Appearing in "Back to the Negative Zone!"
- Fantastic Four
- Thor (Only in flashback)
Races and Species:
- Cosmic Control Rod
- Mjolnir (Only in flashback)
- S.T.A.N. (Space/Time Analyzer/Navigator) (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Back to the Negative Zone!"
An alarm goes off in the Four Freedoms Plaza alerting Mister Fantastic of some strange pulse coming from the Annihilation Area of the Negative Zone. Gathering up the rest of the Fantastic Four and his Space/Time Analyzer/Navigator device, Reed hopes to examine the phenomenon fearing it may destabilize the Negative Zone and destroy the positive mater universe as well. As they approach the Annihilation Zone, they have to fight off strange jelly-fish like creatures. When they reach the area, Ben is about to offload his equipment when they are suddenly attacked by Blastaar and some of his Baluurian warriors. Trying to avoid the S.T.A.N. from getting damaged, Reed, Sue and Johnny go into battle while Ben stays back and takes readings from the Annihilation Area. During the battle both the Human Torch and Invisible Woman are taken prisoner by Blastaar and his men who then escape. Reed is forced to go back and rescue Ben before he can be pulled into the center of the zone and be destroyed.
Suddenly they are visited by a ship carrying Annihilus and his minions. Annihilus orders his drones to kill his two enemies. However learning that Blastaar was in the region as well, Annihilus ceases hostilities and invites his enemies on board his ship, recovering the S.T.A.N. before it can be destroyed as well. When Reed explains that they came to investigate the strange pulses coming out of the Annihilation Zone, Annihilus believes that their source must be tied into the Tyannans. He explains the Tyannans were an ancient race who had reach a untopian age and sought to populate the Negative Zone with intelligent life. He explains how a Tyannian ship crash landed on the world of his birth and they released all the cultures they created to spread life on the planet. Eventually Annihilus evolved out of one of of them. He gained intelligence from accessing the memory banks of the Tyannian ship, becoming the nihilist that he is today. Annihilus then recounts how more recently he was seemingly slain by Thor in battle. Although the thunder god left his empty army in the aftermath of the battle, Annihilus reformed his body stronger and more powerful than ever before. Realizing that they may all be destroyed by the vortex and needing to penetrate it in order to find out what is causing the strange pulses, Annihilus agrees that an alliance with both the Fantastic Four and Blastaar is in order.
They plot a course of Blastaar's homeworld of Baluur where they convince both Blastaar and Annihilus to work togeather. Reed then constructs a helmet for Blastaar that connects with the Cosmic Control Rod to create an aura around them so that they can pass through the Annihilation Zone without being destroyed. They then travel back to the center of the Negative Zone and pass through the barrier. However there is not enough power within the Cosmic Control Rod to help them pass through various dimensions to the other side, so Sue has to erect a force field to protect them from danger. Soon they pass through to the otherside and find the world of the Tyannans. Suddenly they are attacked by the Tyannans who, as it turns out, are under the command of the evil Reed Richards from Counter-Earth who has been lost in the Negative Zone for quite some time. The Counter-Earth Reed explains that after he seemingly sacrificed his life to return the Cosmic Control Rod to Annihilus he threw himself into the Anti-Matter Zone in the hopes of dying, but was rescued by the Tyannans who live within it. He then subjugated them in the hopes of conquering the Negative Zone then his own universe. He takes the intruders prisoner and as his first show of force pilots a ship back into regular Negative Zone space and launches an attack on Baluur. However the Fantastic Four break free and during the course of the battle the enthralled Tyannans are suddenly pulled back into the Distortion Zone, leaving the Counter-Earth Reed Richards alone to battle his counterpart.
As the two Reed's battle it out, Blastaar and Annihilus decide it is time to turn on their would be allies and begin fighting the rest of the Fantastic Four. The three members trick Blastaar into blasting Annihilus causing the two of them to fight each other instead. Meanwhile, the Counter-Earth Reed Richards is forced to transform himself into the Brute. The Brute is easily subdued by the Thing. With the vortex still open, Blastaar and Annihilus attempt to reach it. With time running out, Reed is contacted by the Tyannans who have broke free from his evil counterpart's control and they assist him in sealing the votex off, cutting off their enemies access to it and the Tyannans advanced technology. With the Tyannans' help, the Fantastic Four are able to pilot their ship into the Annihilation Zone and ride it back to Earth. Re-emerging back through the Negative Zone Portal, Reed checks his instruments and learns that the crisis has been averted.
- Johnny mentions that the authorities are still looking for him after accidentally burning down Empire State University. That happened in Fantastic Four #371. Johnny eventually has his day in court in Fantastic Four #377–378.
- Reed mentions that Sue is acts as though she is two different people sometimes. He is unaware that she was possessed by her Malice persona in Fantastic Four #369.
- Annihilus recaps the origins of the Tyannans and his own origins, expanding on what was previously revealed in Fantastic Four #140.
- The Brute has been trapped in the Negative Zone since he seemingly sacrificed his life to stop Annihilus from reaching Earth back in Fantastic Four #183. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, the Counter-Earth Reed Richards has been trapped in the Negative Zone for four years in Marvel time.
- This story takes place after the events of Fantastic Four #375 even though the narrative of the story states that it takes place before.
- This is impossible based on the continuity of the regular Fantastic Four series. At the time of this story the Fantastic Four were involved in the Infinity War event from Fantastic Four #366–370 which led to Sue wearing the revealing costume that she is wearing here circa Fantastic Four #371.
- From Fantastic Four #372–374 Johnny is on the run from the authorities after he set fire to Empire State University. At that same time Ben and Reed were away trying to rescue Alicia Masters form Aron the Rogue Watcher.
- It was at this point that Wolverine slashed the Thing's face and they were abducted by the Watcher circa Fantastic Four #375.
- Likewise this story is a continuation from last issue wherein the House of Agon go into exile on Earth. That story has to happen after Fantastic Four Vol 1 375 because that story depicts the Royal Family as still living on the moon.
- There is not a single instance during that period of time where the Fantastic Four could have been together long enough to explore the Negative Zone. As such, despite the narrative this story takes place AFTER Fantastic Four Vol 1 375. As such, the fact that the Thing does not have scars on his face or is wearing a helmet on his head should be considered a continuity error.
- This story features a pin-up of the Fantastic Four fighting Blastaar.