104. The World Enslaved

Issue One Hundred and Four, November 1970

“Despite our power — despite our rage — we are helpless! Helpless!”

SUMMARY
The Fantastic Four try to buy more time to try to resolve the situation of the invading Atlanteans themselves. Namor returns to Magneto and pretends to collude with him long enough to allow Reed an opportunity to create an anti-magnetic prison, which he does. Sue and Lady Dorma are freed and Namor leaves.

COMMENTARY
The brilliance from the last issue has vanished almost immediately, causing us to suspect that it was only an accidental thing. The nuanced stances and tensions between the characters are replaced with plain exposition stating crude standpoints.

Plot holes abound. The Atlanteans are apparently very happy to take orders from Magneto, a person who we last saw pinning them to the walls with his power. For all their talk of trying to stop a war with Atlantis Ben (whose evil intent is second only to Magneto) and Johnny never miss a chance to insult Namor, or offer him violence. At the end, once the crisis is averted and everything is resolved peacefully, Namor vows he will never trust such a violent race — a race which was ultimately unable to defend itself and launched no attack on him (except for the unpardonable actions of Ben Grimm in issue 102).

The treatment of women is such that even the reader feels shamed. Sue makes an escape attempt only to be put into a huge metal tube and stored on one side of Magneto’s throne. What is the dramatic justification for this? The creators allow her to escape only so that she can be recaptured and humiliated to a greater degree alongside Lady Dorma. Crystal’s only active function in the story is to serve as a one panel distraction so that Reed can use another magical machine.

Even the inspiration has gone out of the illustrations as the penciller or the inker (or both) try to emulate Kirby’s style instead of forging ahead with their own — resulting in what looks to be photostated Atlantean guards and several very distorted faces.

EVALUATION: 2/10

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