THE FANTASTIC FOUR HADN'T STOPPED GALACTUS?
Guest-starring the Defenders and the Avengers
All characters are © Marvel Comics
This is FANFICTION and purely for FUN and not for profit.
Copyright holders may request removal at any time.
What if the Fantastic Four hadn't stopped Galactus?
By Chris Smillie
Chapter 1 The Coming of Galactus
Chapter 2 Battleground: The Baxter Building!
Chapter 3 Once an Avenger...
Chapter 4 The Plan - and the Power
Chapter 5 The Master Plan of Doctor Doom
Chapter 6 While a World Waits
Chapter 7 To Conquer a Colossus!
Chapter 8 O Grave Where Is Thy Victory?
Chapter 9 Lo! There Shall Be An Ending!
To Stan 'n' Jack. 'Nuff said!
Chapter 1 The Coming of Galactus
Galactus raged at the impudence of the humans and the betrayal by his herald. "I can tarry no longer," he shouted. To the Silver Surfer he spoke "I regret what I must do. For all who live, I have cherished you the most." Shaking a gigantic fist, Galactus continued "But now, by my hand, the Silver Surfer must perish!"
But for the first time in the history of creation, the Planet Devourer was undone. For Reed Richards, leader of the family of heroes known as the Fantastic Four, held in his hand the power to destroy even Galactus. "No, Galactus, it is you who must perish – for we have found the weapon at last!"
The cosmic titan recoiled in horror. "The Ultimate Nullifier!" he gasped. "In the hands of a human!" Turning towards the Watcher, Galactus raged "You did this! Only you had the power. Only you had the will."
And Galactus had spoken the truth. For Uatu, the Watcher had broken his oath. An oath that declared that, along with the rest of this ancient powerful race, he would only observe and record, never interfere.
Since time out of mind, I, the one known as the Watcher, have observed the rise and fall of civilizations – of worlds – of galaxies. I know all that is – most that has been – and much of what will be. I have also many windows into the strange parallel worlds of what might have been. There are worlds within worlds – and worlds which exist side by side with your own, separated from it only by the thinnest web of cosmic gossamer. There exist even alternative versions of Earth's future...
This story does actually take place – not in our dimension or time continuum, but in worlds coexisting alongside ours, of which there are theoretically untold billions.
And so, the Earth, in the timestream we know so well, was saved, the Silver Surfer marooned and the Watcher's raison d'être compromised. But what if the Watcher, had kept his oath? What if Johnny Storm had never been chosen to traverse the unlife to the ship of Galactus? What if Uatu had not helped the Fantastic Four to defy Galactus?
Let us travel back to the time of when Galactus first appeared on an Earth where I, the Watcher, attempted to persuade Galactus to spare the planet. But crucially, an Earth where I would also take no direct action to bring about such an event -
Chapter 2 Battleground: The Baxter Building!
"Johnny! I need you to go on a journey." commanded Reed Richards. The pliable leader of the fabulous quartet knew he could not face the threat of the Planet Eater alone. "We need the Avengers!"
Johnny nodded. "I'll get on to the vizi-phone." As he turned to leave, an arm wrapped around his chest, halting his progress. Turning around, Storm saw the barrier was provided by Richards. "There's been a lot of changes in that team." explained Reed. "We've no need of people like Hawkeye or Captain America and I'm not sure I trust the likes of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver." Johnny nodded as Reed continued, "No, we need the original Avengers. Get across to Stark's headquarters. See if he can get his bodyguard, Iron Man, to rouse his most powerful friends."
"At once, Reed." obeyed the Human Torch. "You can rely on me." Johnny leapt from the top of the Baxter Building, calling on his red-hot flame to cover his entire body, with a boisterous "Flame On!"
Reed moved towards his wife, clasping his hands around her arms. "Sue, my darling," he spoke, his voice trembling with emotion, "I need you to do something very special."
"Name it, Reed. Name it." Sue's lips quivered as her watery eyes melted into her husband's gaze. Richards' eyes dipped as he struggled to meet the stare of Susan. Eventually, Mr Fantastic composed himself, breathed hard and spoke. "I need you to seek out Namor!"
Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Ancient enemy of the surface world and one of the most powerful men on the planet. Tensions were apparent between Namor and Richards as they fought for the love of the Invisible Girl. To send Sue to his mortal enemy and love-rival was a sign of how deadly the threat of Galactus must be.
