Appearing in "Even the Watchers Can Die!"
- Fantastic Force
- Kristoff Vernard
- Nathaniel Richards
- Boris (Zarrko in disguise)
- Aron the Rogue Watcher (-) (Death)
- Aron's Time Displaced Warriors:
- Dragon Man
- Frightful Four
- Red Ghost
- Mole Man
- Black Panther
- Super Skrull
- Awesome Android
- Silver Surfer
- Doctor Doom
- Undisclosed planet
- Aron's based located between Mars and Jupiter
- Prosilicus (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "Even the Watchers Can Die!"
This story is continued from Fantastic Force #7...
The members of the Fantastic Four and Fantastic Force have found themselves caught in the middle of a battle between the Celestials and the Watchers, a conflict so massive in scale, they can hardly comprehend. From their vantage point on the fallen body of the Watcher known as "The One". Trying to get a sense of the situation, Sue tells her son Psi-Lord to try and read the minds of the aliens around them to find Uatu. Locating him, the two groups use Huntara's Psi-Scythe to teleport to Uatu's location. When the Watcher finally acknowledges their presence he tells them that he is aware of their concern over Aron the Rogue Watcher's plan but cannot interfere as he must witnesses the tableau unfolding before them. He explains that the Celestials have come to judge the Watchers to determine if they are a threat to the universe. Learning that the Watchers will do nothing to interfere with the proceedings, Psi-Lord attempts to pull the information they need out of Uatu's mind. After warding off the pain of the mind reading, Psi-Lord tells the heroes that Aron has set up a base between Mars and Jupiter. Having decided that the Celestials will destroy the entire universe he is planning on surviving the culling by creating his own pocket universe to escape it. The device that the Watcher provided them components to is the key to stopping Aron before it is too late.
With the current conflict between the Watchers and the Celestials too important to leave behind, Sue takes point and orders the two groups to slip up and tackle both problems at the same time. After transferring everything he knows into Sue's mind, Franklin joins Huntara, the Thing, Vibraxas, Ant-Man, and Kristoff Vernard through a portal to face Aron while the others stay behind. With the others gone, Sue, Johnny, Lyja, Devlor, and Nathaniel head towards Exitar the Executioner. Along the way Lyja imparts what the Skrulls know about the Celestials: that they are cosmic genetic engineers that may have had a hand in creating her race. She also tells them that none have ever seen what the Celestials look like under their armor and it is theorized that they actually exist in hyperspace, that their armor is actually allows them to interact with the physical world.
Meanwhile, within the temporal anomaly between Mars and Jupiter, Aron begins the final touches on his machine that will allow him to escape the destruction of the universe and create a new pocket universe completely under his control. Before he can finish, the Thing and his companions arrive on the scene. In order to keep the heroes occupied, Aron summons various Fantastic Four foes from different points in history to battle his foes. First comes Blastaar, then the Dragon Man, and the original Frightful Four, resulting in a full scale battle erupting. While back on the alien world, Johnny tries to get Exitar's attention wit a full power flame blast but it does little if anything. Sue and the others arrive on an invisible column to face him as well. When Sue questions how they can breach the Celestial's armor, Nathaniel reveals that Sue's invisible force powers actually tap into hyperspace and that since that is where the Celestials come from she can cause them harm. Concentrating as hard as possible, Sue unleashes the full force of her powers punching a hole through Exitar's armor. Back in Earth's solar system the heroes battle on against Red Ghost and his Super-Apes, Annihilus, Devos, as well as the Mole Man and his creatures. Among the battlers appears the Black Panther, much to the surprise of Vibraxis, but it is an earlier version of the Panther from prior to his meeting the Fantastic Four.
Back on the alien world, the other team have entered Exitar's body and find themselves in a strange alien circulatory system. As they venture deeper inside the massive alien being they are suddenly attacked by its immune system. Johnny and Lyja spring to action, fighting off the defenses so the others can continue on their path. Meanwhile, the Thing dispatches the Mole Man's creatures, and Huntara uses her scythe to send Devos away. Suddenly a younger version of Namor appears with an army of Atlanteans as well as the Awesome Android. To make matters worse, Kristoff points out that Aron is almost finished constructing his device. Back within the Celestial, Sue, Devlor, and Nathaniel come to a door barring their path. When Devlor fails to punch through it, Nathaniel's built in weapons blasts through it with general ease. As they continue onward, strange tentacles come out of the floor and ensnare the two men. Quick thinking Sue uses her invisible powers to lift herself off the floor and carry her away. The battle against the Aron continues on, and just as the heroes finish off Namor and his armies they are then attacked by the Silver Surfer -- from an era where he was still a herald of Galactus -- as well as Terrax, and -- much to Kristoff's surprise -- Doctor Doom. When Terrax tries to blast Kristoff, he is pushed to safety by Ant-Man. While Kristoff berates Lang for touching him their argument distracts them long enough for the arriving Occulus to destroy the weapon the Watcher had provided them, dashing all hopes of destroying Aron's device. However Ant-Man refuses to give up, even if it costs him his life.
At that moment within the Celestial body, Sue comes to a massive nerve center of pulsating energies. When she reaches out to touch it she is jolted by a bolt of energy that causes her to remember the fateful day when the cosmic ray storm and rocket crash led to the birth of the Fantastic Four. With the memories passed, Sue is shocked when a ball of energy emerges and takes on the form of her own body. The essence of Exitar congratulates Sue for making it this far. When Sue asks the Celestial what their purposes of threatening to destroy the universe, the god-like being tries to explain it to her as best as Sue can understand. It explains that after the Big Bang created the universe, the Watchers arose and began watching the universe, determined to merely observe following their disastrous interaction with the Procillians which ended in a nuclear holocaust. However, not all Watchers followed this strict edict. It goes on to explain that the Watchers have spent millennia downloading their knowledge into the massive Watcher known as "The One" in the hopes that it will survive the eventual end of the universe in what is known as the Big Crunch. However the Celestials had determined that in doing so, they have set the universe to expire before its time. When Sue asks why, the Celestial can only offer speculation, perhaps that they are wishing to start fresh and undo the damage they began when they inadvertently caused the destruction of the Procillians. As Sue mulls this all over, outside Arishem is about to make his supreme judgement in regards to the Watchers and the fate of the universe. The simulacrum of Sue tells her that the genetic code for destruction is being downloaded into Exitar to commit his ultimate act. Suddenly a beam of energy issues from Exitar's brow and strikes "The One", slaying him in a might blast of energy. While the threat is over with the death of "The One", Sue refuses to let the Celestials wipe out the rest of the Watchers, and so she uses her powers to attack Exitar's nerve center. The sudden attack causes Exitar's body to disintegrate, sending Sue and all those inside falling. However before they can suffer a fatal fall, they are teleported to safety by Uatu. Uatu explains that although the Fantastic Four have not stopped the Celestial's final judgement of the Watchers, they have delayed it by a few millennia. Realizing that the Watcher had manipulated them into helping his race, Sue demands that Uatu help them or else everything they have done will be in vein.
Back at Aron's hideout, the battle rages on with most of the heroes fighting off Gladiator, the Hate-Monger, Thundra, the Hulk and Ronan the Accusor. Aron gloats as his machine is complete and ready to activate. However before he can activate it, the machine breaks apart as Ant-Man, using his Pym Particles to grow to giant size, rips the machine to shreds. With his plans spoiled and his minions returned to their proper times, Aron curses the heroes for interfering with his plans. Suddenly, Sue and the others arrive with the Watcher in tow. Uatu vows to stop Aron once and for all, even at the risk of violating the oath that a Watcher shall not harm a member of his own kind. Aron and Uatu match powers but ultimately Uatu proves the better and he eradicates Aron from existence. In the aftermath of the battle the Watcher known as He Who Summons appears and finds Uatu guilty of killing a fellow Watcher. He then sentences Uatu to exile, stripping him of the title Watcher after mentally blasting Uatu, He Who Summons teleports away. The heroes rush to Uatu's side and Sue offers her sympathy, but Uatu believes that the punishment is just. Suddenly, Aron's artificial domain begins to shake. Realizing that it is coming apart, the former Watcher teleports all the heroes back to the Stealth-Hawk which is still on the Moon, much to the surprise of the man posing as Boris.
With the battle over and everyone but the Watcher accounted for, the heroes celebrate their victory. Nathaniel secretly muses on if the Watcher's citadel is unoccupied or not. In the aftermath of the battle, Sue has decided to accept the fact that Reed is probably dead and offers Ant-Man the opportunity to officially become a member of the team. Ant-Man is happy to accept, but Kristoff speaks up telling the group that he would be the better choice, a statement that leads to protest from both Johnny and Ben. While this is happening Devlor asks Sue what happened to Uatu and what he will do now that he is on his own. Sue tells him that she doesn't know but she believes that he is in a better place now and will turn out just fine.
