Appearing in "Vengeance Is Mine"
- 🢐 Diablo (Esteban Diablo) 🢒 (Appears in flashback) (Apparent death)
- 🢐 Darkoth (Desmond Pitt) 🢒 (Appears in flashback) (Apparent death)
- Solar Cannon
Synopsis for "Vengeance Is Mine"
By the time Alicia, Captain Scott, and Colonel Williams arrives at the site of the Solar Shuttle crash, NASA firefighters have just about extinguished the blaze. One of the firemen reports that they have gone through the wreckage but have not found Ben Grimm's remains. Not even the Thing could have survived the inferno, he says. Scott, however, orders the men to keep looking. Then he asks Alicia to let someone escort her back to the NASA base. She declines, saying she wants to be present when the men searching the desert for Ben return.
Ben, meanwhile, is lying on the sand, stunned but far from deceased. As he stands up, he recalls that Diablo was responsible for the mishap, along with the demon named Darkoth. When the energy beam that caused the crash stopped, he says to himself, he managed to pinpoint its source before he impacted. Then, as his strength returns, he strides purposefully toward Diablo's bunker.
In his Texas desert bunker, Diablo gloats over the Thing's demise, while Darkoth grieves for his friend. Darkoth snarls that he joined Diablo to slay Doom, not Ben Grimm. Diablo orders him to be silent and reminds him how they became "allies." After Diablo escaped the lifeless future to which Dr. Doom banished him, he begins, he tried to gain control of a small Latin American country. In his battle with the land's despotic ruler, General Robles, a vial of potion exploded, but not before Diablo consumed a potion-pellet that transmuted him into a gas. The explosion dissipated the gaseous criminal, but he was able to reassemble his atoms after drifting north to the southwestern United States. Then he discovered a deserted atomic test bunker, which he entered, not comprehending its purpose or the machinery within. As he pondered his situation, a flaming figure fell out of the sky nearby. On investigation, this turned out to be Darkoth, very near death after his battle against Dr. Doom in outer space. Immersion in Diablo's chemical baths kept Darkoth alive, and as Darkoth revived, Diablo endowed him with new powers—the ability to fly using bat-wings on his ankles, and the ability to walk through solid objects. Diablo learned while Darkoth was delirious that the demon despised Dr. Doom, and this became the bond that united them. Naively, Darkoth informed Diablo about the sabotaged Solar Shuttle, and he also rebuilt the computers in the bunker to tap the shuttle's solar power, says Diablo, all in his quest for revenge. Against Doom, thunders Darkoth, not his old friend Ben Grimm. Then Diablo holds up a vial of the potion that keeps Darkoth alive, saying that he would surely kill anyone to have it. Darkoth says that death may be preferable to being Diablo's slave, but when Diablo deliberately drops the vial. Darkoth desperately catches it and consumes its contents. Although he hates Victor Von Doom, he says, he hates Diablo more for thus degrading him.
Then Diablo turns to the control panel that accesses the tapped power for the Solar Shuttle. When he turns it on, an overload light suddenly flashes, signaling that one of the solar collectors has malfunctioned. The others are about to short-circuit as they assume the load. Diablo directs Darkoth to repair the damage or he will pour the life-potion out into the desert. Having no choice, Darkoth passes through the bunker wall and flies on his ankle-wings to the nearby cave that houses the collectors. There he discovers the equipment wrecked, and seconds later the Thing slams him in the jaw with his fist. Elsewhere in the desert, Alicia is in a jeep with three soldiers who are investigating a report about an object falling from the sky. As they traverse an Indian reservation, they find Ben's footprints leading away from his empty spacesuit. Alicia is glad to know that Ben survived, and the jeep follows Ben's trail at top speed toward the atomic test bunker. Back at the cave, Darkoth defends himself against Ben's onslaught by hurling him into a bank of equipment. Survival means more to him than friendship, says Darkoth, and Ben wonders what Darkoth is talking about. Diablo watches the combatants on a viewscreen, hoping that they destroy one another. He has no use for either of them, he muses. Evenly matched, the Thing and Darkoth continue to pummel one another, but Darkoth is frustrated by the psychological conditioning that keeps him from revealing his true identity to Ben.
