Appearing in "Five Characters in Search of a Madman!"
- Thing Exoskeleton (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Five Characters in Search of a Madman!"
Now that he has lost his powers, Ben Grimm feels nearly useless and decides to drown his sorrows by drinking. Before he can even start on his first drink he is hassled by a woman looking for a "date" for the evening. When her advances on Ben are rejected, her friend Wilbur gets into Ben's face and tries to pick a fight with him. At first Ben wants nothing to do with it, but Wilbur pushes his button and Ben gives him a good punch in the face. Not used to being human again, Ben hesitates for a moment like he would when he was the Thing to make sure he won't seriously injure anyone. This gives some of the patrons an opener to grab hold of him and toss him out into the street. Thinking back to how he would clash with the likes of Dr. Doom, Ben becomes furious and jumps back into the bar with fists flying. Ben is able to hold his own against the entire bar until some of the guys grab pieces of wood and club Ben from behind. Before they can harm him any further Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch enter the bar and send everyone packing. With the fight broken up, they pick Ben up off the floor. When the woman who bothered him earlier realizes he used to be the Thing, Ben crushes a beer can and gives it to her as a sarcastic memento that she can show off to her other boyfriends.
At the Baxter Building, Luke Cage is with Sue, Alicia and young Franklin. Luke confides in Sue that if he has to put up with Ben's constant resentment he may lash out. Talking about their private lives, Luke is surprised to learn that Franklin once had super-powers but they were shut down, a fact that was kept from the public, and that Sue isn't ready to change her name from Invisible Girl to Invisible Woman, because her current name has stuck with her after all these years. When Luke is entertaining Franklin by lifting the couch off the floor with one hand, Luke suddenly comes under some sort of spell and attempts to kill Sue.
Sue is able to hold Luke at bay until Ben, Reed and Johnny arrive and join the fight. While Ben is easily swatted aside, Reed and Johnny put up a good fight and send Power Man fleeing. Power Man goes from room to room trashing Reed' various inventions. During his rampage, unknown to all, a seemingly innocent looking cylinder is knocked into Dr. Doom's time machine and disappears. Much to the FF's dismay, Power Man makes his way to the hanger and steals the Fantasticar and flies off, knowing how to pilot it thanks to being trained to do so by Reed earlier.
With Luke Cage escaping, Reed explains to Ben that he was only a temporary replacement for Ben until he could find a more suitable replacement. Pointing him to a door marked "Project X," they enter the room and Ben is shocked to find another Thing waiting in there for them.
- Ben recalls some of his fights when he was the Thing:
- Power Man asks Sue why she hasn't gone to calling herself the Invisible Woman. Here she states that she has gotten used to being called the Invisible Girl. Sue doesn't start calling herself the Invisible Woman until Fantastic Four #284.
- Luke brings up why Franklin doesn't have any powers, but Sue tells him that he once did. Franklin's powers flared out of control back in Fantastic Four #141 forcing Reed to shut down his mind. Franklin awoke from his coma in Fantastic Four #150 and used his powers to shut down Ultron. At which point it was believed his powers were removed, but in reality, they only went dormant. Franklin's powers begin to slowly manifest again in Fantastic Four Annual #14.
- It is revealed next issue that Power Man is being controlled by the Puppet Master.
- The cylinder that is knocked onto Doctor Doom's time machine is revealed to be a cylinder of Vibranium that gets sent back in time to the year 1942, as revealed in Fantastic Four Annual #11.
- It is revealed next issue that this "other" Thing is really an exosuit for Ben to wear. Ben wears the exosuit until his powers are restored in Fantastic Four #175.