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Quote1.png She's telling the truth, Ben. Alicia isn't just another conquest for me. It's real this time. Quote2.png
Johnny Storm

Appearing in "Back from Beyond"

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Synopsis for "Back from Beyond"

New York City

After months living on Battleworld, the Thing -- with the deactivated head of Ultron -- teleports back to Earth, materializing in Central Park. As he walks through the park, Ben recounts how much has changed since he originally went off world to battle in the Secret Wars and how he can no longer change back to his human form at will. With nowhere else to turn, Ben decides to pay a visit to the woman he still thinks of as his girlfriend -- Alicia Masters. Ben goes to her apartment, completely oblivious as to how his approach to Alicia's home is making people nervous. When Ben knocks on Alicia's apartment door, he is shocked to find a shirtless Johnny Storm answering. Unprepared to tell Ben about his and Alicia's relationship, Johnny slams the door in a panic. Ben quickly figures out what is going on and comes smashing through the door, accusing Johnny of being nothing more than a skirt chaser. When Ben lashes out, Johnny flames on to defend himself, while also trying to explain to Ben that what he and Alicia have is genuine. But Ben is not willing to listen and attacks in full fury.

Alicia suddenly comes in and yells at the two men to stop fighting. When Ben tries to explain himself, Alicia is not willing to listen to his excuses and slaps him across the face. Although this doesn't hurt Ben physically, it totally crushes him emotionally. She then explains to Ben that while he was off on Battleworld trying to figure out who he is, she and Johnny have fallen in love. Ben turns away from them and mulls it over, wondering if it is his ego that has him so upset because he intended to break things off with Alicia but she beat him to the punch and already moved on. Before Ben can come to any conclusions he notices something strange happening to the sun while looking out the window. Up in the sky, a massive portal materializes and another planet begins to emerge from within. Suddenly the opposing gravity causes Alicia's apartment to collapse among the other buildings. Johnny saves Alicia, Ben tells him to get her to the Baxter Building right away.

When Johnny arrives, he finds She-Hulk and Wyatt there. After they explain that they've had no luck trying to contact Reed and Sue, Johnny goes outside to try and figure out what he can do in during this crisis. When Alicia calls Johnny her "darling", She-Hulk finally is clued in that they have started a relationship and that Ben is back. She-Hulk begins to fear that now that Ben Grimm has returned from Battleworld, her time with the Fantastic Four may be over.

Elsewhere in the city, Ben is walking through the rubble trying to figure out what happened when he comes across what he thinks is a woman. However when he approaches her, she transforms into a Dire Wraith and tries to assimilate his form. However the mandible from its mouth cannot pierce the rocky exterior of the Thing's skull, and Ben is able to pull it out. He is shocked when his alien attacker suddenly passes out. Suddenly the sky clears up, leaving Ben to wonder what has happened, while high above a space platform was used to repel the alien Wraithworld. Returning to the Baxter Building, Ben and Johnny learn that the Wraiths were turned back by Rom the Spaceknight, and that Rom had left Earth, saying his mission was accomplished. [1]

As they finish their conversation with General Locklin, She-Hulk enters the room with all her bags packed. This comes to a shock to Johnny and Alicia who insist that She-Hulk should stay on the team even if Ben is back. However Ben tells them that they are getting ahead of themselves... he's not coming back to the Fantastic Four, in fact, he quits.

Belle Porte

Following strange emanations of evil, the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange is drawn to the town of Belle Porte, Connecticut. Landing in the town, he disguises himself in street clothes and offers his aid as a physician to the police on the scene of the Benjamin house. The officer allows Strange to examine the bodies, who Strange recognizes them -- Reed and Sue Richards and their son Franklin, as well as occult expert Elspeth Cromwell. What happens becomes clear when local snoop Alma Chalmers comes onto the scene ranting about how the "Benjamin" family were secretly a coven of witches and how she hired Cromwell to exorcise them from the neighborhood.

At that very moment in the nether realm of Mephisto, the demon tortures the Invisible Girl's spirit in a vice-like device. Reed, trapped in rock, calls the demon a monster. When Mephisto explains that he is the embodiment of evil, Reed still defies him. As punishment, the lord of lies painfully stretches Mister Fantastic's body. When Sue begs the demon to leave her husband alone, Mephisto decides to return his attention to her so that he can prolong the mutual suffering. He then impales Sue on a stalagmite, before boasting how his rise to power will allow him to consume the entire world.

Mephisto's rant is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Doctor Strange who engages Mephisto in mystical combat. Knocked aside, Strange spies the form of Franklin Richards, trapped within a crystal fast asleep. When Mephisto orders the Sorcerer Supreme away from the boy's inert body, Strange realizes that Mephisto must be using the boy in some way. Hearing this, Reed wonders if perhaps his son's mutant powers are returning and yells to Doctor Strange, telling him to free his son.

Complying, Strange uses his magical powers to shatter the crystal keeping Franklin prisoner. As Franklin wakes up, Mephisto approaches the boy, threatening to torture his soul for all eternity. Made angry by this threat, Franklin's powers charge up and he fires an energy blast from his eyes that seriously harm Mephisto. The lord of lies quickly realizes that he is growing weaker, and when Franklin unleashes his powers upon him again, he is seemingly obliterated.

Back on Earth, Alma is still going on about how the Benjamin family are witches when Doctor Strange reappears and tells both her and the officer that they are actually members of the Fantastic Four. At that moment, Reed, Sue and Franklin awaken -- their souls returned to their bodies and they are happily reunited. When Reed notices that Elspeth has not awoken, Strange explains that she is dead. When Alma asks Strange to bring her back to life, he explains to the elderly gossip that it is beyond his power to do so, in using her powers to try and destroy evil, it cost Cromwell her own life. As Chalmers breaks down in tears, Strange tells her not to forget what has transpired this night.


Continuity Notes

New York

  • Thing returns to Earth in this issue after a long stint on Battleworld. Ben was kidnapped by the Beyonder along with other heroes and villains to battle it out in the Secret Wars in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1. In issue 2 of that series he discovered he could change back and forth between his human and Thing form. By issue 12 of that series he decided to stay behind and explore. Ben's adventures were documented from Thing #1122. Ben abandoned Battleworld when he discovered that the beings he encountered there were merely constructs of his own mind, he lost his ability to transform at will as a result.
  • However this is not the real Alicia Masters, but a Skrull spy named Lyja, who replaced Alicia to spy on the Fantastic Four as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. The switch happened during the events of Fantastic Four #265. Upon learning that the Thing had left the group, she began pursuing a romance with Johnny to maintain Alicia's ties to the Fantastic Four.
  • The Dire Wraith attack on Earth is chronicled and resolved in Rom #6165 when the Spaceknight Rom rallied Earth's governments and super-heroes to band together and stop the Wraith invasion of Earth.
  • The Fantastic Four and their supporting cast, including the Thing, are all seen next in Thing #23 when Ben officially quits the Fantastic Four. He remains estranged from the team until Fantastic Four #296.

Belle Porte

  • Doctor Strange's claims that he is a doctor is no deception. Prior to becoming a mystic he was a renowned surgeon, as told in his origin from Strange Tales #115.
  • Franklin's mutant powers have fluctuated since they were first hinted at in Fantastic Four #129. Most recently, he made his powers dormant in order to prevent his body from burning out as seen in Fantastic Four #245. Franklin's powers began resurfacing last issue.
  • Following his appearance here, Doctor Strange next appears in Marvel Fanfare #2021 when he battles his foe Xandu with the help of the Thing.

See Also

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