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Fantastic Four Visionaries George Perez TPB Vol 1 1
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Appearing in "The Crusader Syndrome!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #164.

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Synopsis for "The Crusader Syndrome!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #164.

The Baxter Building is once more the scene of another training session for the Fantastic Four. This time it's the Invisible Girl who is testing her powers to make herself and other objects invisible and creating invisible force fields against the Thing. With the test over, it confirms to Mr. Fantastic that Sue's powers have been amplified after being exposed to the 5th Dimensional Thunder Horn[2].

Johnny enters the room in a new outfit and announces to them all that he's going out on another date before Flaming On and flying off to keep it. The other FF members are happy that Johnny is finally moving on following the wedding of Crystal to Quicksilver. When Johnny arrives on his dates roof-top, he Flames Off, because this girl doesn't know that he's really the Human Torch and, wanting a normal relationship has decided to not let her into his life as a super-hero. Going down to his apartment he meets with his date: Frankie Raye. He takes Frankie to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Their date is interrupted when there is a bright flash of light. Atop of the Washington Square arch is the Crusader, who proclaims that he has come to destroy the sinners of the Earth that are motivated by greed.

He then bursts into the apartment of Calvin McClary, his intended target, grabbing the startled man he whips him into the sky. With someone's life at stake, Johnny has no choice but to reveal to Frankie that he's the Human Torch in order to save the man's life. Witnessing the transformation, Frankie is locked in fear, however, when Johnny leaves McClary with Frankie he fails to notice this. He battles the Crusader who easily defeats Johnny in combat, temporarily blinding him with his light bands, prompting Johnny to fly as high into the air as possible so as not to harm anyone while blinded. During this time, the Crusader throws a chunk of concrete at McClary, seemingly slaying him before teleporting away.

Johnny, with the last of his strength he creates a Fantastic Four signal before passing out and falling toward the ground. Spotting Johnny's signal, Reed quickly stretches out to save his brother-in-law even though it causes him great strain due to his fading powers, but still, manages to save Johnny's life. With Ben and Sue joining them, Johnny explains what's happened. Realizing that the Crusader is still a threat, Mr. Fantastic tells the others to return to base while he searches for the Crusader by stretching his legs so that he is many stories high.

Appearing in "The Light of Other Worlds!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #165.

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Synopsis for "The Light of Other Worlds!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #165.

With the Crusader on the loose seeking revenge on those who he believes have wronged him in the past, Reed Richards heads toward Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to search for clues. There he finds the wife of Calvin McClaren. Seeing McClaren being pulled away in an ambulance alive but seriously injured, Reed questions his wife. He learns that her husband is the owner of the Franklin Peirce National Bank chain. She tells him that the Crusader's voice resembled that of an old friend of Calvin's, a scientist named Horace Grayson, who during the outbreak of World War II came to Calvin for a loan to complete a rocket ship he was seeking to build in order to leave Earth. The loan was declined, however the steadfast scientist disappeared weeks late with his infant son and were never heard from again.

With this bit of evidence, Reed goes back to the Fantastic Four to search for the Crusader as a group. Over the coming days the Crusader begins wrecking various Manhattan branches of the Franklin Peirce National Bank, always leaving before the Fantastic Four can arrive to stop him. Eventually Reed develops a device to track the solar radiation emitted from the Crusaders wrist bands, and realizes that the Crusader only comes out on sunny days making Reed realize that his bands are solar powered. When they detect he is attacking the Grover Cleveland Bank located in the Bronx, Reed sends Sue, Johnny and the Thing after him while he works in his lab. Along the way, Sue worries about how preoccupied Reed has been since their last battle against Dr. Doom, and wonders if everything is all right with her husband.

When the Crusader attacks the bank he finds the three members of the Fantastic Four waiting for him. When he tries to blind them with his wrist bands, he finds that it is ineffectual thanks to special contact lenses that Reed developed to protect their eyes. Needing more sun light, the Crusader goes to the roof with the Human Torch following after him. Goading him by mentioning Horace Grayson's name the Crusader tells the Torch his origins: He explains that he is the son of Horace Grayson, a man who built a rocket to fly to Uranus to escape the horrors of the coming World War. There they found the planet populated and were welcomed in by the Uranians. He would grow up to become the champion known as Marvel Boy and briefly become a crime fighter on the planet Earth during the 1950's. He would ultimately return home to Uranus until the people of his adopted world would suddenly fall ill. Returning to Earth to attempt to get a loan for medical supplied to help the people of Uranus, Marvel Boy would seek one from Clarence McClaren and once more be rejected. He would return to Uranus empty handed to find that the protected city had been destroyed and everyone he loved dead. Wanting revenge he would rush back to Earth in his ship, however it would pass through the tail of the comet Kohoutek and Marvel Boy would be put into a state of suspended animation and his ship thrown on a random course until it eventually crash landed on Earth in modern times. Alive and still youthful and dubbing himself the Crusader, Marvel Boy went about his mission of revenge against those he held responsible for the death of his people.

