Appearing in "Nukebusters II"
- Fantastic Four
- Mikhail Gorbachev (Only appearance)
- Fantastic Four (Only appearance)
Synopsis for "Nukebusters II"
In an alternate reality, the Fantastic Four pilot a modified Pogo-Plane over European airspace to intercept nuclear weapons that have been launched by both Russia and the United States that are destined to kick off a nuclear war that could destroy the entire world. Armed with EMP cannons they begin blasting the warheads in order to render then inert and harmless. When one slips past their ship, the Human Torch grabs one of the cannons and flies after it and quickly disables it as well. In a matter of minutes the nuclear weapons are disabled. Reed then contacts the President of the United States and convinces him to allow them six hours to prevent a nuclear holocaust. In response to the American missiles, the Russians launch nukes of their own and these are also disabled by the Fantastic Four.
As word reaches Washington of their successful mission, the Fantastic Four sneak into Moscow and quickly infiltrate a military complex. They then begin tracking the unique energy source of Russia's supposed leader, Josef Stalin, who has apparently managed to live on as a cyborg. They manage to fight past the facility guards and lock themselves into the Regeneration Pit where Stalin is being kept, just moments as the Russian leader's handlers arrive. Although they were too late to stop the Fantastic Four, they are convinced that the heroes will be destroyed by Stalin.
As the Fantastic Four make their way deeper into the Regeneration Pit, Ben arms himself with weapons he brought along with them so that he can defend himself in case of a battle. Eventually they reach a lab deep within the Pit and as they search for their query, Stallin suddenly emerges from a hidden chamber in the walls in a massive mechanical battle armor. Reed, Sue, Johnny and Sharon attack their foe, but are easily battered aside. Watching his friends losing the fight, Ben slips aside to change into his Thing exo-suit so he can battle Stalin on his own terms. With both Ben and Sharon utilizing their enhanced strength, they manage to restrain Stalin's battle armor while Sue tries to cut off their foe's oxygen supply. When this begins to fail, suddenly Stalin is felled by a blast from one of Reed's EMP guns, incapacitating their enemy.
With Stallin down, Sharon is instructed to inspect their enemy. Removing his hat, Sharon confirms Reed's suspicions: Stalin wasn't a cyborg at all, but merely just a robot. Meanwhile, outside the Russian officials are waiting for any sign that their leader has destroyed the intruders. Suddenly, Stalin emerges from the Regeneration Pit and addresses those gathered. They are shocked when Stalin introduces the Fantastic Four as the nations "newest heroes". When they balk at this, Stalin informs them that they have engaged in discussions and that the hostilities against the United States are to come to an end. Richards approaches the Russian agent named Spinnsky, and quietly informs him that he figured out that their Stalin robot was constructed by an American company for them to control the Russian masses.
Spinnsky has no choice but to accept that Stalin is saying, but is further surprised when another politician is named as Stalin's successor. With this declaration Stalin also tells those gathered that the hotline between Russia and the United States will be reestablished so that this change in power can be communicated with the President of the United States. With this all decreed, Stalin "suffers" a "heart attack" and "dies". With their leader now "dead", his successor agrees to carry out his final words. Spinnsky is furious at Reed Richards reprogramming his robot to turn things around, but Reed tells him that he should be happy that he can now quietly retire. After Ben gives the new leader some political advice, the Fantastic Four head back to New York City.
There, Reed explains that the robot was constructed for the Russian government by an American entertainment company. After this is all told to Alicia, Ben says his goodbyes to her and allows her the opportunity to kiss him. Sharon sees this and begins to resent the fact that she gave up her humanity to become a She-Thing and wonders how she can compare to a real woman. Soon the Fantastic Four are loaded back up on their Time-Sled the Rosebud II. When Ben says his goodbye to Alicia, Sharon gets jealous and catty. Soon they are back into the time stream heading back to their native reality. Along the way home, Reed tells his wife Sue that before they left Russia he took a file and left it for his counterpart when he gets back from his mission in the future. As the Fantastic Four speed home, the Fantastic Four of the alternate reality return to their rightful home. There, Reed Richards discovers the file which suggests that the Department of Defense has also been working on a robotic duplicate of political officials as well...
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-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 1944 during World War II. In the real world and Earth-616, the Nazis were defeated in December 1944 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.
- Likewise references to Mikhail Gorbachev should be considered a topical reference as well. At the time of this publication, Gorbachev had recently been elected as Prime Minister of Russia at the time this story came out.
- 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.
- Johnny makes reference to the New Warriors who -- at the time of this story -- had recently formed as a group as seen in Thor #411.
- 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.
- Ben recently started wearing the exo-skeleton in battle on occasion beginning in Fantastic Four Annual #22.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ms. Marvel mentions how she gave up her femininity because she hated it. Some facts:
- Sharon was raped by minions of Karl Malus in Captain America #330-331. This caused her to be afraid of men, which caused problems when she initially joined the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #307.
- Eventually she was mutated into a She-Thing by cosmic rays in Fantastic Four #310
- Although she was suicidal at first in Fantastic Four #311, Sharon eventually came to terms with her transformation in Fantastic Four #312. Later she and Ben formed a relationship in Fantastic Four #317, due to the fact that they were both Things.
- Ben was restored to human form in Fantastic Four #326, leading to some tension between the two over Ben's comfort being human again, and Sharon's desire to remain a She-Thing.
- This issue features a letters page, Fantastic Forum. Letters are published from Dapo Ollasiyan, Mike L. Stafford, Mitch Grady, Rol Hirst, David Galvan, and Uncle Elvis.
- Colourist Steve Buccellato is credited as El Buce.
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