Appearing in "Side by Side with - Annihilus??"
- Negative Zone
Synopsis for "Side by Side with - Annihilus??"
Continued from Fantastic Four #179...
Reed Richards is alone and powerless in the Negative Zone after being dumped there by his evil counterpart from Counter-Earth, and now he has to deal with the Negative Zone's ruler, Annihilus. Annihilus attacks Reed to prove to himself that Reed Richards has indeed lost his powers, making him useless to his cause. When Richards asks why, he explains that he needs help stopping a threat to both the Negative Zone and Earth.
On Earth, the Thing and Tigra have just finished their battle with the Metalloid and are assisting the military in trying to salvage the robot out of New York Harbor. Learning of the incident from the TV, Thundra and the Impossible Man travel out there to lend a hand to recover the robot from the harbor.
While back at the Baxter Building, Sue confirms her suspicions that the Reed living in the Baxter Building is really her husband's evil counterpart who came from Counter-Earth after she kisses him. Wanting to be absolutely certain, she tells him that she wants to go check on Franklin, but in reality is seeking to get Alicia to come to the Baxter Building as a final test to prove her suspicions once and for all. Taking a cab to Alicia's apartment, Sue tells Alicia her fears and is about to collect Franklin when suddenly Agatha Harkness appears to come and take Franklin. When Agatha can't stop to explain, Sue tries to stop her from taking the boy with an invisible force field but Agatha manages to teleport away with Franklin.
The Human Torch meanwhile has been flying around the city, brooding about his situation with Frankie Raye. Deciding to stop in Washington Square Park to think, he spots her out on a date with another person and confronts her about it. Frankie gets mad at Johnny for confronting her and tells him she doesn't like fire. When he tries to make a joke about it, she gets visibly upset and storms off. While at the harbor, the military has come to collect the Metalloid robot, but Ben wants to bring it back to the Baxter Building for Reed to examine. When the military tries to stop them, Thing and Thundra use their strength to fight their way through the military.
Back in the Negative Zone, Annihilus takes Reed Richards to his fortress where they come across a giant creature that has taken over the location. It is under the control of the Mad Thinker who intends to use the monster to not only take over the Negative Zone, but the Earth as well.
- Reed refers to himself as a World War II veteran. In Fantastic Four #11 it was first stated that Reed fought in World War II. This has been retconned out of Reed Richards' history per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, as Reed fighting in World War II would drastically age the character. Any reference to Reed being in the military should be generalized.
- Reed lost his powers in Fantastic Four #178, a natural progression since he first discovered it in Fantastic Four #157. His powers are eventually restored in Fantastic Four #197.
- Sue refers to how a blow to the head made the Counter-Earth Reed Richards evil, this was seen in Fantastic Four #178.
- Agatha Harkness was Franklin's nanny between Fantastic Four #94 and Fantastic Four #150. She left that job in Avengers #128 in order to train the Scarlet Witch in the arts of sorcery.
- As revealed in Fantastic Four #185, Agatha is being hunted by her people, the Witches of New Salem.
- Agatha says that she seeks to utilize Franklin's powers to help her, apparently having forgotten that she was present in Fantastic Four #150 when Franklin's powers went dormant after they were used to shut down Ultron.
- Frankie Raye's fear of Johnny's flame 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.
- The massive creature seen here is the Mad Thinker's "Killer Android" that was dumped into the Negative Zone in Fantastic Four #71. It was last seen as the Scavenger of Annihilus in Fantastic Four Annual #6. How the android went through all these transformations is revealed in Fantastic Four #183.
- This is the last issue as regular writer of this title for longtime scribe and editor Roy Thomas.
- This issue features a letters page, Baxter Building Bulletins. Letters are published from Vic Kolba, Claude R. Brake, Phillip Wadler, James Powell, Wilson Fong, Matt Aaronson,, Ed Via, and Stuart Snyder.
- Thing is drawn with four fingers and a thumb on the cover. As this is a Jack Kirby illustration -- and it's unlikely Jack would have made this error on his favorite character -- it remains a mystery how this happened. It appears Ben's pinky fingers were added by another party.