Appearing in "Where Have All the Powers Gone?"
Synopsis for "Where Have All the Powers Gone?"
Returning to the Baxter Building following their battle with the Hulk, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, and the Human Torch begin deliberations on what to do about Ben Grimm, formally the Thing, since his prolonged proximity to the gamma rays emitted by the Hulk has caused him to revert back into his human form, seemingly for good. Johnny is also seeking to take a leave of absence from the group so that he can attempt to maintain a normal life, following the romantic troubles caused by his double life at the Human Torch.
While down in the streets below, Ben and Alicia Masters are heading to Ben's meeting with the Fantastic Four following their celebration of Ben's return to human form. Ben is slightly unnerved when a group of young men recognize Alicia and ask for her autograph instead of flocking to him like they used to when he was the Thing. Ben simply shakes this off, not wishing to be jealous of Alicia's fame. On the way, Ben suddenly has a moment where he cannot control his body, and quickly dismisses it as a quirk and they continue on, thinking nothing more of the strange occurrence.
When they arrive in the lobby of the Baxter Building, the doorman doesn't recognize Ben and only lets them through to the Fantastic Four's headquarters when he notices Alicia is with him, further unnerving Ben. Entering the FF's headquarters, Ben is told, much to his surprise that due to the FF's charter, each member must have super-powers and as such, they must now replace him on the team. They lead Ben into the training room where he is shocked to find that his replacement is none other than Hero for Hire, Luke Cage who puts on an impressive display destroying a series of training robots convincing Reed that he is ideal for the group and welcomes him aboard. When Luke tries to tell Ben that he didn't intentionally try to replace him, Ben shrugs it off telling the group that he has show business gigs coming up and turns on the television to show them his latest interview on the show "The Afternoon Show". Unfortunately for Ben, his interview is cut incredibly short to focus more on stock footage about his past exploits as the Thing.
Furious, Ben storms out of the room and gets on the phone with his new agent to see if he was able to secure any more talk show appearances. To Ben's further aggravation his agent is unable, telling him that television executives are not interested in seeing a powerless Ben Grimm. Hanging up the phone Ben senselessly storms in on a training session underway forcing Reed to shut it down and caution Ben about being so reckless now that he has no powers. Before they can discuss things further an alarm goes off alerting the Fantastic Four of a bank robbery in progress. Ben is insistent on accompanying the team forcing his way into the Fantasticar and making the Human Torch fly to the location. Arriving on the scene, Ben disengages his portion of the Fantasticar to face the bank robbery on his own.
This robber turns out to be Thor's old foe the Wrecker who doesn't know how his crowbar suddenly appeared in his jail cell or why he felt compelled to rob this bank, but easily smashes Ben's craft and swats him away. After checking to see if Ben is okay, the Fantastic Four engage the enemy leaving Ben behind to feel useless. Thinking maybe he can make himself transform into the Thing much like Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, Ben tries to force such a transformation and is upset when he found that he cannot.
When the FF's initial attack on the Wrecker is a failure, Ben once more senselessly throws himself into battle and is easily downed by the Wrecker who decides to take Ben hostage. Climbing up to the top of a building under construction he threatens to throw Ben to his death if the FF don't leave him alone and allow him to leave with his stolen loot. Mr. Fantastic forces the Wrecker to drop Ben and sends him falling off the building. While Ben is captured by Power Man, the Wrecker lands hard on the ground and is easily knocked out by Power Man who uses the Wrecker's own crowbar to knock him senseless.
With the battle over the other Fantastic Four members thank Power Man for all his great help. The only person not impressed with the display is Ben who tries to punch Power Man in the stomach and almost breaks his hand in the process. Finally realizing that he's just plain ordinary Ben Grimm, Ben walks off miserably accepting his current lot in life.
- This is the first time it's mentioned that the Fantastic Four have a membership charter.
- Sue mentions Frankie Raye who went on a disaster date with Johnny in Fantastic Four #164 which abruptly ended when he had to fight the Crusader. Frankie Ray's fear of Johnny is because at this moment she suffers from pyrophobia as explained in Fantastic Four #238. It stemmed from the fact that he stepfather Phineas Horton -- creator of the original Android Human Torch -- accidentally doused her in chemicals that endowed her with flame powers of her own. Horrified by what he had done, Horton used hypnosis to submerge those memories and give her a fear of fire.
- Some facts about Luke Cage in this story:
- Luke mentions that he last worked with the Thing in Marvel Two-In-One #13 when they both battled Braggadoom.
- Luke is reluctant to go into his origins with the Fantastic Four because, as per Hero for Hire #1, Luke was framed for a crime he didn't commit and was sent to jail. There he agreed to experiments that gave him his powers and allowed him to break out. He set up his fake identity and his business as a Hero for Hire to earn money while working on a means to clear his name. Luke eventually clears his name in Power Man and Iron Fist #50.
- The training room that the Fantastic Four are using is based on Danger Room technology created by Professor X of the X-Men. This training facility had been installed in the Baxter Building as early as Fantastic Four #161.
- The Wrecker appears here after he and his Wrecking Crew were defeated by the Defenders in Defenders #18-19, as cited in the narration of this story.
- Next issue it is revealed that the man responsible for trying to control Ben and later the Wrecker is the Puppet Master.
- This issue is reprinted in other comics and books, see references for more info.
- Fantastic Four #168 is the only comic book to feature TWO Marvel Value Stamps: CONAN Marvel Value Stamp (Series B # 65) & DOCTOR STRANGE Marvel Value Stamp (Series B # 66)
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