Fantastic Four #160-163
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #160, Fantastic Four #161, Fantastic Four #162, Fantastic Four #163
Alicia Masters hears about a fight in the streets and finds the Thing in battle with Arkon. The Thing is defeated and kidnapped thanks to Arkon's nifty lightning bolts.
Alicia heads to the Baxter Building to tell the rest of the FF but finds that the Thing is with them. They've all just gotten back from the Inhuman's Great Refuge. Reed says he'll look up Arkon in "the records we exchange with the Avengers, as part of our reciprocal agreement". But he's got a more important business meeting at the moment.
The Thing, however, remembers his previous encounter with an alternate dimension Thing, so he contacts Crystal and asks to borrow Lockjaw, since Lockjaw was the one who brought him to that dimension last time. Note some pretty dog-like behavior from Lockjaw.
Meanwhile, Reed's business meeting is about him selling off Fantastic Four Incorporated to an Interlocking Technologies, represented by an Albert Devoor. It seems the FF is out of money again. Maybe the Thing should stop tearing up subway platforms.
Back in the alternate dimension, the Thing finds out that the Thing of that world, who was actually Reed Richards, has also sold of his business, to an Inter-related Technocracies. The Ben Grimm of that world has had his powers removed.
Johnny Storm is pretty pissed about real-Reed selling off the FF, so he heads to Valeria's 5th Dimension. But there's trouble there, too.
Understandably, Reed doesn't get to looking up Arkon right away. In addition to financial problems and Johnny storming off (ha ha), it turns out that he is losing his powers ("I'm becoming like a rubber band -- that's been stretched out of shape one time too many! I've always theorized this could happen -- as I grew older."). We saw the first hint this was happening in the previous arc.
He confirms this by testing himself against "diabolical devices designed by Prof. Charles Xavier, mysterious recluse of Westchester County".
So Reed is selling off the FF, Johnny is fighting robots in the 5th Dimension, and the Thing is off on Earth A fighting dinosaurs with impossibly sharp teeth.
What's going on here is Arkon is attempting to set off a triple World War.
The fact that our Reed let his time machine go to Interlocking Technologies is a sign that he's really been distracted lately.
So you've got our Reed mentally helping Earth A Reed escape Arkon's captivity...
...and then Earth A Reed teams up with our Thing...
...and similar battles. It's all a bit convoluted, but i don't care. Because something happens at the end of #162 that just makes everything else in this story moot.
The Thing fights a Space Goalie.
And that's awesome.
The fate of three worlds is based on this hockey match.
I couldn't even tell you how everything wraps up. Who cares!
It's interesting that "Earth A" has a President Rockefeller, just like the Squadron Supreme's dimension, as revealed soon in the Serpent Crown saga. There doesn't seem to be any connection, though.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The FF have just arrived home from the Great Refuge at the beginning of this arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Roy Thomas later admitted that Gaard was supposed to be a parody of Black Racer from DC's New Gods.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 21, 2012 9:29 PM
There was a lot of demonizing of Nelson Rockefeller by 70s conspiracy theorists and also by 70s leftists. This is reflected in stories like Englehart's Serpent Crown story and the lackluster ending to the War of the Super Villains. That's probably why Rockefeller is president in this story. It's worth noting that in real life Rockefeller was a fairly liberal Republican who supported the civil rights movement in the 60s. While there's no disputing that he made some questionable decisions, he wasn't the ogre that many of his critics depicted him as.
Posted by: Michael | May 4, 2013 3:00 PM
The other angle with Rockefeller is he was the Republican everyone expected to be president sooner or later, but never was. By '75, he was actually Ford's VP, so he was an obvious choice for any close-but-not-quite dimension's president.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 4, 2013 3:53 PM
It wasn't just liberals; quite a few conservatives didn't like him either--there was the civil rights support, the fact that he ran against Nixon in 1968, and a general feeling that he bought his way into the vice-presidency. They were also scared he might finance his own presidential campaign in 1976, split the Republican vote, and elect a Democrat(National Lampoon ran a really nasty satire of a Rockefeller campaign ad).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 4, 2013 4:01 PM
Not to get too political, but, you don't get to be one of the richest men in the world without being an ogre.
Posted by: Paul | May 4, 2013 9:28 PM
Leaving aside the politics, in context this story was a major breath of fresh air after the book had floundered for years. It was a story that Marvel hadn't done before, and with the scope expected of an FF book. It's even one of the better uses of Arkon, since he's clever enough to use a corporate front man rather than doing his barbarian shtick.
Granted that the climax was lackluster, the rest was quite good, and even a bit "hip" tot he times what with the idea that the crisis could've been averted if the older generation hadn't "sold out." (This is probbaly also why Rockefeller is President in one of those worlds...and back to politics, I guess!)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | December 5, 2015 9:49 AM
Making Rockefeller the President was mostly convenient shorthand to indicate that this was an alternate Earth; the original Squadron Supreme story had Hubert Humphrey running things in place of LBJ, IIRC.
