main image

the STONES OF MERLIN

Classification: Enchanted gemstones (Age of Camelot to modern day)

Creator: Merlin

User/Possessors: Merlin, Earl of Darwell, Red Lucy Keough, Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff), crew of the Scarlet Raider, "Blackbeard" (Ben Grimm), Dr. Doom (Victor von Doom), the people of free Latveria, Nightmare

Aliases: The Gems of Merlin, the Merlin Stones, Obsidian Stones

First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#5 (July, 1962)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The Gems of Merlin are six jewels which possess certain (unspecified) mystic properties. The sorcerer Merlin gave the gems mystic power and, when used together, they have the power to make their owner invincible.

   Beings who already possessed mystical abilities could use the gems to increase the power of their dark sorcery.

   Beings who lacked any sorcerous powers could, if they knew how, use the gems for a variety of effects, including projecting a blast of mystical energy at a target and creating a magical shield which could withstand energy attacks.

   Some believed that having two of the Stones of Merlin in their possession would (somehow) make it easy for them to locate the others. If this belief was true, then there might be some sort of link between the jewels, one which would grow stronger as the gems were placed in close proximity.

   Due to their peculiar sorcerous properties, the gems of Merlin can become adrift in time and space, and thus they can sometimes change their location without being moved. One gem is known to have drifted from Earth's reality into the Dimension of Dreams but little else has been revealed about the extent of this drifting.

   The shapes and sizes of the Stones of Merlin also appear to changeable. At some times they have appeared to all be quite small and round, about the size of quarters, while at others they have been much larger, bigger than a man's iron-shod fist, and more oblong in shape. The reason why the gems have undergone these changes has not been revealed.

History:
(Fantastic Four I#5 (fb) - BTS/Dazzler I#3 (fb)/What If...? II#27 (fb) - BTS) - In the Sixth Century, the magician Merlin possessed a collection of six gems upon which he conferred mystic properties including "the power to make their owner invincible."

 

   Nothing has yet been revealed about how the gems left Merlin's possession or who may have possessed them during the next thousand years.

 

 

(Marvel Comics Presents I#62/3 (fb) - BTS) - Sometime prior to the year 1587 A.D., the Earl of Darwell acquired the Stones of Merlin. The earl kept the Stones with the rest of his treasure in his castle (somewhere on or near Lundy Island). To help protect his treasure, the earl created and spread a legend that his castle was guarded by a demon, his "sentry from Satan."

(Marvel Comics Presents I#62/3) <1587 A.D.> - The pirate queen Red Lucy Keough, who was then sharing her body with the spirit of her 21st Century descendant Wanda Maximoff (aka the Scarlet Witch), traveled to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel to seek the counsel of the Druid witch, Valmoora. In exchange for jewels, the seeress revealed that she knew a spell that would return Wanda's spirit to her rightful time but that they would need the Stones of Merlin to add enough power to make the spell work.

   A short time later, Lucy (and her "ghost") led a small landing party to Darwell's castle. Finding it unguarded, they entered, but all except Lucy were soon trapped between a dropped gate and a wall of fire. Confronted by a leonine demon, Lucy used Wanda's hex power on the demon who unexpectedly burst into flame. Lucy then used Wanda's hex power again to call up water from an underground river that put out both the fire wall and the flames on the demon, exposing him as the earl himself who quickly surrendered his treasure in exchange for his life.

   Back aboard the Scarlet Raider, Wanda's spirit and Lucy drew upon the power of the stones while chanting Valmoora's spell by the light of the full moon. As the stones glowed, the spell activated and sent Wanda's spirit back to her future. Afterwards, Lucy announced to her men that she was taking her share of their hoard and retiring to live her life as a gentlewoman with her children. She left the Stones of Merlin to her crew who were sure that with a booty like that to offer they would "gain themselves a grand new captain!"

 

(Fantastic Four I#5) - Some time later, at an unspecified location, three members of the Fantastic Four (Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch and the Thing) appeared after having been sent back in time from the 21st Century by Dr. Doom to retrieve the "treasure of Blackbeard." After stealing some clothes (and a fake beard for Grimm) from two pirates (who had stolen them first), the trio went to a tavern to plan how to find Blackbeard and get his treasure. While there, they were noticed by two pirates who thought that the strangers would like to join their crew and had the tavern wench feed them some (drugged) grog to put them to sleep. Once asleep, they were taken aboard the pirate ship.

