Fantastic Four #19
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #19
Review/plot: Reed has been dabbling in Egyptology and he's found some hieroglyphics that indicate that a blind Pharoh had his sight restored by eating a radioactive herb. That's right: Reed knows the Egyptian word for "radioactive herb".
Thinking they can cure Alica's blindness (just Alicia's, mind you), they go back to Doom's abandoned castle from issue #5 and use his time machine to travel back to ancient Egypt (Tangent: how come so many time machines can also transport you to different places as well as different times? That in itself is a huge accomplishment that never gets mentioned.). There they fight some ancient Egyptions wearing strange helmets, and then they lose their powers. They are brought to the Pharoh's throne room, where they are introduced to Rama-Tut...
...who describes an origin story very similar to Zarkos the Tomorrow Man. When he first showed up in Egypt there was an accident and he was blinded but he used his machines to irradiate a rare Egyptian herb, restoring his sight.
Rama-Tut used a ray gun to temporarily remove the FF's powers, and after telling his origin, he enslaves the FF using a different ray gun (or maybe the same gun with a different setting?). After being prisoners for a while (The best thing Rama-Tut can think to do with the Human Torch is make him a court jester, even though he is using Mr. Fantastic to help fight a war), the Thing randomly turns back into Ben Grimm, which breaks his enslavement. He goes to free the others and then they chase Rama-Tut to a time travel pod in the center of the Sphinx, but the pharaoh gets away before they can catch him. Rama-Tut says that memory of his time here will fade into oblivion.
The FF speculate that he might have been a descendant of Dr. Doom (in his origin, Rama-Tut mentions that his ancestor invented the first time machine)...
...or even Doom himself...
...but this would later turn out to be inaccurate speculation, unfortunately. They find the "Optic Nerve Restorative"...
...and time travel back to the present, but Reed suddenly remembers that this time machine does not allow radioactive materials to be transported. Too bad!
Some good use of Reed for visual effects here, and don't ever let it be said that Stan Lee never let Mr. Fantastic stretch his neck!
The Thing is still evolving, looking less like his early lumpy self and more like that scaley version that would eventually become standard, although he is not quite there yet.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (13): show
i find it highly unlikely that Reed "suddenly" remembered that the time machine wouldn't transport radioactive materials. i think this is another "Reed's a dick" moment. he knew perfectly well it wouldn't work, but he really wanted to try out the time machine and needed some cover story to get the rest of the FF to go along with it. like that time he suggested they take a vacation cruise (FF annual#1) and it was really so he could follow-up on some reports of monster sightings.
so he trumps up this story, knowing it has to be about alicia if he's going to get the Thing to give up his day off, knowing the whole time he's not going to be able to bring back the cure to her blindness. then it's all "oh....yeah.....so sorry...just slipped my mind. but, don't worry. i'm gonna work on finding that cure for you. just like i've been working on that cure for Ben." (although, we learn here that all Ben needs is more vitamin D to change back to himself. obliviously. der.)
i can't believe they don't have any other friends they could have brought along to Doom's castle. no. let's leave the blind woman ALONE in Doom's castle and have her be in charge of the totally unfamiliar (and probably complex) control panel that is our only way of getting back to this time. Great Idea!
Posted by: min | February 2, 2012 9:04 AM
Good old Stan Lee must have really loved this story, as the main plot is Rama-Tut's plan to force the Invisible Girl to become his bride.
Posted by: Frightful Four fan | May 9, 2013 5:07 PM
Amazing how one of the most iconic of villains in Marvel...started out as some middle-aged guy in an orange Gilligan hat who got bored one day in the future.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 3, 2013 9:23 PM
My one problem is why after they knew they couldnt transport the serum back they just didnt take Alicia back and feed it to her in the past? presto problem solved but Reeds a dick and needed a leash on Thing
Posted by: Joshua | October 29, 2013 4:31 AM
"My one problem is why after they knew they couldn't transport the serum back they just didn't take Alicia back and feed it to her in the past?"
Exactly the same thing I was thinking!
Also, just for reference's sake, this storyline is the one that interweaves with the plot in the much, much later West Coast Avengers #17-24 time travel story. I always thought it was kind of a clever conceit, to have the newer scenes taking place at the same time (so to speak) with the earlier story, with the implication that it ALWAYS happened that way, rather than being an after-the-fact change. More interesting because it implies the Fantastic Four only managed to "win" in this particular story because of a few things the West Coast Avengers did in their story that helped the FF escape.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | September 2, 2014 3:41 PM
Hey ParanoidObsessive, don't forget that in that WCA story there's also Dr. Strange hanging around, and he helps out as well.
Since Rama-Tut already seems to be middle-aged, he really should be quite old as Kang and ancient as Immortus. I mean, I know he time travels, but really he's had quite a long life.
Who would have ever thought that Rama Tut would end up as 2 of the longest lasting most impactful Avengers villains.
What might be the strangest thing about this whole thing is that Doom just abandoned his Time Machine and never went back for it (and in the WCA stories, it won't transport you in space, just time - they have to fly to where they want to be).
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 9, 2014 4:48 PM
Heads up fnord, that "Mr. Fantastic stretching his neck" discussion board link no longer works.
