Ultimate Fantastic Four #30

Issue Date: 
July 2006
Story Title: 
Frightful: Part 3

Mark Millar (writer), Greg Land (pencils), Matt Ryan (inks), Mitch Breitweiser (pencils pages 8-14), Justin Ponsor (colors), VC’s Randy Gentile (letters), Kate Levin (production), Nicole Boose (assistant editor), John Barber (associate editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Ben and Alicia are out on a double date with Johnny and Tara, who’s one of Alicia’s girlfriends. However, the date goes poorly on Johnny’s side, but things get heated up when he spots a car out of control and goes out to help its beautiful, female driver. Though the car slams into a truck, which causes a huge explosion, Johnny manages to save the girl and immediately falls in love to her, even wanting to make her his future wife. But then, he suddenly gets an immense stomachache and is brought back to the Baxter Building. There, Professor Storm calls in the help of Professor Charles Xavier to help figure out what’s wrong with his son. Using his telepathic powers, Xavier and Reed discover that there’s an alien organism from the N-Zone inside Johnny’s body that’s eating him up from the inside. And the worst part is that, if the organism is done with Johnny, it will hatch in seven days and eat the rest of the world as well! Crystal goes to beg Crystal for help and let the team use the Inhumans’ advanced technology, but Crystal tells Sue Black Bolt would never allow it because of his hatred towards the human race. Crystal takes goodbye from Sue, and also wants her to say farewell from her to Johnny. As days pass, the Fantastic Four run out of options to save Johnny, and frightened people want to dump him in the N-Zone, so that at least the rest of the world will be safe. Reed even tries to get the help of the zombie Fantastic Four, but they refuse to do anything. Ben reminds Reed they’ve got one option left: Dr. Doom. Realizing Ben is right, the team travels to Latveria to visit Dr. Doom at his castle, and ask him for help. Once the heroes are gone, the zombie Fantastic Four think it’s time to make their move and break out of their cell!

Full Summary: 

The blind date...

Ben and Johnny are having a double date with Ben’s girlfriend, Alicia, and her friend Tara at a local restaurant. Johnny didn’t really like the Mexican food he just ate, and jokes he thinks he just swallowed Speedy Gonzales, to which Ben smirks that Johnny just ate some proteins. When he then asks the girls if their chicken tasted as good as it looked, Alicia touches her sunglasses, and reminds Ben she isn’t the right person to answer that question. Ben apologizes. Tara apologizes herself, as she needs to go to the little girl’s room to powder her nose. She also asks the boys to order key lime pie for her. Once Tara is gone, however, Johnny admits to Ben he doesn’t really like Tara.

Alicia doesn’t understand that. She explains that Tara Beckwith is one of the smartest people she has ever met, and had her first book published when she was twelve years old. Johnny doesn’t really care about that and mocks that, if he wants to listen to an intelligent conversation, he’ll just listen to what Reed and Sue say to each other for a while. Alica remarks that if Johnny would value brains over bust size for a change, his relationships would last a little longer than twelve hours, but Johnny jokes he doesn’t see that as such a bad thing. Ben mentions that both he and Alicia just want to see Johnny happy. As Johnny asks for the bill, an out-of-control car speeds by the restaurant! The scared customers fall of their chairs and the blind Alicia asks Ben what’s going on.

Johnny flames on and flies towards the car to help out. Nearby, a truck has stopped and asked for directions to Stark International, but they are miles away from it. The car doesn’t seem to be able to stop anymore, and slams into the truck, causing a huge explosion! Luckily, Johnny has managed to just in time save the female driver, who just happens to be a gorgeous blond-haired girl. The trucker laughs and cheers, even though he knows he’s going to get fired over this. His companion also realizes that his insurance probably went up by a third, but just wants to enjoy the sight of a super-hero in action while he can.

Johnny lands himself and the girl on a look. The girl is stunned by what just happened: she was listening to the music in her car so hard, she forgot how the breaks worked. However, she defends, this was before she stressed, back when she was practicing for her beauty exams. She asks Johnny if he ever had a test that could change his life. She even had a nightmare in which her arms were turning into lipstick. Johnny gently places his hands on the girl’s lips, telling her not to say another word, as he thinks he just met his future wife. However, on that moment, something weird happens to him: he gets an immense strong stomachache, and falls on his knees! The girl asks Johnny if he’s alright, and he begs her to call his dad.

The Baxter Building...