When Ben hurls a chunk of apparatus at him, he melts it with his fire horns, and then he uses the weapons to sap Ben's will. As he wraps Ben up with cables- he declares that he could have slain him but chose only to restrain him. He would certainly not have bothered trying to warn him about the sabotaged shuttle, he continues, had he wished to take his life. As Darkoth tightens the cables, Ben says that Diablo and he probably imitated the voice of his late friend Desmond Pitt to scare him off. Pitt did not die, shouts Darkoth, but before he can say anymore, his conditioning blocks him. Then Ben rips free of the cables and hurls Darkoth into a wall, coincidentally destroying Diablo's monitor camera. Suddenly, Diablo's life potion starts to wear off, and Darkoth becomes too weak to stand. When Ben sees him on the ground, he thinks he might be trying to trick him, but Darkoth says that he will die if his potion is not renewed. As Darkoth continues to weaken, he overcomes his psychological block and reveals that he is Desmond Pitt himself.
Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the Impossible Man entertains Sue, Agatha, and Franklin at Imperial Studios by impersonating Fred Astaire and the Jolly Green Giant. The director calls off the day's shooting in exasperation, and then Sue tries to telephone Reed. Unfortunately, she cannot get through, and suddenly a familiar personage enters to explain why the switchboard, he says imperiously, obeys only his instructions. The Thing breaks into the bunker and attacks Diablo, but the master alchemist is ready for him. He throws a potion pellet that envelops Ben with gas, and Ben is suddenly tangled in vines that sprout from the ground. Momentarily caught off balance, Ben quickly tears free and presses on. Then Diablo blasts him with a solar cannon— the "ultimate weapon," which he intends to use against Dr. Doom. The cannon is at its lowest setting because Ben destroyed one of the solar collectors, but it nevertheless brings Ben to his knees. Isn't it ironic, gloats Diablo, that Desmond Pitt, the man who saved America from Dr. Doom, shall live in infamy as a traitor? As Ben is forced to the floor, Diablo explains that Pitt was a double agent. Suddenly, the cannon stops, and Darkoth passes through the wall to rescue Ben. Diablo reminds him of the life-potion, but Darkoth no longer cares. Then, seeing that his influence over Darkoth is gone, Diablo surrounds Darkoth with a gas that accelerates his deterioration.
Darkoth collapses, but then, with a tremendous effort of will, Darkoth leaps at the alchemist and slams him through a rack of apparatus. This destroys the solar cannon, but it also initiates a chain reaction that bathes the bunker in lethal solar radiation. Darkoth warns Ben to flee, but Ben rushes to help, saying he owes Pitt his life. The demon kicks him away and replies that it is too late to save him, asking only that Ben find his orphan son and tell him the truth about his father. Then the building explodes. Sometime later, the jeep with Alicia and the soldiers arrives. They find Ben alive within a mile-wide circle of debris. Rubbing his head, Ben sits up and explains that he owes his life a second time to Desmond Pitt. Then Ben quickly tells Alicia and the soldiers that Pitt is innocent of treason. Pitt will certainly be honored posthumously, says one of the soldiers, and his name will be cleared. Then the jeep heads back to the base.
- The Fantastic Four split up in Fantastic Four #191 due to the fact that Reed lost his powers in Fantastic Four #178, he disbanded the group because he no longer felt competent as leader.
- Diablo explains his most recent exploits:
- He refers to how Doctor Doom trapped him in a post apocalyptic future in Marvel Super-Heroes #20.
- He then tells how he tried to take over and fail the nation of Terra Verde in Fantastic Four #117–118.
- He found the body of Darkoth after the man-demon seemingly sacrificed himself in a failed attempt to destroy Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #144.
- The reason why Sue cannot get ahold of Reed in this story is because the corporation he is working for, Cynthian Associates is really a front for Doctor Doom, as revealed in Fantastic Four #196. They have been blocking all of Reed's calls.
- The mystery man who approaches Sue this issue is revealed to be the Sub-Mariner next issue. He appears here after the events of Defenders #54–Defenders #56 where he batted the Behemoth and the Presence alongside his fellow Defenders.
- It is also revealed next issue that Imperial Studios is the same studio that Namor opened back in Fantastic Four #9, only under a different name.
- Although Darkoth appears to die again here, he is plucked to the nether realm of Mephisto, as seen in Thor #325, and used as a pawn against the thunder god Thor.
- Diablo also seemingly perishes here, but resurfaces alive and well and up to his old tricks again in Fantastic Four #232. How he escaped death this time is unspecified, but likely the same method as how he cheated death in Fantastic Four #118.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters: