Appearing in "Nukebusters!"
Synopsis for "Nukebusters!"
Following their adventure in the distant future trying to destroy the Time Bubble, the Fantastic Four have returned to what they think is their proper time and place. Reed and Sue take a moment for some more mundane tasks, like laundry. However after Sue chides her husband for being able to split an atom but being clueless when it comes to cleaning clothes, she reminds him that he is running some final tests on Johnny's mind following his possession by Nebula while they were in the future. Reed rushes off to his lab where he, Ben and Sharon begin yet another test on Johnny's mind in the hopes they can determine if Nebula's control had any lasting affect on him. As Johnny begins to grow impatient, Ben and Sharon pay their leave while they go to prepare for a date. Left to her own devices, Sharon begins to notice small things that seem to be out of place: the fact that she is sure that Sue planted Geraniums but finds roses, and that the bed sheets in their quarters are different. Thinking that there is something wrong, Sharon goes to pay a visit to Reed after he has finished his latest test on Johnny. Although preliminary tests show nothing, Reed is still concerned. His concerns however are taken away when Sharon tells him her suspicions and asks him to take a closer look at their headquarters to see if there is anything else he can see that might be out of place.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C. the President of the United States is informed that the hotline between the United States and Russia have been cut off. To make matters worse, satellite imagery shows that the Russians have been building up forces along the German border. The President then orders the Air Force to go to Defcon One and full alert.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Sue tries to call the Power family in order to check in on her son Franklin. She is surprised when the operator tells her that the number is not in service. When she gets directory assistance, she is also disturbed to learn that Dr. James Power is not located at the address she provided. She then calls Columbia University who tells them that they never had a Dr. Power employed with them. While Sue tries not to panic, Reed begins closely examining one of his devices and finds something out of order there as well. Ben comes to a conclusion on what is going on later when he buys a newspaper from a newsstand. He is shocked to discover that the world is on a brink of nuclear annihilation as tension between Russia and the United States continue to escalate. Between the strange sports statistics and the President being someone else, or even more strange -- that Josef Stalin is still ruling the Soviet Union, Ben rushes back to base.
At that moment, Johnny is reflecting on his experience in the Time Bubble and realizes that he has feelings for Nebula that he can't shake and hopes his wife Alicia will return soon. Johnny's thoughts are interrupted by a special news bulletin and is shocked when he discovers who is said to be the President of the United States. The rest of the Fantastic Four reconvene and when they compare their various abnormalities, they quickly come to realize that instead of returning to their own time, they have ended up in a parallel universe. Reed's theories on what happened are suddenly interrupted when Alicia Masters returns home. She is happy to see them, but it is a massive surprise when she rushes to Sharon, thinking she is Ben Grimm in his Thing form, and hugs her. They are more surprised when she tells them that Ben is her husband.
While in Russia, the Soviets are discussing strategy when it is decided that the United States will likely make the first strike against their country and it is suggested that troops are mobilized to respond in kind.
Back in New York, the Fantastic Four try to explain their situation -- pointing out that the "Thing" is really Sharon Ventura, Ben is back in his human form, and more importantly they are from another reality -- at first she doesn't believe it and tries to flee the scene, but is quickly roped up by Reed. When confronted by Reed's stretching ability, Alicia is forced accept the truth of what they are saying. After getting to touch Ben's face, she asks what happened to her Fantastic Four -- who had left to deal with the Time Bubble as well -- and this version of the team tells her the harsh reality of it: there is no way of knowing for sure. With that business sorted out, Reed asks Alicia what has happened in this reality that has led to the escalation of the Cold War. Alicia explains that the United States and Russia have always been at odd ever since the Russians took over Germany in 1944 following the end of World War II. With the resources of Germany at their disposal, the Russians were able to keep up with the United States in the arms race. The biggest danger comes from Josef Stalin, who has been kept alive all these years thanks to cybernetic implants. She explains that things have gotten more crazy since the President of the United States died of pneumonia and was replaced by the Vice President.
Meanwhile, at the White House, intelligence reports indicate that Russia is leading a first strike and the President orders that the public be alerted. Back in New York the Fantastic Four are alerted of the danger thanks to an air raid siren. Checking the Emergency Broadcast System. With reports that nuclear strikes from both sides of the conflict are immanent, Reed brings the others to his lab to develop a solution to this problem. They quickly begin working on miniature Electro Magnetic Pulse cannons that will assist them in knocking out the nuclear missiles if they are launched. Then taking this reality's version of the Pogo-Plane, the Fantastic Four prepare to take off. As they are leaving, Ben tells Alicia that they'll be okay and her version of Ben will likely return okay as well. Sharon notes this and begins to feel jealous. As the heroes travel to Europe, the governments of the United States and Russia both call for an all out nuclear attack. While aboard the Pogo-Plane, the heroes detect that the missiles have been launched. Gathering one of his EMP cannons, Reed tells his team to get ready to stop World War III from happening, no matter the cost.
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #3 designates this reality as Earth-9061. Since this reality runs parallel with Earth-616 it also is subject to the Sliding Timescale measurement of time. Some points of clarification are as follows:
- This story was published in 1990 as the Cold War was slowly coming to an end, the constant conflict between the United States and the USSR ended when the Soviet Union dissolved on December 31, 1991. Typically, with respect to the Earth-616 universe, any Cold War references in modern age publications between 1961 and 1991 are considered Topical References and they are always generalized. In this case, because of the alternate history of Earth-9061 it can be considered that the Cold War endures until the Modern Age of that universe as...
- The reference to the Russians taking over Germany in 1945 during World War II. In the real world and Earth-616, the Nazis were defeated in May 1945 due to a combined effort of the Allied Forces. In the aftermath, Germany was divided up into different regions controlled by various countries. Eventually led to the creation of the Soviet backed and communist run West Berlin, and the American and democratically run East Germany. In this reality, Russia took complete control over Germany.
- The references to George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle in this story should be considered Topical References of Earth-9061. At the time this story was published, in the real world, George H.W. Bush was the President of the United States and Quayle was the Vice President. In reality-9061, Bush died of pneumonia and Quayle took over. Again these should be considered topical references.
- However, the appearance of Joseph Stalin in this story is not considered a topical reference as he is depicted as a cyborg that has cheated death and has a prolonged life.
- The Fantastic Four have just returned from their adventures on Earth-8810 where they destroyed the Time Bubble in the future. This took place in Fantastic Four #337–341.
- The woman who briefly possessed Johnny during the above issues is referred to Nebula, some facts about that...:
- In Avengers #291 when she joined the Council of Cross-Time Kangs she claimed to be the space pirate known as Nebula.
- In reality she is actually Kang's lover Ravonna who was put in a death like coma in Avengers #24. She was later revived by the Grandmaster, as seen in Avengers Annual #21, after Kang gave up the power to save her life to instead try to destroy the Avengers (as seen in Avengers #71). When the Grandmaster revealed the truth, Ravonna decided to get revenge against her lover, developing the Nebula cover to infiltrate the Cross-Time Kangs and get her revenge.
- "Nebula" was seemingly destroyed with the Time Bubble in Fantastic Four #341, however in reality she survived and is seen again in Avengers Spotlight #37.
- Sue left her son Franklin in the care of James and Margaret Power in Fantastic Four #337. While Franklin and the Power family don't apparently exist in this reality, Franklin is alive and well in his native reality.
- Some facts about why the Baseball statistics Ben reads in the Daily Bugle don't make any sense:
- It refers to the Washington Senators playing the Yankees. On Earth-616 and the real world the Senators moved to Texas and renamed themselves the Rangers in 1971.
- It also states that the Phoenix Pistols are leading in the National League West. On Earth-616 and the real world, no such team has existed in Major League Baseball.
- Some explanations about why the Alicia Masters situation here is awkward:
- On Earth-616, Alicia Masters was the long time girlfriend of Ben Grimm since Fantastic Four #9.
- While Ben was on Battleworld in Thing #11–Thing #22, it appeared that there was a budding romance between Johnny and Alicia as seen in the pages of Fantastic Four #265–277.
- In reality, as later revealed in Fantastic Four #358, the real Alicia on Earth-616 was replaced by the Skrull spy known as Lyja to spy on the Fantastic Four. This happened circa Fantastic Four #265.
- "Alicia" later married Johnny in Fantastic Four #300.
- Ben meanwhile went on to pursue a relationship with Ms. Marvel since she joined the team in Fantastic Four #307, following her mutation in Fantastic Four #310 into a She-Thing. The two began a relationship in Fantastic Four #317.
- Alicia-9061 confuses Ms. Marvel for the Thing, this is because her version of Ben Grimm is still the Thing, while at the time of this story the Ben Grimm of Earth-616 has been restored to his human form in Fantastic Four #326. He remains this way until Fantastic Four #350.
- It is unclear if the Alicia Masters of Earth-9061 is truly Alicia Masters, or is a Skrull spy like the woman posing as Alicia on Earth-616.
- This issue contains a letters page, Fantastic Forum. Letters are published from Tarsam Singh Kheta, Cedric Mitchell, John Tetelof, and Ed Coker.