Greetings from the Odinson,
Fantastic Four #1 launched the Marvel Age of Comics. Over the course of the next one-hundred issues of the FF, the adventures and explorations of Marvel’s First Family unveiled the grand tapestry we know today as the Marvel Universe. The alien Skrulls and Kree Empire, the Uncanny Inhumans of Attilan and the malevolent denizens of the Negative Zone, Doctor Doom and the Black Panther, Galactus and the Silver Surfer, they were all first seen in the pages of the Fantastic Four. The FF have played a huge role in shaping Marvel History and continuity. So, it should come as no surprise that it is an issue of Fantastic Four that may just be the most important crux in Marvel History.
The Odinson Explores a Singular Moment in Time in Marvel History
Fantastic Four #19 – Coming across a mysterious clue, Mister Fantastic thinks he may have discovered a way to cure Alicia Masters’ blindness, but the answer lies in the distant past. Wasting no time at all, the Fantastic Four assembles, and using the abandoned time machine of Doctor Doom, they travel back thousands of years to the time of the ancient Pharaohs. Almost instantly they are set upon and captured by a cadre of spearmen and chariot archers. They are brought before Rama-Tut who proclaims himself king of kings, master of men, and Lord of the Seven Suns. The FF are startled to learn that their malevolent host knows them and can speak English. How is this possible? Rama-Tut is a time traveler from the distant future.
Using their unique powers and team work, the Fantastic Four soon burst their bonds and turn the tables on their would-be captures. They pursue Tut back to his Time Machine where they face a series of high tech booby traps. Backed into a corner, the villain escapes in his time machine leaving the FF to ask the following question.
Who is Rama-Tut? – Rama-Tut told the FF that it was his ancestor who had built the very first time machine. This left Mister Fantastic to conclude that Doctor Doom is that ancestor and the Thing to declare Tut to be the Doctor Doom of the future. This is where Marvel History gets a bit convoluted, but I will try to explain as best I can.
Nathaniel Richards is the time-traveling father of Reed Richards (see Fantastic Four #273). Nathaniel Richards traveled back in time from the 30th Century to ancient Egypt where he became the despot Rama-Tut (see Fantastic Four #19). After crossing paths with Doctor Doom (see Fantastic Four Annual #2), Tut travels back to the future where he builds a suit of armor inspired by Doom’s own, but utilizing the super science of the future. Calling himself the Scarlet Centurion, he travels to the past of an alternate universe to become the arch foe of that world’s heroes (see Squadron Supreme Omnibus). After the death of that universe, the Centurion returns to the future where he becomes Kang the Conqueror. However, his world is dying, so he travels back in time to conqueror the world in the past (see Avengers #8 and The Kang War, along with many other attempts). At some point in Kang’s future, weary of battle, he becomes Immortus, the “protector” of the time-stream (see Avengers #10).
Now, why is Fantastic Four #19, a pretty straight forward sci-fi adventure with no discerning events other than the tale itself, such an important and pivotal moment in Marvel History? Let’s explore further.
Doctor Strange – How does the Master of the Mystic Arts fit into all this? Traveling back through time, the good Doctor suddenly finds himself in ancient Egypt where he comes upon the hidden lair of the time-traveler Rama-Tut. It takes all the skills at the magic-user’s disposal just to survive the futuristic booby traps of the villain’s lair, but soon, even the Sorcerer Supreme is overwhelmed by the villain’s super science. While his body lies unconscious, Strange uses his astral form to explore his surroundings. It is at this point where he is startled to discover the Fantastic Four are captives of Rama-Tut. Suddenly, Fantastic Four #19 is seen from a whole new point of view as it is revealed that Doctor Strange’s magic played a role in Marvel’s First Family being able to escape and turn the tables on their captures. This would not be the last time this moment in time would be seen form an alternate point of view.
The Avengers: Lost in Space-Time – On a recruitment trip to New Mexico, the West Coast Avengers are suddenly set upon by a cadre of monstrous villains. Falling into a trap, our heroes are sent back in time to the Wild West where they are confronted by classic Marvel western heroes Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid, and the original Ghost Rider. In a desperate attempt to get back to the present, the time-lost Avengers make their way to ancient Egypt where they hope to use Rama-Tut’s time machine. West Coast Avengers #22 sheds even more light on the events of Fantastic Four #19 and Doctor Strange #53 as Earth’s Mightiest time-lost Heroes also play a role in these events. Now, what role did these events play in setting up the possible downfall of the future?
The Rise of Apocalypse – Why was Rama-Tut, a man from the far flung future, in ancient Egypt in the first place? He wanted to claim the young mutant known as En Sabah Nur, the very mutant that would one day become the mighty despot known as Apocalypse, as his very own heir. Thus, Tut would hold an iron grip on the world’s past, present, and future. However, thanks to the actions of the Fantastic Four, and later revealed actions of Doctor Strange and the Avengers, Rama-Tut’s schemes were thwarted and the time-traveling villain was sent fleeing back to the future.
So there you have it folks. What started out as a simple time-traveling romp in the pages of Fantastic Four #19, a tale that revealed many more layers in the pages of Doctor Strange #53 and West Coast Avengers #22, was actually a pivotal moment in Marvel History. Unbeknownst to our heroes, heroes from three different points in time all drawn by some mysterious force to this very moment in the past, and because of their heroic deeds, they prevented the master of time – Rama-Tut/Kang the Conqueror/Immortus – from sentencing planet Earth to a long history of wicked rule.
Aren’t comics fun?
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell