Appearing in "Impending Doom"
- Psycho-Man (Apparent death)
Synopsis for "Impending Doom"
The Invisible Woman has Scott Lang go over the footage of her husband's apparent demise at the hands of Doctor Doom. Despite Ant-Man's insistence that Reed is dead, Sue still refuses to believe it and tells Lang to run the video again. Outside the lab, Ben learns from Johnny that Sue is still going over the video footage. Both men have come to the conclusion that Reed is really dead, and Ben hopes that Sue eventually comes to this realization and learns to move on. That evening, Ben is awoken from his sleep by Sue who believes that they have found what they have been looking for. Calling everyone into the communications room, they go over the footage one more time. Sue puts out the theory that Doctor Doom didn't kill himself and Reed, but shrunk themselves to sub-atomic size, escaping into the Microverse, reminding both Johnny and Ben how Doom has done so in the past when he took over the realm of Sub-Atomica.
The Fantastic Four decide to indulge Sue's theory and soon the Reducta-Craft is readied for the trip. Although Lang expresses his doubts about being able to operate the craft, he doesn't budge when Ben suggests he stay behind if he can't handle it. Soon the Reducta-Craft shrinks down in size and they pass through the the dimensional interface that leads to the Microverse. When they appear they are in danger of crashing into a chunk of free orbiting rock but Johnny uses his flame to blast it out of the way. When they land, the tell Johnny to take it easy while Ant-Man uses his helmet to probe the local ant species for any sign of trouble in the area. Before he can, they are suddenly confronted by some of Doctor Doom's Servo-Guards who order their surrender. Although the rest of the team is ready to fight, the Invisible Woman orders them to stand down so they can see where they are taken. They are taken into a nearby town that the robots call New Latveria. As they are are being taken through the city, the Fantastic Four are rescued by rebels who are fighting against their oppressors. They are taken to Empress Pearla who has been ousted from the throne. She explains that her world has been at peace ever since the Fantastic Four defeated Psycho-Man and when the Thing and Ant-Man helped broker peace with the Lizard Men of Tok. But, she explains, things changed when Doctor Doom seemingly returned and took over her kingdom a few weeks ago. When Sue asks Pearla if there has been any sign of her husband, Pearla says she hasn't seen him as yet.
Although Ant-Man is not very quick to come to Pearla's aid after his last encounter with her, the Fantastic Four agree to help her liberate her kingdom given that it will lead to answers to their own quest. As the Fantastic Four battle their way through the royal palace, Ant-Man still doesn't like how they are being led around and decides to investigate on his own, shrinking down to ant-size and slipping through some cracks atop of one of the Microverses ant species. When Johnny rushes ahead, Sue and Ben chase after him and come upon what appears to be Doctor Doom, with Reed as his prisoner. Sue rushes to her husbands side and is horrified to learn that he is dead. As "Doom" incapacitates the other members of the Fantastic Four, Ant-Man discovers that this is not the real Doctor Doom but a construct being controlled by Pearla. Ant-Man ambushes her and knocks her out with a single punch but suddenly collapses after being struck by a heavy sense of fear. When he questions why he is suddenly so afraid, this is when the Psycho-Man reveals his part in this grand deception. While he tortures Scott with various emotions, the Psycho-Man explains how he is seeking to get revenge against the Invisible Woman after he unleashed his own Emotion Caster device upon him during their last encounter and that this entire set up was a ruse to lure the Fantastic Four into a trap.
Ant-Man fights against the artificial fears being forced upon him by Psycho-Man's Control Box by forcing himself to grow to giant-size, smashing Psycho-Man's control panel. This causes the Fantastic Four outside to get control of their emotions and break free from "Doom's" various traps. Realizing she is dealing with an impostor, Sue uses her invisible force field to rip the Doctor Doom robot to shreds. They also discover the "dead Reed Richards" is also a robot. Suddenly, Ant-Man's ever growing body smashes through the wall, revealing the Psycho-Man to them. The Thing smashes his robot body while Sue uses Ant-Man's reduction gas to restore him to his normal size. After determining that Pearla is the real article, the group goes looking for the Psycho-Man. They find their foe -- a shriveled shell of his former self -- hooked up to a massive life support machine. The Psycho-Man explains that his recovery wasn't as total as he originally made it out to appear, blaming the Invisible Woman for his present condition. Unable to defeat his foes, the Psycho-Man then activates a self-destruct device. With the palace exploding around them, the Fantastic Four grab Pearla and get to cover, protected by one of Sue's force fields. With Pearla's throne restored, she thanks the Fantastic Four for their help. On their way back to Earth, Sue suspects that they did not witness the final demise of Psycho-Man and his physical state might have been yet another manipulation. As they head back home, she still insists that they cannot give up hope that Reed might be alive somewhere out in time and space.
- This story recaps the apparent demise of Mister Fantastic and Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four #381. In reality Doom and Reed are secretly prisoners of Hyperstorm as revealed in Fantastic Four #405-406.
- The Thing's face is scarred here because he was slashed by Wolverine in Fantastic Four #374. His face is fully healed later in Fantastic Four #409.
- Some of the Fantastic Four's previous adventures into the Microverse are referenced in this story:
- The Fantastic Four's first trip when they saved Sub-Atomic from the rule of Doctor Doom from Fantastic Four #16
- When they first used the Reducta-Craft to hunt for Psycho-Man in the Microverse in Fantastic Four #76
- Ant-Man recalls how Pearla manipulated him and the Thing to battle the Lizard Men of Tok back in Marvel Two-In-One #87.
- The Fantastic Four's last clash with Psycho-Man which took place from Fantastic Four #280-284 when the Psycho-Man ultimately felt the wrath of the Invisible Woman after he manipulated her emotions. Psycho-Man got over his fear in Impossible Man Summer Vacation #2.
- Although appearing to perish here, the Psycho-Man resurfaces alive and well (as Sue suspected) in Cable #37.
- This issue features pin-ups of the Fantastic Four fighting Galactus and the Mole Man and his creatures.
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