   Awakening hours later to find themselves locked in the hold of a pirate ship, the trio quickly escaped and cowed the pirates with their miraculous powers. At that moment, the pirate ship was attacked by another pirate ship, and the threesome joined with the crew in defeating the attackers. Back on the first pirate ship, the victorious pirates hailed the mighty bearded one as "Blackbeard, scourge of the seven seas" even as Johnny and Reed found a chest full of treasure in the hold. A shocked Reed stated that the Thing was Blackbeard and that he had come back to the past to find himself. Realizing that the treasure they had just found belonged to "Blackbeard" but that they had to prevent Doom from getting whatever dangerous power it possessed, Reed dumped the treasure (which he planned to divide among the crew) out of the chest and loaded it instead with worthless chains so that they could bring "Blackbeard's treasure chest" back to Doom. Soon after that, a twister (actually, a waterspout) approached the ship, sinking it and scattering the treasure (including the gems) to the bottom of the sea. The Fantastic Three survived the storm and washed up on a shore where they found the pirate chest just before Doom returned them (and the chest) to their present.

 

(Dazzler I#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, the peculiar sorcerous properties of the gems caused them to become adrift in time and space. One of them eventually ended up in a dimension quite near Reality-616.

 

(Fantastic Four I#4/What If...? II#27) - Over a decade ago, the reality known as Earth-917 diverged from the "mainstream" reality of Earth-616 due to a choice that Susan Storm made while searching in the Bowery for her runaway brother, Johnny Storm.

(Fantastic Four I#5) - Soon afterwards, the Fantastic Four were captured when Dr. Doom wrapped the Baxter Building in an electrified net. Taking Susan Storm as a hostage, Doom then flew them all to his castle (in the Adirondacks) where he informed them that he planned to use his time travel device to send the three male FF members centuries into the past so that they could obtain the legendary treasure of Blackbeard for him. Once they had agreed, Doom informed them that they would have forty-eight hours to bring him "Blackbeard's treasure chest" and he then activated the time travel machine. After the trio had disappeared into the past, Doom gloated that, unknown to them, the gems they would bring him would make Doctor Doom Ruler of Earth!

(Fantastic Four I#5 - BTS) - Once the 48 hours had elapsed, Doom activated his time machine again and returned the Fantastic Threesome and their booty from the past. Doom gloated aloud that the gems were originally the property of Merlin and that they had been given the power to make their owner invincible, but he soon discovered that he had been tricked and that the chest contained only worthless chains. The Thing struck a mighty blow but "Dr. Doom" turned out to only be a robot. As the real Doom tried to suffocate the trio, the Invisible Girl managed to sabotage his control panel and then freed the other three so that all four of them could escape.

 

(Dazzler I#3 (fb) - BTS) - With his plan to use time travel to retrieve the gems no longer viable, Doctor Doom turned to other methods. Doom discovered that the gems' peculiar sorcerous properties had caused them to drift in time and space. Doom eventually located one gem and placed it in his private collection.

(Fantastic Four I#200 (fb) - BTS/Fantastic Four Annual I#15/2 (fb) - BTS) - Eventually, one of Doom's schemes led to him losing his sanity, and he was overthrown by Prince Zorba and his rebel Latverian Freedom Fighters. However, Doom loyalists later stole his catatonic body from its padded cell and conducted an experiment that restored Doom's mind.

(Dazzler I#3 (fb) - BTS) - While probing and studying the interface between magic and science, Doom discovered a second stone in a dimension quite near to Reality-616. However, instead to trying to immediately secure it, Doom chose to bide his time.

(Dazzler I#3 (fb) - BTS) - Later, Prince Zorba's new Latverian government found itself in serious trouble. To prevent an economic collapse, Prince Zorba sent Doom's crown jewels to New York City to be publicly displayed at the United Nations Buildiong (and to later be secretly sold). Latveria's ambassador to the UN, Dr. Arturo Frazen, secretly plotted to steal them and hired a gang of criminals to help him.

