marvel two-in-one #4
Fantastic Four fans owe it to themselves to pick up this book. Chip Zdarsky writes one of the most heartbreaking Reed Richards tales in a while in this book. Valerio Schiti brings this alternate reality Reed's emotions to life in a beautiful way.
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Multiversal Heartbreak

Ben and Johnny finally make their first step in finding Reed and Sue in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4. They jump into the multiverse and land on an alternate Earth. Writer Chip Zdarsky eschews his usual lighter comedic tone for a dark, sad tale of an alternate Reed Richards. This depressing story makes MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4 an engrossing read. It reads like a better issue of WHAT IF?, which should excite fans of alternate reality stories. In just one page, artists Valerio Schiti and Frank Martin bring Reed’s complex emotions at meeting our Ben and Johnny to life in a fantastic way. Overall, this issue makes me intrigued to see what’s to come in this new universe.

The Journey Begins in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4

Marvel Two-In-One #4
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4 page 7. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Last issue, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm visited Dr. Rachna, a brilliant scientist who specializes in superpowers. She discovered how to use the Multisect, a multiversal transit device given to Ben by the missing Reed Richards. Rachna decided to join the duo in their journey to find the missing members of the Fantastic Four. In MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4, the trio embarks on their inaugural journey with the Multisect. After a jump, they find themselves on an alternate Earth which seems pretty similar to Earth-616. They make their way to the Baxter Building, where they hope they’ll find their Reed, Sue, Franklin, and Valeria. Suddenly, She-Hulk and Wolverine stop them. Believing that they’re Skrulls, they attack Ben and Johnny, until Wolverine realizes their mistake. Eventually, they bring Ben and Johnny to the Baxter Building, where they come face to face with another Reed Richards.

Zdarsky peppers many of his comics with gags and hilarious dialogue, but he changes it up this issue. This actually works in its favor, since it lets the dourness of the alternate Earth hit harder. In their version of SECRET INVASION, they found that the Skrulls replaced a million humans, much more than 616’s invasion. On top of that, they faced some tragedies when Galactus first appeared (more on that in a bit). Zdarsky does the right thing by framing this in a dramatic, serious tone. We feel for these alt-reality heroes, as opposed to laughing at some gag. I hope Zdarsky continues with this tone for the rest of the series, except with maybe a few more gags, when appropriate. It’ll make the eventual Fantastic Four reunion even more emotional.

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Reed’s Tragic Tale in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4

When the duo meets this universe’s Reed in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4, he’s a broken man. He’s supposed to be around the same age as Earth-616’s Reed, but he looks much older. He stops frantically working to look at Ben, but he realizes quickly that the two aren’t from his Earth. He goes back to being sullen and forlorn. We learn from this Earth’s Hank McCoy that Reed lost Ben a while ago when Galactus first came to their planet. Ben tried to attack him and Galactus vaporized him. This, combined with an unknown event which affected his Johnny in some vague way, ruined Reed. He became a shell of his former self, devoting his life to trying to save the Earth from any threat imaginable.

This heartbreaking story proved that Zdarsky can really hit the right emotional beats. He made this Reed both sympathetic and pitiful. Since I love the character so much, it hurt to see Ben turned into bones and dust rather graphically. I can only imagine how Reed would feel in this situation. His team disbanded, his wife left to work for SHIELD, and his best friend died. I hope Zdarksy continues using this character for a few more issues because I want to get to know more about his personality. Just how different is he from our Reed?

Schiti Brings the Sadness

Marvel Two-In-One #4
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4 page 19. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

This Reed only shows up in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4 for two pages. In those two pages, he goes through a multitude of emotions. Schiti captures them flawlessly in his artwork. First, Reed seems somewhat annoyed that his work’s being interrupted. Then, when he sees Ben for the first time in years after he saw him die before his eyes, he looks overcome with joy. He must be feeling the most intense emotions he’s felt in a long time. Then, once he makes the realization, you can see him recoil in anger and disappointment. Finally, he returns to his seat sorrowful and dejected, shedding a tear after being reminded of his greatest personal failure. This page alone demonstrates Schiti’s uncanny ability to convey emotion in his characters.

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Final Thoughts

This issue was a great little alternate reality tale. It took a great leap into the multiverse, which began Ben and Johnny’s journey to find their lost family. It also contained a heartbreaking story of loss, regret, and dejection, which makes me excited to see what’s in store for this universe next issue. If you love alternate reality stories or the Fantastic Four, buy this issue. It may break your heart, but you’ll love it just the same.

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