|“||I am the modulus which defines Reed Richards. The result of his ideas. The sum of his thoughts and his reflections. I alone am worthy of his love. All that which is not... must be subtracted.||„|
|~ Modulus as he tries to kill Susan Richards.|
Modulus is the designated name given to the main antagonist of the Marvel Comics three-issue story Sentient (stylized as ʃ£πt¡Σπ+) in the 1998 Fantastic Four series, debuting in issue #62 and making his final appearance in issue #64.
He's a sentient mathematical expression originating from a dimension of electrochemical energy brought to life by Franklin Richards from data within a transdimensional device and using Franklin's father, Reed Richards, as a template.
|“||It was a walking, talking equation, Reed.||„|
|~ Susan Richards describes Modulus.|
Modulus started out as a featureless green humanoid with mathematical symbols all over his body.
As the story progressed, his appearance slowly matched more and more that of his template Reed Richards, starting with his face and hair, then his costume and then his other features.
By the end, Modulus looked almost exactly like Reed, except for the symbols and the green glow from his body and eyes.
He isn't fully shown in the covers (only as Reed's shadow or some of his bloblike tendrils) but the cover for issue #63 has his body colored as black instead of green.
|“||Reed Richards: Modulus! Whatever you are, precisely, you cannot help but be logical! You were brought here by accident! There is no rationale for attacking my home and my family! Therefore, define your function -- now!
Modulus: Unnecessary. You define me, Reed Richards. All that I am, I am because I love you... and the longer I exist, the more we become alike. I am the total of your essence... and you are the solution to my loneliness. Know me.
|~ Reed Richards and Modulus, as the latter inserts himself into the former's mind.|
Modulus was a creature of mostly logic and with some degree of emotion, though these were feelings likely born from Franklin's own towards his father. As half of an equation, he sought an equal, and felt Reed Richards, who he "loved", was perfect for that.
He was very persistent and brutal when hunting down the Fantastic Four, who he saw as "competition for affection", blocking or eliminating any possible escapes and killing them by turning them into gas, crushing them underneath thousands of tons of rubble, removing any breathable air around them, blowing them up, among other serious attempts. And though he wasn't planning on sparing anyone on Earth but Reed Richards, he momentarily stopped attacking Reed's wife Susan when she mentioned his name, ordering her to bring Reed to him, but after she denied to do so he continued his attack.
Modulus could also be very cunning, causing debris to fall so the Fantastic Four would be separated, occupied or unable to fight him all at once.
Strangely, at one point, while Susan Richards and her daughter Valeria are on the floor at his mercy, Modulus chooses to go after Franklin Richards who is running away instead of finishing them off, perhaps showing something akin to mercy, or perhaps his mind was able to detect the threat Franklin, even while with his powers locked, posed if he used his powers on him.
The entity that will later be known as Modulus is first seen emerging from a PDA made by Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, the PDA in question being a device with more computing power than anything else in the Solar System, that downloads via subspace transmission to a neighboring dimension of pure electrochemical energy, thus having an infinite storage capacity.
While Ben Grimm aka The Thing and Reed's wife Susan Richards aka the Invisible Woman are at the movie theatre, a green liquid-like material slides down Ben's commlink and insignia and it's here that the entity makes his presence known as he overwrites the information on the giant screen and comes out of it.
As Sue and Ben try to push the people in the theater to leave, the entity destroys the room's exit door, blocking their escape. Ben holds the debris before it can fall on the civilians but Sue takes his place and tells Ben to take down the entity. Ben runs up to him, but the entity disintegrates the floor beneath him, almost making him fall down in the way of a subway train at a station below the theatre.
Sue comes to rescue Ben but the entity doesn't let her, attacking her faster than she can react or protect herself with her shields, and getting ahold of her arm, which the entity partially turns into gas, though luckily Sue is able to keep what remains of her arm with one of her forcefields. Ben climbs up the hole, smashing the entity away with a piece of concrete. This only lasts a few seconds before the entity enters Ben's scaly skin and starts evaporating it, but Sue covers him in a forcefield.
With the mention of Reed Richards' name as Sue tells Ben to call him for help, the entity stops his attack and orders them to bring Reed to him, telling them that he among them will be the only one that will be spared because he loves him.
Sue asks what he means by that he loves his husband and also asks him what he is. This entity describes himself as the modulus which defines Reed Richards, the result of his ideas, the sum of his thoughts and his reflections. He claims that he alone is worthy of his love and all that which is not must be "subtracted", and proceeds to attack Sue who has shielded herself with one of her forcefield.
Ben punches the entity, but the feedback hits Sue's forcefield as well, causing a reaction that seemingly hurts both Sue and the entity. The entity flees into Ben's commlink and insignia, going after someone else while also making sure the Fantastic Four can't contact one another.
He emerges out of the commlink and insignia of Sue's brother Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch. The entity easily avoids Johnny's flames and uses a nearby pool to combine the fire with the water's hydrogen, creating a powerful bomb that causes a massive explosion. He chases after Johnny who flies all the way back to the F4's headquarters, the Baxter Building, where the other members of the Fantastic Four are, healing their wounds are assessing the situation, and to give the entity a name, based on what he said earlier, they designate him "Modulus".
It's here that it's revealed that Franklin Richards got ahold of the PDA to use its incredible power to fix himself, since his sister Valeria was getting all the attention and he thought his father would love him more if he was smarter. Instead, he accidentally created a dangerous creature after drawing a few numbers and letters on the PDA.
As Johnny Storm crashes through the window, momentarily blinded and deaf, the other three members become aware that Modulus has come to attack their base. Specifically, he's destroying the base of the building so it can crumble down. They all, minus Johnny who stays behind to recover, hold it back from falling and Reed goes after Modulus, asking what his function is. Modulus tells Reed that it's unnecessary to do so, that he is what he is because he loves him and that the longer he exists, the closer he gets to becoming another Reed Richards. Reed himself is shocked to see that Modulus' face and hairstyle already somewhat resemble his own. Modulus says that he is the total of Reed's essence and that Reed is the solution to his loneliness, after which he attacks Reed, although not to harm him, as Modulus' limbs crawl inside Reed's head and the symbols in Modulus' body appear in Reed's eyes.
Johnny returns, having recovered his eyesight, and burns Modulus' arm off, making him release Reed, who goes into some sort of shock. The remaining three members of the Fantastic Four attack Modulus but he targets the atmosphere around them, subtracting oxygen and making it unbreathable for them. Just as he is about to erase them, Reed saves them and tells Modulus he knows what to do. Reed tells Ben and Johnny to distract Modulus while he and Sue go back into the Baxter Building, telling him that their descriptions of Modulus being a "walking equation" almost got them killed, because he lacked any equal signs among all the symbols in his body, to which Reed theorizes that, since an equation requires two expressions that balance one another (e.g. 5 + 3 = 8 and x2 + y2 = 22), Modulus is seeking him out because he thinks he is his only equal.
Reed tells Sue to get the children to safety while he determines a very specific and unique mathematical formula for himself, while heading inside the dimension Modulus emerged from.
While Reed is in the dimension which spawned Modulus in order to create the way to defeat him, Ben and Johnny drive him away from the Baxter Building. As Modulus is being attacked by Johnny's flames, he redirects them towards Ben, melting a vending cart he's holding and rendering Johnny's weapon useless.
As Sue tries to escape with Valeria and Franklin, she finds out Modulus had destroyed their escape routes long ago, shearing their vehicles in half, somehow being aware of what they're going to do or where they are, which alerts Reed and tells Sue to throw away her commlink since, as electrical energy, he can travel through them and track them down wherever they go.
Ben and Johnny try to bait Modulus into entering an empty two-story building, but Modulus simply decides to take them out by multiplying the number of floors and with them the whole thing's mass, bringing down the whole structure on Ben and Johnny. Though they're not dead, they're no longer a distraction and Modulus heads back to the Baxter Building.
Sue tries to use the teleporter but it explodes, with Modulus emerging from it. She puts a barrier between Modulus and them, but the strain is too much and Modulus quickly breaks through it. While Sue is unconscious while holding Valeria, Franklin escapes towards the lab, where Sue said Reed would be, and Modulus goes after him.
Modulus encounters Reed, having come out of the door leading to his dimension, but he realizes that this is not Reed, but an entity just like him. The real Reed confirms this, having built this electrical simulacrum, a mathematical equivalent just like Modulus.
Angered, Modulus lashes out against the lab, destroying everything his elastic limbs come across, and Reed tells him to stop, that this tantrum adds nothing to his function, that he's just half of an equation and that Modulus doesn't love Reed, that he's just desperately searching for a balance, something that equals him, which Reed cannot be because he will always be greater than Modulus.
Angered even furthered, Modulus claims that Reed will be his equal, that he will make him his equal by subtracting all the things he cares about, so that then he will love only Modulus. Reed tells Modulus that it won't work that way, because love is beyond division or subtraction, it's unquantifiable. The love Reed feels for his family, for his son, is something Modulus will never know, and Modulus sees the logic of the situation.