"I'm sorry Sue" explained Reed, "but Namor trusts you. His power and the knowledge of his own other world could be essential."
"But Reed." wept Sue, "You know how Namor feels for me." Reed nodded. "What if he doesn't let me go? What then Reed?"
Richards head bowed as he spoke. "I won't lie to you, my darling," spoke Reed. "Even if Namor comes with you, our chances are slim. If he refuses to let you go, then...I suppose we just say our goodbyes slightly earlier. The world can't win without him."
Reed stretched his hands towards his wife in a final embrace as she boarded the ship that would guide her to the Prince of the Seven Seas. Richards lifted his hand to his troubled brow as Susan pressed the lever that would take the craft to it's target. As the ship disappeared into the distance, a giant orange rocky hand rested upon his shoulder.
"I guess it's just you and me against the big dude." said Ben Grimm. "Unless you want me to get Doc Doom" chortled the enormous monster of a man.
"You're kidding, right?" said the Thing, as his jaw hit the floor.
"I'm afraid not, old friend." said Reed as he laid his hand upon the Thing's rocky chest. "Victor is one of the most dangerous men on the planet...and that's due to his massive intellect." said Reed as he bit his lip. "I need someone to bounce ideas off. Just having another perspective might get me that something I need."
"But Reed!" exasperated Grimm. "Doctor Doom. Evil." Reed made a wry smile and nodded as the Thing continued, "I've lost count of the number of times he's tried to kill us."
"True," agreed Mr Fantastic. "But if the world dies, then Latveria won't be spared. Doom must see that."
"Well, if he doesn't," stated Ben, "It'll be clobberin' time."
Reed shook his head. "No Ben. No battles." Grimm began to protest but was silenced by Richards. "He must trust us completely. If he chooses to ignore our call, then we can't waste any time combatting him."
As Ben Grimm entered the Fantasti-car, he shouted, "Look after yerself, Stretch. Be back soon."
"Goodbye old friend." responded Mr Fantastic, knowing full well this may be the last time he ever saw his family and friends again. For this be doomsday!
Chapter 3 Once an Avenger...
Richards gazed at the titans of the Watcher and Galactus as they conversed. Despite stretching to within earshot of their surprisingly gentle voices, Mr Fantastic was none the wiser as to their discourse. For these two beings of cosmic power spoke in a tongue not heard on the Earth since ancient times: times far before that of mortal man, nor his ape-like ancestors.
A smash of gold and silver appeared to the right of the leader of the Fantastic Four. On turning around to confront this new danger, Richards was relieved to see the Human Torch, the mighty Thor, the astonishing Giant-Man and the invincible Iron Man step from the kaleidoscope of Thor's hammer.
Johnny came running towards his step-brother, "I did as you wanted, Reed. I brought the Avengers."
"We don't go by that name anymore, Johnny." corrected Hank Pym, in his Giant-Man alias. Hank looked towards the conversing cosmic goliaths, "and I can see why you might need Giant-Man" added Pym, his eyes widening as he took in the shock of the gravity-defying godlike beings.
"This had better be good, Richards!" proclaimed Iron Man. "You should be aware by now that we no longer band together as a superhero group. Mr Storm has expressed his concern but Thor and Giant-Man are as busy as myself. We don't do wasted journeys!"
Reed morphed his body, enabling him to meet with the gold and crimson Avenger. "I wish it were such a journey Iron Man," explained Richards, "but, I'm afraid, this may well be the end of days."
"Now hang on, Richards." countered Pym, "No need to be so melodramatic..."
Richards stared into the eyes of Pym, "This is no bluff, Henry." Richards pointed to the mighty towering figure of Galactus, "that being there will destroy the Earth unless stopped. His weaponry will wipe every last organic molecule from the face of this planet and only we stand against him!"
"Calm down, man, calm down!" shouted Tony Stark behind his armour. "We get this is important! Now tell us the nature of this threat."
"The threat be most great, Iron Man." Thor had been gazing towards the giant enemy. "For millennia, Asgard hath spoke of the being of Galactus. This moment shalt be writ long in the history of this world...if such a world continues to exist."
And with that, Reed Richards and Thor, god of thunder, relayed their respective information to each other and the rest of the warriors.
"Ok, that threat is indeed grave, Richards." stated Iron Man. "But, I can see the Human Torch and yourself. What's happened to the Thing? Where's the Invisible Girl?"
