Appearing in "Homecoming!"
Races and Species:
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "Homecoming!"
During a stormy night the Thing is walking through the streets of Stockton, California. He has a brief altercation when a driver strikes him with their car. When the driver complains about how his wheel is bent, Ben rips off the hood and sends him on his way. As he walks into the nearby woods, the site of where the Fantastic Four crash landed on the space flight where they got their powers, Ben reflects back on that moment. Recalling how they went up into space to test Reed's new space ship despite Ben's warnings of the dangers posed by cosmic rays. How they were bombarded by those very rays and when they all gained powers when they crash landed: Sue was able to turn invisible, Ben mutated into the Thing, Reed could stretch his body, and Johnny became a human torch. After they all realized their powers, Reed suggested that they put their powers to good use, and they formed the Fantastic Four. With his recollections over, Ben laments that the entire time he had been nothing more than a monster. Sometime later, Ben has his pilot friend Hopper Hertnecky fly him out over the South Pacific. There, Ben jumps from the plane and then swims out to Monster Island, the place where he thinks he belongs.
Sometime later in Los Angeles, Reed fires the Fantasti-Flare into the sky from the group's hotel room. Seeing it in the sky, Sue has to abruptly leave a charity fund raiser. While Johnny has to break his date with Alicia at a nearby car show to answer the call. Reed has called them because his search for the Thing has brought them Hooper Hertnecky, who is introduced to the team. Hooper tells them that Ben has gone to Monster Island, and tells them to leave him alone as they have done enough to hurt him. With utter contempt, Hertnecky departs, warning them against going to look for Ben. As Hooper leaves, She-Hulk finally arrives and wonders what happened when she sees her teammates saddened looks. Eventually the Fantastic Four return to New York. Back at their headquarters the Four Freedoms Plaza, She-Hulk exercises with her boyfriend Wyatt Wingfoot and tries to get some insight on the relationship between her teammates. Wyatt tries his best to explain the family dynamics of the original members of the Fantastic Four.
While outside, the Human Torch puts a stop to some robbers who are trying to make a getaway from the police. Trying to get his mind off Ben, Johnny finds that he cannot even after using his powers to destroy a derelict ship to blow off some steam. Back at the Four Freedoms, Sue finishes a call with her son Franklin who is staying at Avengers Mansion. Sue then goes to check on her husband who has spent his time in his lab brooding over a holographic image of Ben. When Sue gets fed up of Reed blaming himself for what happened to Ben, she angrily tells her husband that he needs to get over what happened, as does Ben have to stop blaming Reed for the accident that turned him into the Thing. That Ben has used this guilt to torture Reed over the years and that he has suffered enough. Reed realizes that his wife is speaking the truth and decides to try and find Ben to settle things once and for all, he is not surprised when Sue and Johnny decide they're going with him. Later as the Fantastic Four prepare the Fantasti-Car for their trip, Johnny is confronted by Alicia who demands to go as Ben was her longtime boyfriend before they got together. Reed tells Alicia that it is a family matter and very dangerous, and convinces Alicia to stay behind.
When the Fantastic Four arrive on Monster Island they are soon attacked by a horde of creatures that live there. As they battle through the monsters, their ship is smashed to bits, trapping them on the island. Racing into the caverns that lead into Subterranea, the three founding members of the Fantastic Four force back the monsters and then Johnny seals the entrance to the caverns so they can get away. When the monsters catch up, Reed has led his team to the Valley of Diamonds, there he has everyone cover their eyes as Johnny flames on. The sudden blinding light sends the monsters fleeing in agony. Reed carries his team into the next chamber where they are attacked by more creatures, these ones able to counteract their powers. Soon the three heroes fall and are finally confronted by the Thing -- dressed in garb similar to the Mole Man -- tells them that they shouldn't have come for him. He apologizes for all the things he had said in the past and explains that the Mole Man was able to stop his form from into entering a more unstable state and as such is staying behind. When the Mole Man enters the room, he is about to attack his old foes, but Ben manages to talk him out of it. The Mole Man concedes and allows the Fantastic Four to stay the night.
That evening as they are eating, Ben once more visits them to express how much happier he will be when they are gone. Their pleas to Ben to come back home with them go unheard. To pass the time, Ben takes the Fantastic Four on a tour to see that Mole Man's latest project. They witness as the Moloids and his Outcasts prepare to dig a hole that will raise their subterranean city up above the ocean where it will be an independent and isolated nation on the surface. Reed and the others question Mole Man's altruism when they see that weapons of war are being prepared as well, but Ben assures them that it is only for self defense. Suddenly the Mole Man contacts Ben and tells him to get the Fantastic Four out of a restricted area. When they return to the Mole Man he chastises the Thing for showing the Fantastic Four their secrets. Suddenly they are interrupted when one of the outcasts enters with the unconscious body of Alicia. When she comes around she explains that she couldn't stay behind and convinced Hooper to fly her to Monster Island. The Fantastic Four and Alicia are then remanded for the night confined to their quarters.
That evening, Alicia is visited by Ben and she tries to explain to him how her relationship with Johnny works. Ben will not listen to any of it and angrily leaves the room, slamming the door behind him. As Ben walks through the halls he hears the sound of battle and comes upon Reed and Sue fighting an army of Moloids. Ben steps in and subdues Reed and Sue and orders the Moloids to stop. Suddenly the Mole Man enters the room to show off the fact that he has disfigured Johnny's face in revenge for his "betrayal" to Ben. Having had enough, Ben orders the Fantastic Four to leave him alone and they are taken to the surface. There they run into Hooper who has been waiting on the beach since dropping Alicia off. Reed explains that he discovered that the Mole Man's plan to raise an island on the Pacific would have grave repercussions by way of flooding and catastrophic earthquakes all along the seaboard. Reed needs to go back, but Johnny and Sue refuse to let him go alone. When Alicia asks to feel Johnny's face, to "see" what was done to him, he cannot bring himself to let her.
