Quote1.png That madman has imprisoned me as a lesser creature. That was his first mistake. Quote2.png
-- Black Panther

Appearing in "Render Unto Caesar!"

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Synopsis for "Render Unto Caesar!"

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Nick Fury and Dum Dum Dugan are visiting the Fantastic Four at their Baxter Building to get Reed's input on a strange energy signature that SHIELD has picked up coming out of Africa. They quickly realize that the signature is coming from the nation of Wakanda, the kingdom ruled by the FF's ally the Black Panther. Fury admits that the reason why they came to the Fantastic Four was because T'Challa would be more receptive to the Fantastic Four coming to investigate over SHIELD. When discussing the situation, Fury also mentions that they picked up a strange UFO that flew over the area when the picked up the energy signature. When Reed tells them it was the kingdom of Attilan when the Fantastic Four assisted in moving it to the moon. Learning this Fury angrily chews out Reed for so reckless an act, pointing out that they could have been blown out of the sky flying over Russian air-space.

After Fury and Dugan leave, the Fantastic Four are off in a ship heading for Wakanda. While on board, the Thing tries to impress the team by wearing an Indiana Jones costume, but is met with only laughter. Soon after they arrive in Wakanda, Ben is suddenly attacked by a group of Wakandan warriors.

The fight is soon broken up by the Black Panther who recognizes the Thing despite his most recent transformation and invites his old allies into his kingdom. After Reed explains why they are in Africa, the Black Panther tells them how a party of Russians posing as explorers set out to the Tower of M'Kumbe, a mountain in the region some two weeks ago and were never heard from again. Deciding to check this out, the Fantastic four disguise themselves as explorers and with a company of Wakandan warriors head out into the jungle. Unwilling to let his friends go out into the wilderness alone, the Black Panther doffs his costume and follows after them, disguised as one of his own warriors.

After two days of travel, the Fantastic Four and their guides make it to the base of the Tower of M'Kumbe. There they find the Russian camp and a startling discovery: the Russians have been stripped clean of their flesh, leaving nothing but skeletons behind. No sooner have they made their discovery, they are surrounded by an army of African natives who are dressed in the armor of Roman soldiers. Reed tells everyone to stand down and not use their powers and see what happens, although he commands Sue to turn invisible so she can view things unrestrained in case there is any immanent danger. The Fantastic Four and their guides are taken prisoner and taken inside the Tower where they are shocked to find some kind of primitive elevator system that lifts them to the summit. There they are even more shocked to find a Roman style society has been established consisting exclusively of Africans. They are soon taken to the ruler of this hidden kingdom, a masked tyrant who calls himself Emperor Gaius Tiberius.

When Gaius Tiberius expresses an interest in Frankie, she loses her temper and flames on, blowing their cover. But Scollio manages to easily bat her aside, stripping her of her flame powers in the process. When Ben, Reed and Johnny try to leap into battle they are stripped of their powers as well. Caught in this power nullification as well is Sue, who becomes visible and is taken prisoner along with her comrades. Having had enough of this affront, Gaius Tiberius orders his captives to fall asleep and then orders them to be thrown into the dungeons awaiting a suitable punishment. Inside a massive cage below the palace, T'Challa revives and recovers parts of his costume that has been hidden among his warriors. Dressed as the Black Panther once again, T'Challa then breaks out of his cell, intent on freeing his friends.

Sue awakens to find herself in a bed, she is soon greeted by Tiberius who orders her to get dressed and prepare to watch the games. Reed meanwhile awakens to find himself locked in a cell with his arms in shackles and none of his stretching powers to save him. Elsewhere in the dungeon, the Black Panther finds Frankie Raye suspended over an open flame, in order to free her the Black Panther attacks the guards in the room.

While above, Flavius shows Sue the arena, where she asks Gaius where he and his kingdom originate from. Gaius explains that centuries ago he was a simple soldier in the Roman army named Flavius Scollio. His troop was sent to explode Africa where they soon came across a crashed alien ship. Although the alien on board slew Flavius' comrades, the Roman warrior managed to get sneak up on the strange creature and slay it. Scollio then stole the alien's armor, which apparently prolonged his life. Deciding to set himself up as an emperor unto himself, Flavius rechristened himself Gaius Tiberius and set up his kingdom atop the Tower of M'Kumbe, creating his perfect Roman society, even though he disliked the native he was forced to make as his subjects. Having finished his story, Gaius then turns Sue's attention to the arena below where he is about to force Johnny and Ben to fight to the death.

Pretending to be horrified by the possibility of her friends dying, Sue waits until Tiberius has his backed turned. Seeking to learn the secret of his long life, Sue removes his helmet and is horrified to find nobody underneath. Apparently nothing more but a life force within the armor, Flavius Scollio's essence escapes with the removal of the helmet causing the armor to fall to the ground inert. With the death of Scollio, his power over the region fades, causing everything he built to disappear and his subjects to crumble to dust as they rapidly age. At that moment the Fantastic Four's powers also begin to return. As the realm of Gaius Tiberius crumbles around them, the Fantastic Four, Frankie and the Black Panther manage to escape. At the bottom of the tower, they are shocked when it suddenly explodes. Reed calls out to Sue, worried she was caught in the blast. Sue assures him she is fine, but invisible, as with the apparent death of Tiberius her robes vanished leaving her nude. Reed passes her a jacket to wear for modesty. After hearing Sue's story, he explains how the alien armor preserved Gaius for so many centuries and it failed when the helmet removed. With the mystery now over, the Fantastic Four and their allies head back to Wakanda.


Continuity Notes

  • Dum Dum Dugan's appearance here is a complicated one. As revealed in Original Sins #5 Dugan was seemingly killed in action back in 1966 and it was suggested that he was replaced by a complex LMD that thought it was Dugan. However as revealed in New Avengers Vol 4 #17, Dugan's body was kept alive and his mind was transmitted into LMDs.
  • The strange energy signature and the moving of Attilan were all seen last issue.
  • Nick Fury mentions the Fantastic Four's long running friendship with the Black Panther. The group first met and befriended the Panther back in Fantastic Four #52.
  • This is the first time the Black Panther has seen the Thing since he was reverted to an earlier form in Fantastic Four #238.

Publication Notes

  • This issue is broken down into six chapters
    • Chapter I: Render Unto Caesar!
    • Chapter II: The Black Tower
    • Chapter III: The Glory That Was
    • Chapter IV: Vini, Vidi, Vici
    • Chapter V: Blood and Circuses!
    • Chapter VI: The Hollow Man
  • This issue contains a Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation.
  • This issue also contains a letters page, Fantastic Four Fan Page. Letters are published from John Wilcox, Julie Watkins, John Goda, Brenda Robnett, and Kevin T. McKee.

See Also


  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks

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