Appearing in "The Illusion"
- Fantastic Four
- Turino XL
Synopsis for "The Illusion"
Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are walking along Hydrobase talking about their current membership among the Avengers and how it is not satisfying for them. Reed confesses that he wishes to return to the Fantastic Four and is curious how things are going with the group after the Inferno incident. Sue agrees to let her husband go into Manhattan to check things out, but reminds him of his promise not to interfere since handing over leadership of the team to Ben. As Reed takes a ship over to the Four Freedoms Plaza, he reflects on how he led the Fantastic Four and how they were the pioneers of super-heroes, saving the world before others existed. Landing on the roof of the Plaza, Reed attempts to use his key-card to access the roof hatch and finds that it no longer works. In order to get inside he reshapes his finger into the configuration of the card reader's slots so he can gain access. However, upon entering his former headquarters, he triggers the security systems and his legs are instantly caught in hidden leg shackles. Suddenly a laser cannon starts firing at him. Using his stretchable body to dodge the blasts, Reed finds no way he can possibly get out of the room. Changing tactics, he stretches his hand into a slot in the wall and finds the hidden power source, pulling the plug on it and disabling the security devices.
Reed is suddenly greeted by Ben, Sharon, Johnny and Alicia who are surprised to find him in this situation since none of the alarms went off. Reed suspects that proper maintenance of the security systems have not been followed and is allowed into the master control room to make the necessary adjustments. He then addresses how Johnny's flame presently flaring out of control and learns that it is an after effect from the Inferno crisis. Offering to help Johnny, Reed assures Ben that is all he is going to do, and doesn't plan on taking away leadership of the Fantastic Four from him. With everything sorted out, Reed goes to send out to his wife to tell her to come to join him since they will be staying for a bit.
As Reed sends out this transmission he is unaware that the Fantastic Four's security systems have been hacked by the Wizard, who was able to infiltrate the outdated systems with a computer virus of his own design. With the return of Reed Richards to the Fantastic Four he is ready to begin his latest attempt at getting revenge against the Fantastic Four, and goes to check on his newly assembled Frightful Four: Titania, Hydro-Man, and Klaw. When it comes to discussing their personal track records, both Hydro-Man and Titania get into arguments with Klaw and the Wizard over their past failures against the Fantastic Four and other heroes. The Wizard cuts them all off to tell them that the time to attack is now because Richards is returning to the team.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Sue arrives with Franklin and they are happily reunited with Johnny, Ben, and Alicia. While Reed is busy working in his lab with the assistance of Ms. Marvel. After Sue's arrival, she has Ben bring in Reed's new personal computer, the Turino XL so it can compute the more complicated work. Reed explains to his team how the computer is top of the line and has enhanced the way he does his research. As Reed continues to work in the lab, Sue pulls Ben aside, and assures the Thing that Reed has no intention to return to the group and retake the reigns of leadership. But also tells him because of the life they live as super-heroes, outside forces could eventually force their return to the Fantastic Four. As Sue is telling Ben this, down in the street below Titania is posing as a street busker to case the Four Freedoms Plaza. While back upstairs, Reed and Sharon are putting the finishing touches on the device he hopes will cure Johnny's condition. As they finish, Sharon brings up how Ben has said that Reed may have a way to cure her condition. Reed tells her of his theory about how the transformation into a Thing can be changed back and forth by will. Even after telling her this, Sharon explains that she is happy the way she is. Reed is surprised, but is no less happy to hear how comfortable she is and looks forward to working with her more in the future.
As the Frightful Four prepare to make their attack, Reed has called in everyone into his lab to tell them his latest invention is complete. He has Johnny sit down in the specially prepared chair and activates the device that begins siphoning the excess fire from Johnny's body. At that crucial moment, the Frightful Four attacks, smashing in through one of the windows. The members of the Fantastic Four are caught off guard at first with this new incarnation of the Frightful Four and their different power sets, but they eventually turn the tide of battle in their favor. As the battle rages on the Thing is knocked into the machine trying to cure Johnny and there is a sudden explosion. When the smoke clears, Johnny emerges from the wreckage cured of his excess flames. However, everyone's attention is then turned back to Ben who has been restored back to his human form by the explosion.
- Some facts about Reed and Sue in this story:
- The couple had left the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #307 in order to spend more time with their son Franklin.
- The pair had later ended up joining the Avengers when the team was revived by the Captain in Avengers #299.
- They were last seen in the second story of Avengers Annual #18 along with the other members of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four when they were initiating Quasar into the ranks of the Avengers.
- Reed mentions the Inferno event which happened recently. At that time New York City was being invaded by demons from Limbo led by N'astirh. The primary battle against N'astirh was taking place in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #239–Uncanny X-Men #243 and X-Factor #36–39. Reed and Sue had their own problems with Kang in Avengers #299–300.
