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The Untold Truth Of The Elementals

Much of what we saw in the lead-up to July 2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home wound up not being what it appeared. Quentin Beck, a.k.a Mysterio, is no hero from an alternate timeline, but a disgruntled Stark Enterprises employee. While shots from the first trailer led to speculation we would be seeing classic Spidey villains like Sandman and Hydro-Man in the film, it turned out the monsters we saw in the trailer were the Elementals, a completely different set of Marvel bad guys. 

Of course, like Mysterio himself, the Elementals also proved a sham. The versions seen in from Far from Home weren't monsters that destroyed an alternate Earth, they were all illusions Beck's team constructed with holograms and drones. 

But that doesn't mean the Elementals were a creation of director Jon Watts. Like Mysterio and Spider-Man, they were lifted directly from the pages of Marvel's comics. The villains are quite different from the complex constructs we see in Far from Home, and they're one of the more obscure bands of Marvel bad guys, but like all the best MCU characters, they come from the source material. The screenwriters likely needed to dig a little deeper for them because they haven't been seen in a while, but they may be making a comics comeback. To learn about what you might've seen in Far from Home if those titanic villains hadn't been illusions, keep reading about the untold truth of the Elementals.

Elementals from another universe

The Elementals of the comics differ from their MCU counterparts in many ways. You could even make the argument that there are more differences between the two groups than similarities, even before you remember that the ones in Far from Home are just illusions. But they have one major thing in common: Just as Quentin Beck's cover story in Far from Home claims the Elementals are from another dimension, the Elementals from the comics are likewise from another universe. 

We don't know much about their home or why they aren't there anymore. All we know is that when they first appear in 1974's Supernatural Thrillers #8, the Elementals tell N'Kantu the Living Mummy that they were "cast out of one universe" and decided to build a kingdom in the prime Marvel timeline. They say they arrived on Earth-616 even before the mythic city of Atlantis was built. They ruled over their new empire with no opposition until they made the mistake of attempting to conquer Egypt, where a warrior named Dann paired with the wizard Garret to create a powerful weapon capable of defeating them. 

Other than their brief mention of being exiled from their home universe, we know nothing about where the Elementals come from or why they were forced to leave. However, that could change due to an upcoming comic book crossover. 

The Elementals are humanoid

Perhaps the first and most obvious difference between the Elementals of Far from Home and the ones of the comics is that the original Elementals are not giants made out of whatever particular element they claim mastery over. 

The Elementals of the comics don't really look "normal" per se, but they also aren't 50-foot tall columns with arms. The four Elementals introduced in 1974's Supernatural Thrillers #8 are humanoids the approximate size of humans. Without their gaudy outfits, they could each fool any Earth humans they were one of them, though it's possible their constant power-hungry rants might give them away. Besides how their respective abilities manifest, their individual elemental alignments are made clear with their names. Hydron has power over water, Magnum over Earth, Hellfire over fire, and Zephyr commands air. 

Nor do the differences stop at their appearances. While the Elementals of the film — even if they had been "real" — were essentially just giants slamming whatever particular element they commanded into buildings and people, the abilities of the comic book Elementals offer much more versatility. Before we even see them in their first appearance, they use their abilities to remotely attack N'Kantu, the Living Mummy. Magnum creates rocky drones out of the Earth to subdue N'Kantu, Hydron pelts him with a fierce rain, Zephyr summons dust demons to lift him off his feet, and Hellfire bursts lava from the ground to burn him with. 

Their powers aren't simply elemental

Considering the name of their group, you couldn't be blamed for assuming the villains' powers revolve around the respective elements at their command, but this isn't the case. The Elementals claim abilities having nothing to do with earth, wind, fire, or water, making them even more threatening foes.

Along with summoning and controlling the various elements, almost all of the Elementals are shown to have some degree of super strength, and all of them have the power of flight. 

Zephyr — the only female Elemental we've seen — has one of the most unique powers. She can force the souls of others to bend to her will. When the Elementals first try to enlist N'kantu the Living Mummy's aid in Supernatural Thrillers #8, he resists. While N'Kantu trades punches with Magnum, Zephyr takes over N'Kantu's soul. He's able to break free from her control in the following issue, though the comic's narration implies he's only able to do it because the Elementals command him to murder a man and that's a crime too horrible for him to commit regardless of who's pulling his strings.

The Elementals' pursuit of the Ruby Scarab

In almost all of the Marvel Comics adventures we've seen them in so far, the Elementals have had exactly one goal — capturing the Ruby Scarab.

In their first appearance, the villains explain the Ruby Scarab is the only weapon capable of defeating them. An Egyptian warrior and his ally, a wizard, created the artifact when the villains tried to take over Egypt. In Supernatural Thrillers #8 they summon N'Kantu in hopes that he can capture the Scarab for them. Unfortunately for them, the Scarab proves as much their undoing in more modern times as it did in ancient Egypt. The conveniently named Dr. Alexei Skarab is able to use to artifact to banish the Elementals once more. 

It's too bad Marvel writers don't use this naming device more often. Naming characters after the thing they're going to use to defeat the bad guy might wind up as a bit of a spoiler, but it would still be fun to read sentences like "How will Dr. Gauntlet defeat Thanos?" Or "How will Professor Machine Gun stop the bank robbers?"

