Appearing in "The End of the Inhumans... and the Fantastic Four"
- Luigi Cantalopé (First appearance)
- Chuck Barris (First appearance)
- Arte Johnson (First appearance)
- Jaye P. Morgan (First appearance)
- Jamie Farr (First appearance)
- Ramses II
- Nova (Richard Rider) (Recap)
Synopsis for "The End of the Inhumans... and the Fantastic Four"
Chapter One: Hither Comes... Crystal!
Johnny Storm, with much fanfare, is about to test a new rocket-powered racing car at the Nassau County Race Track. He had been working on the vehicle "for months" with a mechanic named Ted. who Is at the track with him. After the photographer finishes, Johnny climbs in, turns on the ignition, and flashes away. The car, which he named the Jet Streak, functions perfectly—as Johnny, who used Reed's computers In designing It, knew it would. Suddenly Crystal and Lockjaw materialize in the back seat. There is a crisis in the Great Refuge, she says, and the Inhumans need Johnny's help at once. Before Johnny can nod his agreement, Lockjaw quickly teleports all of them away, leaving the driverless car to smash in flames into the retaining wall.
In Attilan, Crystal explains that the Great Refuge has been rebuilt into a fortress and that her husband. Quicksilver, and all the other members of the Royal Family have been taken prisoner. Johnny flames on and flies over the city, but he is quickly struck by an energy bolt from an ion cannon by Thraxon, the traitorous Inhuman responsible for the crisis. Johnny falls to the ground uninjured and shatters the cannon with a flame bolt; but Thraxon protects himself behind an invulnerable shield. Then Crystal tries, without success, to break through the shield with lightning and a tornado. Gloating, Thraxon enlarges his "power force" until it encircles all of Attilan. At this point, Crystal tells Johnny that they must find his teammates. Without them, Attilan and the world are doomed, she says.
Chapter Two: Hollywood, Here We Are!
Johnny's three teammates happen to be on the set of a movie studio in Hollywood, complaining about certain script changes in a Fantastic Four movie. The producer, Lorenzo, has decided to write out the Human Torch because the special effects would be too expensive, but he has also spent $10 million on a 15-foot robot replica of the Thing. It's a complete waste of money, declares Ben. because he would have appeared m the movie in person for only two or three million dollars. Sue complains that the actress they hired to play her looks nothing like her, and her costume Is far too skimpy. Lorenzo, unfortunately, thinks the script Is magnificent as it stands, and he ignores their complaints. Just then, Luigi Cantaiopo, the designer of the Thing robot, decides to test its hydraulic lifts, against the better judgment of Kanto, his assistant. The robot goes out of control and dumps the actress playing Sue on the floor, and then it goes on a rampage through the studio. Studio personnel scatter as the Fantastic Four go after the robot, and Ben starts to pummel it. Unfortunately, the robot throws him through a wall onto the set of The Gong Show, where the taping of a new act—Walter, the Dancing Plastic Surgeon—has just begun. Pandemonium reigns as Ben and the robot reduce the set to a shambles. Finally Ben decapitates the robot by hurling the show's gong through its neck, and then he knocks-it to the .floor with a final, powerful blow. But before he can even take a bow. Crystal, Johnny, and Lockjaw materialize behind him and whisk him, Reed, and Sue to Attilan. Completely cool throughout the interruption, the Gong Show panelists vote Ben's "act" a "6."
