“He died, never knowing the name of his killer: the name of Xemu — Master of the Fifth Dimension!“
The members of the Fantastic Four are milling around the city, enjoying a quiet evening. Eventually coming back to the Baxter Building, Johnny runs into Quicksilver. They fight as the rest of the FF arrive, waylaying Quicksilver, who says that he has come to bring Medusa back to the Inhuman’s Great Refuge. Quicksilver tells them that it has been invaded by Xemu and his army from the 5th Dimension, and everyone in it are his prisoners. He has a weapon that amplifies a normal voice into a force large enough to destroy a mountain, and he intends to make Black Bolt use it with his already powerful voice. Black Bolt refuses and Xemu releases Quicksilver to bring his wife to him in order that he might use her as leverage to force him to speak into the device. The FF decide that they are going to intervene in the situation.
Roy Thomas is still in the writer’s seat for this issue, which is a comforting prospect, although this is a very pedestrian tale, even by the standards of the ’70s. Apart from heightened profile of the female members (in that they are actually shown, although don’t get half as much page time as their male counterparts), the story, so far, lacks the typical “Thomasian” thematic complexity and plot density. There is a vague thematic intent of using what the heroes love against them — Quicksilver is forced to act against his wishes when his wife is threatened, and Xemu intends to coerce Black Bolt with the exact same method, but that only goes to make the women objects of passivity.
There is a fight between heroes caught in the middle of a misunderstanding, and a flashback sequence that lacks immediacy and, sadly, originality. There is an allusion made to the Torch having fought Xemu before, but beyond that we are told very little about him, except that he wants to rule all dimensions… by destroying this one? That’s certainly what his “Thunder Horn” would do if Black Bolt were to use it.
Why are not the invaders from the 5th dimension more complex than the inhabitants of this one (which is presumably the 4th)? And what, apart from light blue skin, makes them different from us? Perhaps those answers will be forthcoming, but it seems a missed opportunity here to not add some unique trait to a character (or character group) that just goes around shouting with guns. It hardly seems an enemy worthy of the Fantastic Four’s attention.
And even Rich Buckler seems to have lost his inventive spark. Apart from just a couple scattered inspired moments (Quicksilver running up the side of the Baxter Building, the invaders from the 5th Dimension appearing as though they were actually coming through page twelve), there is sadly little of visual interest.