By Byron Brewer
Fire hotter than the flames of a million exploding suns. Ice colder than the deepest bowels of Niflheim. Powers that combine in an entity whose sole concern is the well-being of his people, the survival of his world. He has faced Norse gods, Kree soldiers and cosmic Avengers for his cause, but this powerful being has only known a villain’s lot, a captive’s life, been played as a pawn.
How can Norrin Radd, who derived great cosmic power in the act of saving his world, know a hero’s reputation, a nobility of true grandeur when fate has cast such a shadow over the guardian of Garamos, the man called Mercurio the 4-D Man?
Like Rodney Dangerfield, this poor dude just doesn’t get any respect!
In most of his encounters with the cosmic denizens of the Marvel U., Mercurio – one of the best designed characters to come forth from the House of Ideas, IMO – has lived a villain’s life. Yet even as was the case with the noble Sub-Mariner when he returned to the world in Fantastic Four #4, there is a determination, a dedication to his manner that tells the reader that somewhere behind the anger lies not a super-villain but a good man, a man of principles, a man of purpose.
This is probably best displayed in the 4-D Man’s second adventure with the thunder god Thor. The founding Avenger and his faithful companions, the Warriors Three – Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg – were on a quest to rescue the missing Sif (betrothed of Thor) and Karnilla (Queen of the Norns). The goddesses were found imprisoned within the God-Jewel, Xorr.
It had been Xorr who teleported Mercurio back to the planet Garamos from Earth, where he had been sealed previously in molten iron by Asgardians. The 4-D Man attacked the God-Jewel to steal its vaunted cosmic energies for the survival of his home world.
(Mercurio had originally journeyed to Earth to make use of our planet’s electromagnetic field in order to – again! – save Garamos. This both put him at odds with Thor and transformed him into a half-negative being capable of performing new superhuman feats with fire and ice. Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake in one package, if you will.)
Thor found himself allied with his former enemy and together the son of Odin and Mercurio defeated Xorr. The protector of Garamos then collected the fragments which made up Xorr and returned to his home planet.
Parallels to the Silver Surfer aside, Mercurio – like Namor, like the Hulk, like Spider-Man – has performed heroic acts while shrouded in a villain’s cowl. As Drax and Gamora have been brought over from the “dark side,” surely it is time for Mercurio to take his place, his earned and rightful spot in Marvel Universe’s pantheon of cosmic champions.
He’s gone toe-to-toe with Thor. Could the 4-D Man be that heavy-hitter the Guardians of the Galaxy have been lacking?