Appearing in "Nightmare in the Snow!"
- Ternak (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Nightmare in the Snow!"
After the pogo plane crash-lands in the Himalayas, the Human Torch and Medusa emerge into the snow to take stock of their situation. Although Medusa wears a parka, it is scant protection against the cold and wind. The Torch discovers a mountain pass some distance away, but it is too far for him to fly there with Medusa, and he will not leave her there alone. Medusa cannot believe that she is about to die in the Himalayas scarcely fifty miles from the Great Refuge. When she senses someone watching her, she dismisses the feeling as impossible, and then she asks Johnny how long his flame will last in the cold. About fifteen minutes replies Johnny—which means they are in trouble.
Just as Medusa asks Johnny to check the radio in the pogo plane, a group of apelike humanoids attacks her. She fends them off with her hair, noting that their skin is freezing cold and that their language is unlike any tongue she has ever heard. Then the Torch chases them away with fireballs after he realizes that their frigid metabolism cannot tolerate heat. But as Johnny flies in pursuit, a giant snow creature leaps out from under the snow and grabs Johnny's leg. The creature's cold extinguishes the flame where he touches Johnny, who hurls fireballs at him in desperation. Amazingly enough, the creature speaks English, and he introduces himself as Ternak and demands to know what they are doing there. He asks what they know about the "cannon," and he declares that they will regret interfering. When Ternak admits to destroying the pogo plane, Medusa slams him with a chunk of metal. The distraction allows Johnny to break free and strike Ternak in the face with a white-heat blast. Temporarily blinded, the snow giant flees, but Johnny falls into the snow, which extinguishes the last of his flame. Medusa carefully picks Johnny up with her hair, hoping to get him someplace warm, but their situation looks even more hopeless to her now than when they first crashed.
Ten hours before, recalls Medusa, she and Johnny were at the Baxter Building working out. Ben was lifting weights and boasting about how much stronger he was getting. Irritated, Johnny melted one of Ben's weights, and Ben retaliated by pulling out a fire hose. Before Ben could use it, Johnny burned a hole in it, so Ben chased him and slammed him into a wall. Then, annoyed at being used as Johnny's "personal doormat," Ben stamped out of the room. Medusa helped Johnny to his feet, saying that he had it coming. When she asked him why he had been acting so strangely recently, he replied that it was difficult getting used to Crystal and Quicksilver being engaged. Just then, Reed interrupted to tell Medusa that he received a message on the sub-space radio from Black Bolt, who wanted her to return temporarily to the Great Refuge to assist with "Project Revival." When Reed asked Medusa what that meant, Medusa replied that it was a classified Inhumans secret. Medusa persuaded Johnny to join her, and soon he and she were over the Himalayas in the pogo plane. But then, just as Johnny was asking Medusa why she wanted to have him along, the pogo plane was struck by an energy beam in mid-air. Johnny flamed on and grabbed Medusa's hair, which saved them both, but the plane was a wreck. Johnny handed Medusa a thermo-parka and flew into the sky to look around, and then they were attacked by the snow-creatures.
Medusa finishes reminiscing sheltered by a rock, as she and Johnny warm themselves with what remains of Johnny's weakened flame. Johnny too wears a parka to keep warm and preserve his flame. Suddenly, a faint noise alerts them to someone watching them, and Johnny flushes him out with a heat flare. With her hair, Medusa reels in the watcher, who turns out to be an aged snow-creature who speaks English. Begging Medusa to keep the Human Torch away, he says that he owes no allegiance to Ternak and came there to warn them of the danger they face, a danger that threatens all "outsiders." Then he briefly outlines the origin and history of the strange snow-creature race. Five hundred years ago, begins the snowman, there was a monastery in the mountains to the east.
Every two years, the monks sent an expedition to the villages below for food. They were vegetarians, forbidden to eat the flesh of the goats that lived in the mountains, so they had to buy rice from the farmers in the distant valleys. These journeys were very strenuous, but one particular journey was much more strenuous than usual. All of the monks save one were killed by the adverse elements. The survivor, whom the snow-creatures now call the Master, sought shelter in a cavern but soon became lost. In that cavern, he discovered the brutish race that were the ancestors of the present-day snow-creatures. At first, they attacked him, but he was skilled in martial arts and defended himself with his staff. But at last, he was defeated by the sheer number of his attackers. Then he produced an object from his pouch—a mirror. The snow-creatures had never seen a mirror before, and when they saw themselves they were frightened. Soon they bowed down before the Master and acknowledged him their leader. The Master stayed with them for many years, teaching them to build buildings and bringing them civilization. Slowly, they learned the languages and sciences of the outside world. Then, after sixty years, the Master died. He was mourned for weeks, but the snow-creatures continued to build on what they learned, and they lived peacefully in isolation through the centuries until Ternak came to power. He is the first of their leaders to crave conquest of the outside world.
The elderly snowman's words are cut short by a ray blast which vaporizes him. Shocked, Johnny and Medusa turn to see Ternak and his minions, who leap down and quickly subdue them. Johnny and Medusa are carried unconscious into a dungeon, where Johnny soon revives to find himself chained to the floor. Standing over him is Ternak, who intends to summon Johnny to the central chamber to tell how he learned of the snow-creatures' plans. As Ternak departs, Johnny realizes that he will never convince the paranoid tyrant that he and Medusa were there by accident. He tries to flame on, and after a strenuous effort, he manages to create enough of a flame to melt his shackles. Once he frees himself, he ignites his whole body. Then he melts through his cell door, finds Medusa—who happens to be picking her lock with her hair—and melts her door as well. As they head upstairs, Johnny quickly defeats a group of snow-creature guards by melting their weapons and chasing them off with fireballs. Then he melts through a wall, hoping to escape to the Great Refuge to obtain the assistance of the other Inhumans. But that wall leads instead into the central chamber, and when Johnny and Medusa enter, they find Ternak at the controls of a huge weapon that he calls the Climate Cannon. Ternak explains that he and his people are forced to live in the Himalayas because of their body temperature, which is several dozen degrees lower than that of humans. The Climate Canon will lower the mean average temperature of the entire planet, says Ternak, which will destroy the outsiders and will allow him and his people to rule the world.
- The Chosen should not be confused with the Yetis which are a separate race of creature that also live in the Himalayan Mountains.
- Johnny mentions his uneasiness about Crystal and Quicksilver getting married, here are some facts about this revelation at the time of this story:
- Johnny and Crystal dated from Fantastic Four #65-105 when constant exposure to pollution forced Crystal to return home to Attilan.
- As revealed in Fantastic Four #131 she discovered an injured Quicksilver following his battle with the Sentinels and brought him back to Attilan with her for medical treatment. The pair began a romantic relationship, although Crystal was unsure if she wanted to be with Johnny or Pietro.
- When Johnny learned of this in that issue, he and Crystal eventually decided their relationship was over as of Fantastic Four #132.
- Crystal and Quicksilver announced their intention to get married to the Avengers in Avengers #110. As this is the first time Johnny mentions knowing about the impending wedding, he must have heard it through the grapevine.
- The Inhumans secret "Operation: Revival" is later revealed as an attempt to bring Reed and Sue back together. The couple separated in Fantastic Four #130 over marital problems. These were made worse when Reed was forced to shut down the mind of his son Franklin in Fantastic Four #141. This plan finally comes to fruition in Fantastic Four #149.
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