Appearing in "Battle Royal!"
- Galactus (Recap)
Synopsis for "Battle Royal!"
On a walk through a New York City park, Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm, and Medusa are suddenly accosted by a trio of young hoodlums. Ben is wearing an overcoat and hat, so they do not recognize him. The leader, Angie, pulls out a knife, but when he recognizes Ben, he has second thoughts. Ben rips a lamppost out of the ground and bends it into a pretzel as the hoodlums cower in awe, but Reed cautions him not to use his power lest he kill the boy. So Ben simply drops the lamppost, and as the four teammates leave, he tells the hoodlums that the day they can untie his knot is the day they can call themselves tough. As the teammates walk by a winged statue.
Ben sees someone flash through the sky, and a second later the Silver Surfer, mounted on his surfboard, appears before them. After all these months, shouts Johnny, the Surfer has returned. But the Surfer says that he has not come as a friend, and he shatters the statue with his fist. Ben quickly grasps the Surfer's meaning and attacks, and Johnny flames on as well, but Reed cautions Johnny that the Surfer is too powerful for him. As the Surfer evades Johnny's attack, he asks them to forgive him for what he must do, for he has no other choice. Regardless of their struggles, he says, in the end he will certainly triumph. But Johnny attacks again, and the Surfer hits him with a blast of cosmic power that extinguishes his flame. Reed catches Johnny, saying that if the Surfer has harmed him, nothing will stop their retribution. But the Surfer circles around and heads directly for them. If the one thing that makes his life bearable is to survive, he says, the Fantastic Four will have to die. As the Surfer envelops the teammates in cosmic energy, they feel their souls begin to drain away. But just as the Surfer is about to kill them, he regrets what he has been forced to do, and he stops. The foursome pick themselves up. The Thing brandishes his fists, but Reed restrains him, saying that there is clearly a reason for what the Surfer has done. The Surfer confirms this, and he starts to tell them his story.
A few months ago, shortly after he left the Defenders, he flew to the top of Mt. Everest to meditate. He remained there for many weeks, entranced and unmoving until he decided to try once more to break free of the barrier that Galactus placed around the Earth to imprison him. The Surfer flashed around the world faster and faster, his concentration strengthening with each orbit until the world itself seemed no longer to exist. Then, gathering all his cosmic energy, the Surfer struck the barrier—and passed through. Unfortunately, as soon as he penetrated the barrier, his cosmic power left him, because Galactus's power extends far beyond the barrier. The Surfer's body began to shrivel and weaken, forcing him to return to Earth, and the barrier sealed itself behind him. Helpless, he plummeted toward the ground as his power slowly returned to him. He impacted like a meteor in a village square, and although he did not know it, he was in Latveria, near Dr. Doom's castle. As the Latverian townsfolk rushed toward him, he emerged from the crater and happened to see a poster of Latveria's new queen—his beloved Shalla Bal herself. He could hardly believe his eyes, for he believed that she was forever banished to Zenn-La by Mephisto.
The thought that she had been so near all these months nearly drove hum crazy, and he quickly forced the townsfolk to tell where their queen resided. Soon he flashed to the castle on his surfboard, but when he flew over the battlements, he could hardly believe his eyes. There, battling armed and armored guards, were the Fantastic Four themselves. He hesitated, not knowing what to do, and as he watched, more guards arrived, armed with energy weapons, and destroyed the Fantastic Four But as he continued to watch, he learned that what he saw were robots in a routine training exercise, not the real Fantastic Four. Then he glanced into a window and saw Shalla Bal in person, and he approached her, happy to be with her again. But she failed to recognize him and asked him to leave before she summoned the guards. When he again asked her whether she recognized him, his question was answered by Dr. Doom himself. If she no longer knows him, gloated Doom, it is because she no longer desires to know him. The Surfer's once beloved now belongs to him, said Doom triumphantly—Shalla Bal is Doom's wife. The Surfer concludes his narrative by saying that Doom swore to release Shalla from her vows and return her memory if the Surfer would slay the Fantastic Four. It seemed as if he had no other choice, for there is nothing that he would not do, nothing that he would not sacrifice, to regain Shalla's love. Then, begging his friends' forgiveness, he bathes them with his cosmic power.
- Some facts about the Silver Surfer in this issue:
- The Surfer talks of his love, Shalla-Bal, from his native Zenn-La. She first appeared in Silver Surfer #1. He references how the demon known as Mephisto manipulated him using her as a pawn in Silver Surfer #17.
- This is not the real Shalla-Bal, but a construct created by Galactus. As revealed in Silver Surfer Vol 3 #130, Zenn-La was destroyed by the Other in 1947, shortly after the Silver Surfer became a herald of Galactus. In order to keep this a secret Galactus wiped out the Surfer's memories of Shalla-Bal's death and supplanted the rest of them. Galactus then created a construct of her for when the Surfer's memories eventually surfaced. Norrin would not learn of this duplicity until decades later.
- This story also references how the Defenders are relatively unknown. The Fantastic Four are aware of them at this point because the Thing met members of that group in Marvel Two-In-One #6 & 7 when he teamed up with Doctor Strange and Valkyrie respectively.
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