This weekend’s light-hearted and escapist superhero blog post looks at the early stories featuring the Femizon called Thundra, who started as a villainess before reforming.

ff 129FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #129 (December 1972)

Title: The Frightful Four – Plus One

Villains: The Frightful Four (The Wizard, Sandman, the Trapster and Thundra)

NOTE: This was Thundra’s first appearance.

Synopsis: The Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster are still at large after their recent clash with Spider-Man and the Human Torch in Marvel Team-Up #2. Meanwhile, at the Baxter Building headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the Human Torch drops a bombshell on his teammates – he is quitting the team to go live with his true love Crystal of the Inhuman Royal Family.

thundra walkingCrystal, Johnny Storm’s longtime girlfriend and former member of the Fantastic Four, was forced to move back to the Inhumans’ hidden city of Attilan due to her body’s negative reaction to air pollution in the human world.

After a fierce argument in which Invisible Woman (Johnny’s sister) sides with the Torch, Johnny flies off in the Fantastic Four’s plane to reach Attilan. The arguing is reignited by Agatha Harkness (still in the years BEFORE she tutored the Scarlet Witch) who tells the Fantastic Four that she has urgent business and they must come pick up Reed and Sue’s son Franklin Richards at her Whisper Hill home.

Fueling the renewed arguing is Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards) insisting that Invisible Woman (Sue Storm Richards) should go get Franklin while he resumes his lab work. At length, a furious Sue goes off to pick up Franklin, but makes it clear this is not the end of the matter.

The Thing (Ben Grimm) goes out to take a walk while he ponders if this is the end for the Fantastic Four, with the Human Torch quitting and Reed & Sue’s marriage in dire straits lately. Lost in thought, the Thing gets ambushed by the Wizard, Sandman and Trapster, who have at last found a replacement for their former member, Medusa of the Inhuman Royal Family.

thundra holding chainNOTE: The villains had misled Medusa into joining the Frightful Four long ago, before she realized that they were criminals in the human world.

That replacement is Thundra, making her debut appearance. Thundra is roughly as strong as the Thing, and with the other Frightful Four members also attacking the Thing, he is soon on the ropes.

Ben is saved, however, by the arrival of Medusa, who reveals she happened by on a trip to seek scientific help from Reed Richards. (It’s a comic book. Enormous coincidences are part of the genre’s weaknesses.)

Medusa and the Thing are defeated by the Frightful Four and left unconscious on the ground. Thundra gets in a fight with Sandman for helping her take down the Thing because she states that her reason for joining their team was to defeat the Thing in one-on-one combat. (Her reasons are left unsaid at this particular moment.)

The Wizard breaks up the fight and rallies his teammates to bind the Thing and Medusa, then strike the rest of the F.F. at the Baxter Building.

ff 130FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #130 (January 1973)

Title: Battleground: The Baxter Building

Synopsis: In the Great Refuge called Attilan, Crystal breaks it to Johnny that she is dumping him for Quicksilver, who recently left the Avengers after she and her huge dog Lockjaw rescued him from the latest versions of the mutant-hunting Sentinels.

Back at the Baxter Building, the Frightful Four use the high-tech ray key in the belt of the unconscious Thing to gain entry to Fantastic Four headquarters. They launch a surprise attack on Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, who has returned with little Franklin.

Mr. Fantastic is defeated, and Invisible Woman surrenders when the Wizard seizes and threatens to kill her son Franklin, further outraging Thundra. Reed, Sue, the Thing and Medusa are bound by the Trapster while the Wizard plunders Mr. Fantastic’s lab for its incredibly valuable tech.

Little Franklin’s emerging mutant powers manifest themselves again as he uses his mind powers to force the Thing back into consciousness. The Thing breaks free of the Trapster’s restraints and frees Medusa, Reed, and Invisible Woman.

thundra ripping equipmentAs our heroes clash with the Frightful Four, the battle eventually goes against the villains. Thundra leads her teammates to escape by way of the Wizard’s anti-gravity aircraft.

In the aftermath, Reed and Sue argue again about Sue being expected to simply take care of Franklin whenever Agatha Harkness is not available. The argument reaches boiling point, with Sue saying she is leaving Reed and taking Franklin with her. After Sue and her son are gone, Mr. Fantastic tells the Thing and Medusa that they are going to Attilan to get the Human Torch to rejoin the Fantastic Four.

ff 133FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #133 (April 1973)

Title: Thundra at Dawn

Villains: The Frightful Four

NOTE: Thundra is back after being gone for the previous two issues. In those stories the Human Torch rejoined the Fantastic Four since Crystal was now engaged to Quicksilver, and Medusa took a leave of absence from the Inhuman Royal Family to keep the F.F. at four members since Sue (Invisible Woman) had separated from Reed (Mr. Fantastic).

Synopsis: On New Year’s Eve, the Thing, Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, Medusa and Alicia Masters, the Thing’s blind girlfriend are on hand for the Countdown from Times Square. Thundra shows up in the Square at Midnight and challenges the Thing to a one-on-one battle to show that women are superior to men. The fight is to take place in three days at dawn at Shea Stadium. 

thundra in times squareThe Human Torch attacks Thundra, who eventually defeats him by throwing massive amounts of snow at him. By then, Mr. Fantastic, Medusa and the Thing have gone into action. Thundra holds them off long enough to remind the Thing and the television viewing audience that she will fight the Thing in three days, not now. She then escapes on an anti-gravity platform, taking Alicia with her as a hostage to ensure that Ben shows up for their fight.

