- I love you Johnny...and, I am carrying your baby!
- -- Lyja
Appearing in "Whatever Happened to Alicia?"
- Fantastic Four
- Puppet Master (Phillip Masters)
- Mad Thinker (Julius)
- King Cobra (Klaus Voorhees)
- Franklin Richards (Only in flashback)
- Wyatt Wingfoot (Only in flashback)
- She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) (Only in flashback)
- Gurdon Brewster (Only in flashback)
Races and Species:
- Andromeda Galaxy
- Destructor-class Cruiser (First appearance)
- War World (First appearance)
- Stealth Cruiser (First appearance)
- Marvel-1 (Only in flashback) (Unnamed)
Synopsis for "Whatever Happened to Alicia?"
The Fantastic Four have just discovered that the woman they thought was Alicia Masters has actually been a Skrull spy. Furious at this deception, the Human Torch lashes out, demanding to the Skrull impostor tell him what happened to his wife. Reed tries to pull Johnny back before he can harm their captive, but he burns his hands because Johnny refuses to flame off. When the Torch takes another charge at the Skrull spy, Sue envelopes him in an invisible force field. When he uses his Nova Flame to try and free himself, he only succeeds in burning out all his oxygen, snuffing out of flame and knocking him out. Quickly coming around, Johnny is checked on by his teammates to make sure he is okay. Johnny is fine and has likewise regained some composure over the current situation and apologizes for lashing out earlier. With Johnny's outburst out of the way, Reed demands that the Skrull woman explain herself.
The Skrull introduces herself as Lyja, telling her that her presence among them was the result of years of planning on the behalf of the Skrull high command. She recounts back to when her commanding officer Commander Kalamari called a meeting among his command to discuss a means of destroying the Fantastic Four. When it was suggested that they create another Super-Skrull, Kalamari rejects the idea as the process is too cost prohibitive. Then a suggestion is made by Paibok, who suggests they use their natural shape-shifting abilities and subterfuge to replace someone close to the Fantastic Four in order to spy on the group. When Kalamari likes this idea, Paibok then suggests that they select a female Skrull to take the place of the Thing's then-girlfriend, Alicia Masters. Paibok then gathered a group of suitable candidates and eventually selected Lyja, either due to or in spite of a past relationship between the two. Lyja was then placed on a rigorous training session to learn everything she could about Alicia Masters in order to flawlessly replace her without anyone noticing. To complete the charade, Lyja was also fitted with special contact lenses that rendered her blind and trained how to get by with her other senses. When she was ready she was brought into Earth's orbit to wait for the right moment to strike.
That moment came when Johnny, Ben and Reed were kidnapped by the Beyonder to take part in the Secret Wars. The Skrulls then attacked Alicia at her home and gassed her, allowing Alicia to take her place. However when the Fantastic Four returned from Battleworld, it was without the Thing who decided to stay behind and selected the She-Hulk as his successor. In order to maintain a close connection with the Fantastic Four, Lyja then began seducing Johnny and forging a relationship with him. However, her infiltration was almost too good, as Lyja soon found herself legitimately falling in love with Johnny in spite of herself. Even with the explosive return of the Thing, which led to a brief argument over "Alicia" and Johnny's relationship, Lyja continued the charade for months. Eventually she and Johnny were married.
Having heard enough, Johnny calls Lyja a liar, not willing to believe that this Skrull is his wife. Lyja insists that it's all true and that she is pregnant with Johnny's child. This comes as a shock to Johnny and later he spends some time alone on the roof of the Four Freedoms Plaza to mourn over the situation. He is soon joined by Ben to provide his support, telling Johnny that they're all there for him. Meanwhile, down below, Reed is preparing a new space craft to mount a rescue mission to recover the real Alicia Masters from the Skrulls. Sue comes to check on her husband and he confides in her his frustration at being so easily fooled and how he should have been prepared. This all gets him thinking about the initial space flight that led to the birth of the Fantastic Four. Recounting how a combination of cosmic rays and abnormal sunspot activity would cause their ship to crash, or for the group to mutate the way they did. Although it did lead to the birth of the Fantastic Four, Reed tells his wife that since then he has been steadfast in not allowing carelessness to affect their lives. Changing the subject back to Lyja, Sue asks her husband if he thinks she is really pregnant with Johnny's child? Reed tells her he isn't sure that humans and Skrulls can actually produce offspring together, but tells he that perhaps they can look into it further after they rescue Alicia.
Meanwhile, in Central Park, the Thing meets with the Puppet Master to thank him for tipping them off to the fact that the Alicia who has been living among them has been an impostor. Before departing, he tells Phillip that they are going into space to rescue Alicia. Returning to his home, the Puppet Master reverts to type, blaming the Fantastic Four for his step-daughter's kidnapping and is happy that their mission to rescue her will also lead to the Fantastic Four's demise. However, the Puppet Master is suspicious of the Mad Thinker's goals and seeks to make sure that the Fantastic Four's destruction happens only after Alicia is returned to Earth safe and sound. Taking a puppet of King Cobra, the Puppet Master takes control of the villain, who is also a prisoner at the Vault in an cell across from the Mad Thinker. By the Puppet Master's command, the Cobra goes over to the bars of his cell and asks the Thinker what he is so smug about? The Thinker replies by telling him that he managed a "practical joke" on an old friend in his quest to destroy the Fantastic Four and he fell for it. The Thinker of course is aware that the Puppet Master is controlling his fellow inmate and thinks about how rich his victory is, recalling how he previously broke into the factory that constructed the shielding for the space ship that Reed has constructed and altered the plans so that the shields will fall apart while his foes are in deep space.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, the Fantastic Four are about to leave when suddenly it's explained to Johnny that Lyja will be accompanying them. Hearing this, and seeing Lyja in one of Sue's old Fantastic Four uniforms angers Johnny who takes offence at the Skrull woman accompanying them. Reed orders Johnny to calm down, telling him that Lyja is their only means of knowing what they are up against in space and that they are making her wear the uniform so that they can differentiate her from other Skrulls. Lyja tries to appeal to Johnny, reminding him that he knows her better than anyone and knows that he can trust her. Johnny responds by telling her that he has never met her in his life and angrily boards the spaceship. After a quick call to JFK airport to get flight clearance, the Fantastic Four head off into space, their destination: the Andromeda Galaxy.
Lightyears away on the Skrull warworld, a massive military planetoid disguised as a barren world, Skrull technicians are busy experimenting on Paibok in order to turn him into another Super-Skrull. It is noted that the sessions are becoming less painful for him, but Paibok says the pain is worth being prepared for any contingency. The Fantastic Four soon arrive outside of warworld and with the help of Lyja's knowledge of the facility, they are able to land their ship within the hidden dreadnought without setting off alarms. However as soon as they exit the ship the Skrulls instantly recognize the intruders and the alarm is raised. The Fantastic Four fight back with the help of Lyja. Soon word reaches Paibok in security and he is more than pleased that the Fantastic Four are here. He soon greets them by showing off one of his new abilities: the power to project ice. Using his electrical powers, Paibok forces Reed to flee into a nearby vent in order to continue searching for Alicia. Paibok then turns himself into organic steel and begins battling it out with the Thing. When Ben knocks Paiboik down, he changes tactics and freezes Ben on the spot.
Meanwhile, Reed gets the drop of some Skrulls in a monitor room and begins accessing the Warworld mainframe to find out the location of Alicia. As the battle rages on, Paibok continues to gain the upper hand over the Thing, but Sue steps in with an invisible force field. But she is felled when Paibok blasts her with energy that can pass through the invisible force field and harm her. As Johnny battles other Skrulls, Paibok sneaks up behind him. Before Paibok can blast him from behind, Lyja calls out to him and dives in between them, taking the shot meant for Johnny. With Paibok gloating over killing this betrayer, he is distracted sufficiently enough for Ben to collapse and entire wall on the Skrull, burying him alive. Holding what appears to be the mortally wounded Lyja in his arms, Johnny tells her that he realizes that he does love her after all and believes her entire story. She then tells Johnny that there was no baby and she said as much to try and force him to stay with her. She then apologizes for all the hurt she has caused and with a final "I love you" seemingly dies in Johnny's arms.
