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Appearing in ""The Way It Was""

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Synopsis for ""The Way It Was""

With Reed's announcement that the Fantastic Four are going to split up, Ben has become morose. When his girlfriend Alicia Masters tries to cheer him up, he pulls out an old diary that he has kept over the years and goes over it with Alicia.

Ben recounts the day that the Fantastic Four took their fateful rocket flight into space and were bombarded with the cosmic rays that gave them their powers. [1] He then details how the team was on shaky ground from the start, with constant bickering between himself and the Human Torch. The first time the team suffered a break up, Ben recalls, was after their battle with the Miracle Man which ended with Johnny leaving the team. [2] This led the young hero to the Bowery, where he found and restored the memories of the Sub-Mariner. Ben reminisces how this worked against them as Namor planned to wage war against humanity, but it was his sudden romantic interest in Sue that stopped him that time. [3] When recalling that episode, Ben expresses his mixed feelings about Namor as they have worked both with and against him since then.

Ben then goes on to say that there is not such ambiguity between the FF and their mortal foe Doctor Doom, recalling the first time they battled him. [4] Ben then talks about how the team suffered financial problems and almost broke up again when the made the plunge into a Hollywood movie that turned out to be another trap by the Sub-Mariner. Ultimately it was Sue who convinced Namor to honor the movie deal so the FF could make enough money to resume operations. [5] Ben then recounts how months later he was almost responsible for the team breaking up again, when Reed was forced to restore their recently lost powers so that they could stop Doctor Doom. Angry that he was once more cursed to be the Thing, Ben went within an inch of killing Doctor Doom had Reed not stopped him. But having had enough, Ben quit the group. [6] Ben recalls how this led to him being brainwashed into a pawn of the Frightful Four and how he nearly killed his teammates as a result. [7] Grimm then recounts the night that he was tricked into giving over his powers to a man who was bent on killing Reed and how that mad scientist sacrificed his life to save Reed from the Negative Zone, restoring Ben's powers back to him. [8]

He then talks about how he was brainwashed against his friends once again, this time by the Mad Thinker. [9] That time they stopped the Thinker and his android creation, but in the aftermath of the battle Reed decided that he and his pregnant wife were going to leave the Fantastic Four as a result of the constant danger. [10] But Ben remembers how that no sooner did Reed leave that the Watcher convinced him to return to the fold when the Silver Surfer foolishly attempted to unit the world by waging a war against it. [11] Glossing over more recent events, Ben remembers how when Johnny was still in love with Crystal and quit the team to try and join her in Attilan, and how Sue forced him and Reed to let the youth go. [12] This late led to a battle against the Frightful Four again, and ended with Reed and Sue separating over an argument about Sue's role as a teammate, wife and mother. [13] He then remembers how Reed was later forced to shut down his son Franklin's mind, which led to another break up of the team. [14] With the end of the recounting, Alicia points out that every time the Fantastic Four broke up they got back together. Ben agrees, but points out that this is the first time that Reed has decided to quit on the team and that he was the glue that held the Fantastic Four together. Without Reed Richards, the team has no future moving forward. Ben then states that there is no more time to glorify the past, and to symbolize this he crushes his diary into scraps and dumps it in the garbage. Having had enough with the memories, Ben then decides to take Alicia out for a hamburger.


Continuity Notes

  • Reed announced that the Fantastic Four were to break up in Fantastic Four #188. This was due to the fact that Reed lost his powers in Fantastic Four #178 and he no longer felt qualified as a leader.

This story goes through a great deal of Fantastic Four history as follows:

  • First Ben gives a heavily abridged version of the Fantastic Four's origins that were first depicted in Fantastic Four #1. This recounting omits the intent of Reed's space flight, the facts of which have changed to suit the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 so as not to date the Fantastic Four's origins.
  • Early depictions of the Thing in the various flashbacks show him with dinosaur like skin. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, Ben's body continued to mutate after the rocket crash, turning into the rock like body that has become his trademark by Fantastic Four #4.
  • It also gives an abridged version of their first encounter with the Sub-Mariner in Fantastic Four #4. The reason for Namor's amnesia when he was first found was revealed in Sub-Mariner #1. In the 1950s his memories were submersed by the villain known as Destiny.
  • Ben comments about the many times that the Fantastic Four has fought and worked with the Sub-Mariner over the years. They are many, and are as follows:
  • He also recounts the aforementioned Fantastic Four #9 when Namor tricked the team into a movie deal.
  • Ben also glosses over a time when the Fantastic Four lost their powers and how he quit the team after Reed was forced to restore them. Here's some more detail on that incident:
    • The Fantastic Four lost their powers when the Frightful Four exposed the team to a Q-Bomb explosion in Fantastic Four #38.
    • When scrambling with technological replacements for those powers, the Fantastic Four were attacked by Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #39.
    • This led to the final battle where Reed was forced to use a device to restore Ben's powers, and Ben in turn beat Doctor Doom nearly half to death in Fantastic Four #40.
  • Another glossary of events was when Ben was brainwashed into joining the Frightful Four in Fantastic Four #41. This led to a battle between the Frightful Four that ended in Fantastic Four #43, where Ben was restored back to normal.
  • He also goes over his encounter with Ricardo Jones, who briefly stole Ben's powers. This occurred in Fantastic Four #51. Ben doesn't know the man's name here, but his name was revealed in Web of Spider-Man #69.
  • Ben's recollection of the second time he was brainwash was also highly abridged. Here are some more facts about that particular story:
    • Ben was brainwashed when the Mad Thinker posted as Professor Jose Santini who was offering assistance to Reed to try and cure Ben of his condition. The Thinker instead brainwashed Ben into becoming evil, as seen in Fantastic Four #68.
    • This led to the battle between the Thing and the rest of the FF that Ben describes. It happened in Fantastic Four #69.
    • Reed and the others managed to cure Ben in Fantastic Four #70, but they were attacked by the Thinker's Monster Android.
    • This led to the battle in Fantastic Four #71 that Ben describes in this story: the android is dumped into the Negative Zone and Reed decide to leave the team out of the safety of his pregnant wife. It omits the fact that the group found out that Sue was pregnant not long before in Fantastic Four Annual #5. She later gave birth to Franklin in Fantastic Four Annual #6.
  • The Watcher convincing Reed to return to the Fantastic Four to battle the Silver Surfer happened in Fantastic Four #72, they stopped the cosmic hero that same issue.
  • Ben briefly mentions their first encounter with the Watcher on the Moon. This happened in Fantastic Four #13.
  • Lastly, Ben really glosses over the separation of Reed and Sue that had recently happened at this point:

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