"Divine Time, Part III of IV"
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artists: Jim Muniz (p), Derek Fridolfs with Jim Royal (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As Reed and his father discuss how they'll deal with the temporal manipulations of Ramades, in the altered future timeline, Johnny finds himself pressed into service, as he joins a grown up Valeria Richards on a mission into Victor Von Doom's castle, where they make use of the time-machine to travel into the past. Meanwhile, in the present day the key to victory may rest in the hands of Franklin Richards and his robotic ally H.E.R.B.I.E., as the two discover the missing eight seconds of time that kicked off this crisis.
Comments: Well, the opening scene where a young Reed gets lost in a scientific puzzle after his parents offer up an overly convoluted explanation to his question about Humpty Dumpty was a nice little moment. It served as an eye-opening look at the domestic environment that made Reed into the man he is today. In fact, it's actually a little scary to see how closely Reed's personality mirrors that of his father, as both men are able to shut out all the rest of the world, and it takes their wives to pull them back into the real world. Now the comic book science that is bandied about in the early pages of this book did come across as a little long-winded, especially when one considers that the entire point of the exercise was to relate that the temporal process could be reversed. In any event, given Marvel has pretty much embraced the idea that changes made in the past simply create alternate timelines that branch off the main timeline, and that any changes made in the past don't impact the present, it does seem a little strange that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has fashioned such a complex sounding explanation. Still, the secondary plot involving Johnny's efforts in the altered future timeline was a lot of fun, as there's a great little moment where Johnny lets his anger get the better of him, and there's an interesting scene where he momentarily comes to believe he's killed Dr. Doom. The issue also deserves full marks for making the scenes involving Franklin Richards and H.E.R.B.I.E. quite engaging, as on paper this sounds like a very goofy plot thread, but it actually worked far better than I expected it to.
This issue is Jim Muniz's most impressive issue to date, as he turns in some lovely work on this issue, from the visual spectacle when Johnny and the others storm Castle Doom, to the sense of wonder as Franklin makes his final page discovery. Now I will say that the panel layout was a bit disappointing, as Jim Muniz looks to be quite fond of the layered cake approach as the panels carry straight across the page, and the only visual change is that the number of panels varies from three to five. This in turn results in an issue that felt a little too structured, and the big impact moments have a rather uniform appearance about them. However, the scene where Johnny deals with Doom by flaming on manages to succeed in spite of this limitation, and Johnny's arrival scene in the lab is also quite impressive. The art also nicely captures the idea that even at a young age Reed's personality was firmly established, as Reed's expression as he considered the explanation he was given by his parents was a cute little visual moment.
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