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Quote1 Whenever the Shadow Hunters roam... ...the Fantastic Four will ever wish them well! Quote2
-- Mr. Fantastic

Appearing in "The Keys to the Kingdom"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Mentions:

Locations:

Items:

  • Throwing stars
  • Solomon's seals

Vehicles:

  • Maiden Voyage

Synopsis for "The Keys to the Kingdom"

The Fantastic Four are out enjoying a boat ride on the Hudson River with their ally Alyssa Moy. Watching from the shore are Alysande Stuart and Valeria von Doom who are watching Franklin while the others have their fun. Suddenly a massive and horrific creature appears in the sky and the Fantastic Four's boat is smashed to pieces by a mystical bolt. Valeria then erects an invisible barrier across the shore to block the mystical bolt from striking the building there. Out of the maelstrom comes the Fantastic Four and Alyssa who are being pulled in by the Invisible Woman via an invisible force field. Although the Fantastic Four survived the blast, Alyssa is unconscious. After hearing Franklin's recounting of how he saw a "charcoal man" during the attack, Reed rushes Alyssa down to his lab for examination. Much to Reed's surprise there is nothing physically wrong with her that would constitute her being in a coma. In the next room Johnny watches as Valeria and Franklin play. Watching this, Johnny admits to his sister that he doesn't totally trust Valeria due to her apparent father being Doctor Doom. Reed soon exits his lab and informs them that he cause of Alyssa's condition is due to magic. While they begin wondering why she was attacked, Valeria reveals that she hacked into Alyssa's database. Although Sue scolds her for this invasion of privacy, Valeria says she only did it to help Alyssa out. She then pulls up data Alyssa was compiling on the legendary Hellfire Club and how the Inner Circle is currently under the control of a woman named Selene. Reed is familiar with the club and its attempts at mutant dominion of the world.

Because this is a mystical problem, Reed starts placing calls to his allies who are adept at magic. There is no reply at Agatha Harkness' home in Whisper Hill, and a call to Avengers Mansion leads Reed to learn that the Scarlet Witch is presently away on team business. As the Avengers butler Jarvis offers to take information down, neither he nor Reed are aware that someone is listening into their conversation form within a barn in West Texas, and that this unseen listener is paying attention when Jarvis suggests that Reed contact Daimon Hellstrom. Although both the Thing and Valeria become aware that someone is hacking into their line, Reed allows it to continue when he contacts Doctor Strange. He reaches Strange's servant, Wong, who tells him that the Doctor is out and he recommends that they contact Margali Szardos. Recalling that this is the woman who helped them against the Ruined, Reed decides that they should liberate her from the French government. When Ben asks if they should be concerned over whoever was tapping their line, Reed suggests they let it go to see who their mystery spy is.

At that moment in Paris, Selene is walking the streets when she is approached by a jogger. When she seduces him into coming closer she uses a mystical artifact to steal his soul and replace it with that of a demon, putting the man into her thrall. The man, Bruno Delor, is a guard at Ile De Cite, the oldest prison in France and specially constructed to contain those with mystical abilities, this is where Margali Szardos is being held prisoner after being arrested by the French authorities. As "Bruno" begins enthralling other guards, the Fantastic Four have arrived and are bring brought to Margali's cell by their ally Rone. However when they open her cell the assassins begin to attack. Margali manages to warn them fast enough for Sue to erect an invisible force field around the cell. However in the ensuing battle, "Bruno" uses the device to steal the souls of the Fantastic Four. But before their souls can be replaced by those of demons a mysterious being called Mechamage teleports into the room and uses specially mystical siguls to block the transfer, saving the Fantastic Four from demonic possession. While the Fantastic Four hold the demonically possessed guards at bay, Mechamage uses her skills to crack the mystical bonds in Margali's cells allowing her to harness her magical powers and dispose of their attackers. Travelling through Limbo, Margali transports the group to collect Alyssa's body and then bring her to Margali's circus Der Jahrmarkt.

After examining Alyssa, Margali informs the Fantastic Four that she is dying, and that they are as well, only due to their enhanced abilities they are enduring a much slower process. A cure is beyond the skills of both Margali or Mechamage. The Fantastic Four figure the solution to their problem resides within the Hellfire Club and resolve to get in and find the antidote. They suggest that the only one with the skill that can help them is Hellstrom, who according to Moy's files was traced to the Hellfire Club before he went missing. As Reed begins making adjustments to the mechanical components of Mechamage's mystical armor, Margali trains the Fantastic Four on how to defend themselves against magic. Later, while taking abreak, Johnny goes for a swim and comes across Mechamage meditating. When Johnny goes to relax on a glade, Mechamage comes up behind him and begins rubbing his back. Although Johnny likes it, she begs him not to look and he agrees to just enjoy the moment.

Later, Mister Fantastic and Mechamage (disguised as Alyssa) infiltrate the Hellfire Club's Halloween party using an invitation sent to her. They are soon led into the basement along with the other guests where Selene announces the arrival of their new master, the demon Blackheart. When Blackheart begins transforming the other guests into demons, Mechamage protects herself and Reed, blowing their cover. While they fight off the demon hordes, Reed opens the door out allowing the rest of the Fantastic Four and Margali entrance into the Club. In the ensuing battle Blackheart sucks both Margali and Sue into his body. Mechamage then dives in and uses her technomystical armor to fight through the demonic mass and not only frees the two women, but Hellstrom as well. Hellstrom, Mechamage and Margali then combine their mystical powers to summon the four elements, utilizing the Fantastic Four as channels for each. In utilizing these elements they create massive statues in the forms of the Thing (earth), Mister Fantastic (water), Invisible Woman (wind), and the Human Torch (fire). These four statues create a binding spell that banishes Blackheart from this plane of existence, foiling Selene's plans.

Back at Pier Four, the Fantastic Four learn from Alyssa Moy that she is going to return with Margali, Hellstrom, and Mechamage as they have formed a group called the Shadow Hunters for the purpose of fighting evil supernatural forces. As they teleport away, the Fantastic Four wish them all the best on their future endeavors.

Notes

Continuity Notes

  • Jarvis states that the Scarlet Witch is busy on Avengers business at the time of this story. At the time the Avengers were battling Ultimo in the page of Iron Man Vol 3 #25.
  • Mention is made to how Hellstrom was married to Hellcat, a former Avenger. Some facts about this: Hellcat had a short tenure with the Avengers from Avengers #144-151. She married Hellstrom in Defenders #125. However what Jarvis doesn't mention is that at the time of this story Hellcat is dead, as seen in Hellstorm #14. She is resurrected not long after this story, as seen in Thunderbolts Annual #2000.
  • The Fantastic Four mention how Margali Szardos helped them during their battle against the Ruined, after which she was detained by the French authorities as seen in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #20.
  • Although seemingly banished at the end of the story, Blackheart is still trapped within the basement of the Hellfire Club as seen in X-Force #98. Blackheart does manage to get free, as seen in X-Infernus #1, although an explanation is not provided.
  • The Shadow Hunters prove to be incredibly short lived as they are not seen together again as a group after this story. Mechamage and Margali are seen again together in Maximum Security #3, Hellstrom later went on to resurrect his wife in Thunderbolts Annual #2000.

See Also

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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