"Ben?" explained Reed. "I've sent him for Doctor Doom." Reed noted the shock on the faces of the former Avengers. "I need his knowledge - if we die, he dies too."
"And Sue -" Reed's voice faltered. He cleared his throat but found himself unable to meet the gaze of the superheroes. "Sue - she's gone to beg the Sub-Mariner for his help."
Thor laid a hand on the shoulder of Mr Fantastic. "It be clear to mine immortal eyes, thou hast already made a great sacrifice." Thor raised his mystical hammer to the heavens, "but I pledge, this band of heroes shalt give their lives, aye, e'en their very souls, to fight the fight against the Planet Destroyer!"
("Sue!, My darling Sue!" grieved Richards privately)
"Nice speech Goldilocks!" bellowed a deep gravelly voice, "Now tell us who does yer hair."
"Ben!" shouted Mr Fantastic, his smile as wide as the Hudson River.
"An' I brought someone"
Behind the Fantastic-car, out stepped a familiar figure in armour and a green cloak, "So, at last, you come to your master in wisdom, Reed Richards. This is the sweetest revenge!"
Chapter 4 The Plan - and the Power
"Victor," answered Reed, "this situation is beyond any petty squabbles we may have."
"Petty?" shouted Doom. "Petty?" A metal-enshrined fist smashed into the jetship that had carried the ruler of Latveria to the Baxter Building. "You are so foolish to believe the explosion that forced me to remain forever shielded within this iron mask is petty?"
"An explosion," Doom continued menacingly, "may I remind you, that you were the cause of."
As much as Mr Fantastic disagreed, he decided better to bite his tongue than continue with such aggression. "Be that as it may Victor, let me explain what we're up against..."
"Cease your prattling Richards." commanded Doom. "I've heard all I need to know about this creature from you and your accomplices."
Doom sighed. "Protected against my robots, the Baxter Building may be but surely you didn't overlook the roof, did you?" Richards swivelled, attempting to discern the location of the non-living spy. "Of course, I would not leave such a mechanism visible to the naked eye, now would I?"
"Eh, guys?" the voice belonged to Hank Pym, as his giant leg stretched towards the bickering two. "Maybe we could talk about this later? Right now, we need to come up with a plan."
"To take on Galactus toe-to-toe is beyond any of our powers - singularly or collectively," explained Doom. "What we require is a weapon of unimaginable might - a weapon that may not kill that being but may injure it enough to desist the attack."
"Iron Man" said Reed, "Tony's the weapons manufacturer. He got any ideas?" Iron Man mimed a call to Stark, explaining that, although he could level New York City, it was doubtful that would even cause Galactus to blink an eye.
"I know what could do it..." shouted the Human Torch.
"You, Storm?" grimaced Doom. "And, pray, what solution has the student got to this problem?"
"HIM!" pointed Johnny, as the Silver Surfer flew into shot of the assembled warriors.
The plan had been devised. In the moments that followed his arrival, Dr Doom's knowledge had granted them an energy siphon, although with no way of storing such energy. Reed Richards, however, had devised a method of containing such power. Nevertheless, there appeared no way, to his eyes, of releasing this energy in a concentrated form. Biochemistry. Pym's area. Hank reasoned that this energy could be manipulated into a form capable of being absorbed into the special skin of Mr Fantastic. With time of the essence, the engineering skills of Tony Stark were used to mould this siphoner into a helmet - now all that needed to be done was to persuade the Silver Surfer to don such headgear.
On returning to the roof, the call still had to be made as to which hero would be the one to attempt to bring the Surfer close enough to fit the siphon in place. The calamity that emanated from the top of the Baxter Building displayed that one of their number had already taken such a task upon themselves.
"Come down here, ya crumb-bum, an' I'll tear yer flamin' chome-dome off yer silver carcass!"
"Ben! What's going on?" shouted Richards to his obviously irate friend.
"It's that flaming alien!" bellowed the Thing. "He's gone and seduced Alicia!"
Chapter 5 The Master Plan of Doctor Doom
The orange-cracked skin of Ben Grimm flexed as he tore pieces of metal and masonry, sending them hurtling towards the silvery skyrider. "That'll teach you ta go 'round messing with other people's dames!" bellowed Grimm.
"Ben!" commanded Reed. "We've got to be more intelligent than this! Alicia is only one woman - what's more important: her or the whole planet?"
With contempt, the Thing looked his leader in the eyes, "If you knew that, Stretcho, you would never a' sent Suzie to that scuzzball Subby."