In the days ahead, arrangements are made for Shea Stadium to be used for the “Battle of the Sexes” to ensure Alicia’s safety. The impending fight is the talk of the country and a fortune in bets are made. We are even shown other Marvel superheroes like the Avengers contemplating the fight, and Spider-Man thinking his money is on Thundra. Luke Cage (Power Man) and his friend D.W. Griffith also make a guest appearance in this issue. 

thundra standingNOTE: Believe it or not, this Thing vs Thundra “Battle of the Sexes” clash was presented BEFORE the two tennis matches between Bobby Riggs and female tennis players in 1973. In May, Riggs defeated Margaret Courtland and in September, Billie Jean King defeated Riggs.

        All of this was a reflection of the times, as Women’s Liberation issues were in the news a great deal.

Back to the story, the Frightful Four and their hostage Alicia Masters are lying low in their secret lair in Queens during the buildup to the fight. At dawn on January 4th, the Thing is on hand at Shea Stadium as Thundra arrives on her anti-gravity platform.

th vs thThe Thing asks why they couldn’t have held their fight with a much lower profile, and Thundra replies that for reasons of her own, she wants the entire world to witness her defeat of the world’s strongest male.

NOTE: Thundra’s mysterious motives will be revealed down the road, as will the reason she mistakenly thinks the Thing is the world’s strongest male, rather than Thor, Hercules or the Hulk, all of whom are stronger than the Thing.

Back to the story, the furious fight soon spreads from Shea Stadium to surrounding parts of New York City. This infuriates the Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster, who covertly entered the stadium planning to kill both the Thing AND Thundra, since her temper has been making her too hard to handle. Their preparations were for nothing now that the battle has left Shea Stadium.

thundra out of waterNaturally, the battle between the Thing and Thundra ends in an unresolved manner, but Thundra’s sense of honor makes her free Alicia from the Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster in violent fashion and return Alicia to our heroes before flying off.

The three villains still plan to strike again against the Fantastic Four in the near future.

thundra vs hulkGIANT-SIZE SUPER-STARS Vol 1 #1 (May 1974)

Title: The Mind of the Monster

Villain: The Hulk

NOTE: This story centered on one of Mr. Fantastic’s inventions accidentally causing the Thing and the Hulk to switch minds. The two fought each other once again in a clash that spread all over New York City while the Human Torch, Medusa and Mr. Fantastic tried to get the two under control.

thundra following the fightSynopsis: Thundra has a supporting role in this tale. She is walking around Manhattan when word of the Thing versus the Hulk battle causes a panic in the city. Thundra rushes to help the Thing, because she is already attracted to him and hoping for a reconciliation now that she has left her villainous former colleagues behind.

thundra about to be struckThe Femizon naturally thinks she is helping the Thing by attacking the Hulk, not realizing it is Ben’s mind in Hulk’s body, while the Hulk’s mind has made the Thing’s body the rampaging, mindless beast this time around. Thundra tries to help Ben a few times until at length the uncomprehending Hulk-mind-in-Thing’s body punches her, telling her to let him fight alone.

th on benThundra mistakenly believes that the Thing willingly hit her, and when she regains consciousness, she does not realize that in the meantime Mr. Fantastic managed to put the Thing’s and the Hulk’s minds back in the right bodies. She sucker punches the Thing and storms off, believing she has paid him back for hitting her unprovoked earlier.

ff 148FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #148 (July 1974)

Title: War on the Thirty-Sixth Floor

Villains: The Frightful Four

Synopsis: The Thing, Medusa, Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic are in the Baxter Building, reeling from the news they received the previous issue – Sue has initiated divorce proceedings from Reed and has gone to live with her old suitor the Sub-Mariner beneath the sea, with Sue to reside in domed rooms protected from the Atlantic Ocean outside.

The Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster launch a surprise attack on the Fantastic Four, and engage in a fierce battle with them. Thundra arrives and states that she warned her former teammates in the Frightful Four that she would trash them if they ever attacked our heroes again.

thundra and reedThundra helps the Fantastic Four defeat the Wizard, Trapster and Sandman and turn them over to the authorities. When asked how she knew that the Frightful Four had struck, Thundra replies that she had originally come to the Baxter Building for another reason.

namor and sue invadingFor the cliffhanger ending, Thundra points out a nearby window to show the Fantastic Four that reason.

The Sub-Mariner, alongside Invisible Woman and a hooded aide, are attacking New York City with an army of kaiju-sized sea monsters that the Sub-Mariner has summoned from the deep.

ff 149FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #149 (August 1974)

Title: To Love, Honor and Destroy

Villain: Sub-Mariner

Synopsis: Okay, there is no way of avoiding the utter ridiculousness of what goes on in this story, but Thundra is pretty active in it, so I’ll emphasize her contribution while paying as little attention to the nonsense as possible.

Sub-Mariner, Invisible Woman and the hooded aide continue riding atop the lead sea-beast in the attack by Namor’s (Sub-Mariner) army of subaquatic monsters. Namor proclaims that he and his creatures are avenging Sue on Reed for his various offenses against her.

thundra chargingNOTE: The biggest offense in Sue’s eyes was when Reed put their son Franklin into a coma to prevent his out-of-control mutant powers from destroying the minds of everyone anywhere near him. Reed was working on a cure for Franklin before he would bring him out of his coma. At present, the unconscious boy was being cared for by Agatha Harkness.

Back to the story, the Fantastic Four and Thundra fly to the docks in the Fantasticar to begin trying to turn back Sub-Mariner, Sue and the sea-creatures. The battle rages for quite a while, with Invisible Woman even using her powers against the Fantastic Four.

thundra saves johnnyAt one point Namor sends the Human Torch flying through the air with his flame snuffed out. Thundra rescues him by plucking Johnny out of the air with her chain. As our heroes continue fighting off the sea-creatures to prevent them from establishing a foothold on the docks, Thundra attacks Sub-Mariner one-on-one.

Thundra mentions again that she does not want the Thing killed until she can once again face him in solo combat for her own mysterious reasons. While she and Namor clash, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch continue battling the sea-beasts and the Thing fights his way to Invisible Woman’s side on Sub-Mariner’s “flagship/ flag-beast”.

Amid all the action surrounding them, Ben and Sue have a long talk during which the Thing at last manages to make Sue rethink her actions.

th smBack on shore, Reed at length asks Thundra to stand down and let him fight Namor since it is personal between him and the Sub-Mariner. Invisible Woman intervenes, stopping the pair from fighting and acknowledging that none of this has played out the way she wanted, etc.

She announces that she still loves Reed, etc and returns to him, promising to stop the divorce proceedings. The F.F. return to the Baxter Building. Namor has his army of sea-creatures retreat back into the depths while his hooded aide at last removes that hood to reveal that he is really Triton, a member of the Inhuman Royal Family.

Covert conversations among Triton, Sub-Mariner and Medusa reveal that the whole affair – from Sub-Mariner claiming he wanted Sue to live with him in Atlantis to this staged attack on New York City was just a sitcom-level plan to get Reed and Sue Richards back together by showing each of them how much they really loved each other.

thundra punchingNOTE: Yep, absurdly enough, a MASSIVE INVASION OF NEW YORK CITY was mocked up by Namor, Triton and the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family just to reconcile an estranged husband and wife. In true sitcom form I hope when they were cooking up this scheme that one of them said “It’s kind of crazy, but it just might work!”

Back to the story, the conspirators say they will soon let the F.F. know that Sub-Mariner was just faking to further their plan. (Why they think that the Richardses won’t be outraged is beyond me.) So, NYC shut down several streets, sent the authorities forth to help hold off the sea-beasts, countless New Yorkers were terrified or otherwise had their lives disrupted for nothing.

As it turns out, Namor, Triton and the others rushed to reunite the Richardses so that the entire Fantastic Four could be on hand in Attilan for the impending wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver.

ff 151FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #151 (October 1974)

Title: Thundra and Lightning

Villain: Mahkizmo

NOTE: To provide closure for readers on the above subplots, the Fantastic Four attended the wedding with Alicia Masters, Agatha Harkness and the unconscious Franklin in tow to keep him safe from their various foes. The Human Torch at last reconciled himself to losing Crystal to Quicksilver.

makhizmo        The Avengers also attended the wedding and both teams plus the Inhumans were attacked by Ultron. In a deus ex machina, Franklin’s mutant powers were completely unleashed on Ultron, defeating him and “curing” Franklin of his world-threatening powers. (But years later he would regain those powers.)

        And with Franklin Richards cured, Agatha Harkness left the service of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman to begin tutoring the Scarlet Witch at Avengers Mansion as the Celestial Madonna Saga began in earnest. 

Synopsis: One day at the Baxter Building, the Human Torch and the Thing are the only F.F. members on hand when the building is attacked by a massive brute of a man calling himself Mahkizmo the Nuclear Man. His strength is greater than the Thing’s and he is capable of generating nuclear energy. While fighting Ben and Johnny he reveals he is searching for Thundra.   

Meanwhile, outside the U.N. Building, Medusa has just made an appearance regarding the legal status of her people and their city of Attilan. After avoiding hassles from reporters she is approached by Thundra.

thun and medThundra at last reveals her mysteries. She comes from a possible 23rd Century Earth and a domain called Femizonia. In that future women rule as warriors with men as slaves barred from positions of authority. Queen Vega and Princess Lyra rule the land.

NOTE: This future Earth kingdom ruled by the Femizons first appeared in Savage Tales Vol 1 #1 (May 1971).

Thundra further explains to Medusa that just as her own possible future Earth evolved with women in sole command, a different possible future Earth evolved with men in sole command and women as slaves. The capitol of this future Earth is called Machus. 

th profileFemizon scientists determined that incursions were being made by men from Machus for the purpose of inciting rebellion among the men of Femizonia. Previously, in Savage Tales #1 a man named Syrani was responsible for the most recent unrest and the Femizons since learned that Mahkizmo was the chief warrior of Machus.

