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Fantastic Four #503

Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2003
By: Mike Storniolo



“Authoritative Action, Part One”

Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Howard Porter (p), Norm Rapmund (i)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
The Fantastic Four have come all the way to Latveria to liberate the country from what is left of Dr. Dooms’ control. After stopping an attack by the Hungarians, they quickly move to Doom’s castle to take what’s left of his unprotected technology. Some cleaning out of computers and gadgets later, Reed hangs up his uniform shirt as the new Latverian Flag. Ready to leave and get back to New York, The Thing, Human Torch, and The Invisible Woman are informed that they aren’t leaving Latveria. Not knowing what to expect now the team can’t help but wonder how can they win over the citizens of a country that hates them.

Comments:
There’s not much in the way of action in this issue, it’s all about the story of the four imaginauts setting out to free a country and bring them “normal” law and order. The parallels with Iraq are rather obvious – to certain sections of his people, Doom/Hussein was seen as a kind, gentle, and downright nice ruler of their country; to others, he was a cut-throat, a brigand, a madman - he’d do anything to kill the Fantastic Four. But maybe we’re now seeing Reed Richards go the same way, as ever since the “Unthinkable” storyline, he hasn’t been the same at all – the events of that storyline affected him on more than one level, such that his intentions for Latveria aren’t overly clear. Does he really want to free Latveria, or does he have a more sinister ulterior motive up his sleeve? Reed Richards is no longer whiter-than-white, he has a distinctly shady side, and this adds to his character immensely.

Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four has kept the family element that we know and love, but there’s also more real life controversy in it than just your TV show perfect family that never fights or has problems. He balances the in-fighting and the teamwork exceptionally well, as well as managing to introduce a few new twists and quirks into our old favourites.

Howard Porter takes the art reigns from Mike Wieringo, and it’s a smooth transition. In a way their art styles are similar, there are maybe a few slight differences in their depiction of facial details – although one glaring mistake the lack of a scar on Reed’s face on the cover of this issue. This scar is also missing from Reed’s appearance in this month’s Amazing Spider-Man, and I think it harms the cohesiveness of the Marvel Universe to have major events like this overlooked in guest appearances.

Final Word:
All in all, it’s a terrific story by Mark Waid, pleasantly refreshing art by Howard Porter; and I can’t wait for the rest of the arc.



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