Appearing in "A Robinson Crusoe in the Negative Zone"

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Synopsis for "A Robinson Crusoe in the Negative Zone"

Reed Richards, cast adrift in the Negative Zone, slowly regains consciousness and remembers how the Brute defeated him, stripped the costume from his back, and pitched him headlong through the sub-space portal in the Baxter Building. But no sooner does he come to than he is attacked by a pack of hungry Negative Zone creatures. Although his stretching power is gone, he manages to defeat them by kicking a chunk of space debris into their midst at just the right angle—calculated from years of fighting experience—to send them hurtling away. Then, holding onto another piece of debris, Reed falls into an exhausted sleep. Back at the Baxter Building, Reed Richards of Counter•Earth, who has surreptitiously taken Reed's place as leader of the Fantastic Four, presides over a meeting of the team, to which Thundra, Tigra, and the Impossible Man have been invited. The meeting has been convened not because the Counter-Earth Reed has anything to say, but because the real Reed had called the meeting before he was thrown into the Negative Zone, and the new Reed has to follow through to avoid giving himself away. Thus, little is accomplished besides Johnny making an unsuccessful pass at Tigra and Thundra making an equally unsuccessful pass at the Thing. Thundra insists that Ben was 'meant" to be hers, and Ben just as vehemently asserts that he is in love with Alicia. Fortunately, Tigra breaks up the argument before violence can ensue. (Alicia, incidentally, is at her apartment baby•sitting Franklin.) The false Reed finally halts the horseplay and says that the recent battles have made him too tired to continue with the meeting. Sue consoles him and dismisses the others, who depart, grumbling about the waste of time. As he and she embrace, he is delighted beyond words, for she is so much like the comatose Sue Storm he left on Counter-Earth. Perhaps, he muses, he will let this Sue live after he destroys the others. Sue detects subtle differences in Reed that she cannot ascribe to the trauma of battle or the loss of his stretching power, but she is unwilling to believe her intuition and shrugs her feelings off. Ben, Johnny, the Impossible Man, Thundra, and Tigra relax in the living room and watch the Bionic Woman on television. Thundra continues to try Ben's patience, so he heads out the door toward the elevator, trying to make up his mind whether to propose to Alicia or to get out of her life so she can wed someone more "worthy" of her. (Thundra, of course, wants Ben to do the latter.) As Ben enters the elevator, Tigra joins him. At first he is exasperated with all this feminine attention, but she calms him down by explaining that she is not interested in him and only wants to talk. Mainly, she says, she has been wondering why the usually altruistic Reed has not tried to bring back his double from the Negative Zone. That is a good question, replies Ben as he invites her to dinner. Steak—cooked rare—not pizza, says Tigra. Shivering from the cold, the nearly naked Reed Richards wonders why no one has tried to rescue him from the Negative Zone. He snatches two rocks floating nearby and finds that they closely resemble flint, so he uses them to generate sparks for a fire. Shortly alter the fire lights, a batlike animal flies by that Reed captures with his bare hands and roasts. As he consumes the barely edible meal, he does not know that some distance away he is being watched by a shadowy figure. After the Thing and Tigra finish their own meal, Ben lights a cigar from the candle of a neighboring table at the restaurant, causing a woman patron to faint from fear. Flirting with him—much to his chagrin—Tigra tries to resume their discussion of Reed's odd behavior, but they are suddenly distracted by a loud disturbance outside. When they look out the window, they see a huge robot making off with an entire vault that it ripped out of the wall of the bank next door. The gunfire of pursuing police is completely ineffective, so Ben and Tigra rush outside to help. The robot is radiating heat—Ben estimates its temperature as 300°F—and when they approach, it heaves the vault at them. Ben catches it and hurls it back, and this time the robot turns up its heat and melts the vault into slag, money and all. Then Ben battles it himself, punching his way out of its superheated embrace. When it momentarily stuns him with a double-handed blow to the ribs, Tigra knocks it off balance long enough for Ben to recover and resume pummeling it. By this time, the Army has joined the police, and as Ben and Tigra slowly force the robot toward the East River, the Coast Guard is called in as well. One of Ben's blows causes the robot's heating system to malfunction, and when it cools down, he slams it onto a garbage scow tied to a dock. A final blow slams the robot through the bottom of the barge into the river just as a Coast Guard boat arrives. Sue Richards leaves her bedroom at the Baxter Building suepecting that the man asleep in the bed is not her true husband. She passes by the living room, where Thundra and the Impossible Man are watching The Maltese Falcon on television, but she cannot bring herself to tell them her suspicions. Meanwhile, back in the Negative Zone, Reed Richards realizes that his evil counterpart has by now probably convinced his teammates that he is the real Reed Richards, which is why they have not tried to locate him. His only hope, he muses, is that Sue, who knows him better than anyone else, will see through the deception. But as he contemplates what plans the evil Reed might have for them, a familiar figure suddenly flies up to him—the frightening form of Annihilus.

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