Appearing in "In Memoriam!"
- Black Panther
- Nick Fury
- Silver Sable
- Silver Surfer
- Black Bolt
- Willie Lumpkin
- Mister Fantastic (Only in flashback)
- Galactus (Only in flashback)
- Doctor Doom (Only in flashback)
- Rama-Tut (Only in flashback)
- Annihilus (Only in flashback)
- New York City
- Central City (Only in flashback)
- Ithaca (Only in flashback)
- Negative Zone (Only in flashback)
- Ant-Man's Helmet
- Captain America's Shield
- Captain America's Uniform
- Iron Man Armor Model 13
Synopsis for "In Memoriam!"
Reed Richards has been officially declared legally dead and the Fantastic Four are hosting a funeral for their dearly departed leader. Among the mourners are members of the Avengers, Silver Sable, Spider-Man, Nick Fury, and Fantastic Four associates the Sub-Mariner, "Boris", Kristoff Vernard, Black Bolt, Medusa, and long time Fantastic Four mailman Willie Lumpkin.
In her bedroom, Sue prepares to go out and meet those who have come to offer their respects, but stops for a moment to take a look at a picture of her apparently deceased husband. She is soon joined by Johnny and Ben and the trio get to talking about the fateful day when they became the Fantastic Four. How Reed developed a space ship to take them into space. When the government scrapped funding they broke onto the site and took an unauthorized flight. The flight was a success until they were caught in a cosmic ray storm that caused them to crash land on Earth. The cosmic rays transformed them so Sue could turn invisible, Ben turned into the Thing, Reed could stretch his body and Johnny could burst into flame. It was after realizing what happened they all agreed to band together and become the Fantastic Four.
Sue reflects on all the various foes they fought over the years, while Johnny points out the many discoveries they have made as a team. Ben interrupts this trip down memory lane and reminds them that there is a memorial service to attend. Sue agrees and as the three original members of the Fantastic Four go to face the other mourners, Sue tells them that they have a responsibility to continue exploring the unknown for the greatest man they ever knew: Reed Richards.
Even the Watchers Can Die!
- The opening narrative from this story glosses over the various places Sue has explored in her career as a member of the Fantastic Four. These are:
- Sue has traveled throughout the known universe, the first time she ventured beyond Earth was when the Fantastic Four ventured the "Planet X" in Fantastic Four #7.
- She also traveled across time, the first time Sue time traveled was when she ventured to ancient Egypt with the rest of the team in Fantastic Four #19.
- Sue also explored the oceans of the world, primarily due to the groups constant clashes with the Sub-Mariner. The first time Sue ventured into the ocean was in Fantastic Four #14.
- Although Reed first discovered the Negative Zone in Fantastic Four #51, Sue did not venture into it until Fantastic Four #140.
- Sue first ventured into the Microverse in Fantastic Four #16 and she later traveled into the Inniverse in Fantastic Four #362.
- The Thing's face is scarred here because he was slashed in the face by Wolverine in Fantastic Four #374. His face is eventually healed in Fantastic Four #409.
- Franklin is a teenaged counterpart of the Franklin-616 that comes from Earth-6311. The two were swapped by Nathaniel Richards in Fantastic Four #376. Although everyone reacts as though this is Earth-616's Franklin all grown up, the young Franklin is returned in Fantastic Four #413. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z #14 confirms that they are separate entities.
- Uatu mentions the Fantastic Four's long running conflict with Aron the Rogue Watcher and the Dark Raider. This went on from Fantastic Four #387–392 and Fantastic Four #397–399.
- Multiple mentions are made of the Watcher's oath of non-interference. This has been the case since the Watchers accidentally caused the mass extinction of the Prosilicans when they provided them with nuclear technology, as seen in Tales of Suspense #53 and expanded upon in Original Sin #0.
- Ben makes a reference to the OJ Simpson murder trial. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Lyja offers some insight on the Celestials. Here are some more facts:
- Their genetic tampering has been a known fact since Eternals #1
- However Lyja's explanations into the Celestial's origins may not be accurate given how the second story of Fantastic Four Annual #27 offered many contradictory accounts of the Celestial's origins. The true origin of their race is lost to antiquity.