This explanation proves distraction enough for Sue and Ben to make it to the roof to attack the Crusader. When the Crusader tries to counter attack, Johnny points out an artificially created cloud that Reed has made to block the Crusader's power. Furious that they realized his weakness, the Crusader flies back into the bank in order to finish the job before his power runs out. The Thing jumps down and battles him draining his powers further. Managing to defeat the Thing, the Crusader rushes outside hoping to escape only to find Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl and the Human Torch waiting for him. Deciding enough is enough the Crusader turns up his power bands to full power to compensate for the cloud cover and realizes to his horror that the fake clouds have already been disbursed and that his wrist bands are absorbing the full power of the sun. With his writs bands quickly overloading the Crusader screams out that he did it all for his father before being incinerated by the overflow of solar energy. In the Crusaders ashes, Reed finds his wrist bands, which are seemingly broken.

When the bank manager comes out demanding that they capture the man responsible for terrorizing his bank, the Thing loses his temper and buries the man up to his neck in the banks money and tells the security guard not to let him out until after closing time. Back outside, Johnny asks Reed if they will ever see the Crusader again and for once Reed isn't sure. All Ben wants to do is get back to the Baxter Building so that he can mark this day on his calendar so he can pretend it never happened.

Appearing in "If It's Tuesday, This Must be the Hulk!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #166.

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  • family in the airplane
    • Ralph (Only appearance)[1]
    • his wife
    • Junior
  • Hippies
  • airplane pilots

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  • Psi-amplifier

Synopsis for "If It's Tuesday, This Must be the Hulk!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #166.

The Fantastic Four have been called in by the military once more to provide their scientific expertise in finding the means to cure the Hulk, who has been spotted in the American Mid-West. As Reed, Sue. Johnny and Ben take a commercial 747 to the location of the military base. Ben scares off some people gawking at them and then tries to sweet talk an airline steward until he realizes it's a male steward. Johnny is upset about how his last date with Frankie Raye went badly when she became afraid of Johnny when he turned into the Human Torch to battle the Crusader and fled the scene, and considers leaving the group. When they begin talking about how they are going to stop the Hulk, Reed tells them that he has perfected his psi-amplifier[3] which Reed is sure will cure the Hulk this time around.

As the group is discussing the ethics of hunting the Hulk one more, the subject of their conversation jumps passed their plane, accidentally smashing through one of its wings and sending the plane into a crash. In order to save the passengers aboard, Reed and Johnny go outside, Johnny trying his best to repair the damage done to the wing and act as a temporary jet engine while Reed uses his body to stretch out into a parachute so that the plane can land safely. The entire process proves incredibly painful for Reed, however, they manage to land the plane safely with no injuries. They are picked up at the landing site by the Air Force and taken to the military base where they are introduced to the youthful and over eager Colonel Sellers. The Thing doesn't take a liking to Sellers' attitude but before they can discuss anything further the FF are deployed when the military devices detect the gamma radiation emanating from the Hulk's body.

The Fantastic Four are rushed out in a military craft, but it is soon destroyed by the Hulk. While Reed uses his already taxed stretching powers to hold the Hulk Sue places an invisible force field around the Hulk's head to cut him off from oxygen. Mr. Fantastic orders the Thing to knock the Hulk out, but Ben finds little pleasure in knocking out his long time rival in such a low down way.

With the Hulk knocked out, the Fantastic Four take him back to the military base where they shackle him to the psi-amplifier device. Ben still feels as though this is a cruel thing to do, but decides to go along with it because he still believes that it's for the good of Bruce Banner. Reed plugs himself in the device and uses his willpower to siphon the gamma radiation out of the Hulk causing him to change back into Bruce Banner. Now too small for the shackles they had him in Banner falls to the floor, prompting Colonel Setters to break his promise about letting Banner be free once reverted into human form and ordering his men to shackle Banner up. When Banner comes around and starts begging for help, Ben has had enough and fights past the army and smashes the psi-amplifier. This causes the radiation to flow back into Banner changing him back into the Hulk again. To everyone's horror, Ben frees the Hulk and tells everyone gathered that he and the Hulk are joining forces so that nobody can manipulate them ever again. The Hulk, confused about the circumstances surrounding this latest development accepts the Thing's friendship and threatens to smash anyone who stands in their way.

Appearing in "Titans Two!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #167.

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Synopsis for "Titans Two!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #167.

The Fantastic Four and the military are shocked when in attempting to change the Hulk back into Bruce Banner, the Thing freed the Hulk and decided that he would team up with the Hulk due to the inhuman treatment the green goliath had received from the military. When the FF and the military try to stop the two man-monsters from escaping, they easily smash through them.

Breaking into the hangar, Hulk and the Thing smash all the planes except for the one in which they escape. While in the air, the Thing suggests that they head back to the desert where the Hulk usually hangs out and asks him where they should go. Hulk dimly recalls a rock formation that he can sit on and think. As they fly by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis Missouri, the Hulk confuses it for his favorite sitting spot and demands that the Thing bring him there. Ben experiences a momentary dizziness and agrees to take them down.

With Colonel Sellers about to attack, Mr. Fantastic manages to convince him to let the Fantastic Four go out and try to capture the Hulk and their errant teammate first. The four leave in another ship, and when they are in the air, Reed tells the others that Thing's constant proximity to the Hulk for an extended period of time may have an effect on him due to the Hulk's gamma radiation and stresses that they need to get to Ben before it's too late.

