Appearing in "Strange Interlude"

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Synopsis for "Strange Interlude"

Kubic is continuing his teachings with Kosmos -- formally the Beyonder -- of the nature of the universe. Their travels have brought them to the planet Earth.He points out that the Earth is unique in the universe and Kosmos suggests that perhaps it is because it is the center point of the Nexus of All Realities. Kubic then turns her attention to the Fantastic Four, explaining how exposure to cosmic rays while on a mission in space gave them their extraordinary powers. Seeking to learn how such individuals were endowed with their powers they pull the Fantastic Four's consciousnesses from their headquarters at the Four Freedoms Plaza to conduct an experiment. Scanning the minds they learn of each members greatest strengths: Mister Fantastic's intellect, the Invisible Woman's capacity for compassion, the Thing's courage, and the Human Torch's aggressiveness.

To test if these traits are necessary for each member to survive, Kubic creates a massive maze and plants the members of the Fantastic Four in different sections with the subliminal desire to escape, but strips them of their most powerful character traits. The Thing is transported in a room and is forced to face a monstrous creature without his courage. When Ben is attacked he is forced to fall back, seemingly trapped in a corner without his sense of courage. Reed is teleported into a hallway and ask he tries to make his way across he is suddenly trapped in an air tight sphere with no visible means to escape. Trapped without his intelligence, Reed gives into his buried aggression. The Torch is teleported to the bottom of a deep pit. When he tries to flame on in order to fly out, he finds that there is not enough oxygen to fully engulf himself in flame, seemingly making him trapped. Sue finds herself in another hallway, when she tries to cross she is almost blasted by a laser embedded in the wall. She then fires a number of invisible spheres and learns there is an entire net of seeming impassable lasers.

With the test seemingly reached a deadlock, they turn their attention back to the Thing. Ben as been watching the creature from around the corner and he soon learns that it is a mother and has only been protecting its child. Utilizing his latent compassion, Ben slips around slowly and when the monster notices him he acts passively. Not seeing the Thing as a threat any longer, the monster allows him to pass. Back with Reed, Mister Fantastic gives in to his anger and through his aggression manages to use his stretching powers to force himself through the thin gap between the sphere and to freedom. Johnny meanwhile is using his untapped intelligence and he suddenly realizes that the lack of air is nothing more than an illusion to keep him in his place. Focusing his mind, he manages to flame on and fly out of his trap. Lastly, Sue uses her bravery and instincts to make a run for it and manages to dodge all the lasers without the use of her powers.

With the Fantastic Four having passed their various tests they are teleported outside of the massive complex and left to wonder what happened to them. Johnny deduces that they have been used as test subjects and that their captors are invisible to sight. Recalling how Sue can use her powers to make something things visible, she concentrates and uses her power to make Kubic and Kosmos appear before them. Impressed with the Fantastic Four's performance they put the heroes into stasis again and return their core personality traits. The two cosmic beings have come to realize that it's not these single traits that make the heroes who they are, but a combination of their primary and lesser traits. That their incompleteness gives them limitless potential to strive and advance as a race. With their test concluded, they return the Fantastic Four to their bodies on Earth and return to the cosmos to continue their studies.


Continuity Notes

  • The origins of the Fantastic Four is recapped from their origins first depicted in Fantastic Four #1.
  • In the flashback of the FF's origin the Thing is depicted with lizard like skin. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, the Thing's body continued to mutate after he was transformed slowly evolving into the rock-like form he that is his trademark appearance around Fantastic Four #10.
  • At the time of this story Ben Grimm was actually in human form (and had been since Fantastic Four #326) presumably Kubic turned him back into the Thing for this test and restored him to human form when the Fantastic Four were returned to Earth.

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