On the outskirts of Attilan, Crystal explains how the Royal Family were taken prisoner. Thraxon, she begins, tried to organize the rebuilding of Attilan after It had been destroyed, but Quicksilver opposed him, saying that Black Bolt, who was absent with the rest of the Royal Family, would never approve Thraxon's plan to turn-the Great Refuge into a fortress. Unfortunately, Thraxon managed to persuade most of the other Inhumans that his plan was correct and that Quicksilver and the Royal Family were enemies of the people for standing against him. Crystal and-Quicksilver resisted capture until a strange, ruby-red ray blasted them Into unconscious. When he and she recovered, she continues, they were in prison, and when the rest of the Royal Family returned to Attilan, their hovercraft was destroyed by Thraxon's ion cannon. Black Bolt and Medusa saved their cousins from a fatal plunge, but Thraxon knocked out Gorgon and Medusa almost as soon as they hit the ground. Then, declaring that he would destroy Crystal if they used their powers against him, Thraxon held his antagonists at bay. Suddenly Lockjaw leaped at Thraxon and vanished, distracting him long enough to materialize next to Crystal and teleport her and himself to the Baxter Building. There, says Crystal, they found the mailman, who directed them to the race track where Johnny was test-driving his new rocket car. Now, she concludes, Thraxon has created an impenetrable shield around the city, keeping them out and her family In.
Ben nearly breaks his hand trying to shatter the shield, and he is equally unsuccessful when he uses a tree as a club. Reed explains that brute force is probably not the way through the barrier, but before he can try his way, Sue steps in. Just as she can create invisible force fields, she says, she can also uncreate them, and after a formidable mental effort, she manages to destroy the shield, nearly rendering herself unconscious.
Chapter Three: Battle For the Great Refuge!
With the barrier down, the Fantastic Four, Crystal, and Lockjaw rush into the Refuge and soon encounter Thraxon. Before they can attack him, he points out a large spacecraft that was disguised as a Great Refuge building. As the six companions watch, the ship takes off, and Reed can see that It is propelled by no known solid or liquid fuel. This is correct, declares Thraxon. The ship Is actually powered by Black Bolt's "neuron energy," and Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, and Quicksilver are imprisoned inside it. "The Dreaded One," continues Thraxon, created the spaceship because he needed the Inhumans, and he gave Thraxon his ionic power for helping build the trap. Johnny sees Crystal's sorrow at the loss of Quicksilver, and he tries to fly after the ship. Unfortunately, his flame dies for lack of oxygen when he flies too high, and he Is forced to return. Thraxon, meanwhile, prepares to use his power against Johnny's teammates, but he discovers to his chagrin that it is gone. Seeing that "the Dreaded One" is through with Thraxon. Reed slams him to the ground, and the treacherous Inhuman tries to flee. But Reed wraps him up with his arm, saying that Thraxon has been abandoned by whoever the Dreaded One is. He tries to force Thraxon to reveal the Dreaded One's identity, but Thraxon is nearly insane after his ordeal and is quite incoherent.
Crystal despairs of ever seeing her loved ones again, but Reed and Johnny vow not to forsake her. Using Lockjaw, they all teleport to the Baxter Building and launch themselves into space aboard the Fantastic Four's passenger rocket.
Chapter Four: ... And Into -- Space!
The rocket follows the Dreaded One's spaceship into orbit, and when he sees mat they have located him, he turns on a tractor beam and draws them inside. Now, he says, he snarl have "five more specimens" to test before he turns his attention to the entire planet Earth. As the companions disembark into the Dreaded One's ship. Crystal says that she watched Thraxon build it. but she never suspected it was anything like this. Reed says that the builder of the ship is truly a genius.
Chapter Five: The Sphinx!
At this, their unseen foe enters and introduces himself as the Sphinx, and declares them all his prisoners. Then, as they stand dumbfounded, he relates his story. Thousands of years ago, he begins, he was the chief wizard at the court of Ramses, the great Egyptian pharaoh. He was ordered to battle the Hebrew prophet Moses in a test of power. Both he and Moses transformed their staffs Into serpents, but Moses's serpent consumed his. and he was judged to have lost. For this failure, the wizard was permanently banished from Egypt. He wandered through the desert for 90 years, until he came across a hidden temple. He entered its emerald gates and discovered the flaming Ka, or Spirit Stone. Speaking to his mind, the jewel instructed him to wear it on his head like a crown, and when he did, he was reborn as the no-longer-human Sphinx. Now he is over 5.000 years old, apparently immortal and invincible, and he is searching for something that he calls "the Answer"—a search that recently brought him into conflict with a person known as Nova. Nova held part of what me Sphinx was searching for in his mind, but the Sphinx was unable to steal it. so he continued to search until he found me Great Refuge.