- Reed recounts the birth of the Fantastic Four (circa Fantastic Four #1) and how they were the first super-heroes to exist. This statement is not correct as there have been countless heroes who existed prior to the Fantastic Four. Notably the Sub-Mariner, original Human Torch, and Captain America, who later formed the Invaders during World War II. In 1950s there was the third Captain America as well as the Blue Marvel. While in the 60's and 70's there existed the First Line. (See Marvel Comics #1, Captain America Comics #1, Giant-Size Invaders #1, Young Men #25, Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #1, and Marvel: The Lost Generation #12 for more details.) Reed states that the Fantastic Four have been around for a "long time", per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 the Fantastic Four had existed for roughly seven years at the time of this story.
- The woman here posing as Alicia Masters is not really Alicia, but a Skull spy named Lyja as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. She took the real Alicia's place around Fantastic Four #265.
- "Alicia" last appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #18 celebrating the holidays with the team and their mailman Willie Lumpkin.
- Johnny talks about how he lost control of his flame power during the Inferno. This happened in Fantastic Four #322–324.
- The Frightful Four were last seen assembled as a group in a flashback from Deadpool (Vol. 3) #35 with a roster that included the Wizard, Deadpool, Taskmaster, and the Constrictor. This incarnation including Titania, Klaw and Hydro-Man is the first time those villains were part of the team. Each member was last seen in....
- The Wizard was last seen in Fantastic Four #301 when he was defeated by the Fantastic Four after trying to kidnap Franklin Richards and exploit his mutant powers.
- Hydro-Man last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #315 where he failed to defeat Spider-Man.
- Titania last appeared in Solo Avengers #14 where she was defeated by the She-Hulk.
- Klaw was last seen in Daredevil #237 where he was defeated by Daredevil.
- Titania mentions how she got her powers from Doctor Doom. She was one of the Colorado natives stranded on the Beyonder's Battleworld in the original Secret Wars when Doom found her and gave her powers in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3.
- She also mentions all the times the Wizard and Klaw were defeated at the hands of the Fantastic Four. To date (in chronological order) ...
- The Wizard he started off as a Human Torch foe, being defeated by the youth in Strange Tales #102, 105, 110, and 118 as well as Untold Tales of Spider-Man #6. He later went on to form the Frightful Four and focus on the Fantastic Four themselves. His defeats since then were numerous including Fantastic Four #36, 43, Amazing Spider-Man #657, Fantastic Four #78, 81, 94, Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine #10, Fantastic Four #130, 133, 148, 178, 218, and Deadpool (Vol. 3) #35.
- Klaw was defeated by the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #53, 56, 119, and 187
- Hydro-Man mocks Klaw's defeat at the hands of Daredevil in Daredevil #237, Klaw defends himself by saying he was insane at the time following the events of the Secret Wars. Earlier Klaw was converted into light by the mutant known as Dazzler in Dazzler #9, and used as a weapon against Galactus in Dazzler #10. Klaw's energies were trapped in the walls of Galactus' ship. There he was discovered and reformed by Doctor Doom in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6. The process drove Klaw insane for a time.
- Titania mentions how the group has been down to three members for a while. This is a reference to the departure of Crystal in Fantastic Four Annual #21, since then the group hadn't bothered to find a replacement member.
- Franklin Richards is seen here following the events of Power Pack #52 after the Power Pack were briefly tricked out of their powers by Maraud.
- Sue mentions that the Fantastic Four's space flight in Fantastic Four #1 was to beat the "commies" into space. This was the original motivation for going into space as explained in the first issue. Because the space race/Cold War connotations prematurely age the characters, per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 this should be considered a topical reference. The "beating the Russians in the space race" explanation has been excised from the Fantastic Four's origins as early as Fantastic Four #197. In fact Fantastic Four #236, the reason is changed to testing out a new Star Drive. This lapse in established retconning is likely an error on the part of the writer.
- Sharon and Reed talk about the possibility that she could change back and forth between her human and She-Thing forms. This was a theory developed by Reed based on the Thing's original mutation. Postulated in Fantastic Four #245, Reed believed that the Thing could revert to human form at will, but psychological restraints prevented him from doing so at the time.
- Reed mentions how he and Sue had recently ventured into a magical universe with the Silver Surfer recently. This occurred in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #15–18 when they assisted the Surfer in stopping the In-Betweener from usurping the power of the Infinity Gems.
- Ben is cured of his mutation for the first time since he lost his ability to revert back and forth between his human and Thing forms in Thing #22. Ben maintains his human form until he willingly turns himself back into the Thing in Fantastic Four #350.
- The script credit on this issue is to "John Harkness" due to Steve's unhappiness with the editorial direction he was obliged to undertake.
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