Appearing in "The Dream Is Dead"
- Alicia Masters (Secretly the Skrull spy Lyja)
- Franklin Richards
- Dr. Strange
- Aron the Rogue Watcher
- Dragon Man
- Aron's Cloned Fantastic Four
- Frightful Four
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The Dream Is Dead"
The Avengers have come to Four Freedoms Plaza to confront the Fantastic Four over their new "Fantasti-Tax" they are imposing on the citizens of New York City. They have brought Doctor Strange along with them as the group suspects that some sort of outside influence must be affecting the FF. Demanding an audience with the group, they are met by what are -- unknown to them -- clones of the real Fantastic Four created by Aron the Rogue Watcher. When Captain America questions the Fantastic Four's recent activities, "Reed" dismisses them as "Johnny-come-latleys" and has "Sue" eject them from the building with his invisibility powers. Having had enough insults, Hercules comes crashing back in on the phony Fantastic Four, and soon a fight breaks out. However as sudden as the fight begins, the fake Fantastic Four are suddenly teleported away by parties unknown. Confused by this sudden disappearance, the Avengers and Doctor Strange part company to pursue investigations on where the Fantastic Four might have gone.
The clones themselves have found themselves teleported to the Canadian Rockies just outside of Aron's hideout. Entering the cavern they are shocked to see that their creator is trapped within a cryogenic suspension tube while his former prisoners -- the real Fantastic Four and their foes the Frightful Four -- are battling it out with each other, with Dragon Man added to the mix. The battle takes a brief pause when the clones enter the room, and they suddenly decide to kill the real Fantastic Four. The real Human Torch listens to the way the clones are talking and tries to explain that they are just as much pawns of Aron as they are. However Johnny's explanations fall on deaf ears as the clone of Mister Fantastic proclaims himself to be the real Mr. Fantastic. Suddenly the Wizard and his Frightful Four ambush the clones. This leads to a three way battle with the clones trying to destroy the real Fantastic Four, and the Frightful Four trying to kill both parties. The brawl starts off with mismatched battles between all sides, but eventually each of the members of the Fantastic Four face off against their clones while the Frightful Four watch from the sidelines.
Eventually it begins to show that the real Fantastic Four are the superior fighters due to their years of experience and the Wizard decides to end the fight by incapacitating the clones with his anti-gravity discs. While the Fantastic Four are busy knocking out their clones, the Frightful Four try to make a break for it but are stopped by the heroes. By this point Aron's failsafe has kicked in and he has been freed from cryogenic suspension. His experiment coming to an end, Aron has come to a decision on how to resolve matters. First, he sends the Frightful Four off to the Vault to be imprisoned, he then tells the Fantastic Four that he was more interested in dreams and plans on using the clones for just that, then uses his powers to teleport the Fantastic Four back to the Four Freedoms Plaza in Manhattan. Back home, the group recall having strange dreams that they can hardly remember while they were frozen and then begin the frantic rush to try to explain to the media and the authorities what really was happening while they were kept prisoner.
They also arrange to have both branches of the Avengers travel to Oakley, California, with Alicia and Franklin to pay a visit to current Fantastic Four writer "John Harkness" to ask him to set the record straight in the Fantastic Four comics. Listening to young Franklin's appeals "John" tells the boy he will see what he can do.
- The Fantastic Four have been in suspended animation and replaced by evil clones since Fantastic Four #328 who have been running amok in New York City since then.
- The members of the Avengers present all appeared in previous publications prior to this story. They are:
- Doctor Strange was last seen in New Mutants #77–78 where he assisted the New Mutants in rescuing their friend Mirage from the control of Hela.
- The clones of the Fantastic Four were last seen in Fantastic Four #331 when they began imposing the Fantasti-Tax on the people of New York.
- During the Avengers argument with the clones Fantastic Four, the Fantastic Four is referred as the "first" super-hero team to exist. This is not entirely accurate since there were many teams of heroes in other eras, most notably Mystery Men of the 1920s, the Invaders of World War II, and the First Line who were active from the 60's until the 80's among many others. (See Mystery Men #1, Giant-Size Invaders #1, and Marvel: The Lost Generation #12 for more details.)