To avoid the “problem” of male uprisings continuing to plague the Femizons, the queen decided to send a female warrior back in time before the alternate Earth culminating in Machus even started to emerge. That woman was to seek out and publicly defeat the strongest male of the era in hopes of putting men in their place and preventing Machus from ever existing.

back in timeThundra, the strongest and best fighter among the Femizons, was selected and was sent back to the 20th Century. However, having seen that there are stronger men than the Thing, like Thor and the Hulk, Thundra began wondering why she wound up at the Baxter Building rather than Avengers Mansion to fight Thor or the American southwest to fight the Hulk.

She has pieced together that various energies from the Baxter Building – likely from Reed Richards’ copy of Dr. Doom’s time machine or his Negative Zone portal – brought her there as she arrived from the future. Thundra has just realized that the same energies may lead Mahkizmo to the Baxter Building as well, if the scientists of Machus learn of Thundra’s mission and send HIM back to thwart her.

Thundra and Medusa head for the Baxter Building, while the battle there between the Thing, Human Torch and Mahkizmo continues. Mr. Fantastic returns to the Baxter Building after an afternoon with Sue and Franklin in Pennsylvania, and he joins his two teammates in fighting Mahkizmo.

th me mrThat villain from the future succeeds in beating Reed and throwing him to his death. Thundra and Medusa arrive outside the Baxter Building, where they look up and see the unconscious Mr. Fantastic plummeting toward them.

ff 152FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #152 (November 1974)

Title: A World of Madness Made

Villain: Mahkizmo

Synopsis: Thundra catches Reed to save his life and leaves him in Medusa’s care until he can regain consciousness. The Femizon then races up to the 36th floor of the Baxter Building where she sees Mahkizmo standing over the now-defeated Human Torch and the Thing.

saving reedMahkizmo taunts Thundra and demands she surrender and beg for mercy. Naturally, she refuses and the two fight it out.

Just as Ben and Johnny are coming to, they see Mahkizmo using his nuclear energies to teleport with Thundra back to HIS version of the 23rd Century as his prisoner.

mahk and thSoon, Medusa and the revived Mr. Fantastic arrive and Medusa explains about Thundra and the two alternate versions of the 23rd Century. Reed does abstract calculations and theorizes that the “incursions” from Machus to Femizonia are indications that the two possible 23rd Century Earths may dimensionally collide and destroy both of them.

To save Thundra out of gratitude for her help in the past and to prevent life on Earth from ending in the 23rd Century, Reed has Sue come to the Baxter Building to assist him. Over the next 10 hours, the couple temporarily modify Reed’s copy of Dr. Doom’s time machine so that it can move SIDEWAYS in time to alternate Earths, as well as forward or backward in time.

ff going to futureAt the end of the 10 hours, Sue stays in the Baxter Building to remotely operate the time machine to send Reed, Ben, Johnny and Medusa to the 23rd Century, and then sideways to Machus on Mahkizmo’s alternate Earth of the future. The active members of the Fantastic Four materialize on a rocky plain outside of the city of Machus.

The heroes clash with an army from inside Machus, an army wielding futuristic ray-guns. The F.F. defeat the army but then Mahkizmo attacks and takes down them.

Mahkizmo imprisons the Thing, Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic in a stasis cage to await battle in the Arena. As for Medusa, he uses Machus’ mind-weapon which saps the will to resist from women. Mahkizmo also shows our heroes that the device has tamed even Thundra, forcing her to submit to whipping.

whippingMahkizmo uses the mind-weapon on Medusa, but the X-Waves in her Inhuman brain make her immune to the device. She pretends to be enthralled until she can free her teammates and simply plays along with Mahkizmo’s orders as he makes her a dancing girl for the nightly feast of warriors in his palace.

Afterward, when they go to his bed-chamber, she slips away from him and while passing by Ben, Reed and Johnny in the stasis cage, she states she has come up with an alternate plan to freeing them but she must enact it immediately. She races on, making her way out of the city and to the time platform at the rocky plain. Her teammates are shocked and disgusted that she would leave them like this.

ff 153FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #153 (December 1974)

Title: Worlds in Collision

Villain: Mahkizmo

Synopsis: After our heroes calm down and assume that Medusa has some larger goal in mind, they try to escape the stasis cage.

After spending most of the night trying, they at last break free, only to be defeated by the arriving army and Mahkizmo.

throne roomEarly in the morning, the three prisoners are taken to Mahkizmo’s throne room. The villain tells our heroes that they have mind-probed Thundra and are delighted that HER future world and HIS future world are merging, assuming that he and his armies will conquer the Femizons and their armies. Mr. Fantastic tries explaining to Mahkizmo that as it stands right now, the two worlds will not merge gently, but will collide violently, destroying both possible futures. Mahkizmo refuses to believe him and dismisses men of the 20th Century as weaklings who have failed to control women.

The villain states that Thundra is able to resist the mind-device just enough to fend off his sexual advances. He gives her one last chance to sleep with him willingly or she will be cast into the Arena along with Reed, Ben and Johnny. Thundra chooses the Arena.

In the Arena, the four heroes battle several huge monsters made by future science. Eventually, Medusa and an army of Femizons from Thundra’s future Earth teleport into the Arena and begin fighting alongside the F.F. and Thundra. Sadly, Machus’ mind-weapon is able to subdue even the army from Femizonia.

fighting togetherQuick teamwork among Medusa, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch destroys the mind-weapon and a free-for-all breaks out, with Mahkizmo fighting our heroes while his army fights the Femizon army. Appropriately, given the message of this storyline, the Thing and Thundra fight Mahkizmo together, both sexes working in unison, yada yada yada.

