By Jim Beard
In a series of in-depth articles, the Daily Bugle attempts to peel back the layers of a most intriguing event: the Fantastic Four’s new replacements. Who stands in for the legendary Fantastic Four? How will they hope to fill such famous roles? The
The She-Hulk likes Corn Flakes.
Sitting at a breakfast table with her in the wee early hours of a perfectly ordinary Tuesday morning, you might think her, well, perfectly ordinary. Except for her green skin and hair. And her towering height. And her muscles. Can’t forget the muscles.
She-Hulk met me in the lobby of the famous Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four, with a smile and a firm handshake. Then she gave me the Three Warnings: Don’t Touch Anything. Don’t Ask the Kids Any Questions. And Don’t Touch Anything. Once those ground rules are set and I make my promises, we proceed on my special tour: A typical day in the life of the replacement Fantastic Four and the Future Foundation.
You’ve heard by now that the FF will be taking a vacation of sorts and have anointed four stand-ins for the “protection of Earth” in their absence. Dr. Reed Richards graciously allowed me to spend a day with the replacements and try and get to know them a bit, and, hopefully, see what makes them tick. After breakfast with the green giantess known as She-Hulk, we settled into an hour of so of her making phonecalls and me watching her make phonecalls. Interestingly, it seems she needed to tie up a few loose ends in her own life before formally taking on her new role in the new FF.
Slightly strange behavior for a woman who’s only been asked to make room for four minutes of stand-in time.
“Hey,” says the woman in question, “This is the Fantastic Four. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my past experience with the team, it’s that anything can happen.”
From there we check in with the kids. This would be the motley assortment of youngsters that Dr. Richards calls the “Future Foundation.” Some of them are clearly not human. Alas, I was asked to not ask questions and settle myself into simply observing. Their morning playtime hovers somewhere between creative mind-expanding enrichment exercises and military training. Mere words can’t begin to describe it—or them. She-Hulk moves me along finally, telling me its just about time for my “audience with the Queen.”
That royalty turns out to be none other than Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans. I don’t think I’ve ever met a queen before so my approach to her might have been a bit awkward. Thankfully, she has the tact and grace to not speak of it. Medusa herself stands as a beautiful woman, stately and serene, yet possessed of a head of hair that would give conniptions to any professional beautician on the face of the Earth.
Her hair’s alive, you see.
For the remainder of the morning, I follow Medusa through a routine of what some ladies might call “teasing their hair,” but with one such as Medusa can only be called a full-fledged all-around physical workout. Of her hair. I asked her about that.
“I must be ready for any situation that may arise during the absence of my friends in the Fantastic Four,” she explains. “My duty is to serve in their stead and for that I and my hair must be at peak performance.
“My presence here is primarily a favor to Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, and I don’t want to disappoint her.”
I watch her as she does things with her lovely red locks that others do with their fingers alone, everything from operating computer equipment to crafting garments and writing in her journal. My own roots actually began to hurt just from viewing the proceedings.
Then lunch is served and it’s back into the hands of the She-Hulk.
After a hearty meal during which we're visited by numerous children from the Future Foundation—no questions!—it’s on to another level and a look-see into the amazing temporary laboratory of Scott Lang, Ant-Man. Entering the area, I feel suddenly very small, dwarfed by the incredible array of gadgets and gewgaws, and in awe of the level of technology that filled the space. Lang tells me that if I am to remain quiet and not bother him, I can stay with him for an hour or so as he works. I heartily accept the offer.
While I observe Ant-Man doing this and that, I’m struck by not only the keen, analytical mind he possesses, but also an underlying degree of sadness in his bearing. He’s a complicated guy; not as smart as Reed Richards, but more intelligent than the average Joe on the street, Lang seems to bury himself in his work to stave off other thoughts. I make a mental note to ask him for a more in-depth interview at a later date.
She-Hulk comes by then to pick me up—not literally, thankfully—and I have to admit; I didn’t want to leave the lab. Regardless, we find ourselves in a corridor ringed by elevators, and I stare wistfully at one in particular and reach out surreptitiously to press its button.
“Nope, can’t go up,” admonishes my verdant tour guide. “The family’s sequestered until they leave on their trip. You’re lucky they let you in to talk to me and my fellow faux-FF—don’t make me angry. I eat little boys like you for tea time.”
The smile that accompanies the warning tells me she’s only half-serious. Then, when we turn to leave, an immense, rocky hand settles itself on my shoulder, nearly knocking me to the carpeted floor. The Thing! Perhaps it’s my lucky day after all; now I could score an exclusive chat with one of the famous Fantastic Four themselves. But a beautiful set of eyes stares back into mine from atop a body that only resembles Ben Grimm's, and a shock of hot pink hair over those eyes confirms my suspicion: Miss Thing’s in the house.
She looks very familiar to me somehow, but before I can place the face and the voice she hustles me off to a huge workout room and subjects me to two full hours of her practicing in her suit. That’s right; you heard me. Her suit. You see, this pretty young thing—pun intended—wears, or operates, a Thing suit. And she’s getting better at it all the time. She chatters away while she practices, and sings and laughs and I begin to wonder exactly how this young woman has come to stand as a replacement member for one of the most famous super hero teams of all…
Before long, it begins to grow dark outside and I realize that my time visiting the Baxter Building has come to all-too-swift of an end. Miss Thing deposits me back in the lobby of the building with a saucy smile and it takes a moment for my head to stop swirling. Then, I find that I have dropped my phone somewhere. Looking around, I spy it on the floor by a doorway through which I entered the lobby.
|FF #1 preview art by Mike Allred|
A small hand reaches out to pick up the phone. I see that one of the Future Foundation youngsters has found it.
“That’s mine,” I called out. “Would you mind…?”
Suddenly, a green hand comes down from out of nowhere and picks me up bodily by the collar.
“I warned you not to ask the children any questions,” growls the not-happy face of the She-Hulk. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to keep your promise. Out you go.”
Oh, well. One expects such dangers in a Day in the Life of the FF. At least I have my story.