Quote1 May I stay with you, Johnny? Quote2
-- Alicia Masters (Lyja)

Appearing in "A Small Loss"

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Synopsis for "A Small Loss"

With Sue and their unborn child in mortal danger due to their unique physiology, Reed Richards has just learned that the only man who might be able to save their lives is Otto Octavius, the super-villain known as Doctor Octopus. As they discuss their options, She-Hulk assesses the situation, recalling how she just recently joined the team following her involvement in Secret Wars, and how Sue has collapsed due to the complications caused by her impending birth. Reed tells the other doctors that he will not consider letting a psychotic like Octavius near his wife. This raises questions with Dr. Morbius, who was once a living vampire. Banner points out that Morbius and his own condition before he learned to control his transformations into the Hulk are different when compared to Octavius. Banner recounts how Otto was a brilliant scientist who developed his mechanical arms before a nuclear explosion drove him criminally insane, becoming a regular Spider-Man villain known as Doctor Octopus. After some consideration, Reed decides that he should at least take the chance to deal with Doctor Octopus at the psychiatric clinic he has been remanded to. After checking to see how Sue is, he kisses her goodbye and heads off to try and convince Octavius to help save her and his unborn child.

Stretching his body over to the Baxter Building, Reed quickly boards the Fantasti-Car and heads to the Brooklyn Psychiatric Facility where Doctor Octopus is being held. There, he convinces the head administrator Doctor Jefferson to allow him the opportunity to see Doctor Octopus. Jefferson takes Richards to Otto's room. Using some quickly learned psychiatric techniques, to the surprise of Jefferson and the other doctors, Reed manages to explain his situation and get through to Doctor Octopus. Shedding a tear over Richards' plight, Doctor Octopus agrees to help him try and save his wife and unborn child. Jefferson thanks Richards for help and they leave to make arrangements to have Otto released into Reed's protective custody. As they leave, one of the doctors goes looking at the arts and crafts that Otto was working on before they entered, finding a link of octopi cut out of paper.

Soon Reed and Otto are racing back to the hospital in the Fantasti-Car, along the way Otto happens to see a Daily Bugle advertisement with an image of Spider-Man. This causes Otto to feel unwell. Miles away at a secure facility, the arms of Doctor Octopus spring to life and begin fighting off the police officers tasked with containing the deadly weapons. They break loose into the city and attack Mister Fantastic just as they near the hospital. As Otto tries to sort out his conflicting thoughts, Richards fights for his life against the mechanical arms. When he is finally pinned, the arms pull Otto toward them and, upon putting on his harness again, Otto's criminal mind is completely restored. Doctor Octopus then tries to kill Reed Richards, but Reed fights back. Reed quickly comes up with a way to stop his foe: stretching his hands, he plugs up the manual controls of Otto's harness, rending the arms useless. With time running out, Reed makes one final appeal to Octavius to help him save Sue and their child. Reed finally convinces Otto to help.

Later at the hospital, Johnny emerges from inside in tears, unable to believe what has happened. He is soon met with Alicia who comes to his side and provides him comfort in his moment of grief. Reed soon arrives with Doctor Octopus, and when Johnny begins to stutter over what happened, he rushes into the hospital for answers. Inside, Reed is told by one of the doctors that Sue went into labor shortly after he left and that, while they were able to save Sue's life, the baby died.


Continuity Notes

  • She-Hulk mentions that Sue's complications this time are due to the unique energies of the Negative Zone, which is where their unborn child was conceived. The Fantastic Four were on an exploration of the Negative Zone in Fantastic Four #251-256.
  • Bruce Banner makes reference to the fact that he is able to control his transformations into the Hulk. Banner gained this ability in Incredible Hulk #272. At the time of this story, Banner's mind quickly fades whenever he is in his Hulk form. The savage Hulk returns to type in Incredible Hulk #296.
  • Doctor Octopus was last seen in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12 fleeing Battleworld with the Molecule Man and most of the other villains involved in the Secret Wars aboard a massive flying suburb of Colorado. How he came to be incarcerated so shortly after his return from Earth is unexplained.
  • The Human Torch appears here following the events of Fantastic Four #265 when he returned from Battleworld. He was behind the scenes last issue searching for other specialists to help his sister.
  • This is not the real Alicia Masters here but a Skrull spy named Lyja as revealed in Fantastic Four #357. This begins the spy's attempts to make the Human Torch fall in love with her. As explained in Fantastic Four #358, Lyja was supposed to use her position to infiltrate the Fantastic Four through Alicia's long standing relationship with the Thing (which has been on going since Fantastic Four #9). However when Lyja discovered that the Thing remained on Battleworld following the Secret Wars, she decided to try and pursue a relationship with the Torch in order to maintain "Alicia's" ties to the group.

Publication Notes

  • This issue features a letters page: ""Fantaastic Four Fan Page'. Letters are published from Randal Marshal Williams, Thomas Dangerfield, and Jon Crkvnki. This issue also contains a Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation.

See Also


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The art was fantastic as usual. Back then Byrne was at the helm and the characters were very real in terms of personality and they were consistent. Because of Byrne's mastery of facial expression, you could see the desperation in Reed as he tried to find a way to help his wife and unborn daughter. The story read quickly because of the pace it was written in, that is, until you hit the last page and stop dead. The ending was moving. It's a classic that stands the test of time. A 'must read' for any real fan.
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