(Dazzler I#3 - BTS) - Some of Doom's lackeys learned of Zorba's plan to publicly display the crown jewels at the UN building and one of them reported this fact to their master. Doom wasn't interested and was prepared to punish the underling for interrupting a critical experiment, but the lackey then revealed that the consignment included the Merlin Stone. For having done well, Doom rewarded the servant by allowing him to live and continue to serve Doom. Doom then began to prepare to reclaim the gem.

(Dazzler I#3) - On the day of a UNICEF benefit concert at the Plaza of Nations, Frazen and his hirelings made their move. The singer Dazzler stumbled across some of the gang and used her skills and mutant powers to knock them out even as Frazen and some more of his goons entered the chamber housing the Latverian collection and found the security guards already unconscious thanks to Doom who then did the same to them. Dazzler then took out the last of the thieves and came to check on the gems but was stunned from behind by Doom. Barely remaining conscious, Dazzler was gently helped to her feet by Doom who assured her that he did not make war on helpless civilians. As Doom warned her to stay out of his way, Dazzler demanded to know what was going on and Doom, having sensed her noble courageous spirit, was pleased to explain about the Merlin Stones that could make him invincible and how he was now going to gather them all. Unwilling to let that happen, Dazler attacked Doom and seemed to almost defeat him before Doom shocked her unconscious. Doom then took the Merlin Stone and departed on his flying jet sled, bringing Dazzler with him because he foresaw that someone inconsequential could be useful in braving the extreme dangers of interdimensional travel that would be needed for him to obtain the second Merlin Stone.

(Dazzler I#4 (fb) - BTS) - Doom transported Dazzler (and the Merlin Stone) to one of the many fully equipped laboratories he had secreted about Manhattan and imprisoned the mutant in a reinforced plexiglass cylinder.

(Dazzler I#4 - BTS) - Meanwhile, at the UN Building, the criminals involved in the attempted theft of the Latverian crown jewels had been taken into custody and Dazzler's disappearance had been noticed. Dazzler's friend, Johnny Storm, spoke with UN chief of security Lelola O'Mally who informed him that a preliminary inventory showed that only one jewel was missing and that it was of little value compared to the rest of the collection. Then, words muttered by the captured Dr. Frazen caused the Torch to realize that Dazzler had been taken by Dr. Doom.

(Dazzler I#4) - In his secret laboratory, Doom explained to the captive Dazzler about the Merlin Stones, how he had discovered a second one in a parallel universe and how, since the world needed him alive, he had chosen to send her across the dimensional barrier to retreive the second Merlin Stone. Doom then activated his equipment and Dazzler disappeared, transpoerted into the target dimension, as Doom remarked that he did not think she would survive the task he had set for her.

   Passing through the fabric of reality, Dazzler arrived in a universe of eternal night and soon found herself attacked, first by monstrous creatures, then by a manifestation of her greatest fear (her father's disapproval), and finally by an evil version of herself. After defeating them all, Dazzler was then confronted by Nightmare, ruler of the Dimension of Dreams, who announced that she was mad to dream of stealing his Merlin Stone. With her target (and her only way home) now revealed, Dazzler soon proved to her foe that he had severely underestimated her. Eventually, after being barraged by bright light for many minutes, Nightmare gave in and, claiming that the Merlin Stone was only a trifle to him, offered to exchange it for Dazzler's speedy departure from his realm.

   Once the exchange was made and Dazzler had the second Merlin Stone in her hand, Doom (who had been monitoring her progress) brought her back to Earth. As Doom claimed the gem and examined it alongside the first one, Dazzler took action, tricking Doom's robotron guards into destroying each other and then channeling all of her mutant energy into a single laser beam which ricocheted around the lab until it struck the two Merlin Stones and reduced them to rubble. Enraged by how he had mistreated her, Dazzler attacked Doom but he withstood her power and rendered her unconscious. As he debated whether it was worth the effort to end her miserable existence, Doom noticed a surveillance camera that showed the Human Torch nearing his hidden lab. Having no desire for further combat at that time, Doom chose to make a discrete exit, leaving Dazzler to be rescued by the Torch.

   What happened to the debris of those two shattered Merlin Stones has not been revealed.

   Since then, none of the Merlin Stones have been seen in Reality-616.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

   According to an online source, the Stones/Gems of Merlin were also called "the Obsidian Stones." However, I've read the only five issues in which they appear and I haven't seen them called by that name anywhere.