They end up in St. Louis, where they spot the Hulk and Ben on a rooftop. The Hulk is furious that they didn't land directly on the Gateway Arch (being unable to safely land on it escapes the Hulk's understanding). When the Hulk is about to toss a chunk of concrete on the soldiers that have gathered below, the Thing realizes the folly of allying with the Hulk and smashes the chunk of concrete before the Hulk can throw it. Not understanding what happened, the Hulk jumps down to attack the soldiers directly. Ben decides to try to go down and stop the Hulk when he is struck by yet another dizzy spell. Before anything can happen, the Hulk is distracted by Reed Richards, who orders the Hulk to stand down and allow them to take him into custody. He explains the danger Ben faces being in prolonged proximity to the Hulk; this angers the Hulk, who attacks them for trying to separate him from his new friend.

A battle ensues, with the Thing and Hulk against the remaining members of the Fantastic Four. The Human Torch tackles the Thing, who easily knocks out his young comrade, sending him flying into Reed. With Reed stunned on the Gateway Arch, he is an easy target for the Hulk, but he is saved from a thrashing by Sue's invisible force field. Realizing the mistake he has made, Ben begins fighting the Hulk. During their battle, he suddently realizes he's changing back into Ben Grimm. He is easily knocked off the Arch and sent falling to the ground. Now completely in human form, Ben falls to a certain death but is saved by the Human Torch.

Witnessing his former friend changed back into human form, the Hulk realizes that the "puny humans" have made him alone again and bounds off to seek solitude elsewhere. In the aftermath of the battle, everyone is surprised that Ben has been reverted back to normal due to constant exposure to the Hulk's gamma rays. However, Reed grimly asks the question: What will happen to the Fantastic Four?

Appearing in "A Sky Full of Fear!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #170.

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Synopsis for "A Sky Full of Fear!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #170.

With Power Man having gone on a rampage and stolen the Fantasticar, Reed takes Ben into a room where Reed has been working on another project, apparently another Thing. Ben is furious that Reed has gone to the trouble of turning someone else into the Thing, but soon realizes that it is in reality an exo-suit designed to look like Ben's former monstrous form for Ben to wear in combat so that he can rejoin the Fantastic Four. With Alicia gone after Luke's rampage and the Torch out of commission due to injuries sustained fighting Power Man, Ben tries on the new exo-suit and tests it out.

To his surprise, it's almost as strong as his old self, however Ben isn't sure if he has what it takes. This puts Reed into a false rage intending to make Ben lash out and realizes that he is still just as valuable to the team as he used to be. With the test a success, Reed takes Ben down to one of the storage rooms where he finds that Reed has stored a duplicate of their original model Fantasticar. They take it to chase after Luke, and along the way Ben enquires why Reed was paying the Hero for Hire to be one of the Fantastic Four -- Reed informs him that everything Luke was paid went to charity.

Meanwhile, at a nearby maximum security prison, Alicia Masters brought onto the property be helicopter. She has requested a special audience from the warden to check on her step-father Phillip Masters, aka the Puppet Master, because she suspects that he is responsible for making Power Man go on his rampage through the Baxter Building. Assuring her that they have taken every precaution to make sure her step-father cannot escape or make any of his special puppets the warden takers her to Phillip's cell. There the Puppet Master swears that he doesn't have one of his puppets, however Alicia searches his room and finds a false brick with a Power Man puppet inside. The Puppet Master lashes out and grabs hold of the special puppet, that uses a new blend of clay that allows him to control his victims making them involuntarily do things under their own personality instead of being mindless drones. When Power Man smashes through the wall to Phillip's cell to spring him, Alicia realizes that the Puppet Master was behind the recent strange happenings that the Fantastic Four experienced the past few days.

Grabbing Alicia as a hostage, Power Man escorts the Puppet Master onto the Fantasticar and make their escape. Upon leaving the prison they are attacked by the Thing and Mr. Fantastic, much to everyone's shock and surprise. As the Thing and Power Man fight, Power Man tries to fight off the effects of the puppet but cannot. Their battle, however, causes the Fantasticar to pitch around enough for Phillip to drop his puppet and send Alicia overboard. After a split second decision, Phillip jumps after his step-daughter and both are saved from a fatal fall from Mr. Fantastic. As the puppet dissolves in the water below, Power Man is freed from its control and the battle is ended.

With Phillip turned back over to the authorities, he flies back with Alicia aboard the original Fantasticar. As Ben comforts her he thinks to himself that now he finally has the best of both worlds: He can become the Thing and Ben Grimm whenever he wants and can live a normal life and that of a super-hero. He then begins to consider the idea of finally proposing to Alicia.

Appearing in "Improbable As It May Seem--The Impossible Man Is Back In Town!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #176.

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Synopsis for "Improbable As It May Seem--The Impossible Man Is Back In Town!"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #176.

Ben Grimm has changed back into the Thing, when wondering why they all realize that during their battle with Galactus, Galactus had sensed something wrong and "punished" Ben Grimm, they realize that what he did was change him back into the Thing after his short time of being changed back into human form. This combined with the Human Torch's teasing and the fact that they are also bringing the Impossible Man back to Earth gets Ben angry. When the ship they are piloting begins to head toward the Earth at a fast speed. In trying to grab the break, Ben underestimates his strength and breaks it making the ship to continue to speed toward the Earth.

