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Appearing in "Here There Be Witches"

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  • Reed's Extender Limbs


Synopsis for "Here There Be Witches"

Less than an hour after the Fantastic Four return from Whisper Hill, Reed is closeted in his laboratory analyzing the metallic "egg" that Ben found outside the mansion. It was from this egg that the Eliminator—the robot that destroyed Agatha Harkness' Whisper Hill mansion and almost destroyed the Fantastic Four—emerged, and consequently Reed is trying to squeeze every last datum out of it to determine where it came from and who might have constructed it. When Sue enters the lab, Reed tells her that he has fed the data into the computers and is awaiting the results. Moments later a light flashes on a projected map of North America, indicating where the ore was mined from which the metal egg was made—a secluded area deep in the Colorado Rockies. That, says Reed, is where they must search next for Franklin and Agatha. He tells Sue to get Ben and Johnny ready, then leaves to take care of another matter. Sue realizes that the loss of Reed's stretching power has made him feel useless and burdensome, but she does not know what to do about it.

Sue finds Johnny washing up, and as he dries himself, they walk down a corridor discussing Reed's problem. They find Ben preparing to light up a cigar in the library. He had gone to Alicia's after they returned from Whisper Hill, but he decided to return because he was worried about Franklin. Before Ben can strike a match, however, a familiar hand stretches out with a light. Reed then explains to his surprised teammates that his power has not actually returned. Rather, he is using a version of the auto-extensors that he designed years ago when the Fantastic Four once lost their powers.[1] Also, he is wearing an older version of his Fantastic Four uniform, because it was the only clean one he could find. Reed's teammates don matching uniforms to show their support for him, and they all head for the pogo plane hangar. Johnny says that he has recently modified the aircraft, and it has never been readier to fly. Minutes later, they are soaring out of New York toward Colorado.

As the Pogo Plane vanishes over the horizon, a green and purple sheet of paper drifts—against the breeze—toward the Baxter Building and settles through an open window in the Fantastic Four headquarters without setting off any of the alarms. Then it suddenly changes into the Impossible Man, who has finally seen his first movie, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and wants to tell everyone about it. He changes into a 1920s gangster, armed with a machine gun, but he soon discovers that no one is home, so he settles down to wait in front of the television set. Some time later, the pogo plane flies over the Rocky Mountains in the area indicated by Reed's computer. Even though there is no town marked on Johnny's map, Sue sees a small community below, surrounded by mountain peaks. Ben lands the plane some distance away in order not to attract undue attention. When they disembark, Johnny and Ben remove several heavy boxes from the plane, and Johnny quickly assembles their contents into a flashy sports car. Wearing street clothes, the four teammates drive along a windy mountain road into the village of New Salem. As soon as they enter the town, the wind stops, and Reed suggests that the surrounding mountains must keep the winds out, which is probably why the town was built there in the first place. Surprisingly, theirs is the only car in the village, and they park it to look around.

In the town square, they are met by the mayor himself, Nicholas Scratch, who bids them welcome and offers assistance. Reed says he and his "associates" are doing mining research, and he introduces himself as "Mr. Smith." Scratch escorts Reed and Sue to the city hall, while Ben and Johnny reconnoiter the town by themselves. As they depart, Agatha Harkness watches from a nearby window, relieved that they have come for their son at last. Turning, Agatha confronts her captor, who is armed with a staff and orders her to silence Franklin's crying. In olden times, warns Agatha as she soothes Franklin, he would not have dared to speak to her like that. When Franklin asks for his parents, Agatha tells him that he must be patient. Soon the Fantastic Four rendezvous beneath Agatha's window. Reed says that according to the town records, the Eliminator's egg could not have come from there, and they will just have to return home and start over. Disappointed, the teammates start to drive out of the village. But Agatha realizes that once they leave the city limits it will be too late to stop them, so she casts a spell that creates a wall of flame in front of the vehicle. At first the startled teammates think Johnny is responsible, but it quickly becomes clear that someone in New Salem must have done it. Reed turns back toward the village, where the townsfolk have gathered to watch them. When the villagers realize that their ruse has failed, they drop their disguises in a burst of energy and stand garbed in hooded cloaks. The buildings behind them likewise change from quaint western structures to menacing, gargoyle-bedecked stone edifices.

The New Salemites inform the Fantastic Four that they cannot now be allowed to leave, because they know their secret, and their fate will be up to the "Most High." This leader soon arrives, and he turns out to be Nicholas Scratch himself, armed with a mystic staff that glows with energy. With a wave of his hand, he conjures up an image of his hostages, Agatha Harkness and Franklin Richards. Instantly, the four teammates drop their disguises and attack. Scratch raises his Satan-Staff, which crackles with power, and the stone gargoyles on the buildings come to life. A fierce battle between the winged demons and the Fantastic Four ensues. Reed is pleased that his auto-extensors work even better than he thought, and soon the teammates beat the monsters back.

When it becomes apparent to Scratch that the gargoyles are losing, he turns them back to stone, and many of them shatter as they fall out of the air. Then Scratch tells the townspeople that it is time to begin the "first phase," and they all clasp hands and start to chant. The Thing suddenly starts to beat himself with his own fists, while Reed watches helplessly as Sue is enfolded in an earthen cocoon. Ben starts to pummel Reed uncontrollably, and Sue soars through the air and collides with her brother, extinguishing his flame. Then he and she fall to the ground and are buried up to their necks. Reed collapses from Ben's blows, and then Ben, the only one still standing, tries to attack Scratch himself. But a bolt of mystic energy emerges from the Satan-Staff at point blank range and knocks him out. Standing over the defeated foursome, Nicholas Scratch declares that no mortals could ever have stood a chance against a city ruled by witches.


Continuity Notes

  • Agatha, and Franklin were last seen in Fantastic Four #182 when they were both kidnapped by the Witches of Salem.

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