NOTE: The original version of this profile included information from a What If? story in which Dr. Doom from Earth-917 sent four members of the Fantastic Five back in time to the year 1718 A.D. to retrieve the legendary treasure of Blackbeard for him. I had incorporated this information because it is my understanding that the Marvel Multiverse is like a tree with the various realities as the branches and that divergences occur whenever individual timelines split into two or more divergent timelines. Accordingly, it made sense to cover both Fantastic Four I#5 and What If...? II#27 because those stories featured Dr. Dooms from two divergent timelines, each of whom had sent his own team of agents into the single, common timeline which had existed before the divergence. However, I have since been informed that divergent realities are actually always-separate realities whose histories happened to be identical up until the point of divergence. Although I do not agree with this concept of how the Marvel Multiverse is structured, I have revised this profile so that it only covers the stories set on Earth-616. And while I really liked my original profile and thought it was very comprehensive, this version is less cluttered.
    I wouldn't say "always" about anything, especially time travel, but I would say that although the two realities share a common history, there is not a single timeline remaining that actually diverges at the event differing the two realities. Whether the reality pre-existed as parallel Earths or whether a new reality diverged, they are two separate realities, and attempts to affect the past of Reality-917 should not affect Reality-616's...unless whoever was writing the story wanted it that way...
--Snood.

   Having said that, some information that was revealed about the Stones of Merlin in that What If? story is mentioned in this profile. Specifically, the fact that there are a total of six gems and that they are also known as the Gems of Merlin, and information about how the magical gems can be used. On the other hand, details about the gems as they exist on Earth-917 have been excluded from the profile, including the fact that the pirate Blackbeard (Edward Teach) definitely existed on Earth-917, that the Gems of Merlin were aboard Blackbeard's ship when it was sunk in 1718 A.D., and that centuries later they were found and brought to undersea Atlantis where Namor the Sub-Mariner was taught how to use them.

Shape-changing jewels (or not?)

   The Gems of Merlin have appeared in five different comic book issues but in two of those issues they were only depicted as part of a larger collection of valuables and not as separate items. However, in each of the three issues which do depict them separately, the gems appear to have different shapes and sizes, even in the two issues which are part of the same storyline. Although the "real world" reason is that different artists drew the gems differently, a possible in-continuty explanation could be that the shapes and sizes of the gems somehow changes from time to time. Of course, this idea is mere speculation.

Time Travel and Divergences

   Since two of the three stories/storylines in which the Stones of Merlin from Earth-616 appear involve time travel, I thought it prudent to mention something about how these instances of time travel affected history...or not.

   Along with differing opinions about the nature of the Marvel Multiverse, there are various theories about how time travel functions within said multiverse. Unfortunately, since Master Alternity's passage beyond this Omniverse, there has been no single editorial directive as to which theory is correct, and this has resulted in multiple conflicting theories, all of which are featured in stories which "prove" that they are accurate.

   The first rules pertaining to time travel in the Marvel Multiverse were established by the late Mark Gruenwald, then Senior Executive Editor. According to this Gruenwaldian time travel theory, divergences occur whenever any time traveler exits or enters the timestream. As a result, it was impossible for anyone to actually travel into the past of their native timeline. Any travelers who attempted to do so would actually end up in divergent realities, either ones which diverged from their native timelines at points prior to their arrivals in the past or in ones which diverged because of their arrivals. If this view of time travel (later known as both Kang's Third Law of Time and Nathaniel Richards' "Conservation of Causality" theory) were correct, then that would mean that the adventures experienced by the Fantastic Threesome and the Scarlet Witch's spirit all actually took place in a new alternate timeline which diverged from the Earth-616 timeline in 1587 A.D.

   A more recent theory of time travel was first presented in Fantastic Four I#553. In this story, two versions of Reed Richards (one from the present and an older one from an alternate future) discussed their suspicion that time travel, contrary to the Conservation of Causality theory, did not invariably create parallel timelines. Instead, the two Reeds theorized that only major disruptions of causality necessitated the creation of branching timelines and that minor disruptions tended to work themselves out within the original timelines. According to this theory, timelines are robust and strongly resist being changed so "history" will react to correct minor changes. If this theory were true, then the adventures experienced by the Fantastic Threesome and the Scarlet Witch's spirit all could have taken place in Earth-616's past as long as any disruptions they caused were not significant enough to cause divergences.

