- @$%#@, She-Hulk -- move! We got a lot of panels to fasten onto this framework before Richards' big-deal ray cannon will work right!
Appearing in "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun!"
- Darbians (First appearance)
- Star-Tap Siphon
- Atmo-Web Suit
Synopsis for "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun!"
In a far off galaxy a war is being fought between two brothers, Umbar and Jaagur. Near a massive red star rests Warworld ruled by Umbar, who prepares to do battle against his father. When his commanding officer General Damos comes with word that they are to be attacked by Jaagur, the general recommends that they evacuate Warworld. Umbar will do no such thing, even at the risk of losing untold lives. Soon his chief scientist Myrrhot finishes attaching his newly invented Star-Tap Siphon to his battle armor. Since only Umbar and Myrrhot know the secrets of the armor, Umbar incinerates the scientist so that he cannot betray its weaknesses. Umbar then tells General Damos to prepare his men for battle and dismisses him. Watching the massive red star outside of his window, Umbar prepares for the battle to come and what he assuredly believes will be the death of his brother Jaagur.
Meanwhile on Earth, the Fantastic Four have been called to a secret military base in the South Pacific. Sue is excited when Wyatt and She-Hulk arrive by plane as they have her son Franklin with them. After a brief reunion with her son and checking with her comrades, Sue is asked to bring them in for a security check. She-Hulk takes offense to this and lifts the solider off the ground and asks if her appearance and strength are not enough identification for him. The soldier relents and Sue leads them all away invisibly before there can be any more trouble. They join Reed, Johnny and Alicia in a lab where the two men are hard at work on one of Reed's inventions. As Reed and Franklin are happily reunited, the Thing enters the room carrying a device on his shoulder. Because he is wearing a trench coat to cover up his appearance Ben and his angry demeanor, Ben frightens his godson. When Franklin asks why Ben is acting so strange, Alicia changes the subject and takes the boy out to the beach. When Franklin is gone, Wyatt gives Ben the special package he asked for. As Ben goes off into the other room to open the package, She-Hulk asks what is wrong with the Thing. Reed explains that Ben went through quite an ordeal during their last encounter with the Mole Man. He explains that they were rescued by the Navy and brought straight to Washington to the White House. There they were briefed on the governments Star Watch Program, where scientists discovered that the sun was somehow becoming unstable.
She-Hulk cuts in reiterates that she wants to know what is happened to the Thing. Reed goes on to explain that Ben went through some further mutation prior to being cured while living with the Mole Man. While Ben is physically back to normal, his mental outlook has changed as a result. As Reed is explaining this, Ben is opening the package and removing a full body uniform complete with a helmet so that he can cover up his appearance. Back inside, Reed confirms that Ben has reluctantly agreed to return to the Fantastic Four, however they are unsure if he will actually be able to work with the team any longer, he also wonders if the group can function as a team at all anymore, but doesn't voice them. Reed then gets back to the task at hand, he asks She-Hulk to accompany them on a mission out to Earth's sun where the Starcore space station is located. There they are going to examine some extra-dimensional tap that seems to be draining power from their sun, causing the instability. With a counter-phase beam, Reed hopes to stop it before there is permanent damage done that can threaten the Earth.
As Reed continues his explanations, Johnny catches up with Alicia on the beach as she is playing with Franklin. The Torch then asks Alicia to talk with him in private for a moment. They leave Franklin alone for a moment so Johnny to explain their mission. But more importantly, Johnny asks Alicia to marry him, and much to his relief she says yes. As the two embrace, they are unaware that the Thing is nearby within earshot and has heard the whole thing.
Soon the Fantastic Four are blasting off into space, leaving Wyatt, Franklin and Alicia on Earth. Soon they reach their destination and the Thing and She-Hulk go out into space help construct the counter-phase ray. The Thing is grumpier than ever and snaps at She-Hulk for not moving fast enough. They are soon joined by the Human Torch who puts on an atmo-web suit so he can flame on in space. Inside the ship, Reed and Sue prepare to activate the device. Reed pauses to get a reading and is horrified to find that the solar drain is worsening but does not know why. While light years away on Warworld, the forces of Umbra and Jaagar are locked in combat. As the forces battle each other Jaagar, in special space-warping armor manages to breach Umbar's base of operations and makes short work of his guards. Face-to-face the two brothers then lock in combat.
Back near the sun, the three members of the Fantastic Four continue assembling the counter-phase device. Ben stops for a moment to brood over his current situation, and is still incredibly upset over the revelation that Johnny and Alicia -- his old girlfriend -- are planning on getting married. Believing that his work is finished, Ben then rockets himself out into space. When Johnny notices what's going on, he believes Ben is in trouble and flies out to rescue him. However when he gets Ben talking he realizes that the Thing is purposely sending himself out into space to die over the fact that he proposed to Alicia. Unwilling to let Ben kill himself, Johnny burns out his rocket pack and then begins pulling him back to the ship. His atmo-web wears out just as he reaches the ship, but his sister Sue is quickly outside and surrounds him in an oxygen filled invisible force-field. Once they are all inside, Reed tells them to get ready for the device to activated. At that moment on Warworld, goth Umbar and Jaagar continue to battle it out. Reed activates his device which channels energy from his counter-phase device, through the Starcore space station and into the very sun itself. Lightyears away, the device has an effect on Umbar's armor. While the Fantastic Four try to contain the control of the device, a giant vortex appears on Warworld, swallowing up Umbar and Jaagar before destroying the entire planet. Back in Earth's solar system, the Fantastic Four register that the destabilization of the sun has ceased by the counter-phase device is about to overload and blast off just seconds before it explodes.
Although the Fantastic Four are safe and enrout back home, they are not out of danger yet, as emerging from the Starcore space station is the merged form of Umbar and Jaagar, now two beings in one.
- The woman seeing with Johnny is not the real Alicia Masters, but a Skrull spy named Lyja. As revealed in Fantastic Four #358 she posed as Alicia to spy on the Fantastic Four. The switch happened during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- Reed goes into some of the reason personal issues that Ben is dealing with around the time of this issue. Some details:
- 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.
- In Thing #36, Ben was injected with a virus that caused him to mutate into an even more hideous form, he fled hospitalization.
- He ended up joining the Mole Man's society last issue where he was cured of his condition but still held a grudge against Reed and the Fantastic Four for everything that happened to him. Despite this he grudgingly rejoined the team.
- The full body costume, complete with helmet, the Thing is wearing in this issue is a variation of the one he briefly wore in Fantastic Four #3. This version has the white-on-black color scheme that matches the rest of the teams current costume patterns. Ben abandons this costume at the end of next issue.
- Johnny finally proposes to "Alicia" here after unsuccessfully trying in both Fantastic Four Annual #19 and Fantastic Four #287. The couple get married in Fantastic Four #300.
- Sue recounts how a mission into space originally created the Fantastic Four, this of course is a reference to the events of Fantastic Four #1.
- Johnny is using an atmo-web suit that Reed first invented for him to use in space back in Fantastic Four #13.
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