- I am a conqueror of worlds! A slayer of vast civilizations! I would gladly sacrifice your comrade if it served my purpose!
- -- Dreadface
Appearing in "At the Mercy of Dreadface!"
- Dreadface (Apparent death)
Synopsis for "At the Mercy of Dreadface!"
The Fantastic Four have returned to Earth after being briefly stranded in space, thanks to the group commandeering the ship owned by Devos the Destroyer. However, they were forced to crash land and find themselves on a deserted island. Exiting the ship, Reed stretches his body out to confirm that they are indeed far away from civilization, in doing so, he also happens upon a scar running across the jungles, suggesting that something else crashed in the area some time ago. Sending Johnny out to investigate, he finds the ruins of an old airplane belonging to the Flying Barnett Circus. Examining the ship, Johnny finds that while the animals managed to escape, the pilots didn't make it out of the crash alive.
Back at the crashed spaceship, Reed and Ben are lugging a scout ship so they can at least get some of the team back home. While they are working, Alicia is almost attacked by a leopard, a descendant of one of the animals from the circus plane, but Sue manages to trap it in an invisible force field. Reed is curious as to what life on the island may have done for to the evolution of the circus animals that are not native to this place. As they secure the big cat, the Fantastic Four are unaware of a strange black mass that slithers out of the ship and into the jungle wilderness.
After getting the scout ship out, Reed tells them that the ship has some weight restrictions. With some protest, Johnny and Ben insist that Reed and Sue go and take Alicia with them so they can get back to Manhattan where Reed can get the Pogo-Plane and recover the rest of the team. The trio blast off, leaving Johnny and Ben alone on the island, a situation that the pair believe will be a simple wait. However, they are entirely wrong, as the strange creature from the alien ship comes across a gorilla and bonds to it sending it into a frenzy.
As Ben and Johnny begin setting up camp for the night, and both realize that they aren't really that hungry, Ben breaks the silence by telling Johnny that if he needs someone to talk to about the current situation he is there for him, and Johnny thanks him for the offer. Johnny confides in Ben that he didn't intend to steal the woman they all thought was Alicia from Ben all that time ago, telling his long time friend that when Ben decided to stay on Battleworld, Johnny assumed it was going to be forever. Ben concurs with Johnny's assessment of the situation at the time. Talking things out, Johnny tells Ben that even though he knows the woman he fell in love with and married over all this time was not the real Alicia Masters, he can't help but still project those feelings toward the real Alicia. Ben admits that even in this most beneficial of circumstances, while Alicia still thinks she and Ben are still an item, he still sees her as Johnny's wife. Suddenly, their conversation is abruptly cut off when they hear a loud growl followed by a massive boulder being tossed at their fire. They split up to go looking for their attacker in the jungle. Ben finds the gorilla bonded with the symbiote first and battles it out. Calling the creature "Dreadface", Ben is shocked when he lands a blow and the black substance on the gorilla starts oozing off the primate and onto him.
Meanwhile, Reed, Sue, and Alicia return to Manhattan and land on the roof of the Four Freedoms Plaza. As they disable the security systems and head down, Reed cautions Alicia because things have changed greatly since she was last with the team. As Sue contemplates picking Franklin from Avengers Mansion, Alicia suggests taking a cab back to her apartment. When Reed tries to inform her, the upsetting situation hits her before he can say it: she no longer has an apartment thanks to Lyja, the Skrull spy who was posing as her and married Johnny, and that the impostor has been living at Four Freedoms with Johnny. When Alicia wonders how they're going to explain everything, Reed assures her that he will get the Fantastic Four's lawyers to help sort out the legal implications created by this situation.
Back on the island, Johnny has found no sign of their attack and is doubling back. He spots Ben but notices too late that something has taken possession of him. Under control of "Dreadface", Ben attacks Johnny, but the Torch manages to stop the attack by blasting Ben with fire, driving the symbiote away. Rushing to his teammates' aid, Johnny's guard is down when the creature double backs and takes possession of him next. This time the creature develops a face and explains to Ben that it is a space-born race of warriors that lay waste to everything it encounters. Retracting its form from Johnny's arms and legs so it can utilize his flame powers, the creature now called Dreadface attacks Ben. Ben tries to fight back but the creature retracts, making Ben accidentally strike Johnny in the face.
Not willing to hurt his friend and recalling how Johnny managed to free him from Dreadface, Ben flees with the creature in tow. Ben then rushes back to Devos' ship and ruptures the fuel tank. Dreadface realizes this too late after hurling a fireball at Ben, causing the ship to explode in a massive explosive fury. Later, when Reed arrives, he sees the island ablaze and fears the worse. However, in the middle of the wreckage and the fire, both Ben and Johnny are unscathed and Dreadface is nowhere to be found. Spotting Reed landing the Pogo-Plane, the pair go to it, and as Reed exits the plane, he asks what happened. Johnny and Ben happily put their arms around each other and tell Reed that they were just doing some male bonding.
- Alicia's presence with the Fantastic Four is one with complex difficulties for both Ben and Johnny. They are:
- Ben used to date Alicia going back as early as Fantastic Four #9
- Unknown to the Fantastic Four, while Ben, Johnny and Reed were kidnapped by the Beyonder in Thing #10, Alicia was captured and replaced by the Skrull spy known as Lyja. This happened around Fantastic Four #265 when the Fantastic Four returned from the Secret Wars sans the Thing. As revealed in Fantastic Four #358, because the Thing remained on Battleworld, Lyja pursued a relationship with Johnny in order to maintain close ties to the Fantastic Four. During her mission, Lyja legitimately fell in love with Johnny while posing as Alicia.
- "Alicia" and Johnny got married in Fantastic Four #300.
- Lyja was later exposed in Fantastic Four #357 and seemingly died in Fantastic Four #358 during the mission to rescue Alicia.
- Reed tells Alicia to stay close because their headquarters has changed a lot since she was last there. Prior to her abduction circa Fantastic Four #265, the Fantastic Four operated out of the Baxter Building. As a blind woman, Alicia had its floor plan memories. However the Baxter Building was destroyed by Kristoff Vernard in Fantastic Four #278, the FF later built the Four Freedoms Plaza which began construction in Fantastic Four #265 and was publicly opened Fantastic Four #293.
- When Alicia realizes that Johnny and her impostor live together at the Four Freedoms Plaza it comes as a shock. Alicia had her own apartment for years, however when Lyja took her place and began dating she and Johnny, they actually got a place of their own circa Fantastic Four #306, they didn't actually move into the Four Freedoms Plaza as they were seen having their own place still in Fantastic Four #356.
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