Ben meets Gaard at the end of #162, not 161.
If you're not tracking Earth-A variants separately, then Thunderbolt Ross should be listed as "appearing"; Ross-A is in 162.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 23, 2016 6:28 AM
Fixed the #161 typo. As far as i know, this is Ross-A's only appearance, so i wouldn't list him.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 23, 2016 8:37 AM
Yes, but if Ross-A is counted separately from 616-Ross (and Counter-Earth Ross, for that matter) and doesn't merit a citation because he's a once-off, wouldn't that mean that Reed-A (the Thing) should be tracked separately from 616-Reed (Mr. Fantastic) and Counter-Reed (the Brute) and thus Reed-A would be listed, since he's also in #118? (Ditto for Ben-A and "Sue Grimm".)
That said, it's your site and you can do how you like. A foolish consistency, and all that…
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 23, 2016 10:39 PM
Yes, the recurring Earth-A characters should be listed. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 24, 2016 10:38 AM
RE Gaard: In the Masterworks reprint of these issues, Roy Thomas writes "He was meant to be a good natured parody of the Black Racer, the skiing embodiment of death that Jack Kirby had stuck int his DC New Gods." He said "I look back on [him] with embarrassment... And I can hear it already: somewhere out there in comicland, one lonely soul is reading these words and muttering to himself, 'But Gaard was my favorite character ever!'" That one lonely soul is me. Even at eight years old I knew he was ridiculous, but I concur that he was nonetheless awesome.
By the way, fnord, you write that he later reappeared in Force Works. I think you mean the equally terrible Fantastic Force.
Posted by: Andrew | September 18, 2016 8:27 AM
Also, I don't know if you care, but according to marvel.wikia, the numerical designation of Earth A is Earth-721.
Posted by: Andrew | September 18, 2016 9:39 AM
@Andrew, as the old saying goes, every character is someone's favorite. Gaard is certainly ridiculous, but nowhere near as much as some of the characters we would later get. In a way a prefer an unapologetically goofy character like Gaard to some of the extreme characters from the 1990s who were meant to be ultra-serious.
Besides, I am a huge fan of Kirby's New Gods, but even I think the Black Racer was bizarre, so I can understand why Thomas was tempted to do a parody of him.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 18, 2016 11:29 AM
I didn't know about the Black Racer from the New Gods but I saw this Gaard a few years ago and I really like him. I'll take this unapologically goofiness over MANY 90s characters that were supposed to take seriously like Andrew said.
Posted by: david banes | September 18, 2016 2:13 PM
@Andrew - updated Fantastic Farce Works. Thanks. Regarding the number designations, i don't need to note them in the entry but it's fine if people want to do so in the comments.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 19, 2016 9:43 AM
Fantastic Farce Works should be an actual comic book :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 19, 2016 1:34 PM
Rockfeller is also blamed by one of the Sons of the Tiger in one of yhe issues of thus oeriof.
Posted by: JTI88 | December 28, 2016 5:36 PM
Fnord, I think you forgot to mention that Gaard was the Johnny Storm of that alternate dimension...
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | September 11, 2017 6:36 AM
He mentions it in the Historical Significance Rating.
Posted by: Andrew | September 11, 2017 8:15 AM
Oh, that´s why i missed it. Thanks, Andrew...
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | September 11, 2017 9:59 AM
Gaard and Black Racer are no more or less ridiculous than Silver Surfer, just sayin'
I'm not sure if Roy Thomas was still EiC when he wrote this, but it seems like he was thinking and writing in terms of real-calendar time, and not in terms of a sliding timescale. In #160 the cab driver describes his first encounter with Susan Storm as being in 1961. Issue #160 is cover dated July 1975, so that would make Johnny about 30, Sue in her 30s, and Ben & Reed maybe in their 40s.
On the splash page, the Earth-A date is given as February 1974, which makes me wonder why, and whether the script for #160 was actually written in 1974 instead of 1975. It's plausible.
The Torch says to Alicia, "Hey, Lishia-- if you come up short for somebody to be your valentine--" Ben says, "Cut it out, sprout-- before I hose ya down!" Might this be our first hint that Johnny's maybe got the hots for Alicia? Hm? Take note that this is the real Alicia, and not Lyja Lazerfist...:p
The trans-dimensional romp with Lockjaw and Ben is fun. Buscema's weird unknown dimension backgrounds in #160 are way more interesting than his previous efforts at Kirbyesque cosmic space backgrounds IMO. He's slowly developed a more and more distinctive and recognizable style of his own for the weird psychedelic backgrounds that have long been part of Marvel's stock-in-trade.
Posted by: Holt | December 20, 2017 7:23 PM
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