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Quote1.png Aunt Petunia! Quote2.png
Ben Grimm

Appearing in "Wendy's Friends"

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Synopsis for "Wendy's Friends"

A young woman approaches the Baxter Building in the and asks Mr. O'Houlihan the doorman how to reach the Fantastic Four. He informs her that the FF have recently installed a public reception desk just below their headquarters. The woman then uses the elevator to go to the reception and is shocked to learn that the receptionist is really a robot being installed by the Human Torch. When she says she needs the Fantastic Four's help, Johnny agrees to take her up, telling her that she has already been deemed non-threatening by the building's security systems as she entered the room.

Upstairs, Reed is going over data of the Thing's recent reversion from his rock-like exterior to his previous form that he had when the Fantastic Four was first mutated by cosmic rays. Reed is stressed out because the change is apparently permanent but can't seem to fathom how Ben can be taking it so well. Sue tries to assure Reed that Ben is good at masking his feelings and that he knew the risks when they took their original space flight. Reed agrees with her, but it does nothing to dispel his grief and frustration over the situation. Elsewhere in the training room, Alicia and Frankie Raye are on hand as Ben tests out the strength of his new form and is surprised to find that this transformation has done nothing to his strength levels. Suddenly, Johnny enters the room with the woman from the lobby. Ben shocks them all when he identifies the woman as his often mentioned Aunt Petunia, which is something that Johnny finally figures out after Ben does a round of introductions.

Later in the residential level of the Fantastic Four's headquarters Petunia explains that Ben's constant references to her age is a bit of a in-joke with him as she is much younger than his uncle Jake's first wife when they first got married. She explains that not long after Ben was turned into the Thing, both she and Jake left New York to open their practice in Benson, Arizone and this is why she has come calling on the Fantastic Four's for help. She explains that for some strange reason the people of Benson are being scared to death.

Soon the Fantastic Four arrive in the town of Benson to investigate the mysterious deaths that have been plaguing the town. When they land, Ben complains about having to wear the original uniform that was designed for him during the early days of the team. Reed explains that in order not to increase the amount of fear in town, Ben has to keep a lower profile, and needs to cover up his appearance. Ben's griping soon ends when the local sheriff arrives with his uncle Jake. After a warm reunion with Ben, Jake takes Reed in to examine the bodies of the victims at the local doctors office.

There, Reed emerges with more questions than answers and tells the rest of the team that the looks of horror on the faces of the victims was unlike anything he has seen before. After probing the sheriff with questions on local happenings yield's no clues, they are interrupted by the arrival of occult expert Dame Ruth Efford with a young local girl named Wendy. Having heard of Efford's work, Reed welcomes her to their discussion and the Fantastic Four learn that she had come to examine something that young Wendy had discovered out in the desert: an arrowhead in a location where there is no record of an indigenous tribe having ever existed. They are soon taken out to the dig where Reed examines the strata layers and is surprised to find that the evidence came from centuries earlier than known settlements. While Reed and Ruth go through the dig, Sue and Ben talk to Wendy about her discovery. They learn that she used to come out to the desert when her mother was dying and discovered the place, but was disappointed when her correspondence with Dame Efford led to the dig happening. Wendy makes mention to her friends living out here. Not taking Wendy literally, Ben jokes that she has made better friends. Wendy is clearly amused by this, telling him that she has amazing friends. All the while some unseen things seem to shimmer ominously behind her.

Later that night, two of Efford's students -- Mike and Carol -- are out near the dig. Carol wants to go back to camp, but Mike is insistent that they are going to find something amazing. They do, but not in the way they expected as the temperature begins to drastically drop. Soon they are enveloped in a white fog that swallows their screams in the still nights.

Meanwhile, far away in the hidden city of Attilan a war is raging. Quicksilver rushes into check on his pregnant wife from the battle field. Crystal is not doing well the doctor tells him, due to the fact that the strange illness affecting the Inhumans now affects her as well. The doctor isn't sure what will happen to their unborn child due to her mixed heritage and suggests that the only help they can get rests outside the walls of the hidden land.

