Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: James Raiz (p), John Dell (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: Standard, with no surprises but some style. It’s all there in the cover blurbs: “The most powerful member of the Fantastic Four gets a cosmic boost! Sue Richards gets Empowered! Guest Starring Gladiator! The fourth Chapter in a 5-part Epic!” Great cover by Daniel Acuna (uncredited)!
Comments: This is a silly, simple and entertaining concept. The Uni-Force is an energy construct that can bond with super-heroes and increase their power to cosmic level. It’s not nefarious; it’s just confused and not working properly. It’s a fun, goofy sci-fi concept, and it brings out the sci-fi appeal of a variety of Marvel heroes, some more likely than others, in this “epic.”
It doesn’t feel epic, and it’s not even definitive, but this issue references a Classic John Byrne Fantastic Four story, and serves as a worthy sequel with some cool events.
The last time Gladiator of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard confronted the Fantastic Four, things didn’t go well for the team. This time he’s trying to commandeer the errant Uni-Force, but when it bonds with Sue Storm she isn’t having any of it. Gladiator comes off all imperial and jerky as usual, plus he’s weirdly sexist (weird for a guy who spends his life serving an Empress), but Uni-Sue serves it back in spades.
It reminded me a bit of an old-school moment when the Phoenix took on Firelord, and won. Artist James Raiz reminds me of Mike McKone (fitting as he does the main FF book), if a bit more stiff. Still, he pulls off some effective sequences, including four pages of information-filled near-silent underwater battle, and a tsunami breaking against a forcefield Uni-Sue extends over San Francisco in the nick of time that is a memorable two-page spread.
Sexism watch: What’s also nice is that the Uni-force doesn’t dominate or erase Sue’s mental faculties, it actually talks to her informatively, and she talks back, acting on her own with rational decisions and Reed’s intelligence a useful tool. Eventually advancing the problem herself, if not solving it fully. An all-around enjoyable issue.
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