Friday, December 22, 2017

Evil Eye


Name This Marvel Villain??

In many respects, the unforgiving tyrant known as Occulus prefers to think of himself in the same way as Dr. Doom when it comes to his people--seeing himself as a tireless worker on their behalf, but demanding unconditional support and fealty in return for his selfless efforts. Both see such respect and devotion from their subjects (however enforced) as validation of their actions and their methods; but while both men rule with an iron fist, Occulus has become so obsessed with receiving the people's approval and love that he's willing to do whatever it takes to secure it, no matter how far he has to go or how many "rebels" he must slaughter.

And Occulus is well on his way to forcing his people to submit to both his ego and his rule--thanks to Reed Richards, who, not satisfied with exploring sub-space and the Negative Zone, experiments with reaching into solid objects to access what he calls the "Inniverse"*:

*Writer Tom DeFalco seemed unable to settle on the name, calling it the "Innerverse" in a story title--but since he uses the former term more often, it'll have to serve here.

Shorthanded for Johnny Storm, the same explanation would sound like this:

Thanks to Reed's breach of the dimension where Occulus resides, a hunting party comes through and abducts Sue Richards and her son, Franklin, with the FF in pursuit--but not in time to prevent the two from becoming captors of the tyrant, flanked here by his wife, Landa, and his advisor from the "Gem Guild," Dangor.

Occulus is also obsessed with increasing his might by confiscating and tapping into the power of the gems which fill the sky of his world. But what brought him to this point, and how did he become such a force to be reckoned with? For the answers, let's listen to his origin as recounted by his rebel brother, Wild Blood:

As one of the few with "the gift," as the Guild calls it, Occulus rose to power and now seeks a way to access the combined power of all of the sky gems--and the means to do so has just fallen into his clutches.

But Landa's words fall on deaf ears--because Occulus may as well add the word "merciless" to his title, given his disregard for a child's life in pursuit of his own ambition. And with Sue having failed to defeat Occulus, and the rest of the FF still picking up the pieces from a previous attack in the field, we're witness to yet another example of why being part of a super-powered family makes Franklin Richards more vulnerable to harm, not less.

As for Occulus, he achieves precisely what he set out to claim--the ultimate power of the gem-stones.

The Fantastic Four, of course, embody the very disrespect that Occulus wishes to eradicate from those who resist him--so along with Wild Blood and the rebel forces, they become the focus of his wrath and newfound power.

With Franklin in need of medical attention, it's not really clear why the FF are sticking around. On the one hand, Reed acknowledges that "our primary responsibility is to our son!" -- but he's really only speaking in the context of getting Franklin out of the area and rejoining the rebel forces while leaving the Torch and the Thing to take on Occulus once more, as part of an elaborate plan that Reed has put in place to defeat him. Yet on the other hand, he makes a statement that contradicts his priority of seeing to his son:  "We must concentrate on defeating Occulus! He's a threat to every plane of existence!" And so Reed makes do with a "healer" in the rebel camp while marshaling everyone else to their places.

And just in time, too, since Occulus follows and begins attacking their camp. By this time, Landa has turned her loyalties from her husband and falls in with the efforts of Wild Blood and the FF to stop him. Given the power they face, the FF barely hold their own--but they only need enough time to bring their new weapon to bear.

Back at FF headquarters, though physically all right, the prognosis for Franklin isn't good, according to Reed in the closing panels of the issue--but then that's been the status quo for this poor kid since he was born. I remember floating the idea of a safe room for Franklin awhile back--but where the Richardses are concerned, it looks like Occulus doesn't hold the monopoly on deaf ears.


Anonymous said...

Have a merry and Marvel-ous Christmas, CF....ho, ho, ho :D

Comicsfan said...

Right back atcha, Colin--I'll even throw in an extra "ho"! :)

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