“You dare not turn against them! Do you not remember what your trainer said? If any slave turns against the masters, it means the death of his home planet!”
Ben Grimm is being groomed for participation in The Great Games, which is a sort of 1930s Chicago themed Roman gladiator arena. He is pitted by his trainers against representatives of other alien races. Meanwhile Reed builds a spacecraft to take three member of the Fantastic Four out to the Skrull galaxy to rescue him. It is revealed that if any of the combatants refuse to fight, or turn against their masters, then their homeworld will be destroyed.
From a plot point of view, this episode only really manages to play out the tension created by the last two issues. No ground is lost, dramatically speaking, but then events aren’t really forwarded, either. In fact, this issue could be removed entirely from the story and the tale would actually benefit from its absence.
An upfront annoyance is the whimsical use of science in this issue, to no real good effect. Ben and the other prisoners are kept in check by a ‘hypno glow’. The term ‘hypno’ is just a catch-all term for control, it seems, and there’s no evidence of any thought at all behind how it actually operates. To tag the term ‘glow’ onto it is just silly.
The threat of destroying earth would be more than enough to keep Benjamin in check, so why not just use that and create tension with having him look for opportunities for covert subversion? However, the science of that threat is just as laughable. The machine used to effect a change of the planet’s orbital trajectory is a sonic disruptor. Would disruption cause a planetary shift? It’s possible. Would that sonic wave reach across billions of miles of vacuum? Absolutely impossible. And even a light-based weapon would take years to reach the nearest planet, even if it could be targeted accurately.
It would be nice to think that maybe it really is a hollow threat to keep the fighters in line, but when one of those fighters is a Magno-Man, an alien with a giant horseshoe magnet incorporated into his skull, then one doubts. Especially when said alien is able to move non-metallic object and people, like the ground and Ben Grimm himself.
Also, is it worth mentioning that Sue gets crowded out of another adventure? She is ordered by Reed to stay on earth while the rest go to save Ben. It is hoped that she will find something non-passive to occupy her time with, such as finding the house that led into the last adventure, but again, one doubts.