Under the combined assault of both Thundra and Ben, Mahkizmo overloads his nuclear energies and his body bursts, providing enough energy for the merging futures of Femizonia and Machus to blend together without physically colliding. (It’s only a comic book. Just go with it.)

The end result is a more peaceful version of the 23rd Century with men and women as equals rather than eternal enemies. After observing the changes in the men and women, the Fantastic Four and Thundra disappear, returning to New York City just outside the Baxter Building.

kissing benMedusa says that because neither Thundra’s NOR Mahkizmo’s future Earths now exist, but only one big Earth under co-ed rule, this must explain why Thundra was bounced back to the 20th Century with the F.F. Her future world is no longer there for her to return to. The Thing begrudgingly admits that he’s kind of glad Thundra will be sticking around. In turn, Thundra, who has been attracted to Ben recently, kisses him and calls him the kindest man she has ever met.

thundra runningTHUNDRA’S FURTHER ADVENTURES: Marvel did not use Thundra again until late 1976. What a waste! Given when the Mahkizmo story ended, she could have hooked up with the Defenders while the Hulk and Valkyrie were not on hand. She could immediately have helped the remaining Defenders (Dr. Strange, Nighthawk and Power Man) against the Wrecking Crew in issues 17-19 (November 1974-January 1975).

        Then, Thundra would logically have been among the past Defenders that Clea rounded up to help out against the Sons of the Serpent (Defenders #22-25, April-July 1975). From there, maybe more jaunts with the Defenders, or at least an appearance alongside Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up or a few tryout stories for her own series in Marvel Spotlight, Marvel Premier and others.

ff 177FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #177 (December 1976)

Title: Look Out for the Frightful Four

Villains: The Brute and the Frightful Four

Synopsis: The Fantastic Four have just returned from Counter-Earth, where they helped the High Evolutionary save the planet from Galactus. In their long absence, the Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster have escaped prison and taken over the Baxter Building. Having had a lot of time for the Trapster to set up a myriad of his high-tech traps around the place, the villains defeat our heroes and bind them in high-tech restraints.

th sandmanDenying them food and drink, the villains force the F.F. to simply watch as they – in a silly bit that erodes the tension – “audition” assorted supervillains to become the newest fourth member of the Frightful Four.

The Wizard and his two allies reject prospective members like the Osprey, Texas Twister and Captain Ultra before Thundra bursts in, having heard the Frightful Four were recruiting.

th hits smShe tries to defeat Wizard, Trapster and Sandman in order to free our heroes, but another trap from the Trapster renders her a captive, too. Tigra, having worked with the Thing in the past, shows up and flirtatiously cons the Wizard long enough for her to free the Thing and the Human Torch.

During the resulting battle, the next auditioner, the monstrous, purple villain called the Brute helps the Wizard and company beat the Human Torch and Tigra. Then, near the Negative Zone portal, the Brute opens it while fighting the Thing.

bruteBecause the Brute is stronger than the Thing he is able to resist the Negative Zone’s pull, but the Thing is not. He is sucked in and the Brute closes the portal behind him. The Wizard and company ask him how he knew how to operate that portal.

The Brute SHOWS how – he turns back into his non-monstrous secret identity, the Reed Richards of Counter-Earth, a villain who had fought Adam Warlock during his stay on that planet. He stowed away on the ship taking the Fantastic Four back to our Earth. The villain is welcomed to the Frightful Four.

ff 178FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #178 (January 1977)

Title: Call My Killer the Brute

Villains: The Frightful Four (Brute, Wizard, Sandman, Trapster)

Synopsis: The Frightful Four demand 3 billion dollars (worth over 15 billion dollars in 2023) ransom from the government for the Fantastic Four’s lives. The country has until 3:00am to reply before they kill our heroes.

Through a fluke, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Thundra and the Human Torch are able to free themselves and begin fighting the Frightful Four. While Invisible Woman, Thundra, Tigra and the Human Torch eventually defeat Wizard, Sandman and the Trapster, the Brute defeats Mr. Fantastic and traps him in the Negative Zone, from where Ben was freed.

th fightingTurning back into his Reed Richards form, the Brute convinces the other heroes on hand that he is the REAL Reed Richards of OUR Earth, and that they must all work together to free the defeated Brute from the Negative Zone. (Though he has no intention of carrying through on that, since he IS the Brute.)

th moving on the thingFANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #179 (February 1977)

Title: A Robinson Crusoe in the Negative Zone

Villains: The Brute and the Mad Thinker’s Metalloid

Synopsis: The next day, the fake Reed continues his impersonation of the real Reed despite Sue beginning to suspect something is amiss. In the Negative Zone, the real Reed encounters the Fantastic Four’s old foe Annihilus, the ruler of the Negative Zone.

four on panelAt a team meeting, fake Reed continues trying to run his bluff, while Thundra flirts with the Thing, asking why he prefers Alicia Masters to her. The Human Torch flirts with Tigra but is rejected because, oddly enough, she too has the hots for the Thing.

thing goes offWhile this soap opera nonsense is going on, the Thing gets fed up with Thundra’s refusal to take no for an answer and goes out for a walk. Tigra sees her chance and invites herself along with Ben and suggests they go for lunch at a nice restaurant.

