Marvel Comics Tease The True Source Behind All Superhero Powers

Fantastic Four
Image via Marvel Entertainment

Franklin Richards, the eldest son of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman and the older brother of Valeria Richards, is one of the oldest teenagers in the Marvel universe. First appearing in Fantastic Four Annual #6 all the way back in November of 1968, he’s since become so powerful that he’s literally created not just one but multiple entire alternate realities, including the Counter-Earth pocket universe where he concealed the many heroes believed to have perished in the Onslaught event of 1996.

Franklin is also an Omega Level Mutant, placing him between two formidable factions in the new Dawn of X era being overseen by narrative architect Jonathan Hickman in which mutants now have the island nation of Krakoa all to themselves as well as worldwide amnesty from the laws of homo sapiens. It’s in this tenuous position that Franklin also finds himself losing control of his incomprehensible powers over reality (a situation Wanda Maximoff will also find herself in this December), motivating his father, Reed Richards, to attack the problem with his customary genius.

In Entry 66109 of his research journal, Reed struggles to reconcile the scientific impossibility of his family’s abilities, which, he admits, violate the most basic laws of physics. One possible explanation that he cites, however, references “the work of Dr. Rachna Koul, who specialized in imperiumology, the science of super-powers,” and who “posited that superhumans are each connected to one or more intradimensional sources of energy, which she dubbed ‘Godpower.'” He then goes on to speculate that his son’s difficulties might stem from the fact that his “connection to that source is broken,” thus cutting him off from “the energy needed to use his powers.”

Koul’s term feels reminiscent of the grossly inaccurate nickname assigned to the then-theoretical Higgs boson in a 1993 book by Leon M. Lederman and Dick Teresi titled The God Particle, a phrase that was poorly received by the scientific community for its sensationalism. It’s curious, then, that a character as empirically minded as Reed Richards would find himself drawn to a conjecture named after a notoriously ill-defined theological concept.

Of course, Reed is surely aware of the Third Law laid out by author Arthur C. Clarke – that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic – as well as the corollary to that law often attributed to Larry Niven – that any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. Perhaps it is not so curious after all that Reed would investigate a hypothetical energy source called Godpower, viewing it as the central force of a heretofore unimagined new science. We’ll just have to hope that Godpower doesn’t turn out to be Marvel’s version of Midichlorians.

X-Men/The Fantastic Four #1 is available now, with the second issue hitting shelves on February 26th.