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Appearing in "The End of the Fantastic Four!"

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Synopsis for "The End of the Fantastic Four!"

Annihilus has defeated the Fantastic Four and their ally Wyatt Wingfoot and dumped them into his domain, the Negative Zone. Gloating over his victory and his final revenge, he lowers his enemies unconscious bodies toward an alien world where he imprisons them in a complex beneath the planet's surface. Not long after the defeated heroes revive they are greeted by Annihilus who reveals that he has Sue, Franklin and Agatha Harkness as his prisoners. Angered at the sight of his wife and son in danger, Reed tries to lash out, but his teammates hold him back. Reed relents realizing plunging in headlong will not solve the problem and Annihilus gloats at their weakness. He then begins explaining his intents: He reminds them of the accident that created the Fantastic Four, [1] and how the romance between Reed and Sue led to their marriage, [2] and Sue's eventually pregnancy with Franklin. Annihilus also reminds them how the pregnancy was a complicated one which required Reed to venture into the Negative Zone where he tricked Annihilus into allowing him to siphon energy from the Cosmic Control Rod in order to save the life his wife and unborn child. [3] But he posits that Reed and Sue's biggest fears were that instead of being born a prodigy, their son would become a monster. Annihilus then assures them that young Franklin has become a monster.

This angers Reed, but when he attacks he is easily knocked out by Annihilus. Likewise, when the rest of the Fantastic Four try to fight the Negative Zone ruler, he easily buffets their attacks. He then continues to explain his schemes: Annihilus explains that after his last attempt to conquer Earth, [4] he began observing Franklin, and seeing a threat in the witch Agatha Harkness, he began seeing to removing her from the game. When Franklin was away from the witch's home, [5] he attacked Agatha after she contacted the Fantastic Four with a warning, spiriting her way before she could tell them what she knew. [6] He then explains that he used the old witch in order to kidnap both Sue and Franklin for his schemes. Having told them enough, Annihilus tells them that they must be refreshed before he begins his "transformation" and soon the Fantastic Four and Wyatt are bound up in coils and carried off into another room while Annihilus laughs.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Alicia Masters is on a flight to a Bavarian country in Europe. There she is greeted by Dr. Hans Stutgart, the man who has been corresponding with her about the medical procedure that may restore her eyesight. Picking her up at the airport, Stutgart shows her to his car...

While back in the Negative Zone, the Fantastic Four and Wyatt find themselves trapped in a tower with walls so strong even the Thing can't pound through them. Quickly thinking, Medusa uses her hair to lower her teammates out the window and down to the ground. Slipping away from the lair of Annihilus, the heroes set up camp and try to figure out their next move. Suddenly they are attacked by a group of creatures and make short work of them. Discovering that the creatures communicate telepathically, they learn from their leader that Annihilus has been losing energy since their first battle with him, making Reed realize why the creature has targeted his son and that he will begin working on the boy soon.

Inside the fortress, Annihilus has taken Franklin from his cell. Sue asks Agatha to cast a spell to try and stop them, but the old witch informs her that her arcane powers are only half as strong in this universe. Annihilus then places Franklin into a machine and explains that it is a Gene Transmuter that will restore the power that was stolen from his Cosmic Control Rod by leeching the energies from Franklin's body. Annihilus begins activating the device, which charges the infant's body, unleashing the energies that will bring the boy to a most tragic fate. While outside, the Human Torch begins using his flame powers to melt a hole through the thick rock outside of Annihilus' lair. They catch Annihilus off guard, and while the team is fighting the creature, Agatha manages to cast a spell so that they can communicate with their friends outside of their glass enclosure. Sue warns Reed of the machine that Franklin is hooked up to.

Turning away from Annihilus to rescue his son, Reed notices his son's eyes are glowing with a weird energy. Suddenly he can feel the boy's thoughts and see entire galaxies swirling in his mind like play things. As Reed pulls his son from the device, Johnny, Ben, and Medusa knock Annihilus into unconsciousness. They then free Agatha and Sue from the glass tube they were contained in. Acting quickly, Agatha casts a spell that transports the Fantastic Four, Sue, Wyatt and Franklin back to the Baxter Building on Earth. Meanwhile, the energies growing in Franklin begin hitting critical mass. Quickly, Reed hands the boy over to Sue and then rushes to his lab to get the device he has been working on. Even though it is not fully functional, Reed is still forced to use it on his son. Firing a blast at the boy just before his body explodes, Reed succeeds in shutting down Franklin's mind, making his powers dormant once more and saving the world. However, this comes at a terrible cost now that Franklin is now in a comatose state. Not fully understanding why Reed did what he did, Sue is horrified that her son is now basically brain dead. This revelation shocks everyone else and the Thing angrily announces that because of Reed's actions, the Fantastic Four are no more. As Reed bows his head in shame, Sue leaves with Franklin with Wyatt, Johnny, and Ben taking their leave as well.


Continuity Notes

  • Annihilus goes through a substantial chunk of Fantastic Four history:
    • He mentions the Fantastic Four's space flight that gave them their powers in Fantastic Four #1. In this story, he states that the Fantastic Four were trying to reach the moon. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, the destination of the Fantastic Four's maiden voyage into space is considered a topical reference. The destination has since been updated with the times on many occasions. First in Fantastic Four #236, it was stated that Reed's experimental ship was intended to travel to the edge of the solar system and while it needed a rocket booster to reach escape velocity from Earth's atmosphere it relied on a Star Drive to reach its destination. This tale also goes on to expand on how the quartet was mutated. While Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 merely states that it was cosmic rays, Fantastic Four Vol 1 236 goes further to explain that these rays passed through the Van Allen Belts that is held around the Earth by its magnetic field. Fantastic Four #358 published in 1991 states that the this "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems. It's also stated in this story that unusual sunspot activity from Earth's sun also played a role in boosting the strength of the cosmic rays that mutated the Fantastic Four.
    • He also mentions the marriage of Reed Richards and Sue Storm which occurred in Fantastic Four Annual #3.
    • Then he mentions how Sue became pregnant, this was first learned in Fantastic Four Annual #5.
    • He also refers to his first clash with the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four Annual #6 where the group took energy from his Cosmic Control Rod in order to save the life of Sue and baby Franklin, who would have otherwise died in childbirth.
    • Annihilus' referring to Franklin as a "monster" is referring to his mutant powers that were first chronologically seen in Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine #4. There have been hints of his powers as early as Fantastic Four #107.
    • Annihilus also refers to his previous failed attempt to invade Earth. This happened in Marvel Team-Up #2 when the Frightful Four attempted to open the portal to the Negative Zone. They were stopped by Spider-Man and the Human Torch.
    • He also explains that he kidnapped Agatha Harkness recently. Her disappearance was first noticed in Fantastic Four #134. The footnote in this story that references that event erroneously attributes that kidnapping to Fantastic Four #135.
  • Reed's actions in this issue push Sue even further away from her husband, dragging out their separation until Fantastic Four #149 when they reconcile.
  • Although broken up here, the Fantastic Four do not stay apart for long, with Reed, Ben, Johnny and Medusa reuniting by the end of Fantastic Four #145.
  • Annihilus' blasting of Reed Richards portends the eventual ending of Reed's cosmic ray-spawned stretching powers. This gradual loss becomes a plot point beginning in Fantastic Four #157 and continues intermittently until he loses his stretching powers in their entirety in Fantastic Four #178. Reed's powers are restored in Fantastic Four #197.

Chronology Notes

A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:


  • This issue is referenced quite heavily in the 1997 Ang Lee film The Ice Storm. Images from the comic are seen as the credits come to an end and the story line is used to explain how one character views family relationships.

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