Thursday, May 30, 2013

Multiple Mistreatment

At first glance, it probably seems like the Fantastic Four are beset by enemies here:

But would you believe it's the FF who are piling on?

As for their foe(s), you'd be pretty mad too if the FF attacked you on sight with no provocation. What you're seeing is a scenario of self-defense--but on the part of whom?

This issue of Giant-Size Fantastic Four was our introduction to the character of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, who later went on to lead X-Factor but who started out as a very frightened, sheltered kid who was orphaned due to a tragic accident:

Madrox had tried to maintain his family's farm, but his special suit began to malfunction and his mutant power was beginning to wreak electrical havoc. And so, confused and afraid, he was forced to leave his home and seek help from anywhere he could find it. Unfortunately, he crossed paths with one of the Fantastic Four--adventurers who apparently shoot first and ask questions later, even if you're just walking along, tired and hungry:

And if the Thing treats Madrox like this, do you think the Human Torch is going to cut him a break?

And here comes Ben again, quickly coming to Johnny's aid (because, when Madrox deals with the Torch's attack, it's obviously Madrox who's become a deadly enemy):

What about Medusa, who's often enough been detested at seeing humans attack what they don't understand? Hey, welcome to the FF, Red:

And though Reed has surmised that using force just puts the "multiple" in the Multiple Man, he still decides to hurl himself into the fray and inflame the situation further:

Eventually, the situation is resolved when Professor X arrives and identifies the malfunctioning control suit as the problem. But by this point, Madrox is too defensive to listen to Xavier's overtures--and so the FF descend on Madrox en masse so that Reed can get close enough to render the suit powerless.

The story, co-written by Len Wein and Chris Claremont, seems very hastily produced, with the FF basically spinning its wheels to meet the issue's threat du jour so that the story can wrap itself up tidily and let everyone go home, the danger passed.  Yet Madrox attempts only simple contact--while a member of the FF chooses battle as a response, despite the probability of needlessly putting civilians in danger. It's a head-scratcher of a direction to take this story in--particularly given Claremont's flair for subtlety, whose handling of Madrox's meeting with Xavier might have proceeded quite differently without a one-story deadline demanding the Fantastic Four in action.

And speaking of our foursome, look at the story's final panel of collective smugness from these people, even though they effectively turned this situation into a crisis in the first place. And given the irony of Reed's words, don't you just want to get in his face?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always liked Medusa as a character, and she definitely gave the F.F. some cohesion and focus after Sue Richards left, but she had a pretty weird goofy superpower. I just couldn't take her seriously.