The mathematical equivalent made by Reed extends his arm and index finger at Modulus, and he does the same. The two touch fingers which causes sparks, and the two merge, finally balanced, and return to their home dimension.
Powers and Abilities
|“||Product: horizontal stratum. Analyzing formula... Factors: limestone, silicate, gravel, water. Dividing...||„|
|~ Modulus' first line, as he destroys the ground beneath Ben.|
Having been born from Reed Richards' incredibly potent PDA, given life by Franklin Richards, one of the most powerful mutates in history, and using Reed himself as a template, Modulus is immensely powerful. He possesses Reed's shapeshifting abilities as well as his genius intellect, though he never displays the full extent of these as Reed has done in the past, but seeing how he is also capable of warping reality, using Reed's abilities at their fullest wasn't one hundred percent necessary. In a way, what Modulus' main power does is break down anything he touches into their components (or, as the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe describes it, mathematical transmutation of elements) and either divide, use or multiply those components such as, for example, removing the oxygen in a closed area of the atmosphere or analyzing a two-story building and adding half a dozen more floors above.
Modulus is also seemingly indestructible. As a bloblike being, he can be struck by beings as powerful as Ben Grimm or withstand explosions the size of buildings and be split into thousands of pieces, but this only stops him for a second or two before regenerating back into his full body, and with the exception of one instance where the shock of Ben's punch hitting and being repelled by Sue's photon-based forcefield causing him something akin to mild stress on his body, Modulus appears incapable of feeling any pain.
Being an energy being, he can also transmit himself through electrical devices, such as the F4's comm-links and other pieces of technology.
According to Marvel's guidebooks (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and the Marvel Encyclopedia), Modulus' statistics vary depending on one or the other:
- Intelligence: In the Marvel Encyclopedia, he is listed as a 2, which is "Normal" intelligence. More accurately, in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he is listed as a 5, which is "Genius", only a level lower than Mr. Fantastic, befitting Modulus being a template of him, not a perfect copy but good enough to have exceptional intelligence, and Modulus' very profile says he possesses all of Reed Richards' knowledge.
- Strength: In both the Marvel Encyclopedia and the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he is listed as a 2, which is "Normal" strength, and by definition, able to lift his own bodyweight, though since both profiles say Modulus' weight is "Undetermined" or 0 lbs, that seems to imply Modulus has no strength whatsoever, which, with Mr. Fantastic (who is quite strong) as a template, doesn't make too much sense. Modulus doesn't showcase any outstanding feats of strength in the story, beyond possibly smashing through high-tech machinery.
- Speed: In the Marvel Encyclopedia, he is listed as a 3, making him "Superhuman". In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he is listed as a 6, equal to "Speed of Light". This isn't too farfetched as data travels extremely fast, though not at lightspeed as it's commonly thought. Combat-wise, Modulus was stated to be very fast, enough to outmanouver and catch each member of the Fantastic Four off-guard.
- Durability: In the Marvel Encyclopedia, he is listed as a 6, which is "Superhuman". In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he is at a level lower, a 5, making him "Bulletproof". In the story, even the strongest hits from an angry Ben Grimm weren't enough to do much against Modulus, thanks to his regenerative blob-like nature, and he survived a building-sized explosion with no apparent injury.
- Energy Projection: In the Marvel Encyclopedia, he is listed as a 0, meaning he lacks the ability to discharge energy. In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he's many levels higher, a 6, making him "Able to discharge multiple forms of energy". Technically speaking, Modulus himself is electrical energy and by extending his limbs or body he can manipulate whatever he touches, though it's not exactly energy he's projecting, like a beam or a wave, so arguably both ways to interpret it are correct.
- Fighting Skills: In the Marvel Encyclopedia, he is listed as a 2, making him "Normal" in terms of fighting ability and proficiency in hand-to-hand combat. In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, he's a level higher, a 3, meaning "Some training". By virtue of being a template of Reed Richards with all of his experience as a hero, this makes sense.
|“||Modulus: Product: Susan Richards.
Sue: No! Too fast -- ! Get off me! Get off--!
Modulus: Factors: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium.
|~ Modulus turns Sue's arm into gas.|
|“||Modulus: Product: Benjamin Grimm. Factors: oxygen, silicate, carbon, hydrogen.
|~ Modulus evaporates some of Ben's skin.|
|“||Modulus: Reciprocal: Reed Richards. Bring him to me.
