Giant Size Fantastic Four #4

Issue Date: 
February 1975
Story Title: 
Madrox the Multiple Man! (1st story)

1st story: Len Wein (writer / editor), Chris Claremont (co-writer), John Buscema & Chic Stone & Joe Sinnott (illustrators), Glynis Wein (colorist), Joe Constanza (letterer)

Brief Description: 

The Thing and Alicia Masters are on the way to a football game when they are interrupted by a strangely costumed, glowing man on the tracks. When the Thing attacks him, he finds that the man duplicates on touch and the dupes take Thing out. Back at the Baxter Building, they learn that Madrox is somehow absorbing the energy of the NY electricity net. The FF confronts Madrox, a mutant who grew up in isolation with his parents and spent years alone in the farm after his folks died. They are joined by Professor X and figure out that the suit is malfunctioning. As Professor X take out the dupes, Mr. Fantastic deactivates the suit. With Madrox beaten, Professor X promises to take care of him and heal his mind.

Full Summary: 

The Thing and his girlfriend Alicia Masters are on their way to a football match, meaning the Thing is in an elated mood. Ben wants to catch the subway train before it leaves and accidentally tears open the metal door, in effect damaging the whole train. Alicia chides him that he needs more self-control. Ben sheepishly apologizes.

After the authorities have been alerted, they take another train. However, the train suddenly brakes hard. Ben asks the conductor what’s going on and the man explains there is somebody on the tracks ahead, blocking their way.

Ben heads outside and walks across the train’s roof until he sees the perpetrator: a young man, dressed from head to toe in a green suit with golden circuits… and glowing.

The young man observes that the Thing is different… like him. He is Madrox. The Thing orders him to get off the tracks. Puzzled, Madrox wants to know why he rejects him. The Thing jumps toward him and hits him. Madrox seems puzzled at best. Ben hits him with more strength. Madrox shimmers and suddenly there are two of him. They both hit the Thing at the same time and, moments later, there are four. They keep on hitting Ben as they multiply until the Thing finally passes out.

He awakes in the Baxter Building about six and a half hours later, surrounded by his teammates and Alicia.

He’s angry to learn he missed the Jets game and asks the Torch how it went. Smugly, Johnny Storm informs him Namath’s boys blew it 49 to 27. It figgers, Ben sighs. He turns to Reed Richards and asks if he has any idea what happened. Not exactly, he admits. This Madrox was already gone by the time the police arrived and found Ben.

A moment later, the metropolitan power alert blares. They ain’t had to use that gizmo since the great blackout of ’65, Ben mutters. Reed explains that Con Edison has been reporting selective power failures throughout the last few hours. The situation is growing critical and they still have no idea of the cause. He activates a screen and shows them those pulses first appeared at the time the Thing fought Madrox. They’ve been growing ever since. They won’t have to look for Madrox, because it looks like he’s coming for them.

At the very moment, Madrox walks the streets of midtown Manhattan, alone and confused. He would have been here sooner but he got lost in Queens. He walks, eyes wide with wonder, not noticing the lights sputtering and going out in his wake. He walks, never looking back, and behind him Manhattan dies.

He was Christened James Arthur Madrox, son of Joan and Daniel, but from the beginning he was different. When the doctor gave the baby a slap after delivery, suddenly he was holding two identical babies. Two weeks later, Dr. Daniel Madrox resigned from Los Alamos nuclear research center and moved to Kansas. The academic world never heard from him again.

The Madrox farm was deliberately isolated, so Jamie grew up without any friends, save for his parents. From early on, he had to wear the green suit. His parents promised to tell Jamie the reason for the suit when he was older, but that never happened. A freak tornado swept over the farm, leaving Jamie an orphan at age 15.

He spent the next 6 years alone, working on the farm, but two months ago all hell broke loose when he turned on the TV. The power coruscated on Jamie, who was hurt and afraid. All electrical appliances in the house were fried. He travelled across America’s heartland and finally ended up in New York.

Jamie feels hungry and confused and drawn to the Baxter Building. He hopes someone there can help him.

