- He's a man! I can't touch a man!
Appearing in "Fasaud!"
- Fasaud (First appearance) (Origin revealed)
- New York City
- Kingdom of Aqiria (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "Fasaud!"
The Human Torch is flying across the city when suddenly he is called down by a butler and a maid from a nearby mansion. He comes down to see what's wrong and learns that they are the work staff for Gregory Dunbar, a reporter for CBS. The main explains that earlier while she was cleaning the house a strange electrical being called Fasaud appeared before her demanding her employer. When the woman tried to run, Fasaud teleported across the room and caught her by the arm causing second degree burns. Seeing the burns himself, Johnny uses his powers to draw heat from them in order to sooth the pain. Learning that Dunbar is at the broadcast building, Johnny leaves to get his teammates in the Fantastic Four to investigate.
At the Four Freedoms Plaza, Ben is in Reed's lab with his new teammates Crystal and Ms. Marvel. Without Reed around to operate the lab, Ben tells them that they are at a distinct disadvantage and decides that it is best they lock up the lab in order to keep things contained. Just as Ben is locking up, Johnny arrives to tell them what's going on. When he gets too close to Ms. Marvel, she flinches back, making Johnny wonder what's wrong but dismisses it as his flame, rather than the real reason -- her secret fear of men.
As Johnny is telling them what happened, at the CBS building, Gregory Dunbar is working at the news studio when suddenly Fasaud appears before him. Recognizing the mysterious man, Dunbar tries to lunge at his foe, but passes straight through him. Fasaud explains that he is no longer flesh and blood before zapping Gergory with a jolt of electricity. While outside, the Fantastic Four approach in the Fantasti-Car. When they spot people fleeing from the building they realize they are too late to warn anyone and go crashing through the wall into the studio. The four attack Fasaud but their powers have no effect on him. He explains that he is a living television signal and that nothing they can do can harm him. As Fasaud begins super-charging Johnny with excess heat, Ben comes up with a solution on how to defeat their foe. As Johnny flies up high into the sky to safely unleash his nova flame, Ben tosses some grounding cables at their foe, disrupting his broadcast image, causing Fasaud to disappear.
They soon realize that Johnny's nova flame has knocked him out and he is at risk of falling to the ground. Rushing to the hole in the wall, Ms. Marvel tries to leap out and catch Johnny. However she is stricked with sudden revulsion at the idea of touching a man and chokes at the last minute, turning her leap into a dive to the building on the other side of the street. Unsure of what went wrong, Crystal shouts at the people below to move away from a hot dog cart that is directly under Johnny as he falls. Crystal then begins to bombard it with fire, creating a thermal updraft that gently floats Johnny back to the ground while the flame revitalize his strength. As Sharon tries to shake off the feelings of disgust she has over men, Crystal becomes faint. As Johnny recovers, and unaware how Sharon choked, offers to fly her over to the broadcast building, but she sternly refuses.
As Johnny thanks Crystal for saving his life, Ben thinks about how he asked her to join the Fantastic Four to rankle Johnny after he married Alicia but realizes that the weak link of the group is turning out to be Sharon. Deciding to get to the bottom of their current mission, Ben revives Gregory Dunbar and asks him who Fasaud is. The veteran reporter explains that he is Sheikh Farouk Al-Fasaud a powerful oil-rich man from the middle eastern nation of Aqiria. As oil minister for his country, he used his wealth and influence to affect the sale of oil around the world. Dunbar investigated Al-Fasaud and exposed his shady dealings leading to a scandal that was widely covered by the media. The once reclusive Farouk Al-Fasaud was now front and center of the world's scrutiny. Desiring to avenge his honor, Farouk went to the television station in Aqiria where Dunbar worked and tried to murder him in revenge. When Farouk lunged with his knife, Gregory dived out of the way and the knife plunged into a television camera. The massive electrical jolt seemingly killed Al-Fasaud instantly, however, Gregory started to witness the birth of his new broadcast form and fled the scene. After that incident, Gregory was re-stationed in Cairo before returning to the United States.
