Appearing in "The Monster Among Us!"
- New York City
- Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Synopsis for "The Monster Among Us!"
Following their most recent encounter with the Puppet Master, Reed has developed a device that will map out the brain patterns of the members of the Fantastic Four and their family. The intent is that should anyone be under the control of some outside force it would set off an alarm warning the rest of the team that someone's mind has been infiltrated. Just as everyone else is finished, Alicia enters the room and is asked to subject herself to the device, however Alicia declines concerned about how safe it is. When she tries to walk out of the room, Sue stops her and points out how stubborn she is being, seeing that the rest of the Fantastic Four