Deflated, Richards stretched an arm around Grimm, "Nevertheless, he's up there and you're down here. Johnny!"
Dr Doom had reasoned that keeping Galactus occupied might make him less suspect to their plans. The attack formation consisted of Hank, in his shrunken state, taking a flying ant towards the cosmic being, then enlarging to maximum size at the last possible moment to assault the Planet Devourer with all his giant might.
The second wave of attack would be a blast of repulsors from Iron Man, blinding Galactus to a devastating head-on collision with the mighty mallet of Mjolnir. With the Human Torch preoccupying the Silver Surfer, all that was left to do was for Reed Richards to slip the helmet on to the head of the Herald of Galactus.
The plan failed.
Henry Pym did indeed get close enough to switch to his identity of Giant-Man. However, a slight shrug from Galactus resulted in the goliath-sized superhero collapsing in an unconscious heap, without having thrown a punch in anger.
The follow-up attack by Thor and Iron Man was instantly thwarted by the sudden appearance of the android creature of the Punisher. This pint-sized, non-stop battler had enough raw power to handle both the armoured Avenger and the Odinson at the same time. On seeing this titanic clash, Richards instructed the Thing to join the Avengers in battle.
More success was to be had by the Human Torch. As commanded by Mr Fantastic, Johnny flared to near-nova flame to protect himself against the power of the Surfer. Richards knew that this too would fail eventually, should the gleaming alien decide to avail the Torch of his true power. Nevertheless, the skyrider appeared to be holding back. Could this be something to do with what Grimm was so angered by? Could Alicia Masters have touched the death herald of so many planets so profoundly?
The appointed time of the siphon operation was fast approaching. With the attack of the Avengers failing so miserably, Doctor Doom knew there was little chance of a successful manoeuvre with Galactus being able to observe any attack on his shining servant. An assault on his being was impossible, reasoned Doom, but an attack upon his elemental converter - ?
Knowing full well this may be the final act of his despotic life, Doom clamoured to the dreadful machine atop the Baxter Building. Unleashing a volley of the armaments hidden inside his garb, a colossal din of crunching grinding metal was released. A cacophony so great, even Galactus felt compelled to turn his head.
"Now, Richards, now!" willed Doom, as a bolt of cosmic energy ended his consciousness.
Seizing the opportunity, Mr Fantastic stretched as fast his illogical body could carry him. Siphoner at the ready, he strained closer and closer to a Surfer distracted by both the burning hot Human Torch and the possessed figure of Doctor Doom. Success! The siphon headgear was placed around the Surfer's cranium. Instantly, the herald's figure warped in pain as the power cosmic flowed from the space alien into the elastic body of Reed Richards.
Richards body blazed white-hot as the greying carcass of the man once known as the Silver Surfer dropped from his surfboard like a stone. Richards throbbed with power. He dreamt of the endless possibilities - a cure for hunger, disease, climate change. All the world's ills could be conquered in a heartbeat. Richards felt his grip on humanity ebbing away. Instantly, the man known as Reed Richards returned as he spied a familiar sight hurtling towards the Baxter Building -
Chapter 6 While a World Waits
"Stay still, ya angry midget," vainly shouted Ben Grimm, "and let me pulverize ya."
The blinding speed of the Punisher made the combat impossible. Despite facing three of Earth's strongest heroes, the Punisher would absorb any attack before quickly turning his attention to any hero that attempted to advance towards Galactus.
Out of the corner of his eye, Thor noticed Doctor Doom clambering towards the mechanism of Galactus. "So," he thought, "e'en in this dread time doth evil commit such selfish acts. Doom desireth the power of Galactus himself."
Although such a selfless act had been grossly misinterpreted by the Thundergod, the result would be profound. Realising that the Punisher's aim was to defend Galactus rather than attack the heroes in bloodlust, Thor reasoned that withdrawing from the battle would not unduly harm either Grimm or Stark.
"Hey Goldilocks!" The Thing had noticed Thor back off, much to his displeasure. "You wanna give us a hand here - only my Aunt Petunia is otherwise in-der-sposed!"
"Enough, Thing." Thor spoke with power in his voice to command ranks of gods. "This battle is beyond mortal man or superhuman."
Thor knelt down and closed his eyes, whilst raising his fists to his breast. "Father Odin. Hear my prayer. 'Tis thy son who calls thee. Hear my words, I beseech thee."