There he discovered Thraxon, to whom he granted temporary powers to lure the other, more powerful Inhumans to him. He also learned that within Black Bolt lay one of the mightiest power sources in the universe, so he created the spaceship as an amplifier that will use Black Bolt's electron energy to assimilate the minds of everyone on Earth. Within one of those minds, says the Sphinx, he will surely find his Answer. No sooner does the Sphinx conclude his narrative than Ben attacks, but his pounding fists are useless as the Sphinx hurts him with a single thought through the spaceship's wall into outer space. Sue quickly surrounds him with a protective force field and starts to bring him back, while Crystal prepares to seal the hole with her elemental power. Johnny bathes the Sphinx in flame, but me Sphinx knocks him away with a swipe of his arm. Then, as Lockjaw quietly teleports Into the chamber where Black Bolt and the Royal Family are imprisoned.
Crystal attacks me Sphinx with force blasts. The Sphinx declares that her mind does not contain the secret he is searching for, but as he prepares to "eliminate" her, Reed wraps him up in his body and deflects his thought blast into the floor. When both Reed and Johnny attack, the Sphinx finds that he cannot keep track of all his antagonists and still retain control of the ship. He is impressed with their teamwork, but then he bathes them with his full cosmic energy and hurls them all out of the ship after Ben. Sue expands her force field to protect all five of them from the harsh vacuum of outer space. Then the Sphinx throws a switch to turn on the machine that will rip away the minds of all Earth's people, but much to his surprise nothing happens. When Karnak suddenly attacks, the Sphinx turns to find his former prisoners—Black Bolt. Gorgon, Triton, Karnak. Medusa, and Quicksilver—accompanied by Lockjaw, arrayed before him. Triton attacks, but the Sphinx disables him by siphoning the moisture from his body with his touch and dehydrating him. Medusa tries to wrap him up in her hair, but he swings her around by it and hurls her away. Quicksilver simply rebounds ineffectually off his force field, while. Gorgon's powerful feet similarly prove useless. The Sphinx declares that power alone cannot defeat him. He brought down the Roman Empire singlehandedly, he says, and through his influence, he turned Europe into a system of warrior states. His power changed the course of history in his search for the Answer, and it is inconceivable that they can stop him by themselves just when he is about to attain his quest. Then he sweeps the Inhumans away with a blast from the Ka-Stone on his head.
Black Bolt, however, stands his ground and counterattacks with an electron blast that stuns the Sphinx, who cannot understand why he did not sense Black Bolt's approach. Then he staggers the Sphinx with a punch. The Sphinx sees that Black Bolt Is nearly as powerful as himself, and briefly, considers offering him a partnership, but then he decides that this kind of power cannot be shared, and he fires a mental bolt at the monarch of Attilan. But Black Bolt inundates the Sphinx with a barrage of electron blasts until the Sphinx is pitched out of the spaceship and hurtles away into space. As Black Bolt recovers, the Inhumans see the Fantastic Four and Crystal floating nearby, and Medusa extends a lifeline of hair toward them. Sue drops the protective shield long enough for them to grasp the line, and they are quickly drawn into the ship. Reed sees the hole in the ship's bulkhead made when the Sphinx was hurled out, and he marvels that any air remains in the ship to breathe. Then he sees Black Bolt melting the ship's wall back together and realizes that he must have somehow held the air inside with his electron power. The twelve heroes (including Lockjaw) celebrate their victory, and after the ship sets down, they part company on the roof of the Baxter Building. Crystal kisses Johnny on the cheek, saying she will always consider him her friend, and Johnny, at last, is reconciled with his rival, Quicksilver. Then the Inhumans teleport back to the Great Refuge, having much to rebuild after Thraxon's treachery.
