The Fantastic Four’s Worst Christmas Revealed Their Horrifying Family Secrets
While the Marvel Universe has always been home to some of the grimmest and grittiest figures in pop culture, the Fantastic Four have spent the past sixty years acting as a bright beacon of hope. Where other heroes would be battling demonic hordes or brutal crime lords, Marvel’s First Family can typically be found exploring new dimensions in more family-friendly adventures. This doesn’t make them exempt from venturing into darker territory, however, as the horrific family history of their leader came to light on an otherwise idyllic Christmas vacation.
2009’s Fantastic Four #564 had already set the stage for the horror to come by the time the titular heroes arrived in the quaint Scottish village of Iarmailt for a holiday reunion with Reed Richards’ cousin Hamish. Almost immediately after setting foot in town, Sue Storm was accosted by a fearful woman named Rhona, who in the book’s opening pages was seen trying to flee the village over two decades earlier. Unfortunately, the ominous warning she tried to give was interrupted by one of the many locals determined to keep the town’s secrets safe.
Shortly thereafter, one of the Richards’ children, Valeria, mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Thankfully, Johnny Storm (aka the Human Torch) tracked her down to an underwater cave where she was being held captive by a massive, tentacled beast known as Korgo. Through the team’s combined efforts, the creature was destroyed. As unexpected as it was to spend the holiday slaying a giant, child eating monster, the greatest shock of all was the fact that all of this had been orchestrated by Reed’s own family.
The Fantastic Four couldn’t believe what they were hearing when the townsfolk expressed horror at Korgo’s demise, leading to the revelation that the beast had been the source of Iarmailt’s miraculous prosperity for thousands of years. The town had been free of all crime, sickness, and death for centuries thanks to a pact made between the residents and Korgo, one which saw them sacrifice a young child to the creature every twenty-five years. It was Reed’s nephew, Angus, who had been chosen that year, and in turn his cousin Hamish decided to save his boy at the expense of Valeria. This entire plot is one that would feel more at home in a horror story than a superhero holiday adventure, and despite the Fantastic Four’s triumph over it all they still felt out of their element for the entire story.
The idea that Reed Richards‘ own family could have been harboring such a dark secret for so much time is already an unsettling development, but them going to the extreme that they did even in a bid to save their own child pushes the bounds of morbidity beyond anything that the Fantastic Four had ever seen before.
Although their previous adventures had occasionally dipped into the realm of horror, it had never before been done in such a repulsive manner, and certainly never under the guise of being a holiday story.
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