As Sharon returns to the room, Ben sends Johnny and Crystal to get some insulated wire so they can protect Dunbar from further attack. While they are gone, Ben reminds Sharon that all men didn't rape her, only a few and that if she cannot work with the team regardless of their genders then she is going to have to leave. When Sharon begs him to give her a chance because she can't stand another failure, he reminds her that he leads the Fantastic Four. Ben then tells her that he wishes he could help her if only she'd start looking at him as a man again. Tearfully, Ms. Marvel explains to him that she can't and probably won't ever be able to again. However, she tells him that she will work harder at being part of the team in the future.
With the situation back to normal for the time being, Ben decides that they should take a two-pronged attack in order to defeat Fasaud. With Dunbar sealed in a grounded room, Johnny and Crystal are ordered to remain behind in case Fasaud returns to New York, while he and Ms. Marvel travel to Aqiria to search for traces of their foe there. As the team departs, Johnny is impressed by how quickly Ben has taken the reign of commands and hopes that his new role as leader of the FF will allow him to get his mind off Johnny's marriage to Alicia. Meanwhile, Ben's thoughts are of concern over Sharon's condition and how that will affect the team and hopes that if she cracks under the pressure again this new Fantastic Four could turn out to be a failure.
- The Thing was last seen in Marvel Comics Presents #21 where he is asked to deal with Rico, a gilted lover with enhanced powers.
- Johnny was last seen in Power Pack #36
- Sharon's obvious discomfort with men is due to the fact hat she was raped while a prisoner of the mad scientist Karl Malus in Captain America #330–331 this was fully explained in Fantastic Four #306. That she was raped is not stated flat out, instead it is heavily applied due to censorship and content restrictions imposed by the Comics Code Authority which was enforced at the time of this publication.
- Throughout this issue the tensions between Ben, Johnny, Crystal and "Alicia" are frequently mentioned or hinted at. For those paying attention at home, these are the facts:
- Ben and the real Alicia Masters dated for a long time, since Fantastic Four #9.
- Meanwhile, Johnny and Crystal dated between Fantastic Four #65–105 until the outside world's pollution forced her to return home to Attilan.
- Crystal ended up rescuing Quicksilver along the way and the two fell in love as seen in Fantastic Four #131–132. Crystal and Quicksilver later got married in Fantastic Four #150. Johnny had a series of failed relationships while Ben and Alicia remained together over the years.
- 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 believe 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.
- As explained in Fantastic Four #358, Alicia was secretly replaced by the Skrull spy Lyja who was sent to infiltrate the Fantastic Four. With the Thing no longer part of the team she focused her attention on Johnny. Lyja took Alicia's place during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- When he arrived in Fantastic Four #257 he discovered that Johnny was now in a relationship with "Alicia".
- 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 he 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.
- Johnny recently married "Alicia" in Fantastic Four #300
- Meanwhile, Crystal had and affair with Norm Webster and was eventually caught during the events ofVision and the Scarlet Witch (Vol. 2) #6 through 12.
- In Fantastic Four #303 Ben realized that he still loved Alicia Masters.
- Reed elected Ben to replace him as leader of the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #304
- Ben then asked Crystal to join the Fantastic Four last issue.
- Johnny went so far as to accuse Crystal of trying to break up his marriage in Fantastic Four Annual #20.
- The nation of Aqiria is a fictional country that exists only in the Earth-616 universe. Although intended as a stand in for the nation of Saudi Arabia, both countries exist on Earth-616.
- This story is a slight commentary on the oil glut of the 1980s and the role that nations, with Aqiria in the role of Saudi Arabia. The historical context is that in 1985, Saudi Arabia was a de facto that was propping up the oil production quotas for other nations that were part of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. When Saudi Arabian officials became fed up with other nations using shady means to meet global quotas, they began producing oil at maximum capacity. This created a massive surplus of oil that affected oil prices globally. The analogue here is that Fasaud manipulated the markets for his own personal gains. That said, the commentaries in this issue should be considered topical references per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Cover art by Frenz and Sinnott.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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