This is "Provide Some Answers," which is a feature where long unresolved plot points are eventually resolved.
Today, we discuss the Merlin Stones. Reader Stephen M. wrote in to ask:
I was re-reading Fantastic Four 1-10 yesterday. In FF#5, Dr Doom’s first appearance, he famously sends the Fantastic Four back in time to get the Merlin Stones that have magical powers that would make him invincible. I think there were even 6 of them. 6 magic stones that make you invincible? Hm. That sounds familiar. The stones are on the pirate ship that sinks and the Fantastic Four just give Doom worthless chains instead. Reed mentions that the stones are now at the bottom of the Ocean and Johnny says ‘but what if the Sub Mariner ever finds them?’ and Reed says ‘We’ll have to just pray he never does.” A few issues later, in FF #9 I think, when Namor hires the FF to be in a movie, he is shown to have money because he claims sunken treasure. You would think in a medium that LOVES to revisit it’s past that we’d have seen someone come back to those stones, right? I mean the next issue showed Dr Doom launching the Baxter Building into Space, and years later of course, John Bryne went back to that story and did it again. But nobody ever followed up on the ominous teaser of what would happen if someone found those stones? In one of the most famous Marvel comics of all time?
It really DOES sound amazing, doesn't it? That there were six powerful gems that could make their wielder invincible? That it occurred in one of the most famous Marvel comics of all-time and that it hasn't been followed up on in decades!
However, there happened to be one Marvel writer was well aware of these gems and he made use of them in a story in the last decade. But first, the history of the gems!
As Stephen explained, the gems (or stones, as they were also called - see, the whole Infinity Gems/Infinity Stones thing had a precedent!) were introduced in Fantastic Four #5 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Chic Stone), when Doctor Doom was introduced and he sent the male members of the Fantastic Four back in time (while he held Invisible Girl hostage) to get him the chest of the famed pirate, Blackbeard, which Doom knew held six powerful gems that belonged to Merlin. The Fantastic Four, however, just chucked the gems overboard in the past and brought back only the chest itself (which is technically all that Doom asked them to bring - the FF fight missions like your annoying little brother. "You said I couldn't touch you. I'm only sitting SUPER close to you. So you can't do anything about it.").
Despite the comic book itself suggesting that Namor might find the gems, that never happened.
It wasn't until, of all places, a Dazzler storyline in Dazzler #3-4, that the gems came back into play. One of them popped up and Doom wanted it and Dazzler tried to stop him...
He captured Dazzler and forced her to help him hunt down the rest of the gems in the following issue...
When she found the next one (after a harrowing ordeal), she then decided to just screw with Doom and used her powers to destroy the gems...
Yes, these super-powerful gems and Dazzler just blasted them and they disintegrated. Okay, then.
So was that it for the gems?