Appearing in "The Way It Began!"
- Fantastic Four
- Mole Man (Harvey Elder) (Only in recap)
- Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom) (Illusion or holographic simulation)
- Giganto (Only in recap)
- James Kreig (Only in flashback)
- 🢐 Walter Collins 🢒
- Crystal (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- United States of America
- Monster Island (Only in recap)
- Subterranea (Only in recap)
- Great Refuge (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "The Way It Began!"
Ben and Alicia arrive at the Baxter Building and see what appears to be Doctor Doom standing over the dead body of Sue. When Ben tries to attack "Doom," he learns that it is a life like illusion cast by Reed's Thought-Projector Helmet. Reed explains he was testing it out by coming up with the most repulsive image he could think of. Suddenly, the Human Torch melts through the wall to see what all the noise was about, thinking it was an attack. Sue enters the room and then scolds Johnny for melting through the wall. She then turns her anger toward Reed, as they are running for their trip to Whisper Hill to spend time with their son Franklin.
When Ben makes a crack about putting off marrying Alicia, Johnny takes the opportunity to put down Ben for the way he appears. This angers the Thing and the two almost come to blows when Reed and Sue intervene. After Reed and Sue leave, Ben accidentally makes reference to Alicia, upsetting her that he still views her blindness as something to pity, decides to show herself out. When Ben tries to confide in Johnny how he feels about his appearance, Johnny -- still sore about having to let Crystal go back home -- gets angry at him for being so stubborn about his relationship with Alicia and storms out. Reed and Sue watch Johnny leave in a hurry and Sue wonders if Johnny is taking Crystal's departure from the group too hard.
Back inside, Ben decides to distract his mind and decides to put on Reed's Thought-Projector Helmet. Conjuring up an image of himself when he first mutated into the Thing, with a thick leathery hide, and then as he is now with a rocky exterior, the Thing soon begins remembering himself after the faithful trip into space that led to his transformation.
This in turn leads to a visual recollection of the events that gave birth to the Fantastic Four. Ben recalls how Reed asked Ben, Sue and Johnny to assist him in a commandeering his space ship before the government could shut down the project. How Reed ignored Ben's warnings about cosmic rays. How they succeeded in sneaking onto the base and blasting off in the rocket without being captured. Then comes the memory of Ben's warnings coming to life: cosmic rays bombarding the ship. He recalls how Johnny was complaining about his body feeling like it was on fire, and how he himself could not lift himself off the floor. Ben then recalls how when their ship landed, Sue suddenly vanished from sight. Ben himself mutated into his Thing form and when he tried to start a fight with Reed, they were similarly shocked when he was able to stretch out of the way and then subdue Ben with rubber-like arms. Johnny suddenly burst into flames and was able to fly, inspired by the comic book hero, Johnny decides to call himself the Human Torch. Lastly, Ben recalls how Reed got them all to pay attention and suggested that they used their new found powers to the benefit of mankind. Calling themselves Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch and the Thing, the Fantastic Four were born.
Ben then recalls how shortly after they gained their powers, they ended up crossing paths with the Mole Man, an ugly man who hide below the Earth after being shunned by society because of his appearance. He also recalls their first battle with the Mole Man, wherein they battled his creatures and prevented him from unleashing his minions through various tunnels he dug beneath the Earth. How that battle ended with the Fantastic Four seemingly vanishing the Mole Man, trapping him in his underground kingdom.  Ben then recalls the group's most recent encounter with the Mole Man, wherein Sue had bought a bizarre metal home to the newly born Franklin in. They soon discovered it was the staging ground for the Mole Man's latest scheme to blind everyone on the surface. Force to fight the Mole Man without their eyesight, the Fantastic Four were still able to foil these plans, but the Mole Man had escaped and then destroyed the metal construct he had created.
Inspired by this recollection, Ben believes that the Mole Man may have the key to curing Alicia of her blindness and decides to go and find their oldest foe. Because of the racket Ben has caused in making this revelation, the Baxter Building's landlord, Walter Collins comes to once more try and evict the Fantastic Four. Unwilling to stop, Ben abruptly hangs Collins from a coat rack and leaves, determined to cure Alicia of her affliction.
This is where it all began! Still "The World's Greatest Comix Mag!" And now - the return of the Mole Man!
- Reed's Thought-Projection Helmet was last used in Fantastic Four #27.
- Johnny is upset about his girlfriend, Crystal, whom he had been dating since Fantastic Four #64. In Fantastic Four #105 she was forced to return to Attilan because her body was vulnerable to the pollution from the outside world.
- This story retells the origin of the Fantastic Four as originally depicted in Fantastic Four #1. Here are some facts about this recollection:
- Ben recalls that when he first mutated into the Thing he had dinosaur-like skin. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, the Thing's body continued to mutate after his initial transformation. Ultimately he mutated into the rocky form he is most well known for in Fantastic Four #4. Incidentally enough, even though he recalls this earlier form, all his recollections to the moments of his transformation depict the Thing in his most commonly known rocky form. This is likely an embellishment on the Thing's part in recollection.
- When recounting the conversation had by his comrades prior to the rocket flight, Ben is shocked when he recalls himself stating "It'll give them a head start cleanin' up Harlem and' Watts." The New York neighborhood of Harlem and the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts were predominantly African-American neighborhoods. When Fantastic Four #1 was first published in 1961, both areas were considered slums and crime infested. This lower standard of living and the high crime rate was attributed to the African-American population in a lot of cases on the generalized basis of their ethnicity. This sort of mentality is considered racist by today's standards, even back in 1972 when this recounting was published, this sort of statement was considered inappropriate.
- As Marvel has continued to publish stories eventually they had to institute a Sliding Timescale as a means of slowing down the advance of time during the Modern Age of Earth-616 over the length of publications in real time. This was to prevent aging their characters quickly as well as updating dated plot concepts, generalizing real life events or dates that are mentioned in various stories. When Fantastic Four #1 was published in 1961, Reed's spaceship is specifically referred to as a rocket, and his intentions for his mission is to beat the Soviet Union in the space race. Contextually, the story was published during the height of the US/Soviet Space Race, which saw both countries competing to see which one could develop manned space flights. Since then, many re-tellings of the Fantastic Four's origin have changed the details of Reed Richards' space flight, updating concepts so that they were not considered dated more modern readers. Such as:
- While Fantastic Four Vol 1 1 implies that Reed was trying to reach the moon, Fantastic Four #2 states that he was attempting to reach Mars. Other stories since then have generalized where his destination was supposed to be.
- Fantastic Four #197 goes on to state that it was not just cosmic rays that caused the Fantastic Four to get their powers. It states that sunspot activity caused flaring through the Van Allen Belts causing an increase in neutron activity. The combination of this and the cosmic rays caused the mutations.
- 20 years later in Fantastic Four #236, the origin of the Fantastic Four was updated, it was stated that Reed's experimental ship was intended to travel to the edge of the solar system and while it needed a rocket booster to reach escape velocity from Earth's atmosphere it relied on a Star Drive to reach its destination. This tale also goes on to expand on how the quartet were mutated.
- Fantastic Four #358 published in 1991 states that the this "Star Drive" was intended to bring them into hyperspace in order to visit other solar systems.
- This is the first time it is referenced that Johnny took inspiration for his name from the original Android Human Torch of World War II. In this story, Johnny refers to the original Torch as a "comic book character". It has been established since Fantastic Four #4 that all the wartime comic books published by Timely Comics in the real world were also published in the Earth-616 universe. All-Winners Squad: Band of Heroes #1 states that Timely Comics in the 1940s were commissioned by the U.S. military as propaganda. Until the modern age of heroes the majority of the heroes from that era were believed to be myths or works of fiction. Johnny's reference to the original Torch being a comic book character is likely the case here. Johnny would eventually meet the original Human Torch in Fantastic Four Annual #4.
- The Thing also recalls their most recent battle against the Mole Man in Fantastic Four #88–Fantastic Four #90.
- This recap of this battle edits out the fact that Crystal was with the team when Mole Man sprang his trap.
- This issue was reprinted and marketed as a Power Records item.
- The cover pays homage to the first issue of this series Fantastic Four #1. With Stan Lee leaving the series, Roy Thomas' run begins by paying tribute to the series' origin.
Links and References