The Elementals have nothing to do with Spider-Man or Mysterio

Obviously, the Elementals of Spider-Man: Far from Home weren't power-hungry creatures from another universe; they were illusions Quentin Beck used to fool the world and gain control of the Stark resources Iron Man entrusted to Spider-Man. Still, the fact that the concept of the Elementals was used in Far from Home is strange considering the characters have never had anything to do with either Spider-Man or Mysterio. 

Before the release of Far from Home, the Elementals had only ever appeared in two storylines — both of which take place decades before Far from Home. They first surfaced in an eight-part story in issues of Marvel's Supernatural Thrillers released between 1974 and 1975. Two years later, three of the four Elementals introduced in Supernatural Thrillers returned for two issues of Ms. Marvel. Neither Spider-Man nor Mysterio appear in any of those issues, and as far as Marvel solicitations currently show, neither character is set to run into any of the Elementals any time soon. 

The Elementals' first foe was the Living Mummy

When the Elementals first appear in Supernatural Thrillers #8, their foe is the unlikely hero N'Kantu the Living Mummy. Thousands of years before modern times, N'Kantu was a chieftain of an African tribe known as the Swarili. After his tribe was overwhelmed and enslaved by the forces of the Egyptian Pharaoh Aram-Set, N'Kantu fought to free his people from bondage, going so far as killing the Pharaoh. Aram-Set's court wizard Nephrus punished the chieftain by granting him immortality along with what was meant to be everlasting paralysis. Eventually Nephrus' chemicals wore off, and in the late 20th century N'Kantu emerged as the Living Mummy. 

The Elementals try wooing N'Kantu to their cause at first, promising to make him a living human being once he's captured the Scarab for them. The Mummy wants no part of their plans, but Zephyr usurps his mind. He breaks free of her control eventually but still pursues the Scarab, knowing it's powerful enough to defeat the Elementals. The Mummy fights the mutant Living Pharaoh for the Scarab, but it's stolen by the thieving Asp during the battle. Luckily, Dr. Scarab purchases his namesake from Asp, and in Supernatural Thrillers #15, he's able to use it to banish all the Elementals save Zephyr, who by that point has switched sides. 

Carol Danvers put the Elementals down for the count

In 1977's Ms. Marvel #11, the titular hero (better known these days as Captain Marvel) is assaulted while flying over the remote Caribbean island of Saracen Cay. Like N'Kantu, she's first attacked by warrior drones shaped from stone. After defeating them, she's blasted by fire and batted around by giant fists made from seawater. The final page reveals the Elementals, minus Zephyr, joined by the witch Titan Hecate.

We learn that Hecate freed the Elementals from their banishment in return for their help getting the Ruby Scarab, but she hopes to use it for good. When Ms. Marvel is busy battling Hecate, the Elementals find the Scarab and have no intention of sharing its power with Hecate. Once she's betrayed, Hecate changes sides and helps Ms. Marvel defeat the Elementals. Ms. Marvel knocks out Hellfire while Magnum and Hydron turn on one another, and Magnum uses the Ruby Scarab to imprison Hydron in a sarcophagus of rock. We get a nice tribute to the villains' first appearance when Hecate pulls an image from Magnum's mind of what he fears most, and the image is that of N'Kantu the Living Mummy. While he's distracted with fear, Ms. Marvel feeds him a knuckle sandwich that puts him down for the count. 

It's been a while since the Elementals have been seen

We really have to wonder just how the idea to include the Elementals in Spider-Man: Far from Home came about. We're not just curious because of their relative obscurity, but because before Far from Home there had been no sign of them in a Marvel comic since 1977. Think about that. The last time the Elementals did anything in a Marvel Comics story, Jimmy Carter was president, phones weren't things you kept in your pockets, if someone talked about being "online" they were probably talking about waiting at either the bank or the grocery store, and most American homes didn't even have VCRs. 

The Elementals appeared in Supernatural ThrillersMs. Marvel, and that was it. There were no huge line-wide Marvel events featuring the Elementals. They didn't even really have any regular enemies — they didn't show up often enough to earn that kind of attention. If it wasn't for Jon Watts digging them up for Far from Home, they'd probably remain in whatever limbo forgotten Marvel bad guys like Asbestos Lady and Tapping Tommy wither away in and (we can only hope) die.

The return of the Elementals

The Elementals may have been in hibernation for a while, but the Marvel Universe is about to be reminded of the '70s bad guys in a big way, and through a new face. A new Elemental character — Prah'D'Gul — was introduced in 2019 with a crossover series of one-shots, all written by Peter David. Fantastic Four: Prodigal Sun #1 is the only one-shot released as of the writing of this article, and it will soon be followed by Silver Surfer: Prodigal Sun #1 and Guardians of the Galaxy: Prodigal Sun #1. 

Fantastic Four: Prodigal Sun #1 opens with the comically arrogant Prah'D'Gul's spaceship crashing in the Savage Land — a secret prehistoric world hidden beneath the Arctic Circle populated by dinosaurs and ancient tribes (and usually a surprising number of aliens). The Elemental recruits a tribe into helping him find a way to escape the Savage Land, coming into conflict with the Fantastic Four and the jungle hero Ka-Zar in the process. During the battle Prah'D'Gul displays masterful command over fire, earth, and air, as well as a degree of superhuman strength. After the smoke clears, Mister Fantastic asks Prah'D'Gul if he's an Elemental, and the alien responds that he is the "first" Elemental. We don't get a chance for clarification, as shortly afterward Prah'D'Gul disappears, steals a spaceship from the FF, and blasts off into space. 

Presumably, we'll learn more about the first Elemental soon.