Invisible to all but the Thundergod, a silhouette of the All-Father appeared in front of Thor. "Thy father hears thee, Thor. Speak my son. Let the wisdom of Odin guide thee." And so, Thor told of the terrible dilemma facing the Earth. Of the oft-spoke threat of Galactus. Of the need for the power of Odin to end the threat forever.
"Nay!" cried Odin. "It cannot be! Though the power of Odin may rival Galactus himself, Odin cannot rid the universe of the Planet Devourer." Odin could sense the shock of these words upon his son. "If Galactus lives, then the Earth may perish. However, if Galactus dies, then Abraxas be free and the whole universe shall crumble. Aye, even eternity itself."
"But father! I beg of thee -"
"Silence, Thor!" commanded Odin. "I have made my decision. It be the way of gods to sacrifice their souls for the sake of their flock. Odin shalt divest his mighty power in thy aid."
"Reed, my darling!" shouted the former Miss Storm. "You - you're body. It's - it's turning - silver!"
"Sue - Sue, my darling. I knew you wouldn't let me down." Reed's voice faltered. "All I want to do is hold you in my arms but" he continued, his voice quivering with emotion, "I must attack. I must try to save the Earth no matter what."
"And I shall help thee, Reed Richards" spoke Sue's companion, Namor.
The ruler of the underseas descended from the craft that had carried them both to New York. "Sending your lover to me convinced me of your desperation. The sinew of the Sub-Mariner and the science of Atlantis be at your side." Namor took the hand of figure inside the craft, bringing him on to the roof of the Baxter Building, "and at my side be - Doctor Strange!"
Chapter 7 To Conquer a Colossus!
The blue-garbed sorcerer with the stunning red cloak descended from the craft. "Susan has informed me of the threat" explained Strange. "The energy around him is difficult to isolate. Galactus is unable to be attacked directly. If perhaps your force field, Susan, could compress these energies into one contained point, I may be able to banish the being of Galactus."
The Invisible Girl let loose a tear. "I'm sorry, Doctor. I can't. There's too much power there. My force field wouldn't last a micro-second."
Stretching above them, Richards volunteered. "Perhaps your power won't," Reed said, "but mine is the Power Cosmic." And with a primordial scream, a scream whose level of horror was enhanced by the intelligence of its origin, Mr Fantastic launched himself at the figure of Galactus.
Blasts of silver and orange emanated from the fingertips of Reed Richards, enveloping a shocked Galactus, until he was encapsulated within a cocoon of ethereal energy. The cocoon hardened until it became a pulsating block of pure reddened energy.
"I don't know how long this can hold him." said Reed as he turned towards Doctor Strange. Mr Fantastic's face bathed in silvery sweat, enhancing the gleam from the power that surged within and around him. "It must be now, Strange - now!" And with that, Mr Fantastic collapsed. His pliable body lay snaked across the roof, for without the silver skin of the Surfer, the Power Cosmic could not be long retained. Slowly, Reed's skin faded from silver to a deathly white, as he struggled for breath.
Energies of a mystical nature crackled around the hands of Doctor Strange as, under his breath, he whispered incantations to gods, demons and nether-spirits. Spells so powerful that one flaw in pronunciation could open a portal to seven Hells. Around the cocooned Galactus, the air did fire and spark until, in one blinding moment, the air did flash with power, then -
- Galactus was gone!
Chapter 8 O Grave Where Is Thy Victory?
As if to signal the end of it's master, the Punisher halted it's battle and toppled over.
"What happened to it?" asked Ben. "He get a heart-attack from all the fireworks?"
"I don't think he has a heart, Thing", explained Iron Man. "It's not a 'he', merely an advanced construct. A robot."
"Speakin' a robots" continued Grimm, "who'd a thunk it? Doc Doom saves the day. Let's see if ol'Metal-Man is alright. Hey, Stretcho, you see what Doom did - Reed!"
Richards lay stretched across the roof. Unconscious. Still. Barely breathing. Around him stood Namor and Susan Storm, whilst Doctor Strange held Mr Fantastic's head in his hand.
"You comin' Goldilocks" said Ben as he rushed over with Iron Man at his side, "or you lost the stomach for blood?"
The Odinson began to rise, "I assure thee, Grimm, Thor did not run from any battle, but merely -"
"Stow it, big guy." spat the Thing. "Yer givin' me bellyache."
Elsewhere, the figures of both Giant-Man and Doctor Doom began to regain painful consciousness, although apparently relatively unharmed.
