It's been done a million times – the Nazi versions of beloved heroes in alternate realities – but somehow, Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four #605.1 still managed to surprise me and blow my mind a little. Maybe the fact that it HAS been done a million times is why Hickman chose to make this story a "Point One" issues, which are normally reserved as a place where new readers can jump on and get the skinny on the recent past of the book and know what's shakin'. Who can't get in on a 'Nazi Fantastic Four' story as a one-shot?
Somehow, it's really disturbing to see the stalwart heroes of the FF as Nazis. I suppose if you're a reader of Ultimate Comics Ultimate Fantastic Ultimate Four Ultimatum Ultimate Ultimates, you're quite used to the notion of Reed Richards as a megalomaniacal supervillain. Honestly, if you've been reading the whole saga over the last three years of Fantastic Four, featuring the Council of Alternate Reeds, you're probably accustomed to the idea that Reed apparently goes wrong more often than he goes right. But seeing Susan and Jonathan Sturm as ferocious Nazi killers and Benjamin Jakob Grimm in "the Jew pilot" in a concentration camp is extremely unsettling. Especially after my love letter to Hickman's love letter to the Thing in FF #605.
Also disturbing is the notion that Nazi Reed, when faced with a problem he can't solve, gathered the greatest minds he could find and set them at the puzzle, and when one young Viktor Von Doom comes up with the solution, Reed harvests a chunk of his brain to add to his own. And thus eventually realizes that the aging Hitler needs to be deposed and he needs to seize control – and he does so by letting loose the Thing while they're all on stage together… and we see that Ben Grimm is STILL and ALWAYS Ben Grimm. "Remember the Alamo, you Nazi bastard!"
But the resulting fight kills the other three, leaving the Now Ex-Nazi Reed to try to exert control and reorder the universe, eventually getting the Infinity Gauntlet and having to deal with "ideologues, rebels, outcasts… heroes. Not just the genetic anomalies, but Earth's mightiest assembled." Those who proceeded to provoke him enough to accidentally destroy the world (and maybe the universe) with it… but he would survive to become one of the elder members of the Council of Reeds. Or maybe it's leader (I really should fill in my blanks in Hickman's FF run). But I think the Council is all dead now, so this amounts to little more than a flashback in the grand scheme. Still, it's a strong story.
Mike Choi's art gives some great, subtle, creepy little touches here and there, such as rendering a swastika with a 4 logo in it, and post-Hitler Reed's soldiers having pseudo-Doom masks. His version of the Thing looks a little off and noselessly weird at first, but when he gets his licks in, he's all the Thing we need.
Overall, Fantastic Four #605.1 is likely not the best issue with which to jump on, but it's an effectively disturbing story nonetheless.