Appearing in "The Torch is Passed"
- 🢐 Morgan Le Fay 🢒
- Inhumans Genetic Council
- Lord Moses 🢒
- Elizabeth Alvarez (Possibly Zarathustra 🢒. See Continuity Notes)
- Crimson Cadre (Only in flashback)
- Ultron (Only in flashback)
- Wizard (Only in flashback)
- Kofi Whitemane (Only in flashback)
- New York City
- Atlantic Ocean
- Texas (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "The Torch is Passed"
This story happens during the events of Fantastic Four #401...
After stunning the members of Fantastic Force with the possibility that Huntara might be his long-lost sister Elizabeth, Paul tells the tragic tale: Fifteen years earlier in south Texas, Paul and his family were out camping. One night Paul woke to find his sister leaving their camp. He then witnessed her being led into a portal by an armored being. When this recollection is finished, Huntara tells Alvarez that he is mistaken and she is not his sister. Psi-Lord is not entirely sold on this idea, reminding her how easily it is for his grandfather, Nathaniel Richards, to snatch a child out of time and space. However, Huntara still refuses to be related by a mere newspaper reporter. Paul refuses to give up hope and Psi-Lord believes they need to pay a visit to his grandfather anyway suspecting he has some involvement in their recent battle against the Crimson Cadre. Franklin then uses his psi-powers to track down the location of his grandfather by probing minds across the world. He detects his grandfather's mind still in Latveria but his powers suddenly short out, but he is caught by Lyja. Huntara warns her nephew against taxing his powers too much as he has been doing lately as she fears there will be grave repercussions. Soon Huntara opens a portal to Latveria using her Psi-Scythe, sending the whole team and Lyja through.
Meanwhile at the recently risen Atlantis, Morgan Le Fay finishes her deal with the Inhuman Genetic Council, and prepares to send Thor, who is under her thrall, to reclaim the shrunken city of Attilan for the Council. Thor is sent after the Fantastic Four's Stealth-Hawk, but Morgan's mystical scan reveals that the bottled city of Attilan is not there. She then uses her power to revive her other minion, Triton of the Inhumans, to go and collect it for her.
At that moment in Latveria, Nathaniel Richards has trouble of his own -- namely the Human Torch still affected by brainwashing carried out by Maximus the Mad -- who he was forced to bring back to his castle while in the process of stealing Attilan. Richards sets his loyal Servo-Guards upon the Torch, but he easily incinerates them with a nova blast. It's at this moment that the Fantastic Force arrives on the scene. Seeing the battle, Franklin demands to know what is going on. The Torch attacks in response, sending the entire team smashing through the castle walls and out into the streets of Latveria. While the Torch is busy fighting Fantastic Force, Nathaniel decides to take this opportunity to further his goals and turns himself invisible. The team is no match for the Torch in his frenzied state, so Psi-Lord decides to try other measures. Dropping his Psycho-Armor, Franklin then attacks Johnny telepathically, probing his mind until he finally breaks the brainwashing done to him by Maximus.
With Johnny free from the mind control, the team regroups and notes that Huntara had gone astray during the fight. Their teammate had backtracked to the castle, and sees right through Nathaniel's cloak of invisibility. Having been shaken by Paul Alvarez's tale, she demands to know who she really is. Nathaniel tells her to look within herself and she will find all the answers, his cryptic response only making her more furious. However before she can attack him the rest of Fantastic Force arrive. Psi-Lord tells Huntara to stand down and then unloads on Nathaniel, having become fed up of being manipulated as well. Nathaniel warns Franklin that where his father and Doctor Doom have fallen, he and his team must step up for the great evil that will soon be upon them. Fed up of the manipulations, Franklin refuses to follow Nathaniel's lead. Nathaniel responds by blasting his grandson with his cybernetic eye, causing Franklin's psi-powers to flare out of control.
While Fantastic Force is distracted, Nathaniel makes a grab for the bottle city of Attilan but is attacked by the arriving Triton. When Triton wrests the bottle from Nathaniel's hands and flees, he follows after Triton into the puff of smoke that is teleporting him away again. Meanwhile, Franklin manages to get his powers back under control. Suddenly a small child calls out for his "Uncle Johnny," and the group is shocked to find a younger version of Franklin -- dressed in his Tattletale costume -- has suddenly appeared among them.
