- I just don't care for men with fresh mouths.
- -- She-Hulk
Appearing in "The Minds of Mantracora"
- Taranith Gestal (First appearance)
Races and Species:
- Mantracorians (First appearance)
- Negative Zone Exploratory Module
Synopsis for "The Minds of Mantracora"
On the Negative Zone world of Mantracora, the Mantracorians' spiritual leader Tarnith Gestal have chosen a new couple to join the ranks of his "chosen" people. The couple accepts their selection and are led deep below Gestal's massive castle, there they find something horrifying, but their screams are not heard by those celebrating above them....
Two days later, the Fantastic Four are riding a wagon incognito toward the major city on Mantracora on their continued exploration of the Negative Zone. Reed wants to check out a strange energy reading he has detected in the city. As they approach, the Thing is not impressed with the outfit they have given him as a disguise, but Reed deems it necessary in order to mask their presence as much as possible. However their entry does not go unnoticed, as in his castle Tarnith Gestal's computers detect the massive intellect within the mind of Reed Richards, the final piece of the puzzle for his grand schemes.
Getting a room at a local inn, Ben and Johnny decide to go out and explore while Reed and Sue spend some time alone in their room. Unaware that they are being watched, Ben and Johnny begin to explore the city and it's many odd sights when suddenly they are attacked by a gang of thugs. In order to save themselves, the two members of the Fantastic Four are forced to use their powers and blow their cover. Back at the inn, Reed and Sue have finished a romantic interlude when more attackers burst into their room. Reed and Sue fend off their attackers when suddenly Tarnith Gestal enters their room and calls an end to the hostilities.
Meanwhile at the Baxter Building back on Earth, Annihilus uses Reed's equipment to begin his plan that will see the destruction of both the positive matter universe of Earth and his home dimension of the Negative Zone. Activating the device suddenly floods all the New Yorkers in the area with a sudden sense of fear that forces them to flee the area around the Fantastic Four's headquarters. Three blocks away are the Avengers known as She-Hulk and the Wasp, who are out apartment hunting. When they see the flood of panicked people fleeing down the street, they decide to go and investigate the danger. Going charging ahead, the She-Hulk ends up slamming headlong into an invisible barrier that is impenetrable.
Back in the Negative Zone, Tarnith Gestal invites the Fantastic Four back to his castle, and Reed is forced to accept the invitation as that is where his readings were taking the team. They are soon joined by Ben and Johnny who accompany them. At the castle of Tarnith Gestal, the Fantastic Four have a meal, but Reed suddenly keels over -- having been drugged. The lights suddenly turn out and when Johnny flames on to illuminate the room again Reed and everything in the room is now gone. Ben rips through the floor revealing a metallic complex underneath. Meanwhile down below, Tarnith Gestal has hooked Reed up to a massive machine that will drain him of his mind, the same fate as all those he has deemed his "chosen", leaving them mindless husks. Before he can complete this process on Reed, Tarnith reveals himself not to be a member of the Mantracorians, but small alien creature that usurped the role of the religious leader. It explains it crash landed on Manticora some thirty years earlier. His ship needing mental energies to operate, he had been using his position to sap the minds of his followers. Detecting Reed massive intellect made the patriarch of the Fantastic Four a most coveted source, as his mental prowess contains more than enough energy the creature needs to re-power his ship.
As the process begins, the other members of the Fantastic Four begin ripping through the metal floor to the levels below. Fighting their way through the tunnels, they make their way into the room where Reed is being kept. However their captor reveals they have arrived too late and Reed's mind is now a blind slate. It gloats at the Fantastic Four as Sue cradles the mindless shell of her husband, mocking them with the false hope that they might be able to re-educate the mindless being that used to be their leader.
- The Fantastic Four have spent months in the Negative Zone even though only a few hours have passed on Earth. The time differential was explained by Reed in Fantastic Four #251.
- Johnny mentions that he has been training working on his fighting skills after their last battle with Doctor Doom, which occurred in Fantastic Four #246.
- Johnny mentions not being good as the martial artist known as Iron Fist. The Torch met Iron Fist in Marvel Graphic Novel #1 when they both attended the funeral for Captain Marvel.
- As revealed in Fantastic Four #257, Reed and Sue's romantic interlude in this issue leads to Sue becoming pregnant with her and Reed's second child.
- She-Hulk and the Wasp make their appearance here following the events of Avengers Annual #12 when they joined their fellow Avengers on the moon to evaluate the situation with the Inhumans recent migration there. They next appear in Avengers #233 where the join their fellow Avengers in trying to tear down the barrier Annihilus has erected around the Baxter Building.
- Annihilus also appears next in Avengers #233 where he faces off against the Avengers.
- Johnny jokes that the Thing may had been reading too much works by Harvey Kurtzman. Kurtzman was a comic-book artist who worked for Marvel's predecessor Timely Comics in the 1940s.
- This issue contains a letters page, Fantastic Four Fan Page. Letters are published from Chuck Alligood, Rick S. Jones., Rick Lambour, Sean Grimes, and Thomas Long.
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