Amid their mealtime conversation they also share vague suspicions about how oddly Reed is behaving. The Metalloid, a gigantic android creation of the the F.F.’s old foe the Mad Thinker, bursts out of the bank where the villain had it smuggled. The Thing and Tigra defeat it, then ponder how to get it back to the Baxter Building.

ff 180FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #181 (April 1977)

Title: Side by Side with Annihilus

Villains: The Brute, Annihilus and the Mad Thinker

NOTE: Now that you’ve gotten a taste of the romantic subplots I’ll instead focus just on Thundra’s activities for the next several issues.

Synopsis: After F.F. # 180 was a reprint of a past issue due to uncompleted writing and/or artwork, this issue picks up where #179 left off.

thundra and tankThundra arrives to help the Thing and Tigra with the massive, defeated Metalloid. The government wants the robot as well, and the army attacks our heroes to take it, but they naturally defeat the troops.

In the end, Thundra, the Thing and Tigra join forces with the army when it becomes clear that there is more to the Thinker’s latest android than meets the eye.

heroes and troopsBack in the Negative Zone, Annihilus proposes that he and Reed work together against a much older android of the Mad Thinker’s which was thrust into the Zone during a battle with the F.F. long ago.

The older model android has stolen Annihilus’ Power Rod, then mutated into a monstrous new life-form and took over rule of the Negative Zone.

metalloid and coFANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #182 (May 1977)

Title: Enter: The Mad Thinker

Villains: The Mad Thinker, the Brute and the Android

Synopsis: After the Thing, Thundra and Tigra carry the Metalloid to the Baxter Building, the fake Reed, still bluffing, sends Thundra and Tigra to investigate the site of the battle with the Metalloid to see if they can find any more traces of the defeated robot.

brute and sueThe Brute/ Fake Reed has decided to trick the Thing and the Human Torch into entering the Negative Zone, then traps them in there. Invisible Woman returns from a visit with Alicia Masters to share her suspicions about the fake Reed. She winds up in battle with the Brute, who tries to kill her since she can tell that he is not her real husband, Reed Richards.

The Brute throws Sue out a window and she falls to her death for the cliffhanger ending.

ff 183FANTASTIC FOUR Vol 1 #183 (June 1977)

Title: Battleground: The Baxter Building

Villains: The Mad Thinker, the Android and the Brute

Synopsis: Thundra and Tigra return from their investigation just in time to save Sue’s life. Then, Sue informs them that “Reed” is really the one from Counter Earth and has become the Brute again.

trio fightingThe ladies charge into the Baxter Building and begin fighting their way through all the high-tech defenses of the building, defenses which have been turned on them by the Brute, who saw them save Invisible Woman.

Meanwhile, the Mad Thinker’s transformed Android from long ago leaves the Negative Zone and enters the Baxter Building through the portal. Thundra, Sue and Tigra at last fight their way to the lab and begin battling the Android, who has defeated the Brute.

Ben, the Human Torch and the REAL Reed escape the Negative Zone and join in the battle with the transformed Android. In the end, the Android is destroyed, the Brute winds up in the Negative Zone and the Mad Thinker escapes.

spid sup 24SPIDEY SUPER-STORIES Vol 1 #24 (July 1977)

Title: Trapped by the Collector

Villain: The Collector

NOTE: Spidey Super-Stories were a collaborative project between Marvel Comics and The Electric Company, from the Children’s Television Workshop. The stories were simplified and aimed at children to encourage them to read. Since we didn’t get an actual Marvel Team-Up between Spider-Man and Thundra, I’ll go ahead and throw in this thing.

Synopsis: Thundra has agreed to guard the Baxter Building while the Fantastic Four and Alicia Masters go on a vacation. Spider-Man, not knowing they are gone, drops by to visit his old friend the Human Torch.

th spideyThe supervillain called the Collector, an alien foe of the Avengers and one of the Elders of the Universe, has been stealing Reed Richards’ creations one by one. Thundra mistakenly thinks the just-arrived Spider-Man must be the one stealing them.

NOTE: The Collector IS the same Collector who appeared in the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie. In the Marvel Comics Universe – at least back then – the Collector was one of the Elders of the Universe, the very first intelligent race to evolve after the Big Bang. 

        thundra webbed upThe Collector, as his name would indicate, roamed the universe collecting relics, objects and all manner of life-forms for study and preservation. In his previous battles with the Avengers he tried to add them to his interstellar museum.

Following a fight between Spider-Man and Thundra, they reconcile and try to figure out what is happening to Reed’s inventions. The Collector takes them by surprise and then transports them to his current base of operations.

After imprisoning the two heroes, the Collector does a Villain Rant, telling Thundra and Spider-Man all about himself and then explaining he will keep them as part of his collection forever. Our heroes manage to free themselves and engage in battle with the Collector, who uses his alien technology and weapons against them.

collector caughtUltimately, Thundra and Spidey defeat the Collector and return all of Reed Richards’ inventions to the Baxter Building. So, to wrap up this adventure, let’s recall the Spider-Man theme song from Electric Company episodes:

“Spider-Man/ Where are you comin’ from/ Spider-Man/ Where are you comin’ from/ Nobody knows who you aaaaarre!”