Posted by: cullen | December 11, 2014 11:50 PM
Thanks Cullen. It was a link to Tom Brevoort's old blog which if i recall was a list of things he learned from Stan Lee. And one of them was that Mr. Fantastic looked silly with his neck stretched so Stan had an edict that it wasn't allowed to draw Reed that way. I'm sure that really was an edict but i've found examples from the 60s through the 80s where Reed's neck was stretched, so a few must have slipped through.
Unfortunately even the Wayback Machine and Google cache do not have the page archived. I've updated the link here to my main blog which in turn still points to the link-rotted URL.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 12, 2014 7:51 AM
Should add that during the Egypt perion, Apocalypse is roaming around in "Rise of Apocalypse"
Posted by: Davey | April 4, 2015 10:31 PM
"Reed, something is wrong! How can he know about us...a thousand years before we were born?"
Oh Johnny, you sweet, simple boy. I guess if you have superpowers you don't need to finish your high school history classes.
Posted by: T4 | June 10, 2015 5:16 PM
Has anyone ever wondered how the 25th century master criminal who became Rama-Tut overshot by 3,000 years to Ancient Egypt when attempting to travel to our era? He only initially lived five hundred years into our future for goodness sake! Now there would be an interesting What If? What if Rama-Tut had first reached the 20th century? Would he have become a supervillain? But back to my first question, was someone trying to prevent his arriving in our time period? But who! Given his having a base in Limbo at the time, and regularly watching over the Fantastic Four, could it have been the Watcher once again stepping in to assist the Fantastic Four? This raises the additional question, what villainous guise would this character take on if he'd have successfully reached our time period first?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 4, 2016 12:31 AM
Stan drops another Christian Dior reference in this issue. I've been re-reading these early FF issues and I've noticed he's referenced Dior 3 or 4 times in the first 19 issues.
Posted by: Robert | January 31, 2016 3:38 PM
There are some very good points here that I never really caught before, about Reed being a jackass sometimes, and indeed, even now, why not take Alicia back to the past so she can use the blindness-curing formula? It really does go to show how poorly thought-out many of these earliest FF stories were.
There was a much-later retcon by Byrne in which it was "established" that Rama-Tut's ancestor was "really" Nathaniel Richards, rather than Victor Von Doom, and that Nathaniel was "really" the true inventor of the first time machine. Does anyone know whether or not that's still considered canon? Or has that retcon since been re-retconed?
Time travel makes my head wobble.
Posted by: James Holt | July 14, 2016 12:32 AM
I've always thought that the time machine in the Sphinx was inspired by the 1960 film version of the Time Machine where the time machine was hidden in a sphinx.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 24, 2016 10:50 PM
That's a cool bit of trivia, Bobby. I didn't know that.
Posted by: JP | October 25, 2016 2:00 AM
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 6:39 PM
Alas, Stan Lee never learned to spell the word "pharaoh" correctly. I mean, it's so consistently misspelled throughout Rama-Tut's early appearances, starting right here on the cover of this issue, that it's probably just better to assume "pharoah" is the correct spelling in the Marvel 616-verse.
Posted by: Lyde1848 | April 23, 2018 9:22 PM
The secret legacy of Jay Pharoah? ;)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 23, 2018 10:01 PM
Kang's true ancestor revealed at last! And it was right in front of us the whole time :-D
Posted by: Lyde1848 | April 24, 2018 10:25 AM
Lyde1848: Well, there was no computers or spellcheck back then, so mistakes happen…
Also, why is it Stan Lee's fault? I would think correct spelling is the responsibility of the letterer. But hey, I could be wrong...
Posted by: mikrolik | April 24, 2018 10:13 PM
Oops, I meant there were no computers or spellcheck back then. My bad.
Posted by: mikrolik | April 24, 2018 10:14 PM
The letterer isn't going to get a script where the word is consistently spelled correctly and then consistently screw up the spelling the same way every time. Stan should probably get at least some share of the blame.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 24, 2018 11:10 PM
Yeah also for that matter I guess Kirby "drew" the misspelled word on the cover and didn't catch it either. I certainly don't mean to mock anybody - it's a tough word to spell. I tell my students to think of it as "OH! It's a pharaOH!"
Posted by: Lyde1848 | April 25, 2018 12:18 PM
@Nathan Adler: The story makes it clear that the time traveller from "the year 3000" was always going back to "ancient Egypt" to establish a base for his "time looter" activities. The only problem was that he crashed while arriving. It was when he tried to return to his own time that he overshot and ended up in the 40th/41st Century where he became Kang the Conqueror. Plus, when "Rama-Tut" first met Doom, he claimed to be from the 25th Century. Presumably this was misinformation so that Doom wouldn't be able to come after him if Doom ever came to view "Rama" as a rival.
@min: At this point in their careers the FF had only time travelled once before so there was really no way that Reed could have possibly KNOWN that Doom's time machine could not transport radioactive material through time. In that context, it's safer to leave the blind girl in the future instead of bringing her to the barbaric past, right?
Posted by: Don Campbell | April 25, 2018 1:33 PM
Comments are now closed.
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