1958: "Slugger" Johnson

Type: Alternate Earth (actually a pocket of altered reality)

Environment: Earth-like; the small pocket of altered reality was spread over the five boroughs of New York City--and possibly slightly beyond--and was referred to as "The Nation". Most of the residents of the Nation had no knowledge of life outside of their warped reality, or that their reality had ever been altered.

Usual means of access: Reality warp; vibrational attunement

Dominant life form: Humanity; Shaper of Worlds

Prominent Inhabitants: Brain ("Slugger" Johnson), guards, Invisibles, Joe Kone, Senator McHammer, Patriots, Warhead, Wildman, Wild Ones

First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#136 (July, 1973)

(Fantastic Four I#136) - After defeating Gregory Gideon, the members of the Fantastic Four (Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Medusa/Medusalith Amaquelin, Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards, Thing/Ben Grimm) departed from his base using their Fantasticar, and Airjet-Cycle.

   One of Gideon's henchmen, Andrew "Slugger" Johnson, had been struck by a ray from Gideon's Eternity Machine, and this somehow attracted the Shaper of Worlds to him. The Shaper seized upon Johnson's dreams of life in the 1950s (see comments), along with the energies of the Eternity Machine, to remake the reality of Earth-616 (actually just New York City and perhaps some surrounding area) into the world of Slugger's dreams, with characters based on everything from rock-n-roll music, the film The Wild One, Mickey Spillane's "Mike Hammer", Joe McCarthy, and so forth. The reality-altering wave swept out from Long Island and over the Fantastic Four as they were headed back to the Baxter Building in Manhattan.

(Fantastic Four I#136 - BTS) - As Johnson had privately envied men whose minds were more intelligent than his, the Shaper altered Johnson's appearance to that of "The Brain," to satisfy his ego-image; from his interpretation of Johnson's dreams, the Shaper learned he always craved his own castle, in the style of the "late show movies" he watched as a child, so he also provided Johnson with a medieval fortress, which was guarded by knights armed with ray-guns.

(Fantastic Four I#136) - The Human Torch and Medusa were strongly affected by the reality-altering wave, and they quickly allied themselves with the Wild Ones against the Patriots, as well as against Mr. Fantastic and the Thing, who represented the older generation. The younger members of the FF went off with the Wild Ones, while Reed and Ben angered the Patriots by questioning what was going on. The Patriots had them placed in "isolation booths" and asked the "$64,000 Question": "Are you Youthie sympathizers?" However, rather than wait for an answer, the Patriots exposed them to energy that sent them into a trance and brainwashed them to think more like the Patriots.

   Meanwhile, the Torch and Medusa faced a similar onslaught from the Wild Ones--although their brainwashing involved loud rock-n-roll music, the effects were similar. Both pairs of Fantastic Four members were programmed to head to the Brain's fortress and seize his weapon.

(Fantastic Four I#137) - The older heroes overcame the brainwashing more quickly, but they headed to the Brain's fortress nonetheless to learn what was going on. Reed and Ben overpowered the knights guarding the castle and forced their way in, but were soon attacked by Johnny and Medusa. Meanwhile, the Brain was frustrated with the inclusion of the Fantastic Four in his reality, so he convinced the Shaper to send the Warhead after the heroes. The Shaper changed the castle into a drive-in movie lot, transformed the castle guards into Wild Ones, and then unleashed the Warhead.

   As the FF fought the Warhead, McHammer decided that their new allies had betrayed them, and he led the Patriots to fly out and enter the battle themselves. The combined power of the FF, the Patriots, and the Wild Ones overcame the Warhead, and Ben knocked it back into the movie screen, where the monster vanished.

   With their common foe defeated, the Patriots and Youthies turned on each other again, but then a third party showed up: the Invisibles--composed of African-Americans who were ignored by the other two groups, they banded together to stand up for their civil rights. The leader of the Invisibles proclaimed an end to the 1950s and the start of the 1960s, which resulted in the dissolution of Slugger's reality, and the return to the status quo.

   As reality began to shift back to normal, the Shaper revealed to the FF that Slugger's dreams had proven unworthy, and he had placed Slugger in a world where his violent dream would harm no one; consequently, the Shaper chose Thomas Gideon instead of Slugger to provide him with the dreams he required.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, John Buscema, and Joe Sinnott.

