- Yes, I survived. That's what we do in the Fantastic Four.
- -- Susan Storm
Appearing in "Suffer a Witch to Live"Edit
- Fantastic Four
- Hyram Fieldstone (First appearance)
- Lois Fieldstone (First appearance)
- Alma Chalmers
- Doctor Strange (Stephen Strange)
- United States of America
Synopsis for "Suffer a Witch to Live"Edit
The Human Torch is deeply in love with Alicia Masters, flying across the Manhattan skyline, he reflects back on his past relationships and realizes none of the girls he previously loved made him feel the way Alicia does. He returns to his apartment where Alicia is hard at work in the kitchen making him dinner. She tells him dinner is almost ready, but stops long enough to give her new lover a kiss.
Meanwhile, at the Baxter Building, She-Hulk is working out to test her strength. Monitoring her progress is her new boyfriend Wyatt Wingfoot, who remarks that her current strength level is comparable to the Thing, whom she has recently replaced on the Fantastic Four. When Wyatt comments on Reed's assessment that she may be able to reach the strength levels of her cousin the Hulk, Jen wonders if she is at risk of losing her humanity in the process. Deciding to take a break, she asks Wyatt if he's up to massaging her back.
At that same time at their home in Belle Porte, Connecticut, Reed and Sue "Benjamin" have a house warming party and have invited all their neighbors over to get to know them better. When Sue introduces Reed to the Fieldstones, Hyram Fieldstone makes a comment about how Reed and Sue have the same first names as Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four and remarks that it is a funny coincidence. As the party continues, from across the street local snoop Alma Chalmers is spying on the house with binoculars. She is convinced that the Benjamin family are really witches and has convinced the occult expert Elspeth Cromwell to come and investigate her suspicions. Elspeth assures Alma that when the Benjamin family are finally alone she will act.
Hours later, Reed and Sue say goodbye to the last of their patrons. Finally no longer required to keep up their ruse as the "Benjamins", Reed allows his face to resume it's proper proportions. Although he is concerned how a possible connection to the Fantastic Four was made during the party. Their discussion is interrupted by their son Franklin who has woken up to ask for a glass of water. Sue gets the boy the water and escorts him back to bed where Franklin tells her that he had a strange dream where his parents were attacked by a strange woman and man with horns. Sue assures her son that it was just a dream and that they are safe. Although when she leaves the room, Sue can't help but wonder if there might be something wrong with her son, recalling an incident in Reed's lab a few days earlier.  She can't help but wonder if perhaps her son's mutant powers might be returning again.
While downstairs, Reed is cleaning up the garbage from the party and his concerns about their double identities in Belle Porte being compromised causes him to reflect their attempts to try and have a normal family life, but realizes that as members of the Fantastic Four they may no longer have that luxury. When Reed opens the door to take out the trash he is suddenly blinded by a bright light. Sue is upstairs getting ready for bed when she notices the bright flash of light as well and comes rushing to her husband's aid. As Reed comments on the omni-directional light their attacker, Elspeth Cromwell, makes her appearance and calls out the "Benjamins" as witches that must be destroyed. When Reed tries to explain who they really are, Cromwell refuses to believe them and strikes Richards with a mystical bolt. When Sue tries to contain their attacker in an invisible force field, Elspeth turns it into water that she passes through. Suddenly fire begins to belch from the ground around Reed and Sue. Demonic hands rise from the ground and grab Reed's wife and pulls her into the Earth. When Reed tries to stretch his arm down to grab his wife, the demons manage to break it.
However Sue is not gone, she uses her invisibility powers to force her way back to the surface. Increasing her attack, Elspeth then uses her arcane powers to summon the Knights of Hades to attack the couple. As the battle rages on, Franklin is awoken by the noise and he goes downstairs to check on his parents. As he runs to the door there is suddenly an explosion that knocks young Franklin backwards and he strikes his head on a cabinet, knocking him out. As Franklin falls to the ground unconscious, his head starts to bleed. As the blood seeps out onto the floor of the kitchen it begins to smolder. While outside, Reed tries to talk sense into Cromwell, pointing out that the only supernatural threat to Belle Port is her own reckless use of her occult power. Reed points out that the legends of the Knights of Hades states that if innocent blood is shed in their attacks then it can unleash an powerful evil force.
When Elspeth tries to regain control of the Knights they turn on her and strike her down. Suddenly Franklin comes out to warn his parents that something is happening in the house. When Sue notices Franklin is bleeding, Elspeth realizes that it's too late, and at that very moment the massive form of Mephisto raises from the burning house saying that it is time for the final punishment. Back in New York's Greenwich village, Doctor Strange is in deep meditation when he suddenly calls out in pain. Sensing some powerful evil having been unleashed upon the Earth, he has his servant Wong bring him his Cloak of Levitation and flies off into the night sky to face this evil.