They don’t write ’em like that anymore!

ms m and thAVENGERS ANNUAL VOL 1 #8 (December 1978)

Title: Spectrums of Deceit

Villains: The Squadron Sinister (Dr. Spectrum, Hyperion, the 2nd Whizzer and Thundra)

NOTE: Once again, circumstances cause a misguided Thundra to fight on the side of supervillains, this time the Squadron Sinister, a team which had previously fought the Avengers once and the Defenders twice. Thundra is replacing Nighthawk in the Squadron, because Nighthawk reformed and joined the Defenders long ago.

        th punching ms mSynopsizing this issue would run longer than the entire rest of this blog post due to all the deep lore to be explained, including the initial inter-company significance of the Squadron. Suffice it to say, Thundra was the perfect choice to be allied with the Squadron Sinister due to meta reasons.

Since most of the side-issues are irrelevant to Thundra, I will give a bare-bones recap, with the emphasis on Thundra’s role in the story.

vision vs thundraSynopsis: The Wasp comes across the Power Prism of Iron Man’s recurring foe Dr. Spectrum. The alien intelligence inside the gem takes possession of her mind and turns her into a female Dr. Spectrum (even though Nebulon supposedly removed that alien intelligence back in The Defenders #13).

This results in the Avengers winding up in battle with the Squadron members, as Thundra fights on the villains’ side because she mistakenly thinks the Avengers are needlessly harassing Hyperion, whose secret identity has hired her to work in his national chain of physical fitness spas.

th bp mmDuring the destructive battle, Thundra personally spars with the Vision, the Black Panther and the original Ms. Marvel before her misunderstanding of the entire situation gets worked out.

th mmThundra goes back to being a heroine, and Marvel Comics goes back to completely wasting this promising character.

If you’ll notice, before this story they once again went without using her at all – this time from July 1977 to December 1978. 

contemplatingMARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 # 54 (August 1979)

Title: Project Pegasus: Blood and Bionics

Villains: The Grapplers (Titania, Screaming Mimi, Letha and Poundcakes)

existenceNOTE: For this issue and the next one, Thundra’s story was relegated to a 3- or 4-page subplot in each. Marvel Two-in-One, another team-up title, starred the Thing and rotating guest-stars. While the Thing and Deathlok starred in the main story, I’ll recap just the Thundra elements.

as you wishSynopsis: Thundra winds up clashing with the new team of super-villainesses called the Grapplers (because their secret identities were women wrestlers). The Grapplers were mercenary villains created and employed by Roxxon-Brand Corporation, the long-time Marvel Comics pastiches of the real-life Exxon and Rand Corporation.

titania screaming mimi and lethaRoxxon-Brand were always co-conspirators in attempted coups and plots to conquer our Earth and other Earths in the multiverse. Thundra defeated the Grapplers in battle, prompting Roxxon-Brand to try to come up with a way to recruit her into the Grapplers.

grapplers teamNOTE: The Titania who was a member of the Grapplers is a different villainess from the Titania who later became a foe of She-Hulk.

        Screaming Mimi was surgically enhanced by Roxxon-Brand Corporation’s scientists to possess the same sonic/ warping superpowers as their alternate Earth operative called Lady Lark. 

thundra and titaniaMARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #55 (September 1979)

Title: Giants in the Earth

Villains: Titania (and Nuklo, too, but in the Thing’s segment)

thundra in the streetSynopsis: In the main part of this issue, the Thing teams up with Giant-Man Two (formerly called Black Goliath) to save Project Pegasus from Nuklo, the mutant son of the 1940s Marvel Comics (then called Timely Comics) superheroes called Miss America and the Whizzer.

In Thundra’s subplot, Titania gets a rematch with Thundra and takes her by surprise with a special Roxxon-Brand drug that renders even someone with our heroine’s incredible strength paralyzed and knocked out. Thundra is then taken to Roxxon-Brand’s current head to hear his offer to become the leader of the Grapplers.

mtio 56MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #56 (October 1979)

Title: The Deadlier of the Species

Villains: The Grapplers

Synopsis: The head of Roxxon-Brand makes his offer to the now-conscious Thundra. Among their corporation’s advanced technology is a means of traveling to alternate Earths in the multiverse. The head tells our heroine that if she leads the Grapplers in a raid to smuggle tech inside the top-secret Project Pegasus, he will use the alternate Earth tech to restore her to the timeline of Femizonia before its existence was merged with Machus.

grapplersGiven how Thundra has been feeling listless recently, she agrees to the deal and accepts the condition that if caught she must say nothing about her employers.

The next night, Thundra and the Grapplers covertly break in to Project Pegasus in upstate New York. They succeed in hiding their smuggled tech so it can be picked up later by Roxxon-Brand’s inside man at Project Pegasus. It is the final component he needs to complete the corporation’s plans.

With their own mission carried out, the Grapplers flee, and Thundra is forced to race after them. She becomes separated from the team, and while they wind up in battle with Quasar, the security chief of Project Pegasus, Thundra herself runs into the Thing, still on loan to the project from the Fantastic Four.

th vs th againWhile Giant-Man Two comes to the aid of Quasar in his clash with the Grapplers, the Thing tries to negotiate a surrender with Thundra. She desperately wants to escape and have her employers return her to Femizonia, but does not dare admit what is going on to the Thing. The two once again fight each other.