- This story has some continuity issues in terms of when it was published and when it can be placed in the Fantastic Four's chronology. Originally published in November of 1977, this story came out the same month as Fantastic Four #188. At that point in Fantastic Four continuity, Reed had completely lost the use of his powers in Fantastic Four #178 and at the end of this story, Reed decides to break up the Fantastic Four, a break-up that lasts until Fantastic Four #196 when the group was brought back together by Doctor Doom. Reed subsequently gets his powers restored in Fantastic Four #197. Sources place this story as happening just after page 3 of Fantastic Four #202 after the Fantastic Four return from Latveria but have not yet moved back into the Baxter Building, which they vacated in Fantastic Four #191. Here are some facts supporting this continuity placement:
- Why this story can't fit in place earlier than Fantastic Four #188:
- As stated above, Reed had lost the full use of his powers in Fantastic Four #178, this was a gradual loss of powers that began in Fantastic Four #157. In this particular story, Reed is shown using his powers without any apparent difficulty or lack of ability. Particularly the use of both of his arms. Reed lost the ability to stretch his left arm in Fantastic Four #171.
- Likewise, prior to that, Ben had lost his powers from Fantastic Four #167–Fantastic Four #175, in this story, Ben appears to have his full powers and is not wearing the exoskeleton he wore during that period without his powers.
- Additionally, the Fantastic Four were off on Counter-Earth between Fantastic Four #171–175.
- What supports this story happening around Fantastic Four #201:
- Johnny is shown racing cars, which was a hobby he took back up again in Fantastic Four #192 after the team broke up.
- Likewise the rest of the team was in Hollywood to oversee a disastrous Fantastic Four film treatment. Sue attempted an acting career between Fantastic Four #191–196. In fact, she was working for the Sub-Mariner's Imperial Studios, which Namor left at the end of Fantastic Four #195.
- During this time this story was published the Inhumans were still in the midst of the War of the Three Galaxies depicted in Inhumans #1–12 and Captain Marvel #53 their next chronological appearance after that was in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #11. Those events were all happening simultaneously to when the Fantastic Four were off on Counter-Earth, given the Inhumans sought out the Fantastic Four with little success in Inhumans #3 and most of the rest of the story line took place in space.
- Despite all this, there is still a slight continuity glitch here: the inclusion of the Baxter Building as the FF's headquarters. It is briefly seen as the take off place of the Fantastic Four's rocket when they go into space in this story. Technically, they don't move back into the Baxter Building until later in Fantastic Four #202. It could be assumed that while the Baxter Building was vacant at the time, Reed's rocket wasn't removed from the property.
- Why this story can't fit in place earlier than Fantastic Four #188:
- Johnny once again rehashes the fact that he and Crystal used to be a couple. This lasted from Fantastic Four #65–105 when Crystal was forced to return to Attilan due to pollution in the outside world. She met and fell in love with Quicksilver as seen in Fantastic Four #132–133. They got married in Fantastic Four #150.
- Attilan was rebuilt into a fortress here after Black Bolt accidentally screamed, decimating the entire kingdom while a prisoner of the Kree in Inhumans #5.
- Ben crashing the Gong Show and the appearances of Chuck Barris, Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan and Arte Johnson should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- At the time of this story everyone, including Pietro himself, believed that he is a mutant in nature. However as revealed in Uncanny Avengers (Vol. 2) #4, Pietro's powers originated from experiments conducted on him as an infant by the High Evolutionary. In order to cover his tracks, he made it so that Pietro's powers would register as a natural mutation, as opposed to his genetic tampering.
- This is the first time the Sphinx has clashed with the Fantastic Four. Some facts about his appearance here:
- His origin is rehashed from its original telling in Nova #7
- He recounts his last battle against the hero called Nova from Nova #11.
- The answer that the Sphinx is looking for is how to avoid his intended fate. This fate is finally revealed to the reader in Fantastic Four #213. That story reveals that on top of being immortal, the Sphinx's life has run in a perpetual loop thanks to Galactus.
- Bob Hall penciled pages 1-22, Keith Pollard penciled pages 23-46.
- Marie Severin inked the likenesses in the fifth and sixth panels on page 14.
- The producer Dino Lorenzo seems to be a caricature of Dino De Laurentiis.
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