Suddenly the self-destruct systems are activated, sounding an alarm that causes all the Skrulls to flee. This was set by Reed who has also located Alicia Masters location in the facility. Sue, Ben and Johnny flee back to their ship, leaving Lyja behind. As the Skrull crew begins to flee, Paibok calls them cowards and begins lashing out at them with his new powers. Meanwhile, Reed finds the stasis chamber where Alicia is being kept and rushes her back to the ship. As Paibok curses the Fantastic Four, the group escapes with their mission accomplished, making it safely away from War World just as the planetoid explodes. The Fantastic Four narrowly avoid getting out of the blast radius. As they head back to Earth as Alicia awakens. Johnny is the first one to her side, but when she becomes fully aware of her surroundings it is Ben she calls out to and hugs creating an awkward situation for everyone except for Alicia who has no idea how much time has passed or what has been going on in her absence.
At that very moment, just as the Mad Thinker had timed it, the shielding on their ship suddenly breaks loose. While Reed assesses the damage and reports back that the lack of shielding is not a major issue, however one of the broken pieces pierced their hyperdrive damaging it beyond repair, leaving them stranded in space.
Appearing in "The Official Story"
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The Official Story"
Deep in the bowls of Doctor Doom's castle, a lone man goes over video footage of Doctor Doom's triumphant return to Latveria where he reclaimed the throne from his ward Kristoff Vernard. As he begins to alter the audio in order or make Doctor Doom be projected in a better light, this man is discovered by Hoskous, the curator of the Latverian Bureau of Antiquities. Asking who this strange masked man is, he introduces himself merely as the Editor. Having been charged to manifest Doom's possessions within the castle, Hoskous checks his records and finds no record of this room, its video editing facilities, or any mention of the Editor.
The Editor is hardly surprised, telling Houskus that he exists to go over the recorded history of Latveria and alter any and all records that pain Doctor Doom in a bad light, a means of keeping his public image spotless and his people loyal by discounting and deflecting Doom's repeat failures on other plausible reasons. He explains that in a lot of cases he makes Doom failures appear to be the work of malfunctioning Doombots. To illustrate this point, the Editor takes Hoskous upstairs where he trips a Doombot carrying a birthday cake. Suddenly, Houskus realizes that the Editor has been leading him to the Attitude Adjustment Center, where he is suddenly grabbed by two robots with instructions to kill anyone who discovers the Editor or his work.
With his appointed task done for the time being, the Editor reports to Doctor Doom to inform him that the latest records have been altered and that history is now "up to date" for the moment, much to the pleasure of Doom.
Appearing in "Bonus Material"
- Appearances not yet listed
Synopsis for "Bonus Material"
This issue also contains various bonus material in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Fantastic Four. Including material written by Stan Lee about creating the Fantastic Four with Jack Kirby, which includes a reproduction of the original pitch Stan and Jack wrote about the Fantastic Four.
There are pin-ups of Blastaar, Annihilus (by Mike Mignola), Molecule Man (by Ron Garney and Dan Green), Rama-Tut (by Paul Ryan and Bud LaRosa), and Doctor Doom (by Ron Frenz and Joe Sinnott).
Also there are two page spreads explaining the powers of each member of the Fantastic Four written by Tom DeFalco and penciled by Paul Ryan, as well as a schematic of the Four Freedoms Plaza.
An essay on the history of the Fantastic Four written by Peter Sanderson.
Lastly a series of "Marvel Milestone" pin-ups that look back at the birth of the Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four #1), the first time the FF met the Watcher (Fantastic Four #13), their first battle with Galactus (Fantastic Four #48–50), their first clash with the Inhumans (Fantastic Four #45–48), and lastly the wedding of Reed and Sue (Fantastic Four Annual #3).
Whatever Happened to Alicia?
- The Skrulls state that creating a new Super-Skrull is cost prohibitive. At the time of this story the Skrulls had only publicly revealed on successful Super-Skrull, Kl'rt who gained the powers of the Fantastic Four through technological means in Fantastic Four #18. However as New Avengers: Illuminati (Vol. 2) #1 revealed, the Skrulls have secretly been trying to find a way to replicate super-human powers without the use of technology.
- During Lyja's exposition she goes over some significant portions of Fantastic Four history. These are as follows:
- She references Ben's relationship with Alicia Masters, the pair began dating back in Fantastic Four #9.
- Reference to Reed, Johnny and Ben being kidnapped by the Beyonder occurred in Thing #10. They were on Battleworld between Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1–12. While on Battleworld, Ben discovered that he could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms and decided to stay.
