- It is my power--and my curse--to be without a native imagination--yet to burn with a ceaseless desire to create--!
Appearing in "Rock Around the Cosmos!"
- Dragon Man (Apparent death)
- Shaper of Worlds
- Slugger Johnson (First appearance)
- Wild Ones
- Joe Kone
- Gregory Gideon (Corpse)
Synopsis for "Rock Around the Cosmos!"
Following their battle with Gregory Gideon, the Fantastic Four are desperately trying to revive their leader Mister Fantastic after he was subjected to their foe's Eternity Machine. Using his flame powers, Johnny manages to create enough heat energy to repower the device and it succeeds in reviving their leader. When Reed calls out to his wife Sue, the other members of the Fantastic Four tell her that she is not there, keeping her the promise they made to keep her presence in the earlier battle a secret. Surveying the damage, they find that Gregory Gideon is dead. Also among the dead, apparently, is the android Dragon Man who seemingly died battling Gideon. Reed console's Gregory's son Thomas and promises to work on finding a way to cure him of the radiation poisoning that is slowly killing him. Soon, the Fantastic Four and Thomas Gideon take off in the Fantasti-Car and Sky-Cycles and head back to the Baxter Building.
From the rubble of the battlefield emerges Slugger Johnson, one of the guards that Gideon hired to work his facility. Glowing with a strange energy, Slugger wanders around the facility thinking back to how simpler things were in the 1950s. He recalls that after graduating high school he was only able to get menial labor jobs until the day he answered a want ad in the paper to work for Gideon. Trying to get out of the factory before the authorities arrive, Slugger is suddenly stopped by a blinding light that heralds the arrival of the Shaper of Worlds. The Shaper tells Slugger that he was drawn to him by the energy radiating from his body. The Shaper tells Slugger that he can change reality but lacks the imagination to do so, and thus seeks out those whose wishes he can from others. He then unleashes his powers to create a new world modeled after Johnson's wildest dreams.
Waves of energies suddenly wash across the area altering reality. When it strikes the Fantastic Four it causes them all to forget how to fly their ships and they crash. When they revive they are shocked to see what appears to be a bunch of 50's era greasers -- calling themselves Wild Ones -- are attacking what appears to be a massive bomb shelter on flying motorcycles. When they spot the Fantastic Four the Wild Ones begin attacking them. When Reed and Ben fight back they are shocked when suddenly Johnny and Medusa begin attacking them. As the battle rages on suddenly the bomb shelter opens and a number of soldiers calling themselves Patriots emerge in flying cars and begin attacking. Outnumbered, the Wild Ones decide to retreat taking Johnny, Medusa and Thomas Gideon with them.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Patriots land their ships and confront Reed and Ben. Their leader Joe Kone telling them that they are protectors of the nation they take the two FF members into their shelter. There they begin grilling them on if they are part of the "Youthie Movement" and things get heated when Reed and Ben have no idea what they are talking about. However, the Patriots are ordered to stand back by their leader Senator McHammer. As they go down the hallway, Kone pushes past an African-American worker, Reed remarks how Joe went past him as though he was invisible. Meanwhile, Johnny, Medusa, and Thomas are taken to the malt shop headquarters of the Wild Ones. When they begin playing rock 'n' roll music, the volume is too much for Medusa, so Johnny blasts it with his flame powers. When the Wild Ones almost start attacking, they are suddenly stopped and ordered to bring the newcomers to their leader, the Wild One himself. The Wild One turns out to be none other than Slugger Johnson, who recognizes the two members of the Fantastic Four, but can't quite put his finger on where he had seen them before, sparsely remembering his past life before the Shaper changed reality.
Simultaneously, the Wild Ones and the Patriots subject each of their strange visitors to interrogations. For Johnny and Medusa, it's a pair of obnoxious radio DJ's who quiz them on pop culture, while for Ben and Reed are put in isolation booths and grilled by McHammer about who wants to know if they are part of the Youthie movement. This turns out to be a form of brainwashing on both sides, as they tell their guests about the man known as the Brain and how he has a powerful weapon called the Warhead that they wish to obtain for themselves. With each member of the Fantastic Four brainwashed to follow their respective sides, they all head out to find the Brain, willing to kill anyone who stands in their way.
- Confirmed to be dead here, Gregory Gideon has remained dead since. However, his legacy lived on when his assets were taken under the control of the Gideon Trust. They attempted to exploit the Negative Zone many years later in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #35-44.
- Although the Dragon Man appears to be deactivated here, he is revived sometime later by the Machinesmith in Captain America #247-249.
- Slugger Johnson's first name is revealed as Andrew in the Glorian entry of Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #4.
- The narrative of this story states that Slugger went to high school in the 1950s. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, as time slides forward it will become impossible for Slugger to have attended school in the 1950s without vastly aging the character. To date, Marvel has not provided an official explanation for this irregularity of the sliding timescale. One could assume that the general facts about Slugger's past are valid, but his affectation for the 1950s may simply be just that and that he never actually lived in that era.
- Here are some facts regarding the fantasy world created by Slugger Johnson:
- The Wild Ones are patterned after the 1953 film The Wild One.
- The bomb shelters, and paranoia of the "Youthie Movement", as well as Senator McHammer are all commentaries on the Cold War. Senator McHammer is based off of Senator Joseph McCarthy whose House Un-American Activities Committee were involved in rooting communist elements that were believed to be active in the United States in the early 50s.
- The Wild One is referred to as the Wild One's "Elvis, Brando, and head Dean!" These are references to the following celebrities who were known for playing roles of rebels.
- The isolation booths that Reed and Ben are put into are reminiscent of the various quiz shows that used isolation booths as a gimmick such as the The $64,000 Question and Twenty One.
- The Brain is patterned after brilliant scientist Albert Einstein.
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