- However he believe that he Celestials had a hand in creating the Skrulls is actually accurate. Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #5 and Blackwulf #9 both state that the Celestials altered the Prime Skrulls creating Skrullian Eternals and Deviant Skrulls. The dominant Skrull species are the Deviant Skrulls, who wiped out almost all the other variants.
- Aron plucks various past Fantastic Four friends and foes from different points in time to fight the gathered heroes. Here is where they appear from:
- There is no indication that Blastaar comes from the past Marvel Comics Presents #165 and Spider-Man #90. Like wise is the case with Dragon Man who appears here between Web of Spider-Man #100 and Savage Hulk #1.
- The incarnation of the Frightful Four who appear here is the original line up which included the Wizard, the Trapster, Sandman and Medusa. Upon examination Peter Petruski is called the Trapster instead of Paste-Pot Pete, Sandman is wearing his normal street clothes and Medusa is wearing her second Frightful Four costume, they were likely pulled somewhere between Fantastic Four #36 and Fantastic Four #38 given that Medusa left the team shortly thereafter in Fantastic Four #43.
- The Red Ghost and his Super-Apes appear here, with the Red Ghost wearing his red costume. Given that he is with the Super-Apes at this point, he was likely plucked from time following the events of Fantastic Four Annual #3. From that point forward, Kragoff stopped using his Super-Apes and changed his costume a number of times inbetween.
- Devos is from the present time, appearing here between Fantastic Four #383 and Annihilation: Ronan #2 As does the Mole Man last seen in Fantastic Four Unlimited #4 and Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #94. Like wise are Giganto (between Fantastic Four #349 and JLA/Avengers #1) and Tricephalous (between Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7 and JLA/Avengers #1)
- The Black Panther who appears here does not appear to recognize the Fantastic Four, as such he was pulled out of time prior to his first meeting with the group in Fantastic Four #52.
- The Sub-Mariner who appears here has animosity towards the surface world and his carrying the Trident of Neptune placing his appearance here between Tales to Astonish #76 and Tales to Astonish #77.
- The Awesome Android, given that he is not with the Mad Thinker suggests that he is also from the present, as at the time of this writing the Mad Thinker had abandoned the Awesome Android. Placing his appearance here between Avengers Spotlight #27 and Heroes for Hire #1.
- The Silver Surfer refers to himself as a herald of Galactus still, placing his appearance here prior to his first encounter with the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #48.
- Terrax however appars to be from the present, primarily because he recalls how Doctor Doom enslaved him in Fantastic Four #258–260, which ended in his temporary death. Tyros was later resurrected in New Warriors #1. This places Terrax's appearance here between Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #97 and Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #10.
- Doctor Doom appears here from the past, since at the time of this story he was believed to be dead per Fantastic Four #381 (in reality he is a prisoner of Hyperstorm) Since he does not recognize Kristoff Vernard, Doom has likely beeen pulled from time circa Fantastic Four #246 before he took Kristoff as his ward and devised his plan to model the boy into his successor.
- Occulus is from the present, pulled from time between his appearances in Fantastic Four #365 and Fantastic Four: Foes #1
- The fact that Gladiator is attacking the Fantastic Four in this story suggests that he was plucked from time between Fantastic Four #249 and Fantastic Four #250 as during that period Gladiator thought the Fantastic Four were Skrull impostors.
- Because the Hate-Monger is wearing his original costume he likely plucked out of time during his only encounter with the Fantastic Four during Fantastic Four #21 sometime before that body was killed.
- Likewise since Thundra is attacking the Thing, she was likely pulled from time during the period she wished to defeat the Thing in combat circa Fantastic Four #130.
- The version of the Hulk that appears here is the "savage" green Hulk. Given his attire and his haircut style he was likely plucked from time between Fantastic Four #12 and Incredible Hulk #6.
- Lastly, because only his Universal Weapon can be seen here, it is safe to assume that Ronan was pulled out of the recent past as well, placing his appearance here happening between Cosmic Powers #4 and Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #13.
- Vibraxas makes mention that Medusa is a member of the Inhuman race, apparently he forgets that he previously met modern day Medusa in Fantastic Four #391.
- Franklin recalls how he was tortured by Annihilus as a child. There are two instances that Franklin could be referring to: Annihilus once kidnapped Franklin in Fantastic Four #140–141. Later, Annihilus tortured Franklin for a brief period of time when he escaped to Earth in Fantastic Four #251–256.