   A even more recent theory of time travel appeared in the Avengers vs. Atlas miniseries. Borrowing elements from the fictional adventures of a certain renegade Gallifreyan, this storyline introduced the theory that certain points of time are fixed while others are malleable, and that to interfere with a fixed point only creates a divergence. However, malleable points can be changed without causing the creation of any divergent timelines.

   In conclusion, the general consensus is that the adventures presented in Fantastic Four I#5 and Marvel Comics Presents I#61/3-62/3 did in fact take place in Earth-616's past. Accordingly, those adventures must have caused only "minor" disruptions to the timeline AND they must have not been fixed points in time.

The Legend of Blackbeard

   In the real world, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Teach is believed to have been a privateer before he joined a pirate crew in 1716 and by early 1717 he had risen to command a sloop with a large crew. It was in December of 1717 that he first became known by the nickname "Blackbeard." On November 22, 1718, a party of soldiers and sailors sent by Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia attempted to capture Blackbeard near Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina but the pirate and several of his men were killed during the resulting ferocious battle. After his death, Blackbeard's severed head was suspended from the bowsprit of either his own captured ship or that of the sloop whose commander had led the attack (so that a reward could be collected) while his corpse was thrown into the inlet. According to a local legend, the headless body then swam around the ship three times before sinking.

   In Reality-917, Blackbeard was killed and his ship sunk sometime prior to September 14, 1718. Aside from these two differences, it is as yet unknown how similar the life of this version of Blackbeard was to that of his "real world" counterpart. However, it is known for sure is that he had somehow acquired the Gems of Merlin and that they were part of the treasure that was aboard his ship when it was sunk. The death notice depicted in the image to the left is from What If...? II#27.

   However, in Reality-616 the existence of Blackbeard is more problematic. Aside from the time-traveling Ben Grimm's brief stint as "Blackbeard" in Fantastic Four I#5, the only other evidence of such a pirate comes from Thor I#205. In that story, while Thor was trapped in Mephisto's realm, the demon lord sent his Legions of the Lost to battle the Odinson. These servants of Mephisto were "demonic incarnations of historical figures" and one of them (seen in the image to the right) looks like a pirate with an eyepatch and with ribbons tied into his black beard. Sure, the eyepatch is wrong for Blackbeard but he (the real Blackbeard) was known for having a beard that was braided with ribbons (or sometimes lit fuses for when he wanted to frighten his enemies by being surrounded by a wreath of smoke in battle). So, it could be him. Or, since the consciousness of another member of these Legions (Adolf Hitler) is apparently still alive/active, maybe ALL of these warriors are just demons posing as evil historical figures.

Who is the "real" Blackbeard?

   As mentioned above, the existence on Earth-616 of a pirate known as Blackbeard is somewhat problematic. Stan Lee's story in Fantastic Four I#5 seems to indicate that the legend of Blackbeard was actually started by a time-traveling Ben Grimm, and some people believe that that means that Grimm MUST be the one-and-only Blackbeard who ever lived on Earth-616. However, I strongly disagree, for the following reasons:

   First, there is a presumption that, unless otherwise specified, the history of the "mainstream" Marvel Earth is the same as that of the real world. This presumption of similarity extends to historical figures (like monarchs and presidents and pirates) as well. With that in mind, a "historical Blackbeard" should exist on Earth-616 as he does on Earth-917. However, some would argue that Grimm's stint as "Blackbeard" was (and MUST have been) enough to inspire the legend of Blackbeard which kids read about in school. Personally, I don't think that such a brief adventure would have been enough to generate that legend. Of course, the big unknown is the extent of that legend as it exists on Earth-616. It may be that some future writer will reveal that the 616 legend of Blackbeard mainly concerns a single battle in which the super-strong Blackbeard and his two friends, the stretching man and the flaming youth, almost single-handedly overcome the crew of an enemy pirate ship but, until such a story is published, I will continue to believe that the legend of Blackbeard on Earth-616 is not so limited.