"Reed! Oh Reed!" wailed Mr Fantastic's wife. "Stephen, isn't there anything you can do for him?"
Doctor Stephen Strange looked towards the figures of the remaining three of the Fantastic Four. "Reed saved the universe but in doing so, he may - wait!"
"What is it Doc?" asked the Thing. "You just noticed Goldilocks has a yellow streak down his back as well as in his hair?"
"Hush, Grimm." silenced Strange. "The dimensional energies of un-space. There's something wrong."
"Un-space, Strange?" enquired Namor.
"Where I sent Galactus." explained the Master of the Mystic Arts. "The dimensional walls. They're splintering. There's something coming through!"
And with a blinding burst of intense pure light, Galactus had returned.
"I have wasted time enough already on this planet." spoke Galactus in a booming voice, loud enough to be heard by all Manhattan. "From this moment, Earth is ended."
Chapter 9 Lo! There Shall Be An Ending!
With a cry of Avengers Assemble! from the immortal lips of Thor, the collection of heroes attacked. The repulsor rays of Iron Man spattered, the ethereal bolts of Doctor Strange crackled and the mystic hammer of Thor surged lightning. All failed to reach their mark, for Galactus was protected by a field of energy: a barrier impregnable to all but the most potent of forces.
With a gesture, Galactus commanded the body of the now skin-less Silver Surfer - a body that looked almost human - to levitate towards space and onto Galactus' ship, to be reanimated when the need arises.
The deadly mechanism of Galactus hummed, spat and growled as it's deadly tubes crashed into the Earth.
"Doctor," spoke Namor, "the science of Atlantis has no technology to combat such devastation."
"No, nor I" said Strange as he shook his tousled hair.
The assembled heroes watched as the buildings around them crumbled into dirt. They could see the Hudson River boil into the sky. They observed the cracking of the Earth as the ground caved in with enormous earthquakes. Soon, the devastation was complete. The Earth was dead.
Without even contemplating the heroes' existence, Galactus dismantled his dread machinery, his Great Hunger satiated. Without a glance at the chaos he had left behind, the Planet Devourer launched himself into the sky, never to return.
"Wotta revoltin' development 'dis is." said the Thing in a fitting under-statement.
"Maybe so, Thing." agreed Iron Man. "But what I want to know is how we, and the entire Baxter Building, are unharmed? Strange?"
"Sorry, Iron Man." said Doctor Strange. "Nothing to do with me. Maybe something to do with the storms?"
"Thor?" enquired Stark.
"Nay, Iron Man." Thor answered. "Thor hath not summoned the storms as protector. But Thor hast saved us all at great cost to himself and the golden realm of Asgard."
"I don't believe it!" Ben Grimm was aghast. "You saved your own stinkin' life while the entire Earth crumbled? That tears it. There may be no Earth but you and me, Goldilocks -"
"Still thy tongue, Grimm" spoke Thor. "The connection to the wind, rain and air be still here."
"Well, whooppee-do!" ridiculed the Thing. "Let's have a picnic in Central Park then."
Doctor Strange held up his hand to silence Ben Grimm. "Yes, I can feel it. The energy of the Earth is still there. It's almost as though nothing's changed"
"My sensors too." Next to speak was Iron Man. "They're picking up petroleum emissions. Sounds almost like voices."
Giant-Man by this time had re-joined the group. "And my connection to the ants is returning. There's still millions of them. Wait! What's that?"
The image of the devastated Earth began to shimmer and warp, until eventually fading away into nothingness, leaving the clear blue skies and noisy streets of New York.
"It's as though this terrible nightmare never occurred." spoke Strange. "Doom?"
"Nay." answered Namor who stood beside the conscious but exhausted figure of Victor von Doom. "The time machine of Doctor Doom be not the answer."
Another shimmer appeared above the heads of the heroes. This time, a figure coalesced before them. A man unknown to all but one - the visage of Odin! "Midgard was never harmed, the one they call Stephen Strange. I be Odin, All-Father to the Aesir of Asgard. Mightiest of all gods and possessor of the Odin-Force."
Odin continued: "My other son, Loki, Master of Mischief, created an illusion at my command. An illusion so great that it tricked e'en the mighty Galactus himself."
"An illusion?" enquired Iron Man. "That may just give us a chance to regroup but make no mistake people" warned Stark, "with his hunger still at maximum, Galactus will be back!"