- She-Hulk mentions she should have went looking for Dragon Man with Ben Grimm. This is a reference to Fantastic Four #328 when Ben last contacted She-Hulk.
- Captain America mentions that he was one of the "original heroes of Earth." As above this is not entirely accurate. However he was one of the first of the 1940s. Captain America gained his abilities in 1941, as per Captain America Comics #1. He certainly not THE first of that era though, that distinction is given to the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch who surfaced circa 1939, per Marvel Comics #1.
- The clones use of the phrases "Johnny-Come-Lately" and "Yea Bo!" are dated 1960s slang that was commonly used in early Fantastic Four comics published between 1961 and 1965.
- The clone of Reed refers to the "Battle of the Baxter Building" coming "early this time!" The clones of the Fantastic Four have been recreating the early adventures of the Fantastic Four, they started with battling the Mole Man in Fantastic Four #329 trying to replicate the first battle the FF had with him circa Fantastic Four #1. "The Battle of the Baxter Building" is a reference to the Fantastic Four's battle against Doctor Doom who controlled the Fantastic Four's original headquarters the Baxter Building at the time. That battle occurred in Fantastic Four #40 (that issue was titled "Battle of the Baxter Building").
- The Frightful Four were last seen defeated by the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #328 when they were all captured by Aron and put in cryogenic suspension. Only the Wizard was seen regularly between Fantastic Four #329–332 the rest of the group can be considered as being behind the scenes in those stories.
- Sue mentions her dream about Doctor Doom battling Kristoff Vernard, that dream happened in Fantastic Four #330.
- After Aron banishes the Frightful Four to the Vault each individual member gets involved in the Acts of Vengeance conspiracy. The Wizard, Klaw, and Hydro-Man all appear next in Avengers Spotlight #26 when Loki assists the Wizard in causing a massive breakout in the Vault. While Titania appears in Web of Spider-Man #59 as one of the many villains pitted against Peter Parker. Dragon Man next appears in Web of Spider-Man #61 and also pit against Spider-Man.
- Aron disappears here but reappears again in Fantastic Four #369 when he kidnaps Alicia Masters for his own ends.
- Following their appearances here, Reed, Sue, and Ben are all next seen in Avengers #305 among the gathered former members of the Avengers who are called upon by Captain America who is forming a new team at that time. The three members of the Fantastic Four decline the offer to rejoin.
- Johnny is next has a brief cameo in Sensational She-Hulk in Ceremony #1.
- The members of the Avengers seen here, save for Hercules are next seen as prisoners of the Enchantress in Marvel Comics Presents #44–45 until they are rescued by Wonder Man. Hercules next appears in Marvel Super-Heroes (Vol. 2) #9.
- Following his appearance here, Dr. Strange next appears in next in Silver Surfer Annual #2 lending his aid in the Atlantis Attacks crisis.
- The West Coast Avengers make their cameo appearances here as follows:
- Wasp was last seen in Sensational She-Hulk #2.
- Tigra, Wonder Man and Henry Pym were last seen in the second story of Avengers Annual #18, participating in Quasar's initiation onto the team.
- Tigra is next seen in Iron Man #243.
- The rest of the WCA members seen here are next seen in West Coast Avengers (Vol. 2) #42.
- The woman claiming to be Alicia Masters here is really a Skrull spy named Lyja, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. She took Alicia's place circa Fantastic Four #265. "Alicia" was last seen in Fantastic Four #328.
- Franklin was last seen in Fantastic Four #327, he appears next in the second story of Silver Surfer Annual #2.
- "John Harkness" is actually writer Steve Englehart. A pseudonym is used out of protest due to Englehart's dissatisfaction with the editorial direction he was forced to take in the series. Like other Marvel Comics creators his appearance here is not considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. All creators who appear in the modern age are depicted as being in their prime and are usually exempt from the rules regarding Topical References. Steve was last depicted in Amazing Adventures (Vol. 2) #16 where his roadtrip to Rutland, Vermont, led to an encounter with the Beast and the Juggernaut.
- The script credit on this issue is to "John Harkness" due to Steve Englehart's unhappiness with the editorial direction he was obliged to undertake.
- This story features a pin-up of the Thing by Walter Simonson.