   Second, there's the time period in which Grimm-as-Blackbeard existed. The story in Fantastic Four I#5 doesn't provide any dates but the prequel story in Marvel Comics Presents I#61/2-62/2 takes place in the year 1587 A.D. So, if the Teach version of Blackbeard didn't exist on Earth-616, then that means that the legend of Blackbeard in this timeline should date back to over a century before the "real world" Blackbeard ever existed.
--Are we sure that Fantastic Four had to take place almost right after MCP#62/2? Is it possible that it took place a century later?
--Snood

   Third, there are the events depicted in What if...? II#27 which take place on Earth-917, an alternate timeline which supposedly diverged from Earth-616 while the Invisible Girl was searching for her brother in the Bowery (as seen in Fantastic Four I#4). In this story, four members of the Fantastic Five are sent back to 1718 A.D. to retrieve Blackbeard's treasure. Not only did Namor-917 find said treasure (including the Gems of Merlin) aboard Blackbeard's sunken ship but Reed-917 was fully aware that "the historical Blackbeard was a man named Edward Teach (who) was killed in battle off the North Carolina coast in 1718."

   Taking these facts into consideration, it would seem that there could be two possible explanations for the legendary Blackbeard who existed on Earth-616 and it would be irresponsible to not examine both of them.

Theory #1: The time-traveling Ben Grimm is the pirate who started the legend of Blackbeard as it exists on Earth-616. If this theory is correct, then the following facts must therefore be true as well:

  1. The Legend of Blackbeard on Earth-616 dates to over a century earlier than it does in the real world or on Earth-917, and is considerably different than it is in those other realities. Furthermore, since it is entirely dependent on stories told by pirates who survived the waterspout, the Earth-616 legend is entirely apocryphal and lacks any of the historical evidence for Blackbeard's existence which is present on those other worlds.
  2. If Ben Grimm was the only "Blackbeard" who ever sailed the seven seas on Earth-616, then the Earth-616 version of Edward Teach either never existed or, if he did exist, he never became a pirate known as "Blackbeard." This would imply that, contrary to the premise of What If...? II#27, the realities known as Earth-616 and Earth-917 diverged sometime prior to 1717 A.D. and NOT during the events depicted in Fantastic Four I#4.
  3. In 1945, the (disguised) Japanese spy who led a band of air pirates in attacking American aircraft as they were being tested while claiming to be the real Blackbeard returned to life was unknowingly impersonating Ben Grimm.

   There are two reasons why I dislike this theory. First, it entirely undercuts the idea that Earth-917 diverged from Earth-616 because of something so minor as Sue Storm happening to turn her head at one particular point in time. Second, I find it highly implausible that Grimm's brief tenure as "Blackbeard" would be enough to generate the legend of Blackbeard.

Theory #2: There were actually two different Blackbeards in Earth-616's history. The time-traveling Ben Grimm was the Blackbeard c. 1587 A.D. while Edward Teach was the "historical" Blackbeard from the early 18th Century. If this theory is correct, then the following facts must therefore be true as well:

  1. Contrary to what Ben Grimm came to believe, the Legend of Blackbeard as it exists on Earth-616 was actually started by Teach's activities as Blackbeard in the years 1717 and 1718 A.D. As such, that legend is very similar to that which exists in the real world and on Earth-917, and is supported by much historical evidence.
  2. If Edward Teach did become Blackbeard on Earth-616 in 1717 A.D., then the realities known as Earth-616 and Earth-917 could actually have diverged much later, maybe even during the events depicted in Fantastic Four I#4.
  3. In 1945, the (disguised) Japanese spy who led a band of air pirates in attacking American aircraft as they were being tested while claiming to be the real Blackbeard returned to life was impersonating Edward Teach.

   This is the theory that I prefer. Not only does it preserve the idea that Earth-917 diverged from Earth-616 because of Sue Storm's minor choice, it also means that the Legend of Blackbeard was started by something more significant than the half hour or so during which Ben Grimm was active as "Blackbeard." Having said that, the biggest weakness of this theory is that it depends on the seemingly-unlikely coincidence that the Gems of Merlin, at two different points in time, were in the possession of two different pirates known as Blackbeard. Fortunately, I can see two ways around this problem.

