The Foolkiller’s origins revealed, as well as his past ties to Richard Rory. Why is Foolkiller so intolerant of ‘sinfulness’? Man-Thing takes a life, and the swamp’s balance is restored.
Man-Thing #3 left many questions unanswered. Standing over the fallen body of the Man-Thing with a smoldering gun in his hand is the Foolkiller. At the close of the last issue, he gunned down the Man-Thing in the swamp, allowing his body to collapse into the murky water. It appeared that his torso had been charred and dried out by the mysterious weapon in the Foolkiller’s hand. Prior to being shot, the Man-Thing had rescued the survivors of a helicopter crash from an attack by wild alligators. Before they could express any gratitude, the Foolkiller stepped in and felled the creature.
Now the survivors want answers. Who is this strange man who calls himself the Foolkiller? Why did he shoot down their helicopter? And what was the purpose of killing the swamp creature who saved them? In an effort to get some answers, the pilot of the helicopter challenges the Foolkiller, demanding an explanation. The Foolkiller’s response is to shoot the pilot and leave his body smoldering in the swamp water next to the body of the Man-Thing. Horrified, the survivors look on as the Foolkiller escapes from the swamp mumbling while in pursuit of some divine mission. While there are two bodies laying in the swamp, one is drinking in the life-giving waters surrounding it, being restored to its former condition. The Man-Thing rises and approaches the crash victims as if to assure them that everything will be alright now. And then, he wades into the distance pursuing some form of help for the victims.
The scene shifts back to the Foolkiller who is speeding south on the highway in pursuit of his third target. On the same highway, headed north, are Richard Rory and Ruth Hart. Having finally left their “stay” in the swamp, they have embarked on a new life together filled with hope and promise. However, at a sharp curve in the road the Foolkiller almost hits them head-on, swerving only a little to avoid disaster. Not slowing at all, the Foolkiller continues down the road seemingly ignoring the fact that Richard Rory was the man he almost ran off the road. But in a strange twist of fate, Richard recognizes the dangerous driver! He is aware of the Foolkiller and his evil ways.
Rounding the bend, the Foolkiller pulls up behind a large parked moving truck and pushes a button on the dash board of his sports car. The back of the truck opens and the Foolkiller pulls his car inside and locks the door behind him. He is “home” now. In the disguised moving van is the lair of the Foolkiller—the place where he plots his life’s work and communes with a strange human form called “Mike.” This lifeless human figure is clothed in clergy garb and suspended in a huge transparent vat of formaldehyde. The Foolkiller reminds “Mike” of his tragic personal history. The Foolkiller’s father was killed in action near the end of World War II, on the very day in which he was born. Nine years later his mother also died serving her country as a nurse during the Korean War. Born a cripple and raised by his grandmother, the Foolkiller spent his early life confined to a wheelchair, reading the history of the military and becoming an expert in modern warfare.
When he was a teenager, a traveling revival caravan came to town. The Foolkiller’s grandmother took him to the Reverend Mike, hoping that he could do something for her grandson’s crippled condition. During the revival service the Reverend Mike healed this young man and his life was changed forever. He explains that he had found his true calling in life—to be a soldier in the army of the Lord. Following the Reverend Mike, he became an unquestioning disciple, learning the ways of the ministry and then preaching as well. Soon this young man attracted a following of his own. He rose to prominence and by the age of 18, people were calling him a “new Messiah.” He believed that he was God’s gift to that generation.
But the problems of that generation troubled his heart. Their sins weighed greatly on his soul and he was compelled to make a change in a new direction. He had decided to become a new kind of crusader, a new breed of savior, an “active agent against the fools” of the world. He fashioned a costume to wear and went to Reverend Mike’s room to show him the outfit and to announce his decision to pursue a new direction in fighting the sins of that generation. When he opened the bedroom door he was shocked to see his mentor getting drunk with a woman. Reverend Mike told him not to take life so seriously and to stop trying to change the whole world. The young man was filled with rage and something snapped in his mind. He saw that the Reverend Mike was a fool and needed to be destroyed and so he killed him that night. As an act of reverence, the young man built a shrine to Reverend Mike, entombing his body to worship for years to come. Taking the money that Reverend Mike raised during his crusades, the Foolkiller invested in the tools he now uses to destroy the unworthy fools who roam the earth. Fools like F. A. Schist, Theodore Sallis, and Richard Rory.
Back to the edge of the swamp the scene shifts to the stranded helicopter crash victims and the Man-Thing. A jeep is fast approaching the group and does not appear that it will stop. The Man-Thing steps in front of the jeep, colliding with the front grill and halting its progress. In the jeep is Mr. Schist who is leaving the area to hide from the Foolkiller. The crash victims explain their need of a ride into town, but Schist protests telling them of the threat on his life. The Man-Thing crouches near them and intimidates the driver and the crash victims enter the jeep and speed on their way out of the swamp. As they wend their way down the main highway, the Foolkiller sees them and follows them in his huge moving truck. A terrible chase ensues as the giant truck overtakes and runs down the jeep and its passengers. There are apparently no survivors as the Foolkiller gloats in victory over the fallen “fools.”
At a diner on the outskirts of town Richard Rory tells Ruth Hart of his past experience with the Foolkiller. Rory was a disc jockey in a small town in Ohio. He received a threatening letter from a listened for playing “blasphemous music” on the air. Rory took it as a joke and read the note over the air, dedicating George Harrison’s song The Art of Dying to the author of the threatening note. A second note was sent to the radio station and the broadcasting tower was blown up. As Rory is recounting the past, the man who gave Richard and Ruth the gasoline for their van enters the diner. Rory mistakes him for the Foolkiller and a brawl is about to begin when the huge truck driven by the Foolkiller crashes through the plate glass window toward Richard. The Foolkiller gets out of the truck, grabs Rory, and pulls him into the cab heading back to the swamp. In route to the swamp, the Foolkiller sees that the jeep full of people he ran off the road has survived! This further enrages him. He pulls the truck over and grabs Mr. Schist, forcing him into the cab with Richard Rory.
Arriving at the swamp, the Foolkiller opens the back of the truck and forces his two hostages to get in near the entombed body of reverend Mike. He wants the reverend to “witness” him kill these two fools. As the Foolkiller is about to pull the trigger the Man-Thing creeps into the back of the truck behind him. He is shocked to see that the creature is still alive. This pushes him over the brink into an enraged insanity—mixed with fear. The Man-Thing grabs his hand, burning him because “whatever knows fear—burns at the Man-Thing’s touch.” While the Foolkiller is distracted, Richard Rory overpowers him and the tragic scene comes to an end.