Roll Call: Brutacus, Gazelle, Hydron, Reptilla, Thornn, Vakume, and Vertigo (not the mutate Vertigo who messed with the X-Men's heads, though).
AKA: Simply "the Salem Seven" -- pariahs of their community.
First Appearance: Fantastic Four 186
Died In: The Vision and the Scarlet Witch (vol. 2) 3, and they were not happy about it, take my word.
What's Their Problem? Residents of New Salem, a hidden Colorado village of witches and warlocks, the sons and daughters of Nicholas Scratch despised the normal humans who had hunted their kind ages ago. When Scratch's mother, Agatha Harkness, was put on trial for living in the human world, her grandkids were turned into "a supernatural squadron" to act as security guards. Failing, they watched their community become more tolerant of humans while they fell out of favor. When Scratch returned from extra-dimensional exile, the Seven instantly threw in with him and his plans for witch-and-warlock world conquest.
Abilities: All New Salemites were familiar with sorcery. With the extra magic given by Scratch or stolen from others, the Seven could tap into other dimensions plus create power spheres, swarms of locusts and other effects. Mostly they just changed into superhuman beings (their second transmutation was more powerful, their third evidently permanent). The lion-man Brutacus duked it out with the Thing with little problem. Gazelle was very fast and agile with powerful legs for lots o' leaping an' kicking. From his left arm Hydron projected streams of water, the flow of which he could control. Reptilla had a long, strong serpentine torso and fanged snakes for arms, perfect for constriction. Thornn launched explosive power-spines from his arms. The flying Vakume could create vacuums and air spheres, become intangible, and could drain an opponent's energy. Lastly, Vertigo mentally attacked her enemies' equilibrium.
Favorite Quote I: "I am a beast of prey -- whatever I hunt -- I kill!" (Gazelle in Fantastic Four Annual 14, as she, ahem, puts the, cough, squeeze on the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Benjy.)
Heroes They Keep Running Into: Scratch knew the Fantastic Four would follow when Franklin Richards and Harkness were abducted so the Seven were "created solely to defy [their] inhuman powers"; ironically, they lost when Brutacus crushed Reed Richards' stretching "auto-extensors" gloves (he lost his powers, see?) and that artificial ability canceled theirs. The seven later pasted the FF twice. Once the Scarlet Witch and hubby Vision wandered into town and nearly got sacrificed. It was in combat with the android that Vertigo lost control over the combined power of 665 New Salemites, demolishing the village. While all the residents were declared dead on the spot, only the deaths of the Salem Seven were ever confirmed.
Favorite Quote II: "Careful, Reptilla! His blows cannot stop Brutacus, but your skin would split like a ripe cheese!" (The Vision and the Scarlet Witch (vol. 2) 3. Vakume warns his sister to let the synthozoid roughhouse with their shaggy brother, leaving the lovely Wanda to fend off four sorcerer siblings. So much for chivalry -- although I am tempted to make a pun about that "ripe cheese" bit.)
People Who Think They're Not So Bad: Nicholas Scratch found his kids useful enough, but then they were only ones in town still loyal to him. They did not get along with Dame Agatha, especially after they turned New Salem against her. While teamwork was one of their strengths, Vertigo's ambition and Gazelle's reluctance put the latter in a cage next to the Wanda. The others later allied with the Halloween entity Samhain in nabbing the Scarlet Witch, but Harkness forever trapped the "dark force" into what was left of her once-loved gran'kids.
Most Despicable Act: Many of their family get-togethers included ritual sacrifice. First they tried draining the FF on a New York field trip to bring Scratch in. They burned Harkness at the stake after seizing power (she got better), then they BBQ'd their own sister Gazelle just to keep warm in winter. Guess they weren't toasty enough when Thornn dragged Wanda into Samhain's death-realm to steal the life energy of her unborn child (later twins, still later imaginary figments). And they claimed they were the persecuted ones!
by Ray Schaff
Fantastic Four 186
Fantastic Four 223
Vision/Scarlet Witch 3
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