- Lyja taking Alicia's place happened just prior to the heroes return from the Secret Wars. Johnny, Reed and She-Hulk's return to Earth was depicted in Fantastic Four #265.
- Johnny and "Alicia's" relationship began to grow from Fantastic Four #267 onward.
- The scene where Ben discovered Johnny and "Alicia's" relationship is from Fantastic Four #277. Ben left Battleworld in Thing #22.
- Lastly Lyja recounts her marriage to Johnny which occurred in Fantastic Four #300.
- Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, Lyja was posing as Alicia for roughly two years time.
- This story begins a long and complex series of romantic struggles between Lyja and Johnny. Although she states that she is pregnant with Johnny's child in this story and later states she was lying when she apparently dies here. Lyja appears alive and well again in Fantastic Four #366 and still claiming to be carrying Johnny's child. She even gives birth to an egg that she claims is Johnny's child in Fantastic Four #386. It is later revealed to be a Gha'Barri implanted in her by Paibok to destroy the Fantastic Four as explained in Fantastic Four #392.
- Reed recounts the origins of the Fantastic Four. This is the fourth time the story has been revised and modernized. As Marvel has continued to publish stories eventually they had to institute a Sliding Timescale as a means of slowing down the advance of time in the Marvel Universe over the length of publications in real time. This was to prevent ageing their characters quickly as well as updating dated plot concepts, generalizing real life events or dates that are mentioned in various stories. When Fantastic Four #1 was published in 1961, Reed's spaceship is specifically referred to as a rocket, and his intentions for his mission is to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. Contextually, the story was published during the height of the US/Soviet Space Race, which saw both countries competing to see which one could develop manned space flights. Since then, many retellings of the Fantastic Four's origin have changed the details of Reed Richard's space flight, updating concepts so that they were not considered dated more modern readers. Such as:
- While Fantastic Four #1 implies that Reed was trying to reach the moon, Fantastic Four #2 states that he was attempting to reach Mars. Other stories since then have generalized where his destination was supposed to be.
- Fantastic Four #197 goes on to state that it was not just cosmic rays that caused the Fantastic Four to get their powers. It states that sunspot activity caused flaring through the Van Allen Belts causing an increase in neutron activity. The combination of this and the cosmic rays caused the mutations.
- In Fantastic Four #236, the origin of the Fantastic Four was updated, it was stated that Reed's experimental ship was intended to travel to the edge of the solar system and while it needed a rocket booster to reach escape velocity from Earth's atmosphere it relied on a Star Drive to reach its destination. This tale also goes on to expand on how the quartet were mutated.
- Fantastic Four Annual #24 states that Reed the ship needed to be tested before NASA gave approval for its use.
- This version of the story it is stated "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems. It also states that a combination of cosmic rays and abnormal sunspot activity was what caused the Fantastic Four to mutate.
- In the flashback to the origin of the Fantastic Four, the Thing is depicted here with dinosaur-like skin, he maintains this appearance until he eventually he developed his trademark rocky appearance by Fantastic Four #10. Marvel Two-In-One #50 went on to explain that the Thing's form continued to mutate after his initial transformation.
- King Cobra makes his appearance here between Captain America Annual #10 and Marvel Comics Presents #97.
- Following his appearance here, the Mad Thinker next appears in New Warriors #36.
- Following his appearance here the Puppet Master is next seen in Fantastic Four #366.
- Lyja is wearing Sue's original costume which she war between Fantastic Four #3–256 when a trip into the Negative Zone caused the Fantastic Four's uniforms to invert.
- This story shows Ben wearing a full body suit instead of his trademark trunks. The last time Ben was dressed head to toe in a costume was in Fantastic Four #297–298.
- Alicia Masters appears here after her last appearance in Fantastic Four #265.
- Although both Lyja and Paibok appear to die here, they resurface alive and well in Fantastic Four #366. How they managed to escape the exploding War World unscathed is revealed in Fantastic Four #390.
The Official Story
- This story explains Doctor Doom's claims made in Fantastic Four #350 wherein he stated that he had not fought the Fantastic Four since the "Battle of the Baxter Building" circa Fantastic Four #39–40 and that every time he after that the Fantastic Four were fighting Doombots. It states that this was all part of propaganda to make Doctor Doom appear to be a flawless leader in the eyes of his people.
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