Sue: No! You stay away from him! I will not let you hurt him!
Modulus: An irrelevant concern. He alone, of all of you, will be spared.
Sue: Of all of...? Why?
Modulus: Because I love him.
|~ Modulus and Sue at the end of Issue #62.|
|“||Product: photon-transparent energy sheath. Factors: identifying...||„|
|~ Modulus analyzes Sue's forcefield.|
|“||Modulus: Product: lifeform containment structure. Factors: concrete, steel, plaster. Dividing...
|~ Reed observes as Modulus disintegrates part of the base of the Baxter Building.|
|“||Modulus: Product: concentrated heat energy. Product: mobile vending cart. Adding...
Ben: Yeeoww! Johnny, cut the flame! Cut the flame!
Johnny: Which, I might add, leaves me with no weapon. Brrr. No wonder Reed's wigged by this guy.
Ben: It ain't just the resemblance. It's Stretcho's worst nightmare: an invention completely outta control.
|~ Modulus uses Johnny's flames against Ben as he battles them.|
|“||Johnny: Look. The one piece of Manhattan real estate without a Starbucks. You sure you want to take this smackdown inside?
Ben: An' away from civilians? Well, yeah.
Johnny: And when this Modulus guy brings the whole dump down on our pointy heads...?
Ben: Two story buildin'? Big deal. I lift sandwiches heavier'n that. The real question, junior, is... why ain't he takin' the bait?
Modulus: Product: structurally deficient edifice. Levels: two. Multiplying...
|~ Modulus brings an abandoned two-story-turned-fourteen-story building on top of Ben and Johnny.|
|“||Modulus: Unexpected factor: Creator (reciprocal). Sum of Creator and Modulus: One. One vector intersection forming a prime tangent -- for I love -- you -- [Modulus encounters Reed but realizes it's not really Reed.]
Reed: Product: an electrical simulacrum. My mathematical equivalent. Just. Like. You.
Modulus: Product: agrochemical germinator! Product: carbon nanotube forge! Product: genomic catalyst spectrolyzer! Dividing! Subtracting! DIVIDING!
Reed: NO! Stop! You're setting all of science back five years! More! This tantrum adds nothing to your function! You know what you are! The others were mistaken! You're not an equation -- only half of one! You don't "love" me! You're a mathematical expression desperately searching for a balance! For that which equals you! And that cannot be me -- because that will always be greater than you.
Modulus: You will be my equal! I will make you my equal!
Reed: How? When you "subtract" all the things I care about?
Modulus: Then you will love only me!
Reed: It doesn't work that way! That you think it does must prove to you that the imbalance between us is incalculable! You're talking about a critical -- and elusive -- variable that binds carbon-based lifeforms to one another! You cannot divide it... you cannot subtract it... because it is indefinable on your terms. Unquantifiable. I understand your longing, Modulus... but you will never know the love I have for my family. For my son.
|~ Reed defeats Modulus.|
|“||Sue: It was a walking, talking equation, Reed. "The sum of Reed's thoughts." It said it was in love with you. That it was your -- what was the word it used, Ben?
Ben: Mod... Modulus. That's it. What izzat?
Reed: In algebraic terms, it's the absolute value of a complex number.
Ben: There was nothin' in those eleven words that taught me anything.
Reed: No matter, it sounds as though the term was meant more figuratively than literally.
|~ Sue and Ben inform Reed of Modulus.|
|“||Reed: Modulus. The description each of you gave of him was almost the death of us.
Sue: He's a walking equation!
Reed: No, he's not. In fact, in all the formulae racing across his skin, did you once see an equal sign? No. He entered my mind for a split second before Johnny severed the connection. I know him intimately. Modulus is an expression, not an equation.
Sue: How could that possibly be an important difference?
Reed: How? An equation requires two expressions that balance one another. Modulus is seeking me out because he thinks I'm his only equal.
|~ Reed describes Modulus' nature.|
|“||Relax, you two. I sent Modulus away. He won't bother us any more.||„|
|~ Reed to Ben and Johnny.|
- Modulus was the first new major Fantastic Four villain in the 1998 series as well as the first new Fantastic Four villain co-created by the late Mike Wieringo.
- The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe states that due to Modulus' experiences on Earth, he would've been unequal to the newly-created Modulus and thus their equations would have resulted in a lesser Modulus which could one day return. However, due to Mike Wieringo's passing, many ideas he had planned were unable to be printed or realized, one of these may have included the return of Modulus.