   The first possible explanation is that Doom was being deliberately misleading when he sent the male members of the Fantastic Four back in time to retrieve "Blackbeard's treasure." After all, Doom didn't want them to know that it was only the Gems of Merlin that he really wanted. So, knowing that the gems would eventually end up as part of the real Blackbeard's treasure, Doom simply used that infamous name to describe the treasure that he wanted, and he didn't bother to tell his pawns that he was sending them back to a time over one hundred years before Blackbeard existed. In this case, the fact that the pirates who actually had the treasure Doom wanted chose to give one of his pawns (Grimm) the nickname "Blackbeard" was the extent of the coincidence.

   The second possible explanation is that Doom had always known that two different Blackbeards had possessed the Gems of Merlin, each in their own time, and that he chose to send his pawns to get the gems from the earlier Blackbeard. In this case the coincidence of there being two Blackbeards who just happened to have possessed the gems is actually due to the causality loop which Doom unwittingly created by by sending back in time an agent (Grimm) who would become the person whose treasure Doom wanted.

   After considering both of these explanations, I prefer the second one because it respects the idea that Reed Richards was correct when he (wildly) speculated that Ben Grimm had come back to the past to find himself. Of course, it does require that Reed's words be reinterpreted slightly so that his reference to "Blackbeard" is understood to not mean the historical person (Teach) but instead the "Blackbeard" whose treasure Doom had sent them to obtain.

   Of course, this entire discussion about the identity of the "real" Earth-616 Blackbeard is purely speculative. Those who choose to believe that Ben Grimm was the one-and-only Blackbeard are free to continue doing so while those who might suspect that Grimm was only one of two separate Blackbeards are also free to hold on to their beliefs. In the end, unless some definitive "fact" is presented in a future story, either theory could be accurate and neither can be disproven.

Profile by Donald Campbell.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Stones (or Gems) of Merlin have no known connections to

The Stones (or Gems) of Merlin also have no known connections to

Ben "Blackbeard" Grimm and Blackbeard (Edward Teach) have no connection to each other except for the fact that they both, at different times (and in different realities), had the Gems of Merlin in their possession.

Additionally, neither of these Blackbeards have any direct connections to:


"Blackbeard" (Ben Grimm)
Note: This is an EXTREMELY limited sub-profile which deals with less than 48 hours out of this character's life.

   Ben Grimm was one of four astronauts who developed fantastic superhuman abilities after being exposed to radiation during a cosmic ray storm. However, unlike his three teammates, Grimm's mutation had permanently altered his appearance by transforming his skin into a thick, lumpy orange hide. Grimm named himself "The Thing" and was deeply unhappy because of his transformation, feeling that his monstrous form was causing normal humans to reject him for being a freak.

   Soon after Grimm and his three fellow mutates formed the Fantastic Four, the team was captured by Dr. Doom who took the Invisible Girl as a hostage and used her to force Grimm and the other two members to agree to travel into the past to recover Blackbeard's treasure for him. Arriving in the past, the threesome disguised them with clothes from two thieving pirates who were scared off by Grimm, whom they considered a demon. Once Mr. Fantastic added a wig, a fake beard, a hat and an eyepatch to his disguise, Grimm felt pretty good about his new look. Soon, at a local tavern, the trio were noticed by two pirates (from the Scarlet Raider) who paid a barmaid to give them (drugged) grog. Once they were asleep, the trio were taken aboard the pirates' ship to be part of their crew.
   Awakening hours later to find themselves locked in the hold of the pirates' ship, Grimm used his superhuman strength to break out by tearing a hole in the hold's overhead (where Mister Spliny was standing) and climbing up onto the deck. Grimm swiftly dealt with several pirates but once Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch also displayed their powers the pirates stopped fighting the "miraculous ones." At that moment, the pirate ship was attacked by another pirate ship. Speculating that it might be Blackbeard's ship, Grimm led the pirates and his comrades into battle. With Mr. Fantastic forming a bridge to the other ship, Grimm tore off a mast and led the pirates in a boarding action.
   Brief minutes later, the other pirates had been subdued and Grimm's pirates were hailing the mighty bearded one as "Blackbeard, scourge of the seven seas." A shocked Reed speculated that Grimm was Blackbeard and that he had come back to the past to find himself. As Reed and Johnny talked about returning to their own time, Grimm announced that he liked it there (in the past) and was going to stay. When his friends tried to talk him out of it, "Blackbeard" stated that in the 20th Century he was nothing but a monster whereas "here" he was somebody, a leader of men who started the legend of Blackbeard, and that kids would read about him in school some day. To make sure that his fellow time travellers didn't try to take him back, Grimm had his men tie up the Human Torch (who couldn't flame on because he was still soaking wet) and wrap Mr. Fantastic in a sail. However, as Grimm was about to have them put adrift in a life boat, a sudden waterspout struck the ship, freeing Mr. Fantastic from the sail and washing him, the Torch and Grimm overboard.
   Later, having washing ashore, Grimm was found by his friends. He apologized to them for getting carried away "by being accepted - - as a normal man - - even if it was only by a band of cut-throat pirates!" Seconds later, the yellow platform of Doom's time machine appeared above them and transported them back to their proper time.