- Franklin mentions how he and Devos will fight in the future. As of this writing these events have not been revealed.
- Johnny is struggling with his feelings for Lyja, as they are quite complex at this point:
- As explained in Fantastic Four #358 Lyja took the place of Alicia Masters to spy on the Fantastic Four circa Fantastic Four #265. With the Thing off planet, she pursued a relationship with Johnny.
- The couple eventually got married in Fantastic Four #300.
- The Thing eventually exposed Lyja as a Skrull spy in Fantastic Four #357 and they rescued the real Alicia in Fantastic Four #358 where Lyja seemingly perished.
- Lyja survived thanks her commander Paibok and they were rescued by Devos and plotted against the Fantastic Four as seen in Fantastic Four #370. As revealed in Fantastic Four #390, Paibok implanted Lyja with a Sha'Barri egg which they later led to Johnny to believe was his unborn child when they attacked him in Fantastic Four #371.
- Lyja eventually realized that she still had feelings for Johnny and betrayed Paibok to be by his side in Fantastic Four #374. Their romance rekindled until Lyja was forced to admit the truth in Fantastic Four #390 leading to Johnny ultimately rejecting her in Fantastic Four #392. At this time Johnny is unaware that Lyja has been following him since then in the guise of a woman named Laura Green.
- Mention is made that Mister Fantastic is probably dead. He seemingly died in Fantastic Four #381. However Fantastic Four #407 reveals that he has actually been a prisoner of Hyperstorm this whole time.
- Sue's recollection of how she first got her powers is from Fantastic Four #1.
- The Celestial's suggestion that the Watchers are trying to undo the mistake they made with the Prosilians is probably. As seen in Original Sin #0, Uatu had been trying to find an alternate universe where that the Watchers were not responsible for the Prosilians wiping themselves out, but had found none.
- Although Sue appears to have destroyed Exitar the Executioner here, this Celestial is seen again sometime later in New Warriors (Vol. 5) #4. It seems unlikely that Sue was capable of destroying a Celestial. This could have been a massive deception on their part. As specified in Fantastic Four Annual #27 the Celestials are not above putting on elaborate schemes to test beings in the universe, much like they did with the Beyonder in Secret Wars II #5.
- Although Uatu is stripped of his title of Watcher, he continues this job anyway as seen when he appears next in Uncanny X-Men #335. It appears that he later regains favor among his people as he is seen working along side other Watchers again in She-Hulk #18.
- The man posing as Boris here is actually Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, an agent of Hyperstorm as revealed in Fantastic Four #405.
- Nathaniel investigates the Watcher's Citadel later in Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #1.
- Both Tony Stark and Iron Man appear attending the funeral. At the time of this story Stark's double identity was a secret which was not revealed until Iron Man (Vol. 3) #55. His Model 13 armor (invented in Iron Man #300) can be operated autonomously without Stark actually being in the armor.
- Ant-Man refers to Namor as a "letcherous creep" because of Namor's turbulent past with Sue. Namor was constant competition for Sue's affections since the Torch revived him in Fantastic Four #4. Sue eventually decided on Reed over Namor following the events of Fantastic Four Annual #1 (as explained in Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special #1) and Namor eventually moved on when Reed and Sue were married in Fantastic Four Annual #3. When Reed and Sue were briefly separated in Fantastic Four #130, Namor appeared to take advantage of that in Fantastic Four #147. Although Sue was driven by her past emotions for Namor, the Sub-Mariner was actually willfully involved in an attempt to bring Sue and Reed back together as seen in Fantastic Four #149.
- The Fantastic Four recount their origins from Fantastic Four #1. This version of the origin story does not specify the destination they were trying to reach in their ship. 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.
- Later 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 #358 went on to say that the this "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems.
- In the origin tale the Thing appears with lizard like skin. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, the Thin's form continued to mutate until it adopted his trademark rock-like appearance around Fantastic Four #10.
- Sue recalls all the various foes they fought over the years. The ones that appear here are:
- Johnny mentions how the group traveled through space (the first time being Fantastic Four #7) through time (most of the team first traveled through time in Fantastic Four #5) and the Negative Zone (which Reed discovered in Fantastic Four #51)
- This issue contains an introductory statement from Stan Lee, as well as an essay on the history of the Fantastic Four by Michael Marts.
Links and References
- The Grand Comics Database: Fantastic Four Vol 1