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Quote1.png You are the kind of son any mother could be proud of. You are a hero. Quote2.png
—Mrs. Munson

Appearing in "Mission for a Dead Man!"

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  • Hammerhead's exoskeleton


Synopsis for "Mission for a Dead Man!"

At Deeden State Correctional facility career criminal David Munson is spending his last day on death row. Having finally made peace with his fate, he tells Father Albert Vito that he is innocent of the murder of which that put him on death row, the only crime he has ever been innocent of committing. With all avenues of appeal exhausted, Munson can do nothing more but accept that the end is near, but asks the Father to deliver a letter for him to someone he hopes can help clear his name. Vito agrees to deliver the letter personally, and soon Munson takes the final walk to the electric chair where he is executed for the crime he claims he did not commit. Watching the execution, Father Vito is horrified by the sight of the last moments of George Munson's life. Later the Father looks to whom the letter is addressed to and is surprised to find that it is addressed to the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four.

Two weeks later Father Vito finds himself outside the world famous Baxter Building. Entering he tries to access the FF's private elevator but finds that the button is non-responsive. He is startled when the Invisible Girl appears next to him and explains that the elevator will only open via a solenoid signal device in the belt buckles worn by the Fantastic Four. Opening the elevator, Sue takes Albert up to the main floor of the Baxter Building, assuring him that the security scanners within the Fantastic Four's headquarters has already scanned him and he has been deemed non-threatening. When they enter the main floor of the FF's headquarters, Father Vito is shocked when he finds the Thing trying to hurt the Human Torch after he taped a picture of Christopher Reeves with a mocking note about what a real hero looks like to his bathroom mirror. The Thing manages to douse the Torch's flame with a pipe he ripped from the floor, but before he can hurt Johnny, Reed intervenes. Still very upset, the Thing composes himself and decides to go out, telling them that he'll come back once he's cool down if he cools down. Meanwhile, Johnny gets a tongue lashing from his sister for aggravating Ben, especially when they have a guest -- a priest no less -- over for a visit. When they learn that that Father Vito has come to see Johnny, Sue, and Reed leave them alone to discuss the Father's business.

Vito turns over the letter to Johnny, and it contains the final wishes of George Munson, who apologizes for his past treatment of Johnny and asks for his help in clearing his name for the crime he died for, for the sake of his mother who is apparently unaware of his criminal background. At first Johnny doesn't recognize George Munson, but quickly recalls that George "Georgie" Munson was one of his chief tormentors back in his early days at Glenville High before he became the Human Torch. When Father Vito asks if Johnny can help clear Munson's name posthumously, the Torch agrees to look into it and see what he can do.

Johnny then takes a section of the Fantasti-Car to his old stomping grounds in Glenville where he quickly establishes his credentials the police and is allowed access to the police files regarding the murder Munson was sent to death for. The evidence is damning: Munson was accused of robbing a liquor store and gunning down the clerk. He was witnessed fleeing the scene and was arrested, the murder weapon was found at the scene with George's fingerprints all over it. When Johnny later compares notes with the detective who originally investigated the case they both find it suspicious that Munson would commit so brazen a crime, yet the murder weapon was armed with a silencer.

Johnny decides to check out the scene of the crime, although the murder was committed years earlier, in the hopes of finding a clue. Arriving at the liquor store, the owner is agreeable about letting Johnny look around up until the hero tries to look in the back room. Accused of being a fake, Johnny flames on to prove he is who he says he is, but the owner still demands that he leave the store. Johnny realizing how foolish it was to flame on in a store full of flammable liquor and that he has no legal grounds to search the shop he decides it is better to leave. But he returns that night and begins watching the owner as he closes up shop. The shop owner, in a panic, goes to a nearby payphone to contact his boss, a man known as "H", but Johnny interrupts him in the process. The shop owner tries to flee, but the Torch traps him in a flaming cage, but the liquor store owner has no information on who is a mysterious employer is, but he manages to recover the phone number the man was trying to call.

Doubling back to the Baxter Building, Johnny traces the number to a warehouse in New York City. There he finds a gang of thugs and easily melts away their weapons. When one tries to flee, Johnny stops him and when he refuses to talk threatens to burn him. To bluff, the man into talking, Johnny burns away half the hair from his face and is given the address to a nearby penthouse. There he is surprised to learn that it is owned by the super-powered Maggia leader known as Hammerhead. He interrupts Hammerhead and his men arguing over who is in charge of things and confronts Hammerhead for the murder of Munson. When the other mobsters try to flee, Johnny fuses the lock on the door and battles it out with Hammerhead, who surprises him with his sudden strength. Realizing that Hammerhead is just a regular guy and how he wasn't harmed when he grabbed Johnny's burning leg with his bare hands, Johnny realizes the truth. Using his flame, the Torch burns away Hammerhead's outer clothing revealing a strength enhancing exosuit underneath. Their fight continues, taking them out onto the patio where Johnny uses his powers to melt the exosuit's battery pack, rendering it useless. Hammerhead then surprises Johnny by leaping off the side of the building, but when he goes after the crook he has somehow vanished.

Soon the police are called and arrive on the scene. When discussing things with the detective, Johnny get's a luck break in his case: The detective explains that Daredevil recently turned in all the files of the Kingpin, [1] and offers to let Johnny look through them for any clues that might help him. Sure enough, Johnny manages to find the evidence he needs to clear Munson's name. About a month later, Johnny meets with Munson's mother at the grave of her son in a prison graveyard. He explains to her that George was framed by the liquor shop owner, back when he wanted to take over the store. He tricked George into handling the murder weapon before the killing and then left it at the scene to frame Munson. Munson's mother surprises Johnny when she reveals she knows that her son was no good the whole time. When Johnny tells her why he helped Munson out, she thanks him because he is the kind of boy a mother can be proud of, and because he is a hero, before she walks away from the grave of her no good son, leaving Johnny to reflect on the entire experience.


Continuity Notes

  • The members of the Fantastic Four were last seen in a flashback from Iron Man #159 when their attempt to bring their foe Diablo to prison is interrupted by Doctor Strange who has a more fitting punishment for him.
  • Glenville was the town that the Torch and his sister Sue lived in prior to becoming members of the Fantastic Four as first revealed in Strange Tales #101.
  • This is not the first dealings a member of the Fantastic Four has had with the Maggia crime family. The FF last dealt with them when they tried to take over their headquarters in Fantastic Four #101.
  • The detective on the scene near the end of this story references how Daredevil obtained the criminal files of the Kingpin. This occurred in Daredevil #172, when the Kingpin handed overstates evidence to the Man Without Fear after he defeated the Kingpin's assassin Bullseye.

Chronology Notes

A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:

Publication Notes

  • No letters page is published this issue.


  • The joke about the Christopher Reeve photo, and the line about him being a "real hero" in this story is because the late Christopher Reeve was best known for the actor who played the role of Superman in the Superman films of the 1970s and '80s.

See Also

Links and References


  1. Daredevil #172
  2. 2.0 2.1 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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