- Where do we catch the next trolley for the 23rd century, Gloria Steinhem version?
Appearing in "Alternatives"
- Android with 6-arms
- Fantastic Four (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- Franklin Richards (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- Alicia Masters (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- She-Hulk (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- Wyatt Wingfoot (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- Avengers (Earth-30987) (Only appearance)
- Earth-8763 (Only appearance) (Machus remained unmerged, conquered by Sisterhood)
- Earth-30987 (Only appearance)
Synopsis for "Alternatives"
The Thing tries to cheer himself up by spending time in the Fantastic Four's trophy room, but the idea does little to affect his mood. The problem is that even though he was the best man at Johnny and Alicia's wedding he is still hurting over the fact that Alicia ended up marrying the Torch instead of him. Thinking about how this happened, Ben comes to the conclusion that if he hadn't gone to Battleworld and took part in the Secret Wars none Johnny and Alicia's relationship would never would have happened. Ben then decides to see what Reed and Sue are up to, but when he finds them watching over their son Franklin as he sleeps, he decides that he doesn't need them to babysit him during one of his moods and decides to go out and get some fresh air.
Ben finds himself walking through a powerful storm and as he continues to think of how things would have been different had he not gone to Battleworld, he is suddenly blinded by a flash of lighting. Appearing before him is his old ally Thundra, who explains that she had returned to her own future recently thanks to the Nth Command's reality projector, but now needs his help. She explains that the warriors of Machus are revolting against the women on her world. When she asks for Ben's help to quell the uprising, he agrees to join her. Activating her D-Belts, Thundra transports the two of them to the 23rd Century.
The pair appear in the middle of a dungeon where the warriors of Machus have the Femazon guards chained up as hostages. They easily fight off the men, but they then unleash a six-armed android against them. At first neither Thundra or the Thing are any match for their foe, but Ben eventually knocks it out and the uprising is ended. In the aftermath of the battle, Thundra asks Ben to marry her, but she warns him to make up his mind quickly as the D-Belt -- at it's current settings -- will send him back to his own era. After some thinking, Ben decides instead of going back to the moment he first left, he wants another crack at trying to be happy with Alicia and asks Thundra to send him into the past so he can prevent himself from going to Battleworld and losing Alicia.
Thundra agrees and a device is constructed to project Ben not only back in time, but into his body during that point in time. Ben is merged with his past self just moments before he, Johnny and Reed are tricked into entering the Beyonder's transporter onto Battleworld. At the last moment, Ben dives out of the way while Reed and Johnny are teleported away. He then goes back to Alicia's apartment where he tells her what happened, but assures her that with the other heroes that were also captured, Johnny and Reed will make it back okay. He then asks Alicia to marry him and she agrees.
Not long after this, Reed and Johnny return and are reunited with Sue and Ben, who tells them of the upcoming wedding. Ben is surprised to see that Johnny is a little sad to hear that he and Alicia are going to tie the not, making Ben question if Johnny only fell in love with Alicia after he came back from the Secret Wars. Eventually it is time for the wedding and the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and their friends, family and allies are all present. During the exchange of vows, Ben continues to doubt if this is the right course of action and suddenly decides to call the wedding off, much to the shock of everyone. Ben then charges out of the church, leaving the super-powered guests to prevent it from collapsing on the other guests.
As the guests try to make sense of what was happening, Ben rushes to a nearby cliff and begins calling out to Thundra, thinking that she has taken some kind of perverse pleasure in this turn of events. An image of Thundra appears before him and explains that she had no hand in the ensuing tragedy. When Ben asks to return to her world and accept her wedding proposal, she informs him that the D-Belt charge cannot return him to her time but only his proper point in history. With no other choice and the others coming to demand answers, Ben is shot forward through time and space and returns to the present time in his own era. Returning to the Four Freedoms Plaza, Ben takes a seat in Franklin's room to watch the boy sleep and come to terms with everything that has happened that evening. When Ben mulls it over he breaks down in tears when he realizes that he is still in love with Alicia, and fears that perhaps he always will.
- Some of the objects in the Fantastic Four's trophy rooms have been previously seen in other stories. These items are:
- The "Fantastic Four Turn Bad!" is either a reference to Fantastic Four #2 or Fantastic Four #7. In FF #2 the Skrulls turned humanity against the Fantastic Four. This was also part of a scheme by Kurrgo in FF #7.
- The marionettes are a set created by the Puppet Master as first seen in Fantastic Four #8.
- Ben's hang ups over Alicia are very complex.... They are as follows:
- They had been dating since Fantastic Four #9
- When most of the Fantastic Four were among those kidnapped by the Beyonder to battle in the first Secret Wars on Battleworld in Thing #10, Ben discovered he could change back and forth and believe it was because of Battleworld itself, as seen in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3. 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.
- Unknown to all, and as revealed in Fantastic Four #358, Alicia had been replaced by the Skrull spy named Lyja. This happened during the events of Fantastic Four #265
- When he arrived in Fantastic Four #277 he discovered that Johnny was now in a relationship with "Alicia".
- Ben had quit the Fantastic Four in Thing #23.
- Ben ended up joining the Mole Man's society Fantastic Four #296 where still held a grudge against Reed and the Fantastic Four for everything that happened to him. Despite this he grudgingly rejoined the team when they later came looking for him.
- Johnny and "Alicia" subsequently got married in Fantastic Four #300.
- Thundra mentions that she returned to her own era via the Nth Projector, this happened in Marvel Two-In-One #68. This is not the Thundra that Ben first encountered circa Fantastic Four #129, but a divergent version of Thundra created, presumably, by the Nth Projector. Some clarifications:
- Thundra hales from Earth-715 (Aka Femazonia) as depicted in Fantastic Four #152. As explained in that same issue, Thundra's future was going to merge with Machus a male dominated world index as Earth-74101. By Fantastic Four #153 both Femazonia and Machus were merged into a Earth-7412 where both men and women lived in harmony. Earth-715 and Earth-74101 ceased to exist.
- When Thundra used the Nth Projector to return to her "own reality", she actually ended up in an alternate Femizonia designated Earth-8009. The projector apparently created a divergent Thundra who also ended up on Earth-8763 where the Femazons had enslaved the warriors of Machus.
- All these realities were indexed in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3.
- Thundra sends Ben back in time to the final moments of Thing #10 before he, Johnny and Reed were abducted by the Beyonder. Ben's changing of events caused a divergent reality which has since been indexed as Earth-30987 per Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #3.
- In the original course of events -- as later revealed in Fantastic Four #358 --- Alicia was replaced by Lyja circa Fantastic Four #265. It is unclear if that is the case in the divergent reality that is created when Ben goes back in time. Obviously, at the time this story was published the idea of Lyja taking Alicia's place to spy on the Fantastic Four had not been developed as a concept.
- Other continuity irregularities in this new timeline are as follows:
- This story apparently ignores the fact that Sue was pregnant at the time of the original Secret Wars and went into labor shortly after the Fantastic Four returned in Fantastic Four #265 and that she had a miscarriage and nearly died giving birth in Fantastic Four #265. This was probably overlooked for narrative pacing, an explanation should be considered speculative.
- She-Hulk and Wyatt Wingfoot appear to be in a relationship in this alternate timeline. On Earth-616 their relationship began when She-Hulk joined the FF in Fantastic Four #265. She met Wyatt when the FF battled Terminus circa Fantastic Four #269-270. This story suggests that She-Hulk did not end up joining the FF because Ben remained behind on Earth. How Wyatt and Jen ended up in a relationship in this new timeline is not explored.
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