With the Impossible Man deciding only to sit by and watch, the ship plummets toward Central Park. With the help of the Human Torch creating a updraft of hot air to slow their fall the Fantastic Four crash into a lake and survive drowning thanks to Sue's invisible powers. With the rocket a wreck, the group decides the only way to make it to the Baxter Building is by cab. After some trouble getting a cab (necessitating Sue to turn invisible to give the illusion that there is one less passenger in the car), their ride crashes when the cabbie is startled by the Impossible Man showing off his powers. As the other Fantastic Four are busy calming down another one of the Thing's temper tantrums over the traffic accident the Impossible Man would wander away and become interested in the Marvel Comics office.

Inside, Stan Lee is under distress because they haven't been able to get a hold of the Fantastic Four for weeks and the deadline for next months issue is coming up. Impossible Man, listening in on the conversation teleports into the room and is very intrigued and asks them to do a comic book about him. Jack Kirby begins drawing up thinking that the character would be perfect in his Eternals or 2001 series, however Stan recognizes having already done a story about the Impossible Man and how it was unpopular with readers.

This angers the Impossible Man who goes on a rampage, using his powers to imitate various super-heroes to show them that he is worth having his own comic book. The Fantastic Four eventually track down the Impossible Man and storm the Marvel Comics office to try and get the Impossible Man under control. Unable to catch the Impossible Man, they learn why he is on a rampage and Mr. Fantastic grabs Stan Lee and has him promise to devote an entire comic book to the Impossible Man, pleasing the imp enough to stop his rampage. With the rampage over the Fantastic Four are alerted to a classified ad in the newspaper advertising auditions for a new member of the Frightful Four being conducted at the Baxter Building. As they rush out Roy Thomas asks Stan if they can get started on the Impossible Man story, Stan tells him to forget it because he agreed to it under a moment of distress.

The Fantastic Four rush to the Baxter Building with the help of the Impossible Man and learn that the advertisement is true, the Frightful Four are at their base awaiting potential members to come and audition and they have a trap prepared for the Fantastic Four as well.

Appearing in "Look Out for the Frightful Four"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #177.

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Synopsis for "Look Out for the Frightful Four"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #177.

After reading a classified ad in the newspaper about auditions for a new member of the Frightful Four happening at the Baxter Bulding, the Fantastic Four arrive at their base to find that the ad is true and the three mainstays of the Frightful Four -- Wizard, Trapster, and Sandman -- are truly there waiting for potential applicants for their fourth member. The Fantastic Four battle their evil counterparts and during the fight one of the Wizard's anti-gravity discs strikes a nearby television turning it on instantly distracting the Impossible Man.

As the Fantastic Four chase after the Frightful Four, they fall for one of the Trapster's hologram traps and is incapacitated. With the Fantastic Four bound in restraints will prevent them from using their powers. They then begin calling in their applicants, much to the dismay of landlord Walter Collins, who can't get the police to do anything because there are no wanted criminals on the site or anyone doing anything illegal.

Their first interview s with a man calling himself Osprey who has no powers, furious at his fringe interest in super-villainy, the Wizard disposes of him with a anti-gravity disk which causes him to fly out. The Fantastic Four are told by Wizard that the anti-gravity disk will set Osprey down somewhere in the South Bronx. The Wizard then states on the intercom that anyone who doesn't have superpowers doesn't need to audition to be a possible member of the Frightful Four....or else.

Their next inductee is a man calling himself the Texas Twister who has the power to control tornadoes. He explains that he got his powers when being exposed to radioactivity when he was swept up in a tornado that plowed through a nuclear power plant. When he learns that the Frightful Four doesn't have a salary system, he rejects a position and walk out.

Thundra passed herself off as an auditioner with the secret motive to try and free the captured Fantastic Four. However Thundra is easily taken out by one of the Trapster's traps and is bound up with the FF.

Their next inductee is a man calling himself is Captain Ultra, who exhibits super-strength and the power of flight. However, he proves to have a phobia to fire when the Wizard lights up a cigarette in front of him and passes out, leading to his rejection.

The next inductee is Tigra, who is only posing as someone interested in joining the Frightful Four only to get close enough to the controls to free the Fantastic Four. She only succeeds in freeing the Human Torch and the Thing.

Caught off guard, the Wizard calls all the would-be villains in the lobby to come help them. All of the applicants flee except for one who reveals himself to be the Brute and bursts into the room, taking on the Thing. While the Wizard, Trapster and Sandman incapacitate Tigra and the Torch, the Brute holds his own against the Thing and defeats him by opening the portal to the Negative Zone, sucking Ben into the anti-matter universe.

Impressed at the Brute's strength, the Wizard welcomes him to the Frightful Four, the Brute then reverts to his human form and reveals himself to be the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth.

Appearing in "Call My Killer the Brute"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #178.

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  • The Brute's Rocket
  • Army Tanks

Synopsis for "Call My Killer the Brute"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #178.

Following his battle against the Brute, the Thing has been pulled into the Negative Zone, hurtling out of control and is about to be attacked by one of it's creatures when he suddenly blacks out. Coming around, he finds himself in bondage inside the Baxter Building, a prisoner once more of the Frightful Four. Surprised to see another man who looks like Reed Richards, this Reed reveals himself to be Mr. Fantastic's counterpart from Counter-Earth.

