Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms
|Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms|
|Publication date||December 2000-February 2001|
|Number of issues||3|
|Main character(s)||Susan Storm
Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms is the third and final mini-series from Marvel Comics (the other two being Before the Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm and Logan and Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards) showing adventures that the core members of the Fantastic Four had in the days before they received their powers. This particular miniseries depicts a team-up between teen siblings Susan Storm and Johnny Storm (before they became the Invisible Woman and the Human Torch). It ran for three issues in late 2000 and early 2001.
The series chronicles an adventure into which the Storm siblings stumbled during their teenage years in suburban Long Island. It involves an ancient amulet connected to the demon Zarathos (who years later would be bound to stuntman Johnny Blaze to become Ghost Rider), and an attempt to resurrect the vampire king Dracula.
In the Long Island suburbs near Manhattan, teenager Susan Storm and her younger brother Johnny attend the funeral of their neighbor Professor Henry Brandeis, who dies of apparent spontaneous combustion. That evening, a group of zombie-like beings pursue Susan, Johnny, Brandeis' daughter Cammy, and archaeologist Max Parrish (Cammy's uncle), in an effort to obtain a mysterious amulet discovered by Johnny in Brandeis' den. The foursome barely escapes the zombies, who are under the control of Comte St. Germaine—the man responsible for Brandeis' death.
At Empire State University in Manhattan, Johnny and Parrish research for information about the "Amulet of Z", which keeps reappearing in Johnny's pocket. The foursome barely escapes another attack by the zombies. St. Germaine is enthralled by an unknown entity. Susan and Parrish retreat to Parrish's apartment. They (joined later by Johnny and Cammy) are discovered there by St. Germaine, and it is revealed that the entity controlled him is the vampire king, Dracula. Imprisoned in Transylvania with a wooden stake through his heart, Dracula hopes to use the amulet to resurrect free himself.
The foursome flees, and a mystically-empowered St. Germaine pursues Susan and Cammy—believing that Susan has the amulet. Johnny actually has the amulet, but when he and Parrish prepare to aid the teenage girls, they are confronted by Zarathos, the demonic Spirit of Vengeance and apparent owner of the Amulet of Z. Johnny agrees to bond with Zarathos in order to rescue Susan and Cammy, but Parrish grabs the amulet at the last possible moment during the bonding ritual. Consequently, Parrish and Zarathos are transformed into the Ghost Rider. Just as the now-monstrous St. Germaine on the verge of killing Susan and Cammy, the motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider intervenes. Realizing that the monster is particularly vulnerable to water, the Ghost Rider collapses a water tower, drowning him and thwarting Dracula's plan. In the aftermath of the battle, Ghost Rider attempts to flee the scene, but Johnny grabs the amulet from him—separating Parrish from Zarathos. As a result, Zarathos, the amulet and the motorcycle all disappear.
Three days later, the foursome visits Brandeis' grave with Cammy's mother (Brandeis' widow and Parrish's sister). Parrish agrees to stay with his sister and niece for the foreseeable future. Johnny wishes Susan well as she leaves for Hollywood to become a professional actress.