for the ladies...


I suppose it's only logical Frankie wouldn't take kindly to being manhandled... But she could have been a bit more discrete, perhaps merely burning her bonds instead of turning into an instant bonfire. But hey, it's not like it would have mattered much...

"I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Aggrippa. I am power!"

Faster than you can say "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not..." the emperor of New Rome used his mental abilities to cancel out the FF's powers, knocking them unconscious in the process. He then ordered his men to take everyone to the dungeons, except for Sue who was to become his consort and Frankie who needed to be punished for attacking him. But what's an ironic way of torturing a former human torch? That's what Black Panther discovered when he escaped his cell and came across Frankie's torture chamber.

"Flame off... Please?"

In the end, Frankie was freed, got her powers back and with the others helped put an end to the mad Emperor (spoiler alert!). The team safely returned to New York where several weeks later, shortly after the start of the new year, they faced one of their biggest challenges to date. Galactus's herald Terrax came to Earth, hoping to rid himself of his task by getting the FF, responsible for him becoming a herald, to kill a severly weakened Galactus.

Terrax didn't kid around, making his presence known by slicing off the top two floors of the Baxter Building with his opening blow and then proceeding to knock the Thing straight down the remaining 34 floors of the building. Such a display of raw power even caused Frankie to wise up.

"No argument!"

After smacking the FF around for a while, Terrax moved forward with the next phase of his plan. Perched on top of the World Trade Center, he used his Galactus given control over rock and soil to scoop up Manhattan, sealing it within a cocoon of cosmic force before taking it out into space to meet the approaching Galactus. To avoid an even bigger panic, the Invisible Girl stayed behind and used her abilities to prevent anyone from seeing they were in space while the others donned space suits and went forth to confront Terrax. Frankie was told to remain with Sue and protect her if need be.

Incidentally, this is the first time in the six months Frankie has been on the team that she actually has a conversation with the Invisible Girl. However, Sue was a bit busy to have a chat and Frankie soon got different priorities too, as seen in Fantastic Four I#243...


Notice how Frankie's demeanor changes as soon as she realizes those stories about a planet eating menace were actually true. Where most "normal" people would be in shock, terrified beyond belief, learning this space god is real and nearby actually makes her blush. 

Raye remained at Sue's side until the FF and Galactus had dealt with Terrax. Even as the Invisible Girl passed out from the strain and things were coming to a head at the WTC, Frankie had a choice to make and, wouldntja know it, made the wrong one. 

"Almost robotlike she turns towards the building's core as again, a single consuming thought possesses her...Galactus..."

And, while Frankie went back inside the Baxter to study everything available on Galactus, the Fantastic Four had to contend with the fact the world devourer had grown so weak from not having fed in recent times (thank to having to chase his wayward herald). Galactus saw himself forced to consume Earth in order to survive, but was opposed by the FF, the Avengers and ultimately Doctor Strange who brought him down with the Images Of Ikonn, a spell that confronted Galactus with the ghosts of all his victims. Powerful stuff.

The first part of Fantastic Four I#244 was spent trying to save Galactus, with Mr. Fantastic constructing a contraption that thanks to energies from Thor's hammer briefly restored Galactus. The devourer then accompanied Reed and the others to the Baxter Building where Reed would attempt to find Galactus his next meal. Unfortunately, all the planets he located proved too far for Galactus to reach in his current state. That's why he told the FF he'd either have to feed on Earth or they would have to kill him.

But then Frankie came with a third option.

"There IS a third alternative, Galactus.
And I can give it to you."

Yeah, what Reed said, Raye... what are you on?


Now, offering your very life to keep your world safe is by no means proof you are either mad, psychotic or otherwisedly insane. Norrin Radd became the Silver Surfer to save Zenn-La and the Xandarian Pyrreus Krill served the devourer as Firelord for similar reasons. However, consider the reason why Frankie has no qualms about essentially facilitating genocide on a universal scale...

"So? A few less bug-eyed monsters? 
What's that compared to my being able to go... out there?"

And there we have it... the evolution of Frankie Raye: psycho-killer. First she was only out to punish those who were clearly in the wrong (Wendy's father), then she had no problem hurting possible enemies (Quicksilver), followed by wanting to kill those who looked at her funny (the Emperor) and now, finally, she ready to help destroy anyone who happens to look funny.

But guess what, Galactus was into it... If only he still possessed sufficient cosmic energy to properly empower this prospective new herald. Well, turns out he didn't have to do all that much, as Frankie was eager to prove.

"I have power enough already... FLAME ON!"

Now, and here is where we run into a bit of a conundrum. Yes, Frankie's powers might have saved Galactus the extra energy required to transform his previous, non-superpowered heralds. But, having a herald still doesn't solve his problem of being too weak to reach the next world to eat. 

That is, if we can safely assume Reed Richards' search for suitable planets started with the nearest possible candidates. In fact, Galactus himself confirmed Reed's findings... So what good would a herald do? Still, there it is, so without further ado... Go go Gadget- Galactus herald!

"Only Galactus can guide you safely through the corridors of madness as your humanity slips away"

So, does this mean Galactus got rid of whatever mental illness was plaguing Frankie? At any rate, Raye was reborn as Nova, and took off for her new home: the stars. But try telling that to her boyfriend the still rather Human Torch.

  " With a final, awesome burst of speed she transcends the bounds of her mortal life..."

And with that, she was gone... Frankie's final scene on Earth mirrors the moment in Fantastic Four I#238 when she first wanted to try her powers and decided to fly higher and higher. As Frankie Raye, she couldn't reach the stars, but as Nova she was a part of them.

That's not to say she still wasn't a little quirky. After all, a few months later in Fantastic Four I#257 she's summoned to Galactus' side because he's finally decided he has to devour a planet instead of trying to survive on a steady diet of gas clouds and the residue of dead worlds. Which, come to think of it, doesn't make that much sense, seeing as he was in desperate need to feed when they left in #243... But that's neither here nor there, suffice to say Frankie has enjoyed a lot of facetime with the big G and guess what... She likes him.

"And what of my feelings?"

Oh boy...

"It's sheer insanity to even consider feeling the way I do...
Am I in love with Galactus?"

She didn't have long to contemplate these feelings, because Galactus was hungry and Frankie knew just the kind of world that could satiate him: the Skrull homeworld. For centuries, the empire's scientists had managed to keep the planet hidden from Galactus thanks to cloaking technology.

But Nova wasn't fooled, she knew where it was supposed to be, remembering the location from the FF's records (the team visited there in Fantastic Four I#37). After destroying the Skrull armada summoned to defend homeworld, she summoned Galactus and sat back as he chowed down.

"She has witnessed the annihilation of a planetary civilization older than human history, yet she feels nothing but her growing love for the demi-god."

Usually, one tends to write longwinded summaries to wrap up these pieces. But in this case short 'n sweet will suffice: "See, I told you she was NUTS!" 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I don't recall seeing Nova in human form but with that gold one-piece costume---nice! Also, the re and gold look is a lot like Firelord. I never really cared about Frankie/Nova (what a lazy codename, I guess the Nova-Corps Nova was already cancelled and history by then), but I can see why she had a following, as most things Byrne did at this time were solid ideas.




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