He explains that when the High Evolutionary and Galactus battled each other on Counter-Earth he was sent into space by military to investigate. Passing through a cosmic ray storm his ship would explode but he would eject himself before it's destruction. Coming across the High Evolutionary's artificial asteroid base, after snooping around he would stow away aboard the ship that the FF piloted back to Earth where he was struck on the head. Upon arriving on Earth he would answer the advertisement placed in the papers by the Frightful Four looking to recruit a new fourth member. With his origins revealed, the Counter-Earth Richards transforms into the Brute and is about to slay Mr. Fantastic the Wizard stop him. The Wizard explains that the Brute is being too rash as he will try to hold the Fantastic Four hostage and try to get a large sum of money in order to continue their own independent pursuits.

However, a call to the mayor of New York City, which is currently cash-strapped leads to more calls to a higher level of government to no avail. Eventually, the military surrounds the Baxter Building to prepare for the worst. As the 3 am deadline closes in the Impossible Man continues to watch television. As the network concludes it's broadcasting day the Impossible Man decides to try and "fix" the supposed "broken" television. To do so, he begins messing around with the Baxter Building's fuse box causing a black out on the building.

This allows the Fantastic Four to break free and battle the Frightful Four, Tigra and Thundra. During the fight Reed Richards is horrified to find that his stretching powers have completely faded. As the Fantastic Four battle the other members of the Frightful Four, Reed Richards battles his Counter-Earth doppelganger, taking them into Reed's lab. As the others easily defeat the Trapster, Sandman, and Wizard it appears that Reed has managed to defeat the Brute and trap him in the Negative Zone, however it is in reality it is the Brute who managed to over power Reed, switch outfits with him and send him into the Negative Zone.

Appearing in "Aftermath: The Eliminator"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #184.

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Synopsis for "Aftermath: The Eliminator"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #184.

Seconds after the Counter-Earth Reed Richards vanishes into the Negative Zone, Reed himself collapses into the arms of his wife. Johnny Storm and Tigra try to restrain the Thing from pounding at the now sealed Negative Zone portal, while Thundra assists Sue, Tigra tells Ben that Sue needs his help, and Ben gently carries the exhausted Reed to bed. Thundra is briefly affronted by Ben's abrupt behavior toward her, but then she realizes that Ben is Reed's best friend, and his concern for Reed is paramount. As Johnny and Tigra contemplate the Negative Zone monitor- from which the figure of the Counter-Earth Reed has so recently disappeared, Sue sits down at Reed's bedside and Ben leaves her to telephone Alicia. Ben detects trouble in Alicia's voice, but she tells him that there is nothing wrong, and that Franklin is sound asleep. Sue is relieved that Alicia followed instructions and did not mention the kidnapping, but Ben knows Sue well enough to suspect that she is keeping something from him. He decides that she will tell him in her own good time. Then, when Sue asks him to help the others clean up, he heads back to the Negative Zone chamber. Ben finds Thundra, Tigra, and Johnny looking over the mess. When Thundra asks whether they have equipment capable of repairing the damage, Ben replies that the AUNTIE robot was probably knocked out of commission itself, so there is nothing they can do but get to work.

Tigra starts to flirt with Ben, much to his embarrassment, but when Thundra declares that housework is demeaning, Tigra agrees, and the two ladies depart. Outside, when Tigra mentions that Thundra seems annoyed because she can get no farther with Ben than Tigra can, Thundra angrily stomps away. All's fair in love and war, says Tigra as she runs off in the other direction. As Ben tells Johnny that it will be just the two of them cleaning up, Johnny interrupts the disappointed Ben that he won't be able to help either. He has a few things he must sort out for himself he says as he flames on and soars out over the city. Then when he passes by Frankie Raye's apartment in Greenwich village, an unseen figure lines him up in a gunsight and shoots him out of the sky. "Target One eliminated,' says the assailant. In the meantime, Ben starts grumbling to himself as he carries the rubble of the battle out of the room. Suddenly the Impossible Man appears outside the window reading a newspaper. Ben asks whether he is here to help, but in reply he asks Ben what a movie is, Ben says that a movie is like television, only bigger, and the Impossible Man joyfully turns into a flying saucer and sails out over the city in search of one. With any luck, says Ben, he'll choke on his popcorn.

Reed awakens with a start as the memory of the events of the past few hours returns. Sue calms him down and then tells him what happened to Franklin and Agatha, but when Sue suggests that he put on his uniform so that the four of them can return to Whisper Hill, he demures. Lacking his powers, he would only be in the way, he says. But Sue replies that his stretching power was not the only thing he contributed to the team. Thoughtful, Reed dons his costume. Ben finishes the cleanup by sweeping all the remaining debris under a pulled-up section of flooring and stomping it flat, sending a powerful tremor through the building that brings Reed and Sue on the run. When they see that they are not being attacked by another foe, they tell Ben about the kidnapping. Soon they are underway to Whisper Hilt in the Fantasi-Car. They become puzzled when Johnny falls to respond to their "4". As a thunderstorm rages above the city, they decide they cannot wait any longer for Johnny and speed away. Soon they are above the mansion, which looks much different —more rundown.— from when Sue was there earlier. Reed thinks that this is the way the mansion looks in reality, without Agatha's magic to maintain its illusory "normal' appearance.