When FF I#136-137 originally came out in the early 1970s, it was perfectly feasible for Johnson (who appeared to be in his 30s) to flashback to the glory days of his youth in the 1950s; but now that more than 50 years have passed, it seems a little more iffy (though a lot of people still like to try to think that the Punisher could be nearly 60 years old...). Due to Marvel's sliding timescale, we'll have to presume Slugger's "memories" of the 1950s were all based on him just being delirious and remembering stories from an older relative, or perhaps it was the result of his having frequently watched Rebel Without a Cause, Lords of Flatbush, Happy Days, Grease, Book of Love, The Outsiders, and Inventing the Abbots.

Though Slugger's world came to an end in these stories, it is highly likely that in another alternate world, Slugger's reality came to dominate his entire planet and took over as the new reality. Or the Shaper just placed him in another version of his previous reality, without the Fantastic Four or others to interfere with him.

I'm not going to get into all of it in this profile, but there were obviously a lot of 1950s references--from celebrities, to politics, to TV game shows--in these stories.

At the conclusion of this story, the Shaper chose Thomas Gideon--whom he cured of his injuries--to become the new source of dreams; Thomas would later become Glorian.

I would ASSume that the other people in Slugger's world were also natives of Earth-616, affected by the Shaper's reality wave, but it's also possible that they could be artificial creations of the Shaper.

Worth noting that the Invisibles are all dressed in outfits close to the original Bucky. Given that Marty was a Patriot but felt ignored and undervalued, the fact that he got a different costume from the other Patriots, and one that resembled a sidekick, probably was intentional. And all the African Americans being dressed as Bucky probably wasn't unintentional either - unlike Mark Gruenwald when he created Lemar Hoskins, Roy Thomas may well have known the racist connotations in calling a black man "Bucky", so subtly establishing that the Patriots saw their world's African American population as "Buckys" was likely intentional.

Warhead might have been described in story as King Kong with Sputnik for a head, but he's also clearly a reference to the 1953 low budget SF flick Robot Monster.

"Slugger's" first name was revealed in Glorian's entry in OHOTHMU A-Z Hardcover#4.

Profile by Snood. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.

The Brain (Andrew "Slugger" Johnson) has no known connection to:

The Invisibles have no known connection to:

Senator McHammer has no known connection to:

The Patriots have no known connections to:

Warhead has no known connection to:

Wildman and the Wild Ones have no known connections to:


Andrew "Slugger" Johnson was formerly a henchman of Gregory Gideon. His nostalgic dreams of life in the 1950s were the inspiration for this altered reality.

After Gideon's defeat, Johnson wished that things were the way they were when he was growing up in the 1950s (see comments), and the power of his dreams--combined with the energy he had absorbed from Gideon's Eternity Machine--drew the attention of the Shaper of Worlds, who used the dreams and energy to alter reality.

In this newly altered reality, "Slugger"--who had always envied those more intelligent than himself--was an Albert Einstein-like genius who lived in a fortress stronghold (in the form of a medieval castle), where he was believed to have developed an all-powerful weapon. The opposing groups--the Patriots and the Wild Ones--each sought the weapon so that they could use it against the other.

However, as the Fantastic Four assaulted his castle, "Slugger" continued to be discontented and tried to convince the Shaper to destroy them via the Warhead. However, eventually the Shaper judged Johnson's dreams to be unworthy, discontinued the reality he had created for Slugger, and sent him to a world where his violent dream would harm no one.

(Comment: It is not clear whether the Brain actually had a super-weapon or not...because the Warhead was just supposed to be the guard of the super-weapon. And Slugger/Brain would seem to have had a third identity--see Comment in Warhead sub-profile.)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (136 (fb-see comments), 136, 137


A group of African-Americans, they seemed almost invisible to society, as none of the others in the world of 1958 noticed they even existed. One of them, Marty, considered himself a Patriot, until he finally became sick of the others ignoring him. Heading out to the slums of the Nation, Marty gathered a group of other African-Americans and exhorted them to fight for their rights. They followed him to the Brain's fortress, where they confronted the Patriots and Youthies and told them they would stand up for their civil rights, and would act as the conscience to the two white groups. With the existence of the civil rights movement, Slugger's world of 1958 came to an end.

(Comment: This group was never actually referred to by any particular name in the story, but after Marty was shoved aside by the passing Senator McHammer, he thought to himself, "Didn't see me--like I was an invisible man."--this was likely a reference to Ralph Ellison's 1952 book Invisible Man; and Marty himself was probably based on Martin Luther King Jr.)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (136 (Marty only), 137 (group)

Joe Kone

One of the "Chief Protectors of the Nation," he was one of the leaders of the Patriots and a close ally to Senator McHammer.

It was Kone who led the group to bring the Thing and Mr. Fantastic back to McHammer for brainwashing.

