Appearing in "The Shape of Things to Come!"
- Interlocking Technologies Unlimited/Inter-Connected Technocracies Unlimited/Inter-Politan Thermo-Dynamics
- Arkon's army
- Phineas (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only) (Appears in flashback)
- Fifth Dimension army
- U.S. Army (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Time-displaced soldiers
- U.S. Army (Earth-721)
- General Thunderbolt Ross (Earth-721) (First appearance)
- Bruce Banner (Earth-721) (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "The Shape of Things to Come!"
With the Reed Richards from another dimension currently a hostage of Arkon, he breaks free from his restraints and tries to escape, however, he's easily restrained by Arkon and is shackled in Adamantium bonds. Arkon has his aide explain the progress from his plan: As it turns out they have orchestrated to send three different realities to attack to each other. Having acquired technology from all worlds Arkon has had his agents attack the 5th Dimension with Earth-A's Andrones, Earth-A by beings from other time periods through Dr. Doom's time machine, and lastly by using the 5th Dimensions freezing technology to turn the Fantastic Four's world into a frozen wasteland. They then drug the Earth-A Thing and leave him behind.
On the Fantastic Four's world, Mr. Fantastic is hurrying to try and come up with technology to thaw out the giant glaciers that are forming on their Earth when they are suddenly attacked by a barbarian. Reed dispatches it, but due to his waning powers, it causes him considerable discomfort however he hides this from Sue. Reed is then painfully mind linked with his Earth-A counterpart. The Thing-Richards explains to him that he comes from another world where he became the Thing instead of Ben Grimm. He explains that his robotics technologies was purchased by Albert DeVoor, representing a company called Inter-Related Technocracies Unlimited, the same man who purchased technology from the 5th Dimension under a company called Inter-Politan Thermo-Dynamics Unlimited. Reed realizes that the same man bought technologies from Fantastic Four Inc. representing a company called Interlocking Technologies Unlimited and is simply a lackey of Arkon. Realizing the connection, the two Reed's combine their mental strength to allow the Earth-A Richards to use his strength to free himself from captivity.
On the Fantastic Four's world, Reed and Sue go to the office of Interlocking Technologies to pay a visit to Mr. DeVoor. While the Earth-A Thing realizes that he is in his own world and breaks free. Spotting a newspaper reporting the capture of the Ben Grimm-Thing, Reed storms to the military holding facility where he is being held and easily frees him. The two up faced with a military battalion led by Earth-A's version of General Ross. Using his credentials, Reed manages to stall the army long enough to explain to everything to General Ross when they are interrupted by the Earth-A's Ben Grimm who points out a rift opening between worlds. To their surprise it's a portal to the 5th Dimension and the Human Torch is leading an invasion force across into Earth-A's realm. The Thing manages to easily take down Johnny and the two Thing's explain to him what's going on. Johnny manages to convince the people of the 5th Dimension to return to their own world to await a solution to the situation.
Fed up of the situation, General Ross attempts to capture them, however, Johnny keeps them at bay with his flame powers when they are suddenly contacted telepathically. Reed explains to them what he's forced DeVoor to reveal to him: That the intent of forcing the three worlds to go to war with one another is to trigger nuclear strikes on all three worlds, the combined nuclear holocausts would create sufficient nuclear energy through a dimension nexus to revitalize Arkon's world. Reed offers up only two solutions to the problem: Closing the dimensional rift or stopping Arkon directly. He warns them though that only one person can enter the realm where the Nexus resides. Giving them cosmic "skates" to travel between realms and the device to close the Nexus, Reed sends his Earth-A counterpart, Ben, and Johnny onto their missions.
Ben finds himself on his own into the realm where the Nexus is located and finds that it has a lone guardian, a hockey-inspired being called Gaard who vows that he will stop the Thing from succeeding in his mission even if he has to kill to do so.
- Earth-A is later indexed as Earth-721 in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005.
- The last time the Things of Earth-616 and Earth-721 interacted is recounted in this story. That occurred in the second story of Fantastic Four #118.
Flashbacks in this story affect the chronology of the following characters: