Appearing in "Dearly Beloved..."
- Yancy Street Gang
- Frightful Four (Only in flashback)
- Gurdon Brewster
- New York City
- Long Island
- Turner-Dale Chapel
Synopsis for "Dearly Beloved..."
Johnny Storm is at the office of Joe Robertson at the Daily Bugle to complain about the front page news announcing his wedding to Alicia Masters. Johnny is furious about the leak as he wished to have a low key wedding considering the fiasco the wedding between his sister and Reed was. However, Robertson is less than sympathetic, telling Johnny that as a public figure he forfeits much of the privacy held by normal people. Seeing that he is accomplishing nothing, Johnny flames on and flies away.
Meanwhile, the Thing has been pacing up and down Yancy Street for hours after the news broke. Members of the Yancy Street Gang have been watching him and deciding what to do. They decide to dump some garbage on him and set up some dummies in the shape of the Human Torch. Put into a rage, Ben crushes a car up into a ball and knocks over the dummies like bowling pins. The entire incident has helped Ben blow off some steam and he decides to leave, accomplishing the task that the Yancy Streeters planned all along. Elsewhere, Alicia is being fitted for a new wedding dress with Sue, unaware that a paparazzi has managed to sneak into the building to snap some photos. Unfortunately he is caught by the She-Hulk who tosses him out before he can complete his task. With the press surrounding the building, Sue assures they are not bothered by forcing the press aside with a force field allowing them to depart invisibly from the dress shop. At that moment in Latveria, the news of Johnny and Alicia's wedding reaches Doctor Doom who tells his butler to send his good wishes. Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Reed is spending some time with Franklin when Johnny returns home. Johnny expresses the intense pressure he's feeling now that his wedding is going to happen soon. Reed assures Johnny that marriage is a challenge but is part of growing up as well, but it is a rewarding experience none-the-less.
Elsewhere in the city, the Puppet Master also hears the news and is not impressed with the coming wedding any more than he would be if his step-daughter were marrying the Thing. Suddenly the Puppet Master realizes he is not alone and that his old ally the Mad Thinker has invaded his home. When the Puppet Master tries to pull a gun on the Thinker, he is quickly incapacitated by the Wizard, who clips an anti-gravity device on his back. The two men explain that they all have vendettas against the Fantastic Four, the Human Torch in particular, and convince the Puppet Master that they should work together to kill the Torch. The Puppet Master agrees, but on the condition it happens after the wedding is complete. He wants this as Alicia stands to inherit a great deal of money should Johnny Storm die and he wishes to try and capitalize on it. When they puzzle over finding out where the wedding will take place, the Puppet Master already has a solution in hand. Using a puppet crafted in the form of Franklin Richards, he takes control of the boy. Through Franklin, the Puppet Master overhears Johnny as he meets pastor George Brewster and learns the location of the wedding: Turner-dale Chaple.
That Saturday as the wedding is underway, guests are being ushered into the chapel. Security is tight and heavy screening is done to ensure nobody is smuggling in weapons. However the Puppet Master is already inside hiding. With the wedding about to begin, Masters pulls out a puppet of the Thing, an ironic weapon to murder the Human Torch. While at that moment at a summer cottage not far away, the Mad Thinker and the Wizard are preparing an army of androids as the Thinker suspects that the Puppet Master may betray them. At that very moment, the Puppet Master is listening in on his step-daughter as she meets with the Thing before the wedding. Much to his surprise the Thing has come to apologize for how he's acted since finding out about her and Johnny's relationship and gives the couple his blessings. The fact that the Thing still cares for his step-daughter even though she is set to marry another man is incredible to the Puppet Master, but as the music begins to play he pushes on with the plan anyway.
Watching from a hidden balcony, the Puppet Master watches as the wedding is performed. After Johnny and Alicia exchange vows and put on their rings, the Puppet Master realizes that this is the happiest moment in his step-daughters life. After Johnny and Alicia kiss, the Puppet Master relents on his plan. Instead of taking control of the Thing, he uses his back-up plan, he unleashes the Dragon Man upon both the Mad Thinker and the Wizard. Dragon Man makes short work of the Thinker's androids. When the Wizard attacks, the Dragon Man easily bats him aside, sending him slamming into the Mad Thinker who is cut in half. Much to the Wizard's surprise he was not working with the real Mad Thinker, but a remotely controlled android. With their plan in shambles, the Wizard flees the scene. As the Mad Thinker vows revenge against the Mad Thinker, the Dragon Man incinerates his android body. The Puppet Master then summons the Dragon Man to take him away.
As the post-wedding party is under way, the police arrive at the scene and inform Reed and Sue of the battle not far away, as well as the delivery of a strange package. When they see it is from Doctor Doom they are surprised to find that it contains nothing but flowers. Enclosed is a card that informs the Fantastic Four that on this momentous occasion Doom has called a truce between them so long as the flowers he has sent are in bloom. Reed believes Doom sent it because he appreciates art, and reminds the others that cut flowers do not remain in bloom for very long. Sure enough as they begin to walk away, the flowers begin to wilt and lose their petals.
- Members of the Fantastic Four and their supporting cast have appeared in other publications prior to their appearances here:
- Reed and Sue were last seen in the second story of Fantastic Four Annual #22 during the unveiling of the Four Freedoms Plaza. They discovered that all of Reed's old inventions were recovered by the Watcher just prior to the Baxter Building being destroyed in Fantastic Four #278.
- "Alicia" and Franklin were last seen in Mephisto Vs #1, when Mephisto targeted the team in a longer scheme to steal the soul of a god.
- The woman marrying Johnny is not the real Alicia Masters, but Lyja, a Skrull spy who took her place as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. The switch took place during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- Johnny makes mention how much of a "circus" Reed and Sue's wedding was. That's putting it mildly. Reed and Sue got married in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Their wedding was not only a media frenzy, but was also attacked by a legion of super-villains enthralled by Doctor Doom.
- The Yancy Street Gang make their return here since their last appearance in the Thing #1 when he tries to steer them away to a life in a gang. A group of ethnically diverse Yancy Streeters are seen next in Fantastic Four #361. The Yancy Street Gang has been antagonizing the Thing since Fantastic Four #6. The reason why is because Ben used to be a part of their gang until he left to clean up his life, as seen in Thing #1.
- Mention is made to the fact that the Thing and Alicia Masters used to date. They had been dating since Fantastic Four #9. The reasons why they are not together anymore are complex. Here are the facts:
- In Fantastic Four #245 Reed had realized that Ben could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms at will, but his belief that Alicia only loved him as the Thing subconsciously prevented Ben from doing so. Reed kept this a secret.
- When most of the Fantastic Four were among those kidnapped by the Beyonder to battle in the first Secret Wars on Battleworld, Ben discovered he could change back and forth and believed it was because of Battleworld itself. He decided to stay there in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12.
- Ben remained in Battleworld between Thing #11–22 where he eventually lost his ability to change back into Ben Grimm and returned to Earth.
- When he arrived in Fantastic Four #277 he discovered that Johnny was now in a relationship with "Alicia."
- Finally in Thing #23 the truth of what Reed had known came out and the Thing quit the Fantastic Four.
- Ben ended up joining the Mole Man's society Fantastic Four #296 where still held a grudge against Reed and the Fantastic Four for everything that happened to him. Despite this he grudgingly rejoined the team when they later came looking for him.
- Doctor Doom appears here following his battle against Cloak and Dagger in Cloak and Dagger (Vol. 2) #9–10. He next appears in Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #2–4 when he pits the two groups against each other over Reed's inability to cure Shadowcat of her condition following injuries sustained during the Mutant Massacre.
- The three villains who appear in this story all previously appeared in other publications:
- The Puppet Master last appeared in Thing #34 when his body was restored by the Sphinx.
- The Mad Thinker was last seen in the sequence of events of Page 19, Panel 2 of Fall of the Hulks: Alpha #1 when he, the Wizard, and the Red Ghost revived the Venom Symbiote after it was seemingly slain in Web of Spider-Man #1.
- The Wizard last appeared in Secret Wars II #7 when he was part of Mephisto's Legion Accursed, who failed to destroy the Beyonder.
- The Mad Thinker mentions his old alliance with the Puppet Master. The pair had frequently teamed-up over the years. The first time being in Fantastic Four #20. Prior to this story they also teamed-up in Strange Tales #126, Sub-Mariner #14, Captain Marvel #14, Avengers #63–64, and Marvel Team-Up #6.
- Each of the three villains mention their earliest defeats at the hands of the Fantastic Four:
- The Puppet Master was first defeated by the FF back in Fantastic Four #8.
- The Mad Thinker met his first defeat in Fantastic Four #15.
- While the Wizard got his start as a Human Torch foe and was first defeated in Strange Tales #102, he did not become a Fantastic Four foe until he formed the Frightful Four in Fantastic Four #36.
- Some insights on the Wizard's flashbacks:
- His recollection of his first battle with the Torch depicts him wearing his Wizard costume. This is not correct as the Wizard did not begin wearing his trademark costume until Fantastic Four #36.
- His recollection of the Frightful Four together depicts Peter Petruski in his first Trapster outfit he began wearing in Fantastic Four #38 and the Sandman in the high-tech costume he began wearing circa Fantastic Four #61. This recollection also shows Medusa as a member of the team. As such these recollections were either based on Marvel Super-Heroes #20 or Fantastic Four #94 when all these conditions were chronologically accurate.
- The scene where Ben gives his blessing to "Alicia" and the wedding ceremony are seen again in Fantastic Four (Vol. 2) #7 when Ben and Johnny's future selves are made to watch these events to play out again.
- Dragon Man appears here following the events of Power Pack #6–8 when the creature was freed from drug dealers by the Power Pack who then turned the android over to its creator Professor Gilbert. The android is next becomes a pawn of Aron the Rogue Watcher in Fantastic Four #321–333.
- Puppet Master next appears in Power Pack #60 where he apparently has reformed, remarried. He encounters the Power Pack and the alien Ciegrimites in that story.
- Members of the Fantastic Four appear in other publications following this story:
- Reed and Sue were pulled forward in time to the future of Earth-60166 where they met numerous versions of their future selves who were gathered by their Earth-60166 counterparts to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary as seen in Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special #1. When Reed and Sue are returned to the exact moment that they were taken from, they retained no memory of the festivities.
- Ben and She-Hulk next appear in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #1 when the assist the Silver Surfer in finally breaking free of the barrier put around the Earth by Galactus that has kept the Surfer trapped on Earth since Fantastic Four #50.
Links and References
- The Grand Comics Database: Fantastic Four Vol 1 
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