The Fantastic Four’s road trip just went very wrong, causing their strongest member to copy a disturbing Doctor Manhattan power from Watchmen.
Warning: contains spoilers for Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1!
The moment the Fantastic Four became a superhero family, everyday activities like visiting family or going on a road trip stopped being possible without some dramatic twist. Thanks to all of the powerful and eclectic enemies they’ve accumulated over the years, it’s not surprising that their road trip to the Grand Canyon just went from good to bad so quickly, prompting an unsettling moment straight out of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.
After visiting an ancient meteor crash site, Reed Richards’ inability to separate work from vacation seems to backfire as his family begin to show unusual symptoms; especially his nigh-omnipotent son Franklin, whose powers begin to mimic one of Doctor Manhattan‘s creepiest abilities.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
In Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1, Reed Richards derails his family’s vacation to visit an ancient crater where he persuades his son Franklin to use his powers to help kick up some samples for testing later. Ever since the family’s return in Fantastic Four #1 (2018) , the all-powerful Franklin Richards’ reality-warping powers have begun to fade, putting him in the middle of a battle between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four over his proper place in the world, as well as requiring him to limit the use of his powers lest they run dry forever. With Reed’s samples collected, the Fantastic Four go to their cabin to sleep it off and prepare for the next day.
In a sequence that at first appears to be a montage expressing Franklin’s grudge over being used like a tool, Reed’s enjoyment of his coffee is interrupted by the realization that his son is everywhere. While the Thing and other members begin to show strange and troubling symptoms of their powers running out of control, Franklin is seen doing a wide range of activities that could fill the span of an entire morning or day. The problem, as Reed points out, is not that his son is being too loud or troublesome, it’s that he’s literally in every room in the house at once.
Franklin’s multiplicity brings to mind the powers of Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan. In the legendary series, the iconic blue superhuman can not only change his size but also make more than one copy of himself. In an early scene, Jon surprises his partner Laurie Juspeczyk, the former Silk Spectre, by duplicating in bed, only to earn her ire when she discovers another duplicate is still working on his experiments. For both Franklin and Jon, the implication isn’t that they are copying themselves, but rather that they are creepily disconnected from time and reality – their mind on multiple things at once. As the Fantastic Four’s situation worsens, the Grand Canyon begins to fill with Franklins, popping in and out of existence.
In the end, Reed Richards and his family are able to figure out what’s going on and stop the villain responsible before their symptoms, ranging from strange to downright disgusting, go too far for them to fix. When everything is set right, all of Franklin’s duplicates disappear and the Fantastic Four chalk this up to another ridiculous vacation ruined by their superhero celebrity status and Reed Richards’ thirst for knowledge. Although seeing one too many Franklin Richards was unsettling, few things could be stranger or creepier than Doctor Manhattan‘s unchecked use of his powers in Watchmen, and how they affected the world, and especially the people around him.
Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1 by Christopher Cantell and Filipe Andrade is in stores now!
Everything We Know About James Wan’s Archive 81
About The Author