Back in Benson, the bodies of Mike and Carol are found the next morning. The Fantastic Four and their allies go out to investigate the bodies, but Reed's scans of the area yield no results. When Ruth decides that young Wendy should return home, Frankie offers to fly the girl home. When they arrive, Frankie is shocked to see that Wendy lives in little more than a hovel. When Wendy's father --clearly drunk-- angrily slaps the girl across the face with a newspaper for not cleaning up before leaving, Frankie tosses fire balls at him and is about to pummel him when Wendy tells her to stop. When Frankie asks if her father hits her often, Wendy says no, only when he drinks too much. With no other real options, Frankie decides to leave but warns Wendy's father not to lay a hand on the girl again or he will face her wrath. While back at the hotel that is the makeshift operations for the Fantastic Four, Reed and Ruth continue to compile data but find no clues as to what is killing the people here. As dark clouds begin to roll over Benson, Reed admits to the fact that they may be facing a force that they have no idea how to fight.

Later that evening after Wendy's father has passed out from yet another night of drinking. Bruised from her most recent beating, the young girl sneaks out of the house and wanders out into the desert to be with her friends. Out in the wilderness she is caught up in the swirling mist but she is unafraid as it lifts her up off the ground and then drops her again. Suddenly the blackness descends on the town of Benson, taking on the form of small demons. They attack the Thing, and he tries to fight them off waking up the rest of the team. Going outside they notice that the town has been set ablaze. Johnny and Frankie then spring into action and use their powers to absorb as much of the flames as possible while the rest of the team evacuates the locals. With the flames getting closer to a fuel depot, Sue encloses it in a invisible force field while Ben topples a water tower to flood the fire. In the aftermath of the chaos, half the people in town decide to flee in fear in order to avoid their own deaths. Among those who remain behind are Wendy and her father. When Frankie spots Wendy's father she confronts him about the fresh set of bruises, but before she can do anything she is ordered to stand down by Mister Fantastic. When Frankie balks at his orders, he tells her that they are in no position to pass judgement over their fellow man. He then points out that if anything, Wendy's father learned what it's like to earn the wrath of something of a higher power instead. Realizing that the creatures were punishing the town for what he did to his daughter, Wendy's promises to try and make a change.

With no conclusive answers to be had, Reed determines that whatever forces at work in this area were testing the people in this town to determine if they are worth to stay here. The Fantastic Four depart shortly thereafter. After saying her goodbyes to the Fantastic Four she ventures out to the desert and a secret cavern not far from the dig. Inside she finds a seat among the rubble and soon finds herself surrounded by her little friends, the very creatures that besieged the town the night before.


Continuity Notes

  • The woman seeking the aid of the Fantastic Four is the same Aunt Petunia that Ben has been referring to since Fantastic Four #25.
  • Baxter Building doorman Sergius O'Houlihan was last seen in Fantastic Four #191 when the group briefly broke up. He next appears in Thing #10 where he encounters a morose Ben Grimm.
  • Reed is lamenting over Ben's transformation into a previous form that happened last issue. Ben's appearance now resembles his more dinosaur-like appearance that lasted between Fantastic Four #110 as he slowly adopted his more familiar rock-like appearance. Although Reed states that this transformation is permanent, it is reversed by Franklin in Fantastic Four #245.
  • Following her brief appearance here, Alicia is next seen in Fantastic Four #242 where she spends the holidays with Ben.
  • The uniform that Ben is wearing -- complete with the helmet -- is the exact same uniform he briefly wore in Fantastic Four #3, in that story he almost immediately discarded it, favoring the blue and black trunks that became his trademark outfit.
  • The reference to "Tuesday, November 17th" should be considered topical, as November 17th is not a Tuesday every year. This comic book was published in February 1982; November 17th was a Tuesday in 1981, which is likely the year that the narrator suggested.

Publication Notes

  • This issue contains a letters page Fantastic Four Fan Page Letters are published from Kerry Callen, John A. Wilcox, Paul R. Davis, Alice Gordon, Jim Gibney, (No Name Given) and John Sweeney.

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