Appearing in "The Crusader Syndrome!"
- Fantastic Four
- Crusader (Thelius) (First appearance)
Races and Species:
- United States of America
- Light Bands (First appearance)
Synopsis for "The Crusader Syndrome!"
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.
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 date's rooftop, 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.
- This issue confirms that Sue's powers were boosted when she used the Thunder Horn to increase her powers during the events of Fantastic Four #159.
- Here are some facts concerning the Crusader in this story:
- He claims to be Robert Grayson, the 1950s hero who called himself Marvel Boy, a champion of the Uranian Eternals on Uranus. The original Marvel Boy came to Earth to become a hero in Marvel Boy #1.
- Ultimately the Uranian Eternals sought to replace Marvel Boy, engineering an Eternal named Thelius to take his place as seen in Marvel Boy: The Uranian #3. As a result, the Uranians who allowed the Eternals to live on their world saw this as a violation of their agreement and slaughtered the Eternals. As seen in Agents of Atlas #3, Marvel Boy returned to Uranus and joined with the Uranians, while Thelius was awoken, but his memories were altered in such a way he thought himself to be the true Marvel Boy. It is Thelius who appears as the Crusader here.
- Frankie Raye's fear of Johnny is because at this moment she suffers from pyrophobia as explained in Fantastic Four #238. It stemmed from the fact that her stepfather Phineas Horton -- creator of the original Android Human Torch -- accidentally doused her in chemicals that endowed her with flame powers of her own. Horrified by what he had done, Horton used hypnosis to suppress those memories and give her a fear of fire.
- Reed's powers are weakening here as he is slowly starting to lose them. This began in Fantastic Four #157 and his powers will be completely gone by Fantastic Four #178. Reed manages to get his powers restored to their peak in Fantastic Four #197.