Inside, Reed notes a dangerous progression as each energy pulse they pick up is stronger than the one before. If it is Madrox absorbing the city’s power, if they don’t stop him soon… That moment, the light begins to flicker. Reed realizes Madrox must be absorbing the entire Manhattan grid, billions of ergs, almost as if—

Medusa orders everyone to hush and listen. Johnny hears it too, footsteps on the roof. Despite Reed’s warning, Johnny flames on and flies upward to face Madrox, who wonders if this one can help him.

Angry about Madrox’s prior attack on the Thing, the Torch hurls his fireballs at Madrox, who screams in agony and then hits him, threatening he will die. The punch tosses the Torch off the roof. Dizzy, he flames off and falls, thankfully caught by Reed’s stretched arm.

The Thing and Medusa arrive on the roof and Ben immediately hits Madrox… but Madrox splits in two. Together, they hit Ben, momentarily stunning him.

Medusa drags one of them away with her prehensile hair and slams him to the ground. Two of them get up.

Reed has joined them and figures they cannot use force against Madrox. They must restrain him. He tries to restrain the duplicate with his elastic body but they are fed by Madrox’s anger and he is fed by New York’s power… and thus Madrox breaks free. An action that sends a dazed Reed over the roof.

A furious Thing hits Madrox and again he multiplies. And the Baxter Building trembles. Reed tells Ben they have to stop him another way. Restrain Madrox, but don’t hit him. Instead, Madrox hits Ben.

That moment, a helicopter arrives and, in a vortex beam, a wheelchair-bound man – Professor Charles Xavier – is lowered to the roof. However, 100 feet above the roof the vortex beam cancels and Xavier suddenly falls. Luckily, the Thing catches him.

Reed asks Xavier what brings him here. Madrox, is the reply. Years ago, he knew his father. It was his suggestion that the family move to Kansas. When Cerebro revealed Jamie’s presence in New York, he knew something was wrong. Jamie is his responsibility.

Madrox addresses him, asking him what he wants. Xavier explains he is a friend of Jamie’s parents. The wrong thing to say. Jamie lashes out.

His parents are dead! a duplicate that that sneaks up on Xavier shouts. Medusa grabs him with her hair. He is slammed against the roof. The duplicates, and this time the surrounding buildings, tremble as well.

Xavier notes this is not supposed to happen. The suit is supposed to neutralize the duplication effect. He realizes that is the problem. It’s been six years since Jamie’s parents died and six years since the suit has been overhauled. Some of the control elements must have burned out.

Reed follows his thinking. They have to disconnect those control elements and the crisis is over. However, there is an army of duplicates between them and the original Madrox. In fact, they overwhelm the Fantastic Four by sheer numbers.

Charles Xavier concentrates, enters the minds of the Madrox duplicates and, one by one, snuffs them out. They fall unconscious, leaving behind only the original.

Reed faces the original, who threatens that he will hurt him and Reed realizes that he has the New York power grid powering his punches. Despite the pain, he disconnects the suit’s control elements. He decks Madrox, who falls unconscious and the dupes vanish. The danger is over.

They thank Xavier for his intervention. He promises to take Madrox with him. He believes he can cure him of his madness and teach him to use his power.

After goodbyes have been said, they look at the sunrise. Reed muses that he hopes there will be a time when no more fighting will be necessary, causing Ben to complain he takes the fun out of everything.

Characters Involved: 

Human Torch, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Multiple Man
Professor X
Alicia Masters

In flashback:
Young Jamie Madrox
Joan and Daniel Madrox

Story Notes: 

The second story is a reprint of Fantastic Four (1st series) #28, in which the team fought the original X-Men.

1st story:
This is the first appearance of Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man.

Considering the writing team, one would have expected Madrox to become an X-Man. He does next show up in the pages of X-Men (1st series) #104, though not as an X-Man but as Moira MacTaggert’s lab assistant on Muir Isle.

Medusa is currently subbing for the Invisible Girl, who is estranged with her husband and taking care of their son Franklin.

Joe Namath is a former football quarterback. At the time of this issue’s publication, he was playing for the New York Jets, though he would finish his career with the Los Angeles Rams.

“Con Ed” refers to Consolidated Edison, Inc., the energy company that supplies electricity to (among other places) the New York City area.

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