- The teenage Franklin seen here was delivered to the modern age by Nathaniel Richards from Earth-6311 to replace his Earth-616 counterpart. This occurred in Fantastic Four #376. Although everyone reacts as though this is Earth-616's Franklin all grown up, the young Franklin is returned in Fantastic Four #413. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #14 confirms that they are separate entities. Franklin believes that his mission was to stop the Dark Raider from destroying the Fantastic Four as explained in Fantastic Four #387, however this is part of a larger scheme to stop Hyperstorm that is not realized until Fantastic Four #414.
- Paul Alvarez has suspected that Huntara is his sister since Fantastic Force #3. While this story suggests that Paul's sister could either be Huntara or Zarathustra, it is left unanswered as Fantastic Force was cancelled soon after this issue. This conflicts with Fantastic Four #392 where Huntara states that she is Franklin's aunt.
- Franklin mentions their battle with the Crimson Cadre from last issue. They attacked Earth in retaliation when Nathaniel accidentally set off a trap within the Watcher's Citadel, directly threatening Attilan. Attilan was later rescued from the moon by the Fantastic Four who shrunk it down in size. This all happened in Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #1.
- Huntara mentions how she is sworn to kill Franklin if his powers are to flare out of control. She first stated this in Fantastic Force #5.
- The Genetics Council mention how the petitioned Morgan le Fay to recover Attilan so they can restore it to its natural size on the risen island. That happened in Fantastic Four #401. It was also in that tale where Johnny was brainwashed by Maximus and was kidnapped when Nathaniel stole Attilan from the Fantastic Four.
- There are multiple references to Doctor Doom and Mister Fantastic being dead. This is a reference to their apparent demise in Fantastic Four #381. In reality, they are prisoners of Hyperstorm, the threat that Nathaniel is preparing for, as seen in Fantastic Four #406–407.
- Lyja refers to Johnny as her husband.. This is not entirely accurate at this point and a very complicated matter. As revealed in Fantastic Four #358, Lyja posed as Alicia Masters (circa Fantastic Four #265) in order to spy on the Fantastic Four for the Skrulls. Pursuing a relationship with Johnny, they eventually got married in Fantastic Four #300. The reality was exposed in Fantastic Four #357, after the real Alicia was rescued, he filed for a divorce in Fantastic Four #362. Lyja returned to Johnny's side circa Fantastic Four #374 claiming she was pregnant, and the two rekindled their romance. This lasted until it was revealed in Fantastic Four #390 that she was carrying a Sha'Barri egg to slay the Fantastic Four, Johnny cut things off. However Lyja has recently been posing as Laura Greene and dating Johnny since Fantastic Four #392.
- While under the mental influence of brainwashing, Johnny thinks that the members of Fantastic Force are constructs of Doctor Doom that he refers to as "Sporoid Men". This actually a reference to the 1967 Fantastic Four cartoon. In the episode The Three Predictions of Doctor Doom Doctor Doom uses Sporoid Men to attack the Fantastic Four.
- The memories that Franklin unearths in Johnny mind are:
- When Johnny was travelling to recover the Ultimate Nullifier from the Worldship of Galactus from Fantastic Four #49.
- A battle between Johnny and the Wizard... Johnny has been an enemy of the Wizard since Strange Tales #102. However this recollection must be after the Wizard first adopted his costumed guise circa Fantastic Four #36.
- Johnny entertaining Franklin shortly after his birth is a scene from Fantastic Four #88 when Franklin is first named.
- The image of Franklin destroying Ultron is from Fantastic Four #150 when he prevented the robot from crashing Crystal and Quicksilver's wedding.
- Franklin in his Tattletale guise with Kofi Whitemane is from a period after young Franklin joined the Power Pack (Circa Power Pack #16) This memory is from Power Pack #24–25 when Franklin and Kofi saved their friends from the Zn'rx.
- The appearance of Tattletale at the end of this story does not signal the return of the Franklin of Earth-616, this is actually a mental construct as revealed next issue. It is based on Franklin's tenure with the Power Pack which lasted from Power Pack #16–62.