Down below, the Thing demands to talk to the Mole Man, but his ally needs to go into his "treatment" room and abruptly brushes Ben off. Getting fed up of the Mole Man's erratic behavior, Ben smashes through the door and is shocked to see that the Mole Man is living in a holographic fantasy world full of beautiful people where he is the center of attention. Trying to talk to his friend, Ben realizes that the Mole Man is too deep into his own fantasy to respond. Suddenly Ben hears the sound of an attack and rushes out to see the Fantastic Four trying to destroy the Mole Man's machinery. At first Ben rushes in to help the Moloids try and stop them, but confronting Reed one-on-one, he is convinced to stop the Mole Man before he causes untold death and destruction. Shouting "It's Clobberin' Time!" Ben joins his former teammates in the fight, fighting off monsters and Moloids alike. Ultimately fighting past the Mole Man's army of Outcasts, the Fantastic Four manage to destroy the massive boring device. The resulting destruction destabilizes Subterranea. As the entire place is coming down around their heads, Ben convinces Sue and Reed to go ahead while he tries to find a way to reverse the damage done to Johnny by the Mole Man.
Getting to the lab, Ben activates the device that cured him when he is confronted by the Mole Man. Trying to convince him to help and get out, the Mole Man is concerned with nothing more than going to his "treatment" room. Meanwhile outside, Reed and Sue get to a rubber raft where Alicia and Hooper are waiting for them when suddenly Monster Island collapses into the ocean. Suddenly they spot Ben swimming toward them with Johnny with him. When they get onto the rubber craft they are relieved to find that Johnny has been restored to normal. After some convincing, Ben agrees to go back with his old friends and rejoin the Fantastic Four. Realizing that they are stuck at sea until help comes, they all wonder how exactly they are going to pass the time.
- The members of the Fantastic Four (excluding Ben) and Franklin were all last seen in Power Pack #28 when the Fantastic Four and battled the Zn'rx.
- The Thing was last seen in West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #10 hiding from the West Coast Avengers due to the fact that he had been violently mutating further since Thing #36. Although Ben is still apparently suffering from this condition at the beginning of this story, he shows no outward signs.
- The Thing has been estranged from the Fantastic Four since Thing #23 for the following reasons:
- In Fantastic Four #245 Reed had realized that Ben could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms at will but his belief that his girlfriend Alicia Masters only loved him at the Thing. Reed kept this a secret.
- When most of the Fantastic Four were among those kidnapped by the Beyonder to battle in the first Secret Wars on Battleworld, Ben discovered he could change back and forth and believe it was because of Battleworld itself. He decided to stay there in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12.
- Ben remained in Battleworld between Thing #11-22 where he eventually lost his ability to change back into Ben Grimm and returned to Earth.
- When he arrived in Fantastic Four #257 he discovered that Johnny was now in a relationship with "Alicia".
- Finally in Thing #23 the truth of what Reed had known came out and the Thing quit the Fantastic Four.
- This story states that when the rocket flight that created the Fantastic Four crash landed in Stockton, California, which became the official origin city for the group in 1986. This contradicts Fantastic Four #245 and other sources that state that the rocket crashed in Ithaca, New York, as well as the Fantastic Four #1, which had the foursome landing in the fictional Central City.
- This story retells the origin of the Fantastic Four as it was first seen in Fantastic Four #1. This version of the origin story states that it was test flight of Reed's new space ship. Although the motivations and the technology used in the flight are not discussed.
- In the flashback during the Fantastic Four's origin, Ben mutates into a lumpy, dinosaur-like skinned being. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50 Ben continued to mutate thereafter eventually transforming into his trademark rock-like appearance around Fantastic Four #10.
- Hooper Hertnecky was last seen in Secret Wars II #7, he flew Ben to a movie set.
- Reed signaling his teammates to come to him is played out in much the same way as when Reed first summoned the Fantastic Four back in Fantastic Four #1.
- This is not really Alicia Masters who appears here, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358 this really is a Skrull spy named Lyja who is posing as Alicia. She took the real Alicia's place during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- "Alicia" mentions her and Ben's long lasting relationship. Ben and the real Alicia Masters dated consistently between Fantastic Four #9-264.
- The Mole Man was last seen in Secret Wars II #7 when he joined Mephisto's Legion Accursed in a failed bid to destroy the Beyonder.
- The Outcasts were all apparently killed in a lava flow during the events of Fantastic Four #264. If these are survivors or new recruits is unspecified.
- Although the Mole Man seemingly perishes here he resurfaces alive and well in Fantastic Four #313.
- Likewise the destruction of the Monster Island is not permanent, it's later raised out of the ocean in Fantastic Four #329 by Clones of the Fantastic Four created by Aron the Rogue Watcher.
- Monster Island is first time depicted as existing in the South Pacific in this issue, but changed is later issues. e.g. Fantastic Four #347-349.
- This is a giant sized Marvel 25th anniversary issue.
- Plot by Shooter, script by Lee.
- Contains articles by Stan Lee and Jim Shooter.
- No letters page.
- Hill, Ian (July 10, 2005). Fantastic Return.
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