Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Mike Wieringo (p), Karl Kesel (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with the Thing managing to drive off the entity that attacked him and Sue at the end of last issue, but the damage has been done, as Sue's right arm has been partially disassembled, and Ben's rocky hide is falling apart. We then look in on Johnny who is busy enjoying one of the perks of being in charge of the Fantastic Four's finances, as he's at a party populated by super models, and a fashion designer who is eager to get his hands on Reed's unstable molecules formula. However, this party is interrupted when Johnny is confronted by the entity that attacked his teammates, and we see the situation quickly becomes explosive when the entity disassembles the molecules in the swimming pool & floods the region with highly combustible hydrogen. We then join the rest of the team who have gathered by at the Baxter Building, and as Reed tries to figure out how this new threat is tied to his new super-computer, we see Franklin steps forward to admit he was playing with the technology. We then see the entity arrives outside the building, and when Reed & the others confront it, Reed is quick to note that the entity is an unsolved equation, and it believes that Reed is the missing solution.
Mark Waid deserves full marks for the creation of a villain who actually conveys a sense of extreme danger, as whenever it utters its "dividing" tag-line, one almost cringes at what going to happen next. What's more Mark Waid has done a nice job of playing up the idea that when this villain begins the dividing there are serious results, as last issue ended with a horrific display of the entity's ability, and this issue offers up an equally impressive moment as its encounter with Johnny had itself a nail-biter of a finish. The entity's obsession with Reed also makes for a nice simple reason for why it would target the Fantastic Four, and there's also a nice little surprise in the scene where we learn how the entity was created. Now the ending is a bit worrisome, as it looks like the solution to this problem is going to be a one of those endings where Reed will ride in at the last second with a quick fix solution. However, perhaps Reed's search for the solution will provide it's own struggle, and as such the ending won't be the regular "look what I developed off-panel that will save the day" that normally results when Reed is the party who supplies the victory. Then again Ben & Johnny's efforts against the entity could easily be enough to keep a slugfest happy fan like myself entertained.
This issue also continues the trend of taking the basic personalities that have defined the Fantastic Four over the years, and using them to generate wonderful little moments where one can't help but be impressed by how well he's making use of these characters. Take this issue scene where Johnny is busy making a colossal mistake as he signs away the production rights to Reed's unstable molecules after he's embarrassed in front of a couple super-models, or the classic Johnny Storm moment after he's confronted by Modulus, and his first concern is the safety of these super-models. This issue also continues the trend of playing with the idea that Reed is a man who is incredibly driven, and at times he a little too focused on the bigger, more dire looking picture that he runs roughshod over the feeling of others. This last trait is particularly evident during his dealing with Franklin, as we see Sue is quick to note how upset her son is, while Reed is almost fanatical in his bid to get more information about this latest threat. This issue also continues to play up Sue's role as the glue that holds the team together, as almost everything she does is designed to help her teammates function as a group, while she reigns in their more harmful personality traits.
Mike Wieringo continues to make the case that he's the artist who was born to draw this title, as while the Fantastic Four have yet to wander too far afield in their adventures, the art has made their earthbound dealing into something special. I mean the design of Modulus is a delightfully simple idea from a visual sense, but it's also a memorable appearance, and when it emerges out of Johnny communicator the sense of dread is almost an automatic response. The art also does some amazing work on the scene where Johnny cues into what Modulus is doing, and when we turn the page to see what results, one has to be impressed by the sheer spectacle of this one-page spread. The art is also wonderfully expressive, as we can see Johnny's mind working when he's embarrassed in front of the super models, and Franklin's reaction to Reed's ranting does a wonderful job of conveying Reed's darker side. This issue also offers up our first good lo