Suddenly, the same unseen assailant who attacked Johnny gets the Fantasticar in his gunsight and squeezes the trigger -Target Two eliminated." he says. However, this is by no means the case, The Fantasticar flies apart into fragments as it becomes caught in a tractor beam, but the three passengers are thrown clear. Sue creates a force field cushion for them and they land on the ground shaken but unhurt. Ben finds a metal object that looks like an egg from which something seems to have hatched. Reed tells Ben to leave it for now as they enter the spooky house. The place is quite dark, lit only by their flashlights and an occasional lightning stroke. Ben is startled when his light illuminates the figure of Johnny Storm, who is hanging by his shirt from a bannister. He is soaking wet and unable to use his flame, and he weakly asks them to get him down. Ben pulls him up and asks what happened, and Johnny mutters that their adversary is not human. He pulled him out of the sky with a strange weapon, says Johnny. Suddenly the lights go on, and a huge, armored figure smashes out at Reed and Sue through a door.

It calls itself the Eliminator, and it proclaims that for daring to interfere with its work, they must be destroyed. It is its solemn duty, it continues, to eliminate all traces of Agatha Harkness's sojourn among their "primitive race," which includes destroying those who were once her friends. Sue asks whether her son has been "eliminated", and the android replies that its masters will deal with her son in their own fashion. Ben suddenly leaps down from the mezzanine and slams the creature into a wall. When the Eliminator tries to incinerate Ben with incendiary jets on its fingertips, the Human Torch absorbs the flame and ignites himself. Then Sue knocks it over with a force-sphere. This, unfortunately, allows it to use the vacuum-vents built into its boots to blow out Johnny's flame, and then it recovers its footing and staggers them with a shock wave. Reed formulates a plan of attack, but the creature declares that the time has come for it to strike "in earnest." When Sue tries to hit it with another force-sphere. it uses a beam that apparently disintegrates her. Reed is horrified and hurls himself at the android, but a painful blast of energy knocks him away. Then Ben attacks, but the Eliminator pummels him into seeming lifelessness. Finally, Johnny tries to burn the Eliminator up, but it uses its incendiary-jets to force Johnny to explode in a nova-blast. Then, with all the Fantastic Four apparently dead on the floor, it declares that just one thing remains before its mission is accomplished. It inserts its incendiary-jet fingertips into its chest-plate, which commences the countdown of its self destruction. Within minutes, it says, it shall explode and destroy every trace of Whisper Hill.

Anchoring itself to the floor with its vacuum-vents, the robot states that the process cannot be reversed. No sooner does it say that than the Fantastic Four all arise. Reed explains to the perplexed machine that the Invisible Girl simply exercised her power to make the android think she was disintegrated. Then, hiding in the shadows, she used her invisible force field to protect Reed and Ben, while Johnny simply faked going nova. The Fantastic Four rush out of the building and duck under Sue's force field, as the android forlornly declares that an Eliminator never fails. Then the mansion explodes, as the debris falls all around them, they vow to track down Agatha Harkness and Franklin wherever they may be.

Appearing in "Here There Be Witches"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #185.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

  • Reed's Extender Limbs

Vehicles:

Synopsis for "Here There Be Witches"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #185.
Fantastic Four Vol 1 185 001
Less than an hour after the Fantastic Four return from Whisper Hill, Reed is closeted in his laboratory analyzing the metallic "egg" that Ben found outside the mansion. It was from this egg that the Eliminator—the robot that destroyed Agatha Hark ness's Whisper Hill mansion and almost destroyed the Fantastic Four—emerged, and consequently Reed is trying to squeeze every last datum out of it to determine where it came from and who might have constructed it. When Sue enters the lab, Reed tells her that he has fed the data into the computers and is awaiting the results. Moments later a light flashes on a projected map of North America, indicating where the ore was mined from which the metal egg was made—a secluded area deep in the Colorado Rockies. That, says Reed, is where they must search next for Franklin and Agatha. He tells Sue to get Ben and Johnny ready, then leaves to take care of another matter. Sue realizes that the loss of Reed's stretching power has made him feel useless and burdensome, but she does not know what to do about it.

Sue finds Johnny washing up, and as he dries himself, they walk down a corridor discussing Reed's problem. They find Ben preparing to light up a cigar in the library. He had gone to Alicia's after they returned from Whisper Hill, but he decided to return because he was worried about Franklin. Before Ben can strike a match, however, a familiar hand stretches out with a light. Reed then explains to his surprised teammates that his power has not actually returned. Rather, he is using a version of the auto-extensors that he designed years ago when the Fantastic Four once lost their powers. Also, he is wearing an older version of his Fantastic Four uniform, because it was the only clean one he could find. Reed's teammates don matching uniforms to show their support for him, and they all head for the pogo plane hangar. Johnny says that he has recently modified the aircraft, and it has never been readier to fly. Minutes later, they are soaring out of New York toward Colorado.