(Comment: His name is likely an amalgamation of Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn, both of whom worked together in the investigation of suspected communists during the 1950s.)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

Senator McHammer

The leader of the Patriots, and would-be leader and "Protector" of the Nation.

After he had Mr. Fantastic and the Thing brainwashed, he sent them to the Brain's castle.

(Comment: His name is likely derived from Mike Hammer, the fiercely patriotic and anti-communist private investigator created by author Mickey Spillane [...who wrote for Timely Comics in the 1940s].)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137


The elder members of the Nation, they were fiercely--or perhaps excessively--patriotic, and scornful of the younger group, the Youthies. They had an air similar to the radical anti-Communist movement of the McCarthy era.

Their base was in a huge fallout shelter dome. They flew in flying Edsel cars, and had eye-wear similar to 1950s 3-D movie glasses.

Named members included Senator McHammer and Joe Kone.

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137


The immense guardian of the Brain's fortress, it was described as having the body of King Kong with head of the Sputnik satellite. It stood about 30' tall, had great strength (perhaps Class 100) and durability, and could fire laser blasts from its head.

When the Shaper of Worlds transformed the Brain's castle into a drive-in movie lot, the Warhead emerged from the screen and went on a rampage.

It was defeated by the combined power of the Fantastic Four, the Patriots, and Wild Ones; the Thing punched it back into the movie screen, and it vanished .

(Comment: Although the original King Kong movie premiered in 1933, it was re-released in the 1950s. And at the end of the story, the Shaper apologized to the FF for choosing Slugger Johnson and stated, "It was was he who threatened you in the guise to the Warhead--he whom you sought and knew as the Brain."--this would seem to imply that the Warhead was actually Johnson/Brain physically altered into a third identity.)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (136 (mentioned only), 137


Also referred to as "The Wild One", he was the leader of the Wild Ones. He was clearly modeled after "Slugger" Johnson himself--or at least how he saw himself in the 1950s. He is also pictured from behind in the main image.

(Comment: Whereas the other Wild Ones wore individual number insignias on the backs of their leather jackets, Wildman had a winged skull emblem.)

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

Wild Ones

Also referred to as "The Youthies", they were the younger group, and enemies of the Patriots. Modeled after James Dean, they rode flying jet-cycles that fired laser beams from the headlights; they were also armed with ray-guns in the form of electric guitars.

Named members included Moon and Lenny; an ally of the Wild Ones was disk jockey "Roger the B," who used loud rock-n-roll music to brainwash the Human Torch and Medusa.

--Fantastic Four I#136 (137

images: (without ads)
Fantastic Four I#136, cover (Wildman vs Fantastic Four)
Fantastic Four I#137, p1, pan1 (Brain's medieval castle; Mr. Fantastic, Thing [foreground])
Fantastic Four I#137, p3, pan6 (castle guards)
Fantastic Four I#136, p5, pan1 (Slugger Johnson, glowing with energy from Eternity Machine)
Fantastic Four I#136, p6, pan5 (Eternity Machine's energy gets drained from Slugger Johnson)
Fantastic Four I#137, p9, pan5 (Slugger Johnson as "The Brain")
Fantastic Four I#137, p12, pan6 (Marty)
Fantastic Four I#137, p18, pan1 (Marty leads other Invisibles)
Fantastic Four I#136, p13, pan2 (Joe Kone introduces himself to Mr. Fantastic and Thing)
Fantastic Four I#136, p13, pan5 (Joe Kone questions Mr. Fantastic and Thing; other Patriots [background])
Fantastic Four I#136, p17, pan5 (Senator McHammer questions Mr. Fantastic and Thing)
Fantastic Four I#137, p12, pan1 (Senator McHammer)
Fantastic Four I#136, p12, pan1 (Patriots in flying Edsels emerge from fallout shelter dome)
Fantastic Four I#137, p11, pan4 (Warhead emerges from drive-in movie screen)
Fantastic Four I#137, p15, pan4 (Warhead fires laser blast from its head)
Fantastic Four I#136, p16, pan3 (Wildman)
Fantastic Four I#137, p17, pan6 (Wildman)
Fantastic Four I#136, p10, pan2 (Wild Ones)
Fantastic Four I#137, p15, pan6 (Wild Ones)
Fantastic Four I#136, p9, pan1 (Wild Ones attack Patriots' base)

Fantastic Four I#136-137 (July-August, 1973) - Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway (writers), John Buscema & Joe Sinnott (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)

First posted: 12/26/2003
Last updated: 06/01/2024

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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