"Fourtitude, Part 2 of 3"
Writer: Mak Waid
Pencils: Mike Wieringo
Inks: Karl Kesel
Colors: Paul Mounts
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the Fantastic Four work to stop the alien attack on the island of Manhattan, we see their efforts force them to split up, as Reed heads to one structure to figure out a means to power down the device that is sending the island into space, while the rest of the team attempts to make contact with the aliens responsible. While both teams are successful, the Fantastic Four learn the reason for the attack, and the price to stop it are going to make a huge impact on the team.
This issue has a decidedly old school feel to it as the Fantastic Four do battle with a collection of alien refugees who have targeted the planet Earth thanks to the danger that it poses to their plans to make the galaxy a safer place. Now there is an interesting twist in that unlike most alien invaders that attack the planet these ones have been given a pretty noble cause, as they are not looking to turn the population into a slave race, or raze the planet of it's resources, but rather they have a genuine grievance with the planet. Now, their willingness to kill millions because they are unwilling, or unable to perform a more intensive scan does earn them a check in the naughty column, but it's far more exciting from a story telling sense that these aliens are willing to hold millions of lives hostage to achieve their desired aim. Plus the simple fact of the matter is that it's been quite some time since a writer has come up with a new story involving Galactus that didn't feel like we were simply repeating the first classic encounter, and if nothing else Mark Waid earns marks for coming up with a fairly novel plot that is driven by the threat of Galactus. My only quibble with the story is that I find it a bit difficult to believe the only weakness in the aliens' plan is that it could be exposed by the Invisible Woman's ability to make invisible objects visible, as if our scientists can figure out a distant system holds a planet by the mere wobble of it's star it's difficult to pretend Galactus wouldn't have a far better detection system in place.
Mike Wieringo was born to draw an issue like this as it's largely the Fantastic Four doing battle with a host of wildly diverse looking alien races, and how can one not love the one page shot where we see the hidden swarm of attacker that Sue renders visible. There's also several cool impact visuals from the scene where Ben is attacked when the team first enters the structure, to the scene where we spot why Sue isn't going to be able to come to Reed's aid. The issue also turns in a nice bit of work where we get to see Galactus destroyed an inhabited planet, and the anguish on Reed's face when Sue makes her decision makes for a fantastic visual to carry us into the next issue. My only real quibble with the issue is that the lead alien looks a bit goofy, and this in turn makes it difficult to take him seriously when he's delivering his ultimatum. We do get a pretty solid cover shot though as I love the idea that the alien's grip is shown to be shattering Ben's rocky hide.
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