Fantastic Four Annual 24 was the 1991 annual and was on sale 11 November 1991 sharing the spinner racks with Angel & Ape #4, Captain America #386, Captain Atom #54, Damage Contol #1, Superman #56 and Uncanny X-Men #277.
Future Tense was written and pencilled by Al Milgrom and opens with a brief history of Michael Korvac, recapping some of the Korvac Saga. It focuses on what happened when Galactus, the devourer of worlds, noticed that Korvac had stolen some power from him and decided to use the ultimate nullifier on him, to end the threat of Michael Korvac forever. As this happens, Korvac is undergoing the final battle between him and the Avengers, (from Avengers 177) where Korvac dies by his own hand. Korvac, at the point of death sends his knowledge and power to an ancestor of his, so it will avoid being nullified and he can yet return.
In the 31st Century the Guardians are deep in battle with the Badoon and Starhawk collapses, crying out that he no longer knows and that something is terribly wrong with their timeline and he catches a glimpse of Korvac. Immediately the Guardians head for the 20th Century to investigate and get themselves some help. Knowing that they once prevented Galactus from consuming all there is in an alternate future timeline, Starhawk suggests the Fantastic Four as the allies needed in this time. Vance calculates the course and Drydock warps through time to the 20th Century.
The team (less Vance, who still exists in this era) teleport down to Four Freedoms Plaza, the headquarters of the Fantastic Four and meet with Reed Richards who had detected their ship and was expecting their arrival. The two teams agree to work together and find Korvac’s energy signature in Australia. In order to allow Vance to join them and to locate this ancestor of Korvac’s Reed makes some new equipment up and calls in a colleague, Dr Henry Pym, formally the Avenger known as Ant Man/Giant Man/Goliath/Yellow Jacket (Delete as applicable) who using his patented pym particles shrinks the new tech down so it can be handheld and then it’s off down-under.
They find the current host of the power of Korvac, a young woman who is wandering the outback and not much of a threat to anyone. Then 9 super people charge her and her powers awaken, then Mr ‘Fantastic’ mentions Korvac and her/his memories awaken.
This restored Korvac makes short work of the group, except for Mr Fantastic who pulls out Doom’s time platform, miniaturised by Dr Pym and travels back to the point that Galactus fired the nullifier and diverts it into the mini-time platform and then back to their battle in Australia. The beam is about to hit the girl, but Korvac’s essence flees into the future. With no Korvac to nullify, the beam ends and the woman goes back to her life after the Guardians of the Galaxy discuss the ethical dilemma of whether or not to kill her and prevent Korvac’s birth. The Guardians are then teleported to their ship by the guest starring Gateway.
At the end of the story a member of the Time Variance Authority, a sort of alternate timeline bureaucracy shows up to confiscate the mini-time platform, which Reed hands over since he has a copy back at home anyway.
There are some none Guardians of the Galaxy back up stories, which as you can imagine, I’m going to ignore.
Notes: Wow, was this a hard sit. Wasn’t particularly a fan of the art or writing, which is a shame, because Al Milgrom has done stellar work in the past.
This was part of Marvel’s four part annual series. In 1991 and 1992, the Marvel contained stories which crossed over into four part stories. In this case Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy each had one part of the ‘Korvac Quest’ story. This to me makes lots of sense, a four part story allows you to take your time to tell and engaging story using a variety of characters and from a sales standpoint, it gets people to read titles they may not be looking at getting and might get them to read a new series, if it doesn’t you’ve at least sold 3 more annuals.
This story takes place before Guardians of the Galaxy #1
This story also features an appearance by the Time Variance Authority, which acts as sort of time travel/alternate universe government department, enforcing the laws of continuity. All the mid-level guys are without faces, but the head looks like Mark Gruenwald. This is deliberate homage by the TVA’s previous writer Walt Simonson to Mark, who was one of marvels writers/editors and was often known as the keeper of Marvel’s continuity, no one could keep track of continuity like Gruenwald.
I’m not a fan of the idea that Korvac cheated death and sent his essence and memory to escape Galactus, which sort of takes away from the original Korvac saga.
Next time: Thor Annual 15