Appearing in "Dark Congress!"
- Fantastic Four
- Baron Brimstone (Walther Theodoric)
- Man-Ape (M'Baku)
- Owl (Leland Owlsley)
- Stilt-Man (Wilbur Day)
- Whirlwind (David Cannon)
- Armadillo (Antonio Rodriguez)
- Water Wizard (Peter van Zante)
- Hydro-Man (Morris Bench)
- U.S. House Subcommittee on Super Human Activities
- Flying Tiger (Only in flashback)
- Spider-Man (Peter Parker) (Only in flashback)
Races and Species:
- Washington, D.C.
- New York
Synopsis for "Dark Congress!"
Congressman James Pertierra has just accused Reed Richards of creating the device that has caused a number of super-villains to attack the Fantastic Four during the Senate committee to determine if the Super-Powers Registration Act should be put into law in order to win the government to their side. Televised on live television, the press begins a quick poll with the average American to get their opinions. With Pertierra joining the committee, Reed is asked to answer the allegations that have been made. Reed explains that if he had designed the device that has caused so much chaos, he would have made it completely undetectable.
Reed is given a chance to speak again and he tells the hearing that the super-hero community works for the greater good. He also points out the danger of government regulation, referring them to moments earlier when Flying Tiger attacked the hearing. He stated that while the congressmen were mad that Reed didn't do anything, he pointed out how Ms. Marvel was the best suited to deal with that foe and did so accordingly. To punctuate his point about heroes having the best skills to deal with the job than the government, he points to how Apocalypse also flew over the Capitol Building and that had he actually planned to attack the Fantastic Four could have formulated a plan to deal with him based on their years of experience working together.
Suddenly the hearing is interrupted when one of the guards informs the Senators that a number of individuals in trench coats and dark glasses were seen heading towards the Capital. Recalling how all the villains who attacked previously wore similar attire, everyone suddenly wonders if the device Reed found has been properly deactivated or not. Ben, Johnny and Sharon decide to deal with the matter and tell Reed and Sue to stay and continue their testimony. Sue suddenly whispers to her husband her suspicions that the device might not just be influencing super-villains but the Senators as well. This gets Reed thinking, and while the others deal with the villains outside, Sue address the committee with her thoughts. She once again likens super-powers with the Constitutional right to bare arms and that super-powers, like weapons, are a means of protecting people. That those who would use their powers to break the law must not have advantage over those who do not. Reed also points out how government interference impeded the work of super-heroes: How the military has never been able to capture the Hulk, or how Henry Gyrich's time as a government liaison to the Avengers only impeded the groups ability to function.
As Reed's argument comes to a close, the device suddenly comes to life and bombards everyone in the room. Suddenly the spectators and the Senators become violent and try to attack Reed and Sue. As they try to contain the mob, Reed grabs the device and resists its electronic shocks in order to shut it down and restore order. As the people return to normal with no memory of their attack, Ben and the others re-enter the courtroom to inform Reed that the villains have all been dealt with. Reed then ushers the Senators outside to see the effectiveness of unrestrained super-heroes where the police are taking away the Armadillo, Stilt-Man, the Orca, the Owl, Whirlwind, and the Man-Ape. Going back into the courtroom, Reed makes his final statement: comparing the Super-Powers Registration Act to the Mutant Registration Act. Pointing out how can someone like Spider-Man be classified, is he a super-human, or a mutant? He also asks what the definition of someone who is extraordinary from a normal human pointing out that anyone in the courtroom outside of the Fantastic Four could meet that classification. Reed then pulls out a device to see if the Senators would register for the potential for super-powers. Reed's device indicates that they, and the security guard on hand could all potentially have super-powers. Finally, Reed points out that they could potentially be invading people's privacy and limiting their freedoms based on government classifications. With his point punctuated, Reed rests his case and the Senate decides against implementing the Super-Powers Registration Act.
