- What good indeed is someone who can't at least watch?
- -- Aron
Appearing in "...And You Can't Wake Up!"
- New York City
- Monster Isle
- Turino XL
Synopsis for "...And You Can't Wake Up!"
At the Four Freedoms Plaza, the clones of the Fantastic Four created by Aron the Rogue Watcher have taken the places of the originals. As the clone of Reed begins working in his lab, the clone of Ben scoffs at everything he does. They are soon joined by Alicia Masters who is unaware that they are really clones. regardless of her confusion that Ben is now back in his Thing form after last seeing him in human form. "Ben" explains that to defeat the Frightful Four, he had to stop a doomsday weapon, and the radiation had turned him back into the Thing. Alicia buys this story being fed to her and is more interested in hearing about their next mission when Ben brings it up. Reed informs the rest of the group that they are going to capture the Mole Man. Alicia is still uneasy when she considers that Reed is taking orders from the computer, and that none of them seem aware that the Mole Man was last seen as a prisoner of the Lava Men or that Monster Island had been sunk. The clones quell Alicia, explaining that Reed can use a device to raise Monster Island from the ocean floor so they can complete their task. "Johnny" then convinces his "wife" that she should go. After she leaves, the clones realize that Alicia is getting close to discovering the truth about them, and that they may have to kill her in order to keep their secret.
Meanwhile, in the Canadian Rockies Aron the Rogue Watcher scans the wilderness before returning to the cave that serves as his hideout. He reiterates to his minion, the android Dragon Man, of his desire to not only observe events like his fellow Watchers, but play a part in molding them to his whims, thus having captured the Fantastic Four and placing them in suspended animation after creating clones of their foes. With the Frightful Four aware of what happened, they too had been placed in suspended animation so that Aron's secret could be kept safe. This also allows Aron to create new clones in the event any of them die while on a mission.
While out in the south Pacific, the cloned Fantastic Four pilot their Fantasti-Car over the location where Monster Island used to stand and use a powerful magnetic device to raise it out of the ocean. As they land, "Ben" and "Sharon" race ahead ignoring "Reed's" demands that the wait to avoid any potential dangers found on Monster Island. Deep in the tunnels these cloned Fantastic Four members run into a two headed creature in the tunnels and attack it. The inexperienced clones are ill prepared for an actual battle, and they find themselves knocked deeper into the realm of Subterranea. Recovering from the fall, the faux Fantastic Four continue to search for the Mole Man, as Aron monitors their progress from afar.
As Aron continues to watch his creations, inside one of the cryogenic suspension units Ben Grimm begins to dream. In this dream, Ben replays the moment when he and Sharon discussed his recent return to human form. Instead of accepting each other as they are as it happened in real life, in Ben's dream, Sharon rejects Ben for reverting back to human form -- telling him that this recent reversion spoiled what she saw as a good thing between the two of them. At that very moment, Sharon is having a very similar dream. In her version Ben is the one rejecting her, telling Sharon that now that he is human again he can have his pick of any woman he wants and would rather that than be dating a monster. This angers Sharon to the point where she tries to strike Ben....
... Meanwhile, back in the waking world, the phony Fantastic Four have come across the Valley of Diamonds and eventually cross paths with the Mole Man. Unaware that he is dealing with clones, the Mole Man warmly welcomes the Thing back to his domain. He tells them how he escaped the Lava Men and after his encounter with the Fantastic Four he has been striving for peace between the various underground species that live in Subterranea. Mole Man's shocked when the "Fantastic Four" suddenly turn on him and attack. The Mole Man counter attacks by unleashing his Moloids and various monsters against the heroes, but they easily fight off this first wave of attackers and chase after the fleeing Mole Man. The Mole Man gets reinforcements and the battle rages on. However as the clones of the FF begin losing their edge, "Reed" activates a device that fires a ray down on Monster Island, causing it to destabilize, causing the tunnels to begin to collapse. The fake Fantastic Four rush back to the surface, leaving the Mole Man and his minions to be buried alive and flee in their Fantasti-Car. As they leave, the Mole Man vows that he will get revenge against the Fantastic Four for betraying his trust. Just as the "Fantastic Four" fly safely away, Monster Island explodes.
Watching this from afar, Aron gloats over his victory and how things have to end the way he wants them to, while not far away the Fantastic Four and their foes continue to dream on while in suspended animation.
- The clones of the Fantastic Four behave in much the same manner of the real Fantastic Four back during the early days of their careers with all the limitations set upon them from Fantastic Four #1-10.
- The woman who claims to be Alicia Masters is actually a Skrull spy named Lyja, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. She replaced the real Alicia Masters during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- "Alicia" mentions how the last time she saw Ben he was human. The real Thing was changed back to human form in Fantastic Four #326.
- "Alicia" tries to remind them that the Mole Man, last they knew was captured by the Lava Men, as seen in Fantastic Four #313. She also mentions that Monster Island was sunk, that happened in Fantastic Four #296.
- Aron mentions how he was assigned to be tutored by Uatu the Watcher of Earth. This was decreed in Captain Marvel #39. After meeting the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four Annual #21 he decided to take a more active role in their lives.
- The clones battle in the tunnels of the Mole Man are similar to the events of Fantastic Four #1.
- Ben and Sharon's dreams about confronting each other about their physical appearances was based off the events of a similar conversation that happened in Fantastic Four #327.
- The Mole Man was last seen in Fantastic Four #313 being dragged away by the Lava Men. He is next seen in Avengers: West Coast #54 when he is manipulated into attacking Los Angeles during the Acts of Vengeance conspiracy.
- Although apparently destroyed here (much like in Fantastic Four #1) Monster Island actually survives the blast and is next seen in Fantastic Four #347.
- The script credit on this issue is to "John Harkness" due to Steve Englehart's unhappiness with the editorial direction he was obliged to undertake.
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