- The Fantastic Four all previously appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #17 where they battled the Living Monolith alongside the Avengers.
- Johnny glosses over his past girlfriends:
- His first girlfriend was Doris Evans who dated Johnny between Strange Tales #113-133. She and Johnny broke up in Fantastic Four #45 when she finally got fed up with Johnny's life as a super-hero.
- Incidentally Johnny's break-up with Doris coincided with his first meeting with the woman who became his second girlfriend, the Inhuman known as Crystal in that same issue. This pair dated from Fantastic Four #66-105 when Earth's pollution forced Crystal to return to her people's city of Attilan. She later formed a relationship with the Avenger known as Quicksilver in Fantastic Four #131-132 ending her relationship with Johnny in the process.
- His third girlfriend was Frankie Raye who Johnny dated on and off between Fantastic Four #164-207 and Fantastic Four #232-244. Their relationship ended when she agreed to become the next herald of Galactus.
- Lastly, he mentions Julie Angel, Frankie's former roommate, whom Johnny unsuccessfully pursued from Fantastic Four #249-257. He ultimately gave up and was getting over her in Fantastic Four #263.
- Johnny's relationship with "Alicia Masters" is quite a bit more complicated than what he mentions here:
- He refers to Alicia as the former girlfriend of his former teammate the Thing. Ben and Alicia began dating back in Fantastic Four #9.
- Recently, Johnny, Reed and Ben were among those gathered by the Beyonder to be part of his Secret Wars in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1-12. In issue 2 of that series Ben discovered that he could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms. When the Secret Wars ended in issue 12, Ben decided to stay on Battleworld asking She-Hulk to replace him.
- As per Fantastic Four #358 the woman Johnny is in love with is not the real Alicia Masters, but a Skrull spy named Lyja. Lyja was given the mission to infiltrate the Fantastic Four and replaced Alicia during the events of Fantastic Four #265. The plan was to use Alicia's identity because of her long standing relationship with Ben. However upon discovering that the Thing had stayed behind on Battleworld, Lyja then began pursuing a relationship with Johnny in order to maintain Alicia's ties to the team.
- Jen expresses her concern that she might become like her cousin the Hulk. Jen's powers come from a blood transfusion she got from Bruce in Savage She-Hulk #1. Her concerns are valid as at the time of this story, Bruce Banner's identity was lost within the mind of the savage Hulk, as seen in Incredible Hulk #296. Banner does not reassert any control until Incredible Hulk #312.
- Some facts about Reed and Sue living in Belle Porte:
- The couple decided to give Franklin a normal family life in Fantastic Four #257 and purchased the house in Fantastic Four #260. They adopted the identities of Reed and Sue Benjamin to try and keep their presence in town a secret.
- They completely moved into the home in Fantastic Four #263.
- Alma Chalmers is the local snoop and she became interested in spying on the "Benjamins" in Fantastic Four #268. She uncovered their secret in Fantastic Four #274 but instead of realizing who they really were, she came to believe they were witches.
Sue has some concerns about Franklin in this issue:
- The first was finding him in Reed's lab in Amazing Spider-Man #260, in that story Franklin was almost tricked into freeing the symbiote that Reed had removed from Spider-Man's body in Amazing Spider-Man #258
- She's also concerned that his mutant powers might be coming back. Franklin's dreams are a new manifestation of his mutant powers in the form of precognitive dreams. Franklin's powers have fluctuated over the years since they first appeared in Fantastic Four #129. Recently Franklin forced his powers to go dormant in Fantastic Four #245 when they were at risk of burning him out.
- Reed mentions how Johnny originally tried to have a double identity during his time living in Glenville, Long Island, while maintaining a solo career during the early days of the Fantastic Four. This started in Strange Tales #101, although Human Torch Vol 2 #1 shows that Johnny blew his own cover to show off early on.
- Mephisto appears here from his previous appearance in Thor Annual #13 where he pit Thor against Ulik.
- Doctor Strange and Wong appear here following the events of Spider-Man Family #5 where the Doctor helped Spider-Man battle Morbius. Wong next appears in Marvel Fanfare #21.
- The appearance of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center at the end of this story should be considered a Topical Reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. The twin towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. As of this writing the age of heroes has existed for roughly 14 years as such the time scale has slid forward so that the modern age exists after the terrorist attack.
- This issue contains a letters page, Fantastic Forum. Letters are published from Sean Konot, Joseph Nowak, and John MacKinnon.
- Reed and Sue's house guests are mostly based off of characters that appear in Sunday funnies and other syndicated newspaper strips. They include: Joe & Anne Palooka, Dick Tracy, The Lockhorns, Skeezix, Jiggs, Henry Mitchell the father of Dennis the Menace, Blondie and her husband Dagwood Bumstead and his best friend Herb Woodley.
Links and ReferencesEdit
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