Professor Storm walks into Reed’s lab and asks for a moment. Reed jokes that the Professor actually can have two, since they are eighteen minutes ahead of schedule so there is plenty of time for some light conversation. The Professor wants to know why Reed is building a dimensional doorway into the zombie universe when he’s supposed to be working on that five-sensory TV their shareholders have been waiting on. Reed smiles that he actually finished those plans before breakfast. Likewise, that oxygen-powered engine Sue’s team had been having problems with. All his assignments are way ahead of schedule, so he felt the Professor wouldn’t mind if he turned his attention to the Zombie Fantastic Four again.

As Reed and the Professor go for a walk, the Professor explains he has been told Reed has found a way to reach the zombie’s home dimension without a receiver on the other end this time. Reed confirms that, adding that, a week from now, they’ll be able to dump the zombies back on their own world and not have to worry about containing the super virus anymore. The Professor asks Reed if he isn’t concerned the zombies will find a way back somehow. Reed smiles that’s the clever part of his plan: he found out that the only way zombie Reed was able to get in touch is because their universes are in perpetual orbit and have been converging for a short period of time. Ten days from now, this convergence comes to an end and it’s another fifty billion years before the zombies are close enough to allow any more inter-dimensional transfers.

The Professor wonders what happens if the zombies break out of their cell before Reed finishes this plan. After all, he recalls, Reed’s own zombie double has been saying he’s already figured out a way out of that cell Reed designed. Reed is confident the zombie is only bluffing. The Professor isn’t doubting Reed’s calculations, but believes it would be more practical and less expensive to simply put these creatures to sleep. Reed agrees that would be more practical, but it would also be less ethical. He’s sure he doesn’t have to remind the Professor that the zombies are sentient beings. The Professor smiles that apparently, Reed is still playing the super-hero game. He excuses himself as he’s getting a call. After listening to it, the Professor gets shocked and tells the caller to immediately bring “him” to the lab.


A car stops by the building with Ben, Alicia and a sick Johnny in it. Sue asks what happened, but Ben says nobody knows. One minute Johnny was fine, the next he was doubled over and clutching his guts. Johnny can’t believe everyone is making such a big deal out of this, thinking that all he did was eat a bad enchilada. But then he gets another huge stomachache and is pulled away on a stretcher. Sue orders the hospital car drivers to get Johnny to the exam room immediately. Ben runs after them and Alicia wants to follow inside, but as she isn’t authorized personnel the guards won’t let her pass. Ben promises to call Alicia as soon as he knows anything.

Johnny asks Sue what’s going on and why he’s feeling so bad, but she doesn’t know. But she promises to find out, explaining that Reed designed a machine that scans every atom in a person’s body to diagnose an illness. She promises Johnny he’s going to be fine, and they make it into Reed’s lab.

A while later...

After taking some scans of Johnny’s body, Professor Charles Xavier has been called in for help. Johnny, a bit impatient, asks for the diagnoses. Sue asks her dad if he’s going to tell Johnny or if she should do it. Professor Storm explains to his son that he’s been infected with an extraterrestrial organism. It has been growing in his intestinal tract and their best guess is Johnny ingested it during that trip into the N-Zone last year. Somehow, they managed to miss it during contamination. Now, the organism is using Johnny’s body like a buffet dinner and is growing exponentially. When Johnny asks for a translation of that, Reed sighs and says that, basically, Johhny is pregnant.

Johnny knew this was going to happen to him someday, but mocks that all those lying skanks said it would be impossible. Sue corrects Johnny he isn’t pregnant with a baby. He’s carrying some kind of alien that piggybacked a ride back from the Nihil trip. But... that’s not the worst part. Johnny asks what that means, and wants to know what Xavier is doing there. Reed explains that Professor Xavier said he’d help them glean some information on this creature inside Johnny’s body. Professor Storm asks Charles if he’s had any luck so far.

Xavier, having used his telepathic powers to learn more, reveals that he doesn’t have a name for the disease, but it’s definitely from the N-Zone. He learned the organism eats organic material and seems to have selected Johnny because he was the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. The organism is apparently an opportunistic culture. It’s completely unintelligent, but potentially devastating to every living thing on planet Earth. Sue asks Charles how long they have to get rid of it. Charles reveals the stunning news that the organism hatches itself in just seven days.

Later, at the snowy Himalayas...