   And so ended Ben Grimm's time as Blackbeard, scourge of the seven seas!

Note: As discussed in the Comments section, if Ben Grimm was the only pirate to be known as "Blackbeard" in the history of Earth-616, then that would mean that the "legend of Blackbeard" that exists in that reality must be VERY different from that which exists in the real world.

--Fantastic Four I#5


Valmoora's Spell

   A spell which the Druid seeress Valmoora taught to Lucy and Wanda. It had to be cast during a full moon and they needed extra power (from the Stones of Merlin) to effect it.

 

"Let the power of the ancients dormant in these mystic objects flow forward to us - -
In our time let it open the corridors of the ages and make them respond to our commands."
"By gem, by jewel, by ivory bone..."
"...Let her displaced spirit return to home..."
"Let the proper ages receive their own!"

 

   After obtaining the Gems of Merlin, Lucy and Wanda's spirit waited until the full moon rose into the night sky and then they chanted Valmoora's spell together. In response to the spell, the gems began to glow and Wanda's spirit felt something happening to her. Upon completing the spell, Wanda's spirit faded away as it was sent back to its proper time, leaving Lucy's spirit alone in her body once again.

 

--Marvel Comics Presents I#62/3


images: (without ads)
Dazzler I#4, page 1 (Dazzler reflected in a Merlin Stone held by Doom)
Dazzler I#3, page 18, panel 5 (Merlin conferring power upon a gem)
Fantastic Four I#5, page 16, panel 2 (Thing cheered as "Blackbeard")
      page 16, panel 5 ("Blackbeard" inspects "his" treasure)
Dazzler I#3, page 19, panel 1 (a Merlin Stone amongst Doom's private collection)
Dazzler I#4, page 19, panel 6 (Oh no! Doom has two of the Merlin Stones!)
      page 20, panel 5 (Dazzler destroys two Merlin Stones)
Fantastic Four I#5, page 16, panel 3 (Mr. Fantastic jumps to a conclusion)
      page 17, panel 2 ("Blackbeard" gets carried away)
What If...? II#27, page 7, panel 1 (public notice announcing Blackbeard's death)
Thor I#205, page 12 (a possible demonic incarnation of Blackbeard in Mephisto's Hell)
Marvel Comics Presents I#62, page 23, panels 2-4 (Red Lucy and Wanda cast Valmoora's spell)


Appearances:
Fantastic Four I#5 (July, 1962) - Stan Lee (writer-editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Dazzler I#3 (May, 1981) - Tom DeFalco (writer), John Romita Jr. & A. Kupperberg (pencilers), D. Bulanadi & A. Gil (inkers), Louise Jones (editor)
Dazzler I#4 (June, 1981) - Tom DeFalco (shining script), Frank Springer (eye-popping pencils), Bulanadi & Gil (illuminating inks), Danny Fingeroth (electrifying editing)
Marvel Comics Presents I#62/3 (November, 1990) - Richard Howell (story/art), Terry Kavanaugh (editor)
What If...? II#27 (July, 1991) - Ron Marz (writer), Gavin Curtis (penciler), Sam DeLaRosa (inker), Craig Anderson (editor)


Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 04/21/16

Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and © 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at:
http://www.marvel.com

Special Thanks to http://www.g-mart.com/ for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!

Back to Items