Will the Real Shalla-Bal Please Stand Up?

This is "Provide Some Answers," which is a feature where long unresolved plot points are eventually resolved.

Today, we look at the surprisingly long time it took for Shalla-Bal to get out of being a Latverian peasant.

As you likely know by know, Shalla-Bal was Norrin Radd's girlfriend before Norrin sacrificed his freedom to become Galactus' new herald in exchange for Galactus agreeing to spare Norrin and Shalla's home world of Zenn-La.

However, some time later, during Silver Surfer's time on Earth, Mephisto used some torment of Shalla-Bal to mess with Silver Surfer's head. That seemed to be the end of it, though, with Shalla still being on Zenn-La.

Things changed, though, when Surfer (still stuck on Earth) visited Latveria in 1975's Fantastic Four #155 (by Len Wein, Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott). In it, Surfer was shocked to see a poster up of a woman who sure looked like Shalla-Bal that referred to her as the queen of Latveria (by the way, it's kind of hilarious that he falls specifically into Latveria of all places. They should have put some bit like "The barrier was weakest in Latveria, as that was the place where Doctor Doom almost burst through it when he had my powers, so that's why I went there").

He investigates and he is not happy with what he discovers...

Of course, Doctor Doom reveals that he will return Shalla-Bal's memories to her if the Silver Surfer agrees to take down the Fantastic Four for Doctor Doom. This whole story, to this point, had been told in a flashback as Surfer attacks his old friends....

By the way, I love the line "As soon as Doom was finished laughing." I want to imagine that Doom just kept laughing for, like, an hour before finally stopping and giving Surfer the command to get the Fantastic Four for him. Just this awkward scene of Surfer hanging out there as Doom just maniacally laughs over and over again.

So anyhow, Surfer does capture the Fantastic Four and bring them to Latveria. He is all emotional throughout the next issue, while the Fantastic Four is busy escaping their Latverian prison. However, Doom also is using a special device to drain some power cosmic from the Surfer to use to create a powerful robot.

The next issue (with Roy Thomas now writing the book), Surfer and Shalla-Bal spend some time alone and her memory appears to slowly be returning, through a memory jogger that is quite pleasant for the Surfer...

Then the shocking twist - this is NOT Shalla-Bal, but a peasant girl who has been brainwashed to make her think that she IS Shalla-Bal, just so that Doom could manipulate the Surfer into doing his bidding!

The issue ends and Doom is defeated. However, as everyone parts company, we get the SECOND twist - she really IS Shalla-Bal and this is all just Mephisto doing some convoluted messed up plot to screw with Surfer's head!

What a jerk.

But then...nothing. Shalla-Bal was just stuck as a peasant servant in Latveria for the rest of the decade.

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