Appearing in "The Brain Parasites!"
- Fantastic Four
Races and Species:
- Lost Lake
Synopsis for "The Brain Parasites!"
Reed is contacted by scientific colleague Gideon Carruthers to help investigate a meteor impact at Lost Lake mountain resort in Pennsylvania. Reed accepts, and the Fantastic Four and Franklin prepare for a family holiday unaware that the meteor, hidden at the bottom of the lake itself, is causing some kind of selective evolutionary regression in the local wildlife.
As the FF approach in the Fantasticar, they come under attack from a hawk devolved into a Pteranodon. While Sue protects Franklin, the other three members do their best to repel the attack but the Pteranodon does serious damage to the craft. When a mighty blow from Ben knocks the creature unconscious and plummeting straight for the Fantatsicar, the creature mysteriously explodes: the only physical remains being a small organism resembling a prehistoric trilobite. While the rest of the team settle into their cabin quarters, Reed and Carruthers set about examining the trilobite, but are interrupted by a small boy whose dog has disappeared. Promising to do their best to find the boy's pet, they tune in to a radio scanner in time to hear a police report about an attack at a nearby gas station. Fearing the attack is related to the trilobite incident, Ben, Reed and Johnny rush to investigate and find a police trooper lying inured beside his vehicle, a victim of a savage monster that attacked his car. The three investigate inside the gas station and discover a number of cans of motor oil ripped open on the floor, and a huge wolf-like creature lapping at the spilled oil. The beast is cornered but escapes, knocking Ben out of the way with an energy blast and destroying the gas pump heads, but Reed acts quickly and on a hunch he removes the living trilobite creature from the back of the wolf's neck, and the wolf reverts to its original form. Within an hour the trilobite is dead, and Reed and Carruthers determine that the creature is a true symbiote and that it uses its host to procure oil for sustenance, hence the attack on the Fantasticar and the gas station. The team determine to search for the meteor the following day and, as Reed and Sue look in on a sleeping Franklin, Sue worries that they are exposing their son to needless danger in just being at Lost Lake. She complains that it is still difficult for her to accept a life outside of the ordinary patterns of family life, but resolves to stand with her husband as both wife and member of the team.
The next day Ben dives from the FF's rented launch to the bottom of the lake and retrieves an alien egg from the meteor, but is attacked by a huge sea serpent that Johnny surmises is devolved from a common eel. As the team tackle the serpent and Sue pilots the launch, the integrity of the egg is breached and a trilobite makes its way up Sue's back, unnoticed by the Invisible Girl in the heat of the moment. Carruthers and Franklin watch from the shoreline as the FF take on the monster, and before Reed can remove the alien from the serpent it mysteriously explodes, just like the Pteranodon. An investigation of the now vacated alien egg reveals five empty chambers meaning, as far as Reed knows at least, two parasites unaccounted for. Sue, meanwhile, is acting very strangely, and shuns Reed's attempts at physical contact. Later, as Ben and Carruthers scour the woods for one of the missing parasites the scientist falls prey to an alien and is devolved into some from of early hominid. As the creature attacks the heating oil of a nearby cabin, Johnny intervenes and causes an explosion that knocks Carruthers out long enough for Ben to remove the parasite and restore him to human form. As the team regroups, Sue's absence is noted and she is eventually discovered behind the Fantasticar, still largely in control of her faculties but struggling to maintain her humanity, which Reed ascribes to her cosmic-ray-altered blood chemistry.
Reed and Johnny deduce that it was Franklin who was responsible for making the two parasites self-destruct and, as the youngster struggles against the same impulse with regard to his own mother, Reed buys enough time to remove the parasite from Sue's neck, enabling Franklin destroys the parasite as it rests in Reed's hand. Restored to humanity, Sue is at a loss to explain the parasite's motive in sheltering by the Fantasticar, but suggests that the parasite's instincts may have been reproductive. As the craft takes to the air its engines incinerate another alien egg that had been deposited beneath it, with all but one of its larvae burned to a crisp, and the remaining parasite hovering precariously between life and death.
- Franklin manifests his powers again here, they had been dormant since Fantastic Four #150 but began resurfacing again in Fantastic Four #216.
- Alicia makes a cameo here; she appears next in Marvel Two-In-One #76, when her trip to the circus with the Thing is interrupted by the Circus of Crime.
- The Fantastic Four and Franklin next appear in Incredible Hulk Annual #11 when the world is temporarily infected with the Leader's "Green Flu".
- This issue contains a letters page, Fantastic Four Fan Page. Letters are published from Eric L. Watts, John B. Balen, David Ayers, and Tom A. Field.
- This story appears to have been inspired by the 1958 Science-Fiction film entitled "The Brain Eaters". The creatures in said film also control their victims by attaching themselves to their hosts' spines.
- In her studio, Alicia Masters has made a sculpture of Moon Knight, another character that was at the time under the direction of Bill Sienkiewicz and Doug Moench.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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