PUBLISHER: MARVEL, 1997
WRITERS: JIM LEE, BRANDON CHOI
ARTISTS: BRETT BOOTH, RON LIM
Post-'Industrial Revolution' it was clear the Heroes Reborn universe would be rejoining the main Marvel universe to some extent sooner rather than later; solid reasons why are hard to find from credible sources during a time of considerable upheaval for the House of Ideas. It might have been that new management felt such big properties should be in-house, that sales were disappointing, that the critical backlash had an effect,, that it was a short-term plan to generate publicity or none of those things or all of them.
The decision was made to have the last two issues of each Heroes Reborn title be a crossover, with the dangling possibility floated that the universe would be actually destroyed by Galactus. Thus there was effectively five issues of each to get from the state of affairs seen in the 'Industrial Revolution' crossover in the sixth issue of each to the 'Heroes Reunited' storyline in the twelfth.
This halfway point saw many of the creative teams reorganised; Fantastic Four would continue with storylines plotted by Wildstorm founder Jim Lee and writer Brandon Choi but Lee stopped contributing interior art. Brett Booth, best known for his work on the early issues of Stormwatch alongside Lee, comes in and does a decent replica job for a few issues before handing over to cosmic crossover specialist Ron Lim.
Plotwise it's the same breathless stream of introductions as the first chunk of issues but here it seems masochistic, like Wildstorm want to do their version of the Negative Zone (and Burstaar), the Inhumans (overkill as only Crystal was actually brought into the universe) and the Heralds of Galactus. None of this gets much development; the Negative Zone serves the narrative purpose of allowing a few fun flashbacks to earlier adventures (including mention of Franklin Richards) and showing the growing realisation of the characters that something is badly amiss with the universe.
After that it's a rush off to Attilan to meet the Inhumans and another predictable "fight through misunderstanding then all become friends" story. Interspersed with all of this are introductions to three of the Heralds - Firelord, Plasma and Terrax, who turns up to fight the group and deliver official notice of Galactus' imminent arrival. All of which is overcomplication as the already-established Silver Surfer and maybe Terrax could have covered most of what they add to the plot advancement; they just take up pages. It might have made sense if Jim Lee was still drawing and wanted to put his stamp on the characters but as it is it's just bizarre; the Inhumans will also make minimal impact on the later crossover despite foreshadowing Galactus and you're left wondering why we need a remake of how they met the F4 at this juncture.
The Four themselves are reduced to a bunch of stock phrases with the odd bit of soap opera thrown in (Sue's inexplicably pregnant! Johnny and Crystal fall in love immediately) and by now there's basically no point in them being separate from their regular incarnations - Sue's business position or Johnny's casino antics aren't mentioned, for example. They're just the first family of superheroes like they were six months before.