"Nay, armoured warrior." spoke Odin. "For the Great Hunger of Galactus hath been satiated for many centuries." The puzzled heroes continued to listen. "The energies that the Planet Devourer requires may be great but so is the power of Odin. For the All-Father hath sacrificed that power, aye, e'en his very life-force for Midgard and my son, Thor."
Grimm looked towards the Thundergod. Thor stood tall and proud, his only sign of weakness being a single tear that ran down his cheek. Grimm felt a terrible pang of guilt.
"Thor," the voice boomed inside the head of the heroes, and indeed, the whole Earth, "let it be known, I be proud of thee." The Odinson stood rock steady but the pride in his eyes was unmistakeable. "As I pass from this life into what ever may come, I grant thee the throne of Odin and the title - Thor, Lord of Asgard!"
And with that, the image crumbled. Ben reached out a hand towards the Thundergod. "Look, Thor. I'm sorry, I didn't realise -"
"It matters not." sighed Thor. "The trickery of Loki was enow to fool e'en Galactus. I blame thee not for having been fooled also." Thor walked towards Iron Man and Giant Man. "Tony and Henry. My two friends upon the world you call Earth. My duty is now elsewhere. To Asgard I must return to fulfil my destiny as king. I bid thee well."
Thor then turned towards the Fantastic Four. "But I have one last duty to Midgard. A duty that the mighty Thor cannot complete but -" Thor slammed his hammer to the ground, resulting in a blinding flash and the appearance of a rather frail figure, with a walking stick "- disabled physician Don Blake MD just might."
And with that, the surgeons named Stephen Strange and Donald Blake performed a rooftop operation upon the prostrate figure of Reed Richards, saving the life of the man they call - Mister Fantastic.
The sacrifice of Odin meant many planets were saved from the hunger of Galactus. The bond forged by the coming of the Planet Devourer had resulted in an uneasy alliance between Dr Doom and the Fantastic Four. An alliance that grew stronger as Victor and Reed found their common interest in science a stronger bound than past enmities. Iron Man and Giant-Man immediately returned to the Avengers, eventually to be joined by a new recruit, the beautiful Kelda of Asgard. A goddess sent by Thor to aid the Earth in times of trouble. And like Thor, an immortal who came to love Midgard and it's people - a sentiment well understood by the Lord of Asgard.
OTHER TALES BY CHRIS SMILLIE (at )
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World's Finest: Silver Surfer v Superman & Batman: In an attempt to escape the barrier erected by Galactus around Earth, the Silver Surfer breaks through a dimensional rift to the DC Universe. Such an outpouring of energy, however, does not go unnoticed by this World's Finest heroes...
Space: 1999 The Vanishing Web: Following an accident with exploding nuclear waste, the crew of Moonbase Alpha find themselves marooned and adrift in space. Coming across a massive technological array, the Alphans must wonder what new deadly threat awaits them now.
The Deterrent: On the planet ship inhabited by the Cymorrians, the ultimate defender, the Deterrent, watches over his space-faring race. In the tradition of his people, there comes a time when the Chosen must take on the mantle, whilst being trained by the incumbent. But what happens when the incumbent is no longer around to guide the new Deterrent? The Deterrent is a story of growing from a boy into a man but at the heart of the tale is intrigue, manipulation, secrets and sacrifice. Whether Char will heed the advice to follow his duty or delve into mysteries best left alone remains to be seen. "comparable to (Alan) Moore's Marvelman" (Comics Bulletin)
The Knights of Eternity: And there came a time when e'en the mystic might of Merlin himself could not stand against the ravagers of Avalon and the worlds beyond worlds. And in this time, Merlin, through his slave, Seth the Eternal, gathered the greatest warriors of Britain and Ireland, Beowulf, Cuchalainn, Robin Hood, Lancelot and Lionheart, to stand against the terrors of the winter demons. A time-travelling epic of sword, sorcery and superhumans, set in a background of Arthurian and Celtic mythology.
The War Dogs: Back! After over 50 years! The sensational return of Britain's greatest wartime superheroes: Silverstreak and Stunt-Kid! Join them as they seek out the mystery surrounding their World War II compatriots of the War Dogs: the Caledonian, the Apparition, Rocket and Tin-Can Tommy, plus a whole host of guest stars, from the Golden Age super-powered starlets of the Fireflies to the current hyper-powered crimefighters of STELAR. It's Spitfire Comics action all the way – just how you like it!