As the pogo plane vanishes over the horizon, a green and purple sheet of paper drifts—against the breeze—toward the Baxter Building and settles through an open window in the Fantastic Four headquarters without setting off any of the alarms. Then it suddenly changes into the Impossible Man, who has finally seen his first movie, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and wants to tell everyone about it. He changes into a 1920s gangster, armed with a machine gun, but he soon discovers that no one is home, so he settles down to wait in front of the television set. Some time later, the pogo plane flies over the Rocky Mountains in the area indicated by Reed's computer. Even though there is no town marked on Johnny's map, Sue sees a small community below, surrounded by mountain peaks. Ben lands the plane some distance away in order not to attract undue attention. When they disembark, Johnny and Ben remove several heavy boxes from the plane, and Johnny quickly assembles their contents into a flashy sports car. Wearing street clothes, the four teammates drive along a windy mountain road into the village of New Salem. As soon as they enter the town, the wind stops, and Reed suggests that the surrounding mountains must keep the winds out, which is probably why the town was built there in the first place. Surprisingly, theirs is the only car in the village, and they park it to look around.

In the town square, they are met by the mayor himself, Nicholas Scratch, who bids them welcome and offers assistance. Reed says he and his "associates" are doing mining research, and he introduces himself as "Mr. Smith." Scratch escorts Reed and Sue to the city hall, while Ben and Johnny reconnoiter the town by themselves. As they depart, Agatha Harkness watches from a nearby window, relieved that they have come for their son at last. Turning, Agatha confronts her captor, who is armed with a staff and orders her to silence Franklin's crying. In olden times, warns Agatha as she soothes Franklin, he would not have dared to speak to her like that. When Franklin asks for his parents, Agatha tells him that he must be patient. Soon the Fantastic Four rendezvous beneath Agatha's window. Reed says that according to the town records, the Eliminator's egg could not have come from there, and they will just have to return home and start over. Disappointed, the teammates start to drive out of the village. But Agatha realizes that once they leave the city limits it will be too late to stop them, so she casts a spell that creates a wall of flame in front of the vehicle. At first the startled teammates think Johnny is responsible, but it quickly becomes clear that someone in New Salem must have done it. Reed turns back toward the village, where the townsfolk have gathered to watch them. When the villagers realize that their ruse has failed, they drop their disguises in a burst of energy and stand garbed in hooded cloaks. The buildings behind them likewise change from quaint western structures to menacing, gargoyle-bedecked stone edifices.

The New Salemites inform the Fantastic Four that they cannot now be allowed to leave, because they know their secret, and their fate will be up to the "Most High." This leader soon arrives, and he turns out to be Nicholas Scratch himself, armed with a mystic staff that glows with energy. With a wave of his hand, he conjures up an image of his hostages, Agatha Harkness and Franklin Richards. Instantly, the four teammates drop their disguises and attack. Scratch raises his Satan-Staff, which crackles with power, and the stone gargoyles on the buildings come to life. A fierce battle between the winged demons and the Fantastic Four ensues. Reed is pleased that his auto-extensors work even better than he thought, and soon the teammates beat the monsters back.

When it becomes apparent to Scratch that the gargoyles are losing, he turns them back to stone, and many of them shatter as they fall out of the air. Then Scratch tells the townspeople that it is time to begin the "first phase," and they all clasp hands and start to chant. The Thing suddenly starts to beat himself with his own fists, while Reed watches helplessly as Sue is enfolded in an earthen cocoon. Ben starts to pummel Reed uncontrollably, and Sue soars through the air and collides with her brother, extinguishing his flame. Then he and she fall to the ground and are buried up to their necks. Reed collapses from Ben's blows, and then Ben, the only one still standing, tries to attack Scratch himself. But a bolt of mystic energy emerges from the Satan-Staff at point blank range and knocks him out. Standing over the defeated foursome, Nicholas Scratch declares that no mortals could ever have stood a chance against a city ruled by witches.

Appearing in "Enter: Salem's Seven"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #186.

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:


Vehicles:




Synopsis for "Enter: Salem's Seven"

This story is a reprint of the comic
Fantastic Four #186.

Several hours after their defeat, the Fantastic Four awaken in a New Salem dungeon, where Agatha Harkness and Franklin are also imprisoned. Sue is happy to be reunited with her son, and Agatha apologizes for involving them all in the affair. Reed asks why she took Franklin away, and she answers that she had hoped his special powers would protect her from the New Salem Witches, who sought to return her to the town against her will. Unfortunately, it turned out that Franklin's power was gone, but she did not know this, and there was nothing she could do to prevent her abduction. Reed describes how they traced the Eliminator to New Salem and had to battle the witches' gargoyles and then the witches themselves. Sue asks who all these people are and how they acquired their powers but before Agatha can answer, Nicholas Scratch, the leader of the witches, enters, accompanied by a hooded bailiff and a blonde-haired witch. The bailiff pronounces sentence on Agatha, declaring her guilty of treason and ordering her public execution.

At this point, Ben and Johnny promise to lay waste to the entire town if Agatha is harmed. Scratch replies that even though such action would be quite useless, he believes they will try to make good the threat, so he uses his power to teleport Franklin away out of Sue's arms. Nearly hysterical, Sue is calmed by Reed and Agatha, who assures her that her son is quite safe. It is, she says, New Salem's way of insuring that the Fantastic Four will not interfere in what will happen. Agatha then departs with Scratch and the dungeon door shuts behind them.

