Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The “Sentient” storyline concludes in vol. 3 #64 legacy 493, for more math-lecture-gone-wrong action.
Reed invented a new type of PDA with unlimited computing power, thanks to it being tied to an alternate universe. This inadvertently created Modulus, an electrochemical being that is Reed’s mathematics come to life. To stop Modulus, Reed has entered that alternate dimension to find the equation to… himself. As this issue begins, Johnny and Ben stay behind to fight Modulus. Ben appears to retreat, but it’s all strategy to create more distance between Modulus and Reed.
In the other universe, Reed is at work creating a mathematically perfect copy of himself. Sue wants to take Franklin and Valeria away from the Baxter Building for safety, but Modulus has trapped them in there. He has hacked the FF’s communicators to control all their tech. Out in the street, Ben and Johnny lead Modulus into an abandoned building, which Johnny calls “the one piece of Manhattan real estate without a Starbucks.” Modulus uses his ability to separate objects into their basic components, and brings the entire structure down on them. Johnny is knocked unconscious, and it takes all of Ben’s strength to keep the rubble from crushing them both.
At HQ, Sue tries to use the FF’s transporter to send Franklin and Valeria to the moon for safety (remember the Inhumans are living on the moon again). Modulus attacks, destroying the transporter. Modulus knocks out Sue and chases Franklin into Reed’s lab. Modulus encounters Reed, and proclaims that he and Reed are a sum of one. But then we see that “Reed” is the simulation of Reed that the real Reed created in the other universe. Reed says Modulus and the simulation are equals. Reed and Modulus fight, trashing the lab. Reed says that he will always be one greater than Modulus, because Modulus cannot subtract or divide Reed’s love for his family. Modulus calms down, and connects with the simulation. They both disappear into the PDA, which Reed then shuts off.
Later, Reed’s lab will have to be rebuilt, but Sue’s injured hand is still able to be returned to normal. Reed and Franklin have gone off alone, with Johnny worrying that Reed is punishing Franklin for messing the PDA. Instead, we see Franklin teaching Reed how to a play a Magic: The Gathering-style card game. The logical Reed is baffled by the game’s fantasy-themed rules, but as Franklin explains it to him, Reed says, “You’re a good teacher.”
Wait, there’s more: In a three-page preview of Incredible Hulk #50, the Abomination is kept imprisoned in a secret underground bunker. A mysterious woman offers the Abomination freedom if he can defeat the Hulk once and for all.
Unstable molecule: When trying to create a simulation of himself, Reed asks Sue whether he can carry a tune. She assures him he cannot.
Fade out: Modulus is able to knock Sue unconscious by forcing its hand through her force field. This follows up on her feeling psychic feedback from her force fields being struck a few issues earlier.
Clobberin’ time: This issue’s letters page has a follow-ups to issue #61. A letter writer expresses concern about Ben rampaging through New York so soon after Sept. 11, 2001. Assistant Editor Mark Sumerak states that off-panel, Ben went back and paid for all damages, and then served voluntary community service to further make up for what he’d done.
Flame on: The letters page also addresses issue #61’s revelation that Johnny was the one really behind all of the Yancy Street Gang’s pranks on Ben over the years. Sumerak dials back on that, stating that only some of the pranks were from Johnny, and that the real YSG will still be on hand to pester Ben in the future.
Fantastic fifth wheel: Crystal gets mentioned as still living on the moon with the rest of the Inhumans, and still acting as the kids’ babysitter on occasion.
Four and a half: Items in Franklin’s room this time around include posters of Captain America and the Vision, some baseball paraphernalia, and both an action figure and poster of Ben.
Our gal Val: Modulus ignores Valeria in its pursuit of Franklin, but the baby watches it fly over her with great interest. This perhaps suggests where they’ll take her character in the future.
Commercial break: “But Ratchet, the nice man on the television said to, ‘stay tuned.’”
Trivia time: This three-issue arc is the only appearance of Modulus. That’s too bad, as I can see him going up against some of Marvel’s other science-genius heroes, like Iron Man, Amadeus Cho, or even Spidey.
This issue’s letters page credits writer Gail Simone for the “notion” of this story. Make of that what you will.
What’s going on in Incredible Hulk #50? Bruce Banner, in full The Fugitive mode, is seduced by the sinister Nadia Dornova, long-lost wife of the Abomination. The mystery woman in the underground base is Agent S-3, who uses footage of Nadia and Bruce to enrage the Abomination and convince him to fight the hulk. The big fight doesn’t happen until issue #55, and it’s not until issue #62 that agent S-2 is revealed to be Bruce’s first love, Betty Brant, back from the dead.
Fantastic or frightful? The storyline ends just as the previous issue promised us it would end, with no additional twists or surprises. This leaves me with the thought that, despite everything that happens, this whole thing is just another day at the office for our heroes.
Next: Fun and profit.
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