Sue tells Crystal she’s glad Crystal got in touch, because they can use all the help they can get right now. Crystal wants to know if Johnny’s going to be okay, as she only knows what she picked up from the news channels. They said Johnny’s carrying some kind of alien organism. Sue confirms that, adding that the organism is going to kill her brother in a week. The rest of the world too, unless Johnny bites the bullet and go for this nuclear option everybody’s been talking about.

When Crystal doesn’t know what that means, Sue explains that, since nobody knows how to remove this organism from Johnny’s inside, they will all be dead if it hatches. Her dad says that people are pushing to dump Johnny in the N-Zone, and she doesn’t see a way to avoid it. She asks Crystal for help. Crystal wishes she could, but the rest of the royal family would lose their minds if they found out she was only meeting Sue there. Black Bolt just refuses to have any contact with the human race. She then reminds Sue she saw what Black Bolt did to the Great Refuge just because the humans were breathing their air.

Sue can’t believe this: the Inhuman super-technology might be all they need to turn this thing around. The entire planet is under threat from this entity and that means the Inhumans are in as much danger as the rest of the world is. Crystal thinks that won’t be the case, seeing where the Inhumans are living now. Sue asks Crystal why she agreed to meet up, but Crystal thinks that’s obvious: she wanted Sue to say goodbye to Johnny from her.

Later, at the Baxter Building...

It is raining outside. Johnny calls up his ex-girlfriend, Kirsty, to apologize for the way they broke up. He apologizes for being such a tool and is phoning around to just apologize for that. Kirsty accepts the apology, which means a lot for Johnny. He hangs up and starts to cry. Professor Storm, having stood quietly behind Johnny’s room, sees this and takes off, when he starts to cry as well.

Upstairs, at the cell of the zombie Four...

Reed and Ben are in the cell room, and Reed mentions to his zombie counterpart that they have allowed him to explain the situation one more time: every scientist they know has been working on this situation for forty-eight hours and nobody’s been able to save Johnny. They’ve traveled to the four corners of the globe and tried everyone from Thor’s contacts to Namor and absolutely zero progress has been made so far. Reed tells the zombies he’s doing his best for them: everybody else wants to see them destroyed, while he’s trying to be humane. He expects that could extend him some courtesy.

Zombie Reed stops working on his crossword puzzle, and denies the courtesy. Reed and Ben walk away. Reed tells the guards to take away the pens and paper and anything else that’s keeping the zombies sane in the cell. No more crosswords, no more sudoku and no more word puzzles. Zombie Reed tells his counterpart they really don’t care about that. He jokes that he and the other “Frightful Four” are going to break out of their cell in a few hours anyway.

Once outside, Ben asks Reed if he has any more ideas, but he has nothing. He’s just absolutely done. He’s tried everyone and everything he can possibly think of, but there’s just no way out of this. Ben reminds Reed there’s still one guy they haven’t called yet. And Reed knows who he’s talking about, but is too shocked to admit it.

Later, at Latveria...

The Fantastic Four’s ship lands in the city where a party is taking place. A man welcomes the team in Latveria, introducing it as the home of the beloved Victor Van Damme and the fastest-growing economy in the history of civilization. The man asks the team if they know that, in just six short months, the good doctor has turned the city from a bankrupt, peasant nation into the ninth richest country on Earth. Reed and Sue hold hands tightly. They walk to Doom’s castle and Sue hopes Reed knows what he’s doing.

Inside Doom’s castle, Mrs. Storm informs Doom that her daughter has just arrived with Richards and Grimm. And it happened four minutes later than Doom calculated. Doom, standing in front some monitors, suggests that in that case Mrs. Storm better resets her watch, as he doesn’t make mistakes.

The Baxter Building...

Back at their cell, zombie Sue calls out to her companions, Reed and Ben. Looking at the guards outside, she opens her mouth wide, and thinks it’s time they made their move!

Characters Involved: 

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Professor Charles Xavier (X-Men)

Crystal (Inhumans)

Alicia Masters

Tara Beckwith (Alicia’s friend)

Franklin & Mary Storm (Sue’s & Johnny’s parents)

Dr. Doom

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Zombie Fantastic Four)

various restaurant customers and waiters (all unnamed)

various streetworkers (all unnamed)

various Baxter Building security staff (unnamed)

various Latverian citizens (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The trip to the N-Zone took place in Ultimate Fantastic Four #15-18. The N-Zone is actually the Ultimate universe counterpart of the Negative Zone, home to Nihil and other alien creatures. Nihil is better known as Annihilius in the Earth-616 universe.

The Fantastic Four first dealt with the Inhumans in Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1.

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