Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Vol. 3 # 34 features an alien invasion, time travel, and more all in the usual 22 pages.
Let’s try to recap this. After their headquarters were attacked, the FF’s investigation leads them to the small Arizona town of Revelation. Ben and Reed meet two locals, Quinn and Miranda, who are dinosaur-like aliens hiding while pretending to human. They are survivors of an alien race nearly destroyed by a force called the Obliterator. Reed’s experiments alerted Earth to the Obliterator’s presence, and now it’s on the way. Meanwhile, Johnny investigated a local werewolf-like legend called the Howler, and met a beautiful woman named Stasia. Then Sue met a mysterious woman who teleported her back to the Old West. Sue befriended old-timey Marvel hero Kid Colt, and they’re on the run from a rival outlaw. Got all that?
We begin with a brief origin of the Obliterator, that it is a world-ending machine, one that took on a life of its own, outliving its own creators. Wasting no time, the Obliterator shows up over the town and launches missiles. After some explosions and escapes, one of the missiles transforms into this alien warrior guy, adapting to Earth’s environment, and then trashing City Hall.
Back in the Old West, Sue and Kid Colt have been chased into a mine by the outlaw Kincaid. Sue tells Colt that she can get them out of this without haring anyone. Kincaid tries to kill them with dynamite, but Sue protects them with a force field. Sue feels a breeze, and she and Colt start searching for an alternate way out of the mine.
In the present, Ben fights the Obliterator (which is what we’re calling the missile-monster) and local townfolk join the fight with a full-on artillery of guns and even an armed bi-plane. Johnny and Stasia show up, and Johnny says he was knocked out the by the Howler. Quinn says the Howler is his and Miranda’s long-lost crewmate Zed, whose brain was injured when they came to Earth. Only Zed can find the aliens’ ship, which could be the key to defeating the Obliterator.
Johnny, Miranda and Stasia take off in search of Zed. Along the way, it’s suggested that Stasia is hiding some big secret. Zed is found hiding out in a scrapyard, and Miranda calms him down before a fight could break out. Zed stops acting like an animal and remembers where came from.
In the Old West, Sue and Kid Colt find a giant glowing crystal inside the mine. The crystal emits a strange radiation, and when Sue looks into it, she sees images of her past and potential future. Kid Colt vanishes, and the antique store woman who sent Sue to the past appears in his place. She tells Sue that Sue was meant to see something inside the crystal.
In the present, Reed and Quinn fight the Obliterator, using a “random frequency plasma field” to hold him at bay temporarily. Sue returns from the Old West (how?) and leads the FF back to the crystal, which is still buried in the old mine. Reed says he can use the crystal as a chronal bomb, scattering the Obliterator’s atoms throughout time itself. Then Zed returns with the aliens’ lightship, which can get the crystal on board the Obliterator mothership and contain the explosion.
Everyone prepares for the spaceflight. Stasia says an emotional goodbye to Johnny, saying it would never work out between them, adding, “You’ll be better off without me.” Ben pilots the lightship into the mothership, with Johnny fighting back the mothership’s defenses. They plant the bomb and it goes off, giving the FF another glimpse of their past and alternate futures. They return safely to Earth, and Ben destroys the Obliterator human/missile form with a classic “It’s clobberin’ time!”
The townspeople gather around to celebrate. The antique store woman gives Sue a gift, the memoir of Constance Lyedecker, the woman Sue inhabited in the past. Constance and Kid Colt went on to have a romance, apparently. Then Zed takes Johnny out to the nearby graveyard for another reveal – Stasia’s grave. She’s a local legend, a 1950s hot-rod racer who died in a fiery crash. Ben says “You look like you’ve seen a…” but Johnny stops him, not wanting to hear it. The FF say their goodbyes and head back to New York, which Johnny says is “someplace normal” when compared to Revelation.
Unstable molecule: One alternate timeline shows Reed in the future wearing an exo-skeleton with crutches. It’s left to our imagination as to the story behind that.
Fade out: Sue’s glimpse into the crystal shows her in the future as a grey-haired old lady. The other scenes she sees are merely references to past FF comics.
Clobberin’ time: The alien lightship attaches itself directly to Ben’s brain, so he can fly it just by thinking. It takes him a bit to get used to it, but his knowledge as a pilot eventually comes in handy during the mission.
Flame on: This issue suggests a romance between Stasia and Johnny, leading me to believe that Johnny and Namorita had broken up off-panel. I did some more research, and although the Johnny/Namorita romance doesn’t continue in New Warriors, it’ll be dealt with again in Fantastic Four, but not for a little while.
Four and a half: Franklin appears in one of Sue’s flashbacks.
Commercial break: Mutant sale!
Trivia time: Not surprisingly, this is the last time the town of Revelation ever appeared. That makes this the final appearance of Quinn, Miranda, Zed the Howler, Stasi, and the Obliterator. This issue states that Revelation is a home for refugees of all kinds, suggesting that the whole town is full of aliens and monsters and whatnot.
Similarly, Kid Colt’s enemy Kincaid only appears in this story arc and nowhere else. Colt’s final confrontation with Kincaid goes unresolves, but I think it’s a safe bet Colt got the better of him.
Kid Colt says he’s seen magic before, thanks to a woman he met in New Orleans. His wiki page has no mention of this, but it does state he encountered Native American-themed magic on multiple occasions.
Fantastic or frightful? I wonder if this two-issue arc was writer John Moore pitching some sort of “supernatural small town” series to Marvel. This is a real puzzle-box type of story, with a lot of characters and moving parts all coming together at the end. It’s a tricky thing to pull off, but I did enjoy this little side-trip to a previously undiscovered part of the Marvel Universe.
Next: Diablo a go-go.
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