Ultimately, the Thing defeats and captures Thundra while Quasar and Giant-Man Two corral Titania, Screaming Mimi, Letha and Poundcakes.

cell interrogationMARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #57 (November 1979)

Title: When Walks Wundarr

Villains: Klaw and Solarr

Synopsis: The main part of this issue centers around the villains Klaw and Solarr reuniting long after their clash with the Avengers. The pair make their bid to escape imprisonment at Project Pegasus and wind up battling the Thing, Quasar and Giant-Man Two.

in her cellFor the cliffhanger ending, Klaw is the last man standing in that fight, and he prepares to kill all three fallen heroes.

THUNDRA, in this issue, was interrogated in her high-tech cell by the Thing, and though they were civil with each other she refused to comment on her employers because she had vowed not to. The Thing gave up and left her cell.

mtio 58MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE Vol 1 #58 (December 1979)

Title: To the Nth Power

Villain: The Nth Man

Synopsis: The Thing’s life is saved by Wundarr, the super-strong man from space who has been Ben’s honorary nephew for years. Wundarr had been held in Project Pegasus while he was comatose after the Tesseract/ Cosmic Cube had interacted with his innocent mind.

In the previous issue, Wundarr had emerged from his coma with new powers plus an advanced intellect and effortlessly conjured up a new costume to suit his new identity: the Aquarian (see cover). He barely featured in the previous issue, yet it was titled When Walks Wundarr.

aquarianThe Aquarian saves the fallen Thing, Quasar and Giant-Man Two by defeating Klaw with his new power of absorbing external energy and rendering villains like Klaw helpless. The Thing is stunned by this new, articulate and serene version of the formerly child-minded Wundarr.

After the Aquarian explains to the Thing about his new identity, the pair carry the still-unconscious Quasar and Giant-Man Two to Project Pegasus’ infirmary for medical attention. While they are being cared for and Ben tries adjusting to the changes in his “nephew”, the Roxxon-Brand inside man at Project Pegasus uses the component smuggled in to the project by Thundra and the Grapplers to complete a secret weapon.

That inside man is Thomas Lightner, formerly the supervillain called Blacksun. He double-crosses Roxxon-Brand by ignoring whatever it is they wanted him to do with the construct and instead adjusts it to further his own ambitions.

marvel nth manThe device, which Lightner calls an Nth Projector, grants him abilities far beyond his previous black sun powers and transforms him into the Nth Man, a villain powerful enough to take on entire super-teams. He is no longer human, just a huge, humanoid shaped black-hole-styled being that absorbs all energy and matter around it and can use it however he pleases.

Soon, the Nth Man has absorbed enough of Project Pegasus to set off alarms for our heroes. Quasar and Giant-Man rise from their sick beds and insist on joining Aquarian and the Thing to investigate the disturbance. With the power to Thundra’s cell absorbed by the Nth Man she is able to break out, and she joins the others in confronting the villain.

th q thThe Nth Man does a Villain Rant while he fights our heroes, telling them who he is and how he had been assembling the Nth Projector bit by bit with tech smuggled in to Project Pegasus by himself, Deathlok and the Grapplers. He is beyond human ambitions now and is content to simply absorb into himself everything … Project Pegasus, America, the world, and ultimately our entire universe.

human chainThundra, Quasar, the Thing, Aquarian and the 2nd Giant-Man fight it out with the Nth Man but he withstands everything they try. Ultimately, since Aquarian’s powers fall along similar lines to the Nth Man’s own (the Tesseract works in mysterious ways), the only hope for the universe rests on the former Wundarr.

Using a human chain of the Thing, Thundra and Quasar, the Aquarian enters the virtual black hole of the Nth Man’s body. He saves the 2nd Giant-Man, who had been absorbed while trying to stop the villain. Then the Aquarian manages to figuratively “plug up” the Nth Man’s form via some comic book mumbo jumbo, saving the universe and destroying the Nth Man.

such nobilityEPILOGUE: The next day, the Thing says goodbye to the Aquarian and the others, and returns to service with the Fantastic Four. Quasar has dropped all charges against Thundra, who says she plans to seek vengeance on her villainous employers. Aquarian plans to try bringing peace to the world.

NOTE: And so, this last month of 1979 saw the end of Thundra’s 1970s stories. She still pops up in the Marvel Universe from time to time, but has never become very popular due to inconsistent handling of her storyline.

        If Marvel did not want Thundra in the Defenders, maybe they should have launched a superteam based on Project Pegasus and its heroes. A team featuring Thundra, Quasar, the Aquarian and the 2nd Giant-Man might have become a hit. 



Filed under Superheroes

28 responses to “THUNDRA: HER 1970s STORIES

  1. This caught my attention Anita

  2. All are great characters! 😄

  3. I used to love The Fantastic Four, especially the classic Hulk vs Thing slugfests. Adding Thundra to the mix took things to a whole new level.

  4. I’d start reading these pieces of literatart, except that I’d feel it necessary to hide any growing stash of back issues from the aliens (overnighting grandkids).

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