Appearing in "The Shape of Things That Came"
Synopsis for "The Shape of Things That Came"
The Fantastic Four are flying their Stealth-Hawk ship into the SoHo district of New York City when they come across the giant monster known as the Molten Man-Thing. While Ant-Man lands the ship the rest of the team leap out and attack the creature when suddenly in the middle of the fight the creature suddenly vanishes. When they try to figure out what is going on they are greeted by Frank Johnson who thanks the Fantastic Four for defeating the menace, even though the police believe that his art exhibit had something to do with the attack. Before a news crew, Johnson explains that he is opening his Museum of the Monsters and the Strange and invites the Fantastic Four in as guests of honor. Once inside, the Invisible Woman accuses Frank of creating the rampage to bring the Fantastic Four to his museum as part of some kind of publicity stunt. Johnson admits that the monster was real, but then again not real. He explains how, years earlier, he was a successful artist for horror and monster magazines. One day he was given a strange set of paints and convinced into going into the Mexican jungle. There his paintings came to life, creating the monster known as Zzutak. An Aztec ruler in the region then convinced Frank to paint another monster for Zzutak to battle in the hopes it will fulfill some ancient prophecy however bother creatures were seemingly slain when the temple they were fighting in crumbled down around them. Frank explains that it was the same points that brought the Molten Man-Thing to brief life, but points out that there was no damage done. The Thing however is unimpressed with the display and begins to complain.
Frank apologizes and then invites the Fantastic Four to see his life's work. In another room where he has the remains of the monsters known as Blip, Grottu, Rorgg, and the Two-Headed Thing on display. Frank explains the origins of each of his finds: How Blip was an alien creature that was briefly trapped on Earth before returning home, although he manage to obtain a second creature; Rorgg was part of an alien race of "Spider-Men" who attempted to invade New Mexico but was slain by DDT; Grotto the giant ant who was lured into a warehouse of sugar and buried in the substance; and lastly the Two-Headed Thing which strangely liberated convicted murderer Eddie Krane one night. When the police caught up with Krane he suddenly turned into the monster and in the ensuing clash, the Two-Headed Thing was felled by a seemingly random lightning strike. While the Fantastic Four criticize these outlandish tales they are interrupted by the arrival of Frank's son Cal. Frank explains that after he and his wife got divorced, Cal moved with his mother to Oregon and has come up to see his exhibit because the boy loves dinosaurs and other large creatures.
Soon the gallery is opened to the public and the members of the Fantastic Four pose for the cameras in front of the giant monsters and answer questions. Ant-Man is thankful of a photographer who is able to answer a spectator's question about the origin of Rorgg's Spider-Men. The photographer turns out to be Daily Bugle employee Peter Parker, who is also secretly the hero known as Spider-Man. Ant-Man later wanders away the crowd, felling more useless to be among the Fantastic Four than usual. In a back room he catches a man and questions what he is doing back there. The man -- in Aztec garb -- tells Ant-Man that he will not warn Frank Johnson of their presence, and Ant-Man realizes that these men are associated with the Aztec who originally gave Frank his paints. When he tries to stop them, Ant-Man is subdued. Ant-Man fights back and manages to escape by shrinking down to ant size. The other members of the Fantastic Four and Frank hear the commotion when suddenly Yucoya-Tzin and his men make their presence known. Yucoya-Tzin explains that the monsters that Frank have on display are not really dead, but in a state of suspended animation and that he and his followers have come to awaken the monsters. When Ant-Man comes charging into the room to attack, he is suddenly grabbed by Rorgg who has suddenly sprung to life along with the other captive monsters.
As the creatures attack each member of the Fantastic Four battles a different monster. While Ant-Man faces off against Grotto, Ben battles the Two-Headed Thing, Johnny fights Blip, and Sue clashes with Roargg. As the battle rages on, Frank has his son Cal run for cover in his office as the fight spills out into the streets. Frank meanwhile is also trying to find cover as the Aztecs search the museum for him, but both he and Cal are eventually captured. Outside, Sue realizes that in order to defeat their foes they need to switch the enemies that they have picked because they are too evenly matched. Sue then tricks Rorgg to try and swallow her, but she erects an invisible force field, forcing Roargg to spit her out at Grotu. Ant-Man then sends an army of ants attacking the Two-Headed Thing, causing it to throw Ben into Blip. Johnny then helps Ben defeat Blip by using his flame powers to free up some electrical cables, Ben then dives into the electrical monster with the wires causing the monster to dissipate. Johnny and Sue then work together to slay Grotu and the Two-Headed Thing, before all four heroes tackle and slay Roarrg. As the battle ends, Spider-Man arrives after having been knocked out in his alter-ego during the initial attack. Seeing that the Fantastic Four have the situation under wraps, Spidey decides to take off so he can sell his photos to the Daily Bugle.
When the Fantastic Four go back in to check on Frank and Cal they find that they have been kidnapped. The only clue is the letter "Z" written in dust. Sue suddenly realizes that "Z" means Zzutak and knows where they have been taken. Deep in the jungles near the Yucatan Peninsula, Yucoya-Tzin has taken Frank and his son to an ancient Aztec temple where he intends to have Frank bring Zzutak back to life. With his son's life on the line, Frank is forced to climb into the ruins of the temple and use his painting skills to bring Zzutak alive. When he succeeds the monster smashes free from its confines but is suddenly attacked by the arriving Fantastic Four. As the battle rages on, Frank realizes that the only way the Fantastic Four can defeat Zzutak is with the aid of the creature that it was made to fight. Creating a new painting of that monster reviving, Frank finds that this is not enough and begins painting the heads of the Fantastic Four around the monster. This prompts Ant-Man to come up with the idea of channeling their thoughts into the other monster, which allows it to break free from the ruins as well. With the will power of the Fantastic Four, the monster is able to defeated Zzutak and bury it again, ending the threat. With the monster destroyed once more, the Thing rounds up Yucoya-Tzin and his minions. With the chaos over, Frank apologizes to his son for putting him in harms way and should have never started his museum. Ant-Man points out that things turned out for the best as the Aztecs would have come after him anyway, at least with events playing out as they did the Fantastic Four were present to stop the attack.
- Mister Fantastic is absent from the Fantastic Four in this issue as he is believed to have died in Fantastic Four #381. In reality he is a prisoner of Hyperstorm as revealed in Fantastic Four #405. Reed's spot on the team has been filled by Ant-Man who joined the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #384.
- The Thing has a massive scar on his face because he was slashed by Wolverine's claws back in Fantastic Four #374. His face is fully healed in Fantastic Four #409.
- Frank Johnston recaps the appearances of all the monsters he has on display:
- The Two-Headed Thing was last seen and defeated in Strange Tales #125
- Rorgg was defeated in Journey into Mystery #64
- Grottu was seemingly slain in Strange Tales #73
- Blip in Tales to Astonish #15
- He also explains his own ordeal with the Aztecs and Zzutak from Strange Tales #88
- It should also be noted that later tales, particularly Marvel Monsters: Monsters on the Prowl #1, and Iron Man: Legacy #9-10 show that at least Grottu was still active after his initial defeat.
- Although the creatures are all seemingly killed here, Grottu's influence lives on taking possession of Ant-Man and eventually taking control of his body for a time as seen in Fantastic Four Unlimited #9
- This issue is a tribute to Jack Kirby who had died earlier in the year this issue was published. The monsters in this story were all creations of Jack Kirby.
- This issue features the following pin-ups: Ant-Man & the Thing, and Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing.
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