Through the barred window, Scratch informs the teammates that when the old woman is slain, he will return to pass sentence upon them. Back at the Baxter Building, the Impossible Man sits engrossed before the television watching a rerun of Casablanca. Suddenly, two figures enter the room behind him and knock him unconscious with a sonic blast. There is much to be done says one, and little time to waste.

Nicholas Scratch, the bailiff, and the blonde witch escort Agatha up a stone stairway to a huge altar where, Scratch says 'justice will be done." It is what she deserves, he says, for deserting her people and him. She says that she only sought to live among normal men once more, but Scratch replies that now she must pay the price. All the people of New Salem are gathered there, bearing torches and six guards stand at the altar as Scratch declares that she has been tried by the people among whom she once dwelt. She has been found guilty of betraying the secret of their existence, he continues, and she knew when she left that the penalty for doing this is death. Agatha replies that the law under which she stands sentenced is archaic and the "trial" is a mockery of justice. Mockery or not, says Scratch, when the order of the court is carried out, she will be just as dead.

Meanwhile, Ben paces around the Fantastic Four's cell, shaking the building with every step. The first thing they must do is get out of their cell, so Sue shapes her force field into a narrow bar that she slips through the window in their door and loops around the head of the posted guard, then she slams him senseless back against the door. Using his auto-extensors Reed stretches his arms and grabs the guard's keys and the Fantastic Four quickly open the door and escape. But when they reach the head of the stairs, they find seven New Salemites awaiting them. Johnny imagines that, since the witches are unarmed, they will not present much of a problem.

But suddenly, they all mystically change into unhuman warriors—Salem's Seven. One of them, Vakume, says that they had been created solely to combat the Fantastic Four's superhuman powers. Ben immediately attacks the leonine Brutacus, who retaliates by slamming Ben with his fist. Johnny flames on but Hydron blasts him with a stream of water and extinguishes his flame. Then the snakelike Reptilla wraps Johnny up in her constricting arms. Reed slams Hydron, while Thorne fires a salvo of "power spines" from his forearm at Sue, who deflects the attack with her invisible shield. Ben attacks Vakume, but the witch-warrior turns himself immaterial, and Ben passes through him and smashes into a wall. Then the agile Gazelle attacks Reed. By this time, Johnny is dry enough to flame on, and he burns free of Reptilla's coils. Sue repels Gazelle from Reed with her force field, but one of Thornn's power-spines explodes and knocks her unconscious.

This creates a lull in the battle, during which Brutacus explains that they were ordered to do nothing more than prevent the Fantastic Four's escape—which they have done so far. Then Johnny attacks with a flame-blast as Ben clambers out of the hole he made in the wall. But before Ben can do anything, Vertigo, the seventh witch destroys his equilibrium and he topples dizzily. Then Vakume sucks up the air near the Human Torch and extinguishes his flame, and Brutacus crushes Reed's auto extensor hands with his fists. But this has a most unexpected result When Brutacus realizes that Reed's power is artificial, the spell that transformed the witches into Salem's Seven is canceled. The spell could work only against their natural powers, says Brutacus as he changes back into an ordinary New Salemite. Of course, this is excellent news for Ben, who swiftly administers the coup de grace.

As Nicholas Scratch presides over Agatha Harkness's trial he relates some of the history of New Salem's Witches. Centuries ago, he says, they lived in old Salem, where they were persecuted and many were hanged. So they departed to found their own community, calling it New Salem and swearing never to involve themselves with mortal men again. Agatha Harkness was once their leader, but for unexplained reasons she defied their oath, left New Salem, and—most unforgivable of all—revealed their existence to outsiders. Then Scratch orders seven witches to surround Agatha and raise their powerstaffs.

But before they can do anything, a pillar of flame arises from the floor, and the Fantastic Four climb out of the dungeons through the hole in the floor to the place of judgment. Agatha asks Reed for the sake of his child not to interfere, but Reed addresses the New Salemites and demands to be heard. He informs them that Agatha never once betrayed her trust. They discovered New Salem only after their son was kidnapped an abduction that Scratch himself arranged. It is thus Scratch who is the traitor, declares Reed, not Agatha Harkness. Scratch tries to silence Reed with his Satan-Staff, but Sue, invisible, snatches it from his hands.

When one of the townsfolk wants to hear what Sue has to say. Scratch stuns him with a mystic bolt. This act galvanizes the New Salem Witches, who clasp hands in a circle around Scratch and begin to chant. Suddenly terrified Scratch blurts out that he did indeed betray his people. Mystic forces gather around him. and he slowly disappears the victim of the Spelt of Eternal Banishment that he intended for Agatha. As he fades from sight, he begs Agatha to intercede, but she says that it is far too late. All she can do, she says as tears fill her eyes, is mourn.

Soon the pogo plane takes all from New Salem, carrying the Fantastic Four, Agatha Harkness, and Franklin. As they watch the town from above, it starts to glow, and all of a sudden it vanishes. Johnny had been wondering what a town full of witches could have contributed to the world, and now he realizes that, whatever it was, the people of New Salem decided that what mortal men might offer them in return did not warrant their remaining on Earth. They are gone, says Agatha, to a better place, where the memories can finally be healed. Ben comments that after all they did to her, she must surely hate Nicholas Scratch. But she feels only pity, she replies. How could she hate her own son?

See Also

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
  2. Fantastic Four #159
  3. Last seen in Giant-Size Super-Stars #1



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