As they are leaving, Ben remarks how Reed had his scanner turned up to maximum sensitivity to prove his point. Reed quips that they can't be too careful, and laughs about the idea of putting the idea that members of the Senate could be super-heroes. The Fantastic Four then allow Franklin to go to his much anticipated trip to the Smithsonian with Ms. Marvel while the rest of the team return home to the Four Freedoms Plaza. There, Reed examines the device and learns the origins of its components, tracking them to a technology company that went out of business a few months earlier. The Fantastic Four decide to go and investigate, but before they leave Ben puts on his old Thing exoskeleton in order to be a part of any potential battles. The group goes crashing into the abandoned warehouse where they find what appears to be their old foe Doctor Doom. Doom explains that he is part of a cabal of super-villains who masterminded a conspiracy to try and destroy their enemies by pitting them against foes they never faced before. When Johnny suddenly attacks "Doom", they quickly realize that it is actually one of his Doombots instead.
With the Doombot's destruction, it releases the Super-Adaptoid, which quickly begins to adapt the Fantastic Four's powers. However before the android can attack, the Thing manages to knock it down with a single punch. As they are preparing to leave they are suddenly confronted by both Hydro-Man and the Water Wizard. However instead of attacking the Fantastic Four, the two begin arguing with each other over who has the better control over water and a fight breaks out between the two of them. Ben remarks how this is going to be an amusing fight, but quickly slips on a puddle of water and come crashing down, much to the amusement of his teammates.
- One of the people interviewed by reporters mentions being sick of "Galactus always dropping in." At the time of this story Galactus had come to Earth four different occasions:
- Galactus' first recorded appearance on Earth was seen in S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 when he attempted to consume Earth during the Renaissance. He was stopped by Leonardo da Vinci. However this incident was covered up by the Brotherhood of the Shield.
- Fantastic Four #48–Fantastic Four #50 was the first time Galactus showed up in the modern age when he tried to consume the Earth and was defeated by the Fantastic Four.
- Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine #11– when Dr. Doom stole his powers. Although nobody remembers this encounter as Reed used the Cosmic Cube to erase everyone's memories of events.
- Fantastic Four #74–77 when Galactus returned to Earth to force the Silver Surfer to help him find a new world to consume.
- Fantastic Four #120–123 when Galactus and the Air-Walker once again tried to force the Silver Surfer into service, and was banished to the Negative Zone instead.
- In Fantastic Four #212–213 when Galactus helped the Fantastic Four defeat the Sphinx.
- And most recently in Fantastic Four #242–244, Galactus tried to consume the Earth again and was defeated by the Fantastic Four and the Avengers.
- The villains featured in this issue appear here between:
- Baron Brimstone appears here between Avengers #251 and Heroes for Hire (Vol. 3) #2
- Man-Ape was last seen in Vision and the Scarlet Witch (Vol. 2) #2 and appears again in Captain America #411
- Orka, Whirlwind, Armadillo and Hydro-Man were all last seen breaking out of the Vault in Avengers Spotlight #26. Orka is next seen in Sensational She-Hulk #12, while Whirlwind, Armadillo and Hydro-Man are seen in , Avengers: Death Trap, The Vault #1 and Spectacular Spider-Man #160 respectively.
- The Owl appears here from Daredevil #264 and is seen again in Alpha Flight #79
- Stilt-Man was last seen in Sensational She-Hulk #4 while the Water Wizard was previous seen in Captain America #320.
- Stilt-Man, and Water Wizard are later seen being interrogated by the Avengers in the third story of Avengers Annual #19, while the Super-Adaptoid previous chronological appearance is in a flashback from that very story. The Super-Adaptoid is next seen in Quasar #9.
- Some facts about Ben Grimm in this issue:
- Ben lost his powers in Fantastic Four #326, they remain lost until he purposely transforms himself again in Fantastic Four #350.
- Later on in this story he wears an exoskeleton based on his Thing form. This is based off the original that was constructed for Ben back in Fantastic Four #168 that he wore until it was destroyed in Fantastic Four #175 when Galactus forced Ben to resume his Thing form.
- The Doctor Doom construct mentions the Acts of Vengeance conspiracy, which was started by Loki in Avengers Spotlight #26. Doom officially joined the "Prime Movers" of the Conspiracy in Avengers #311.
- The humor in Ben slipping and falling at the end of this story is because that's basically how the Acts of Vengeance story arc started, with Ben slipping and falling, as seen at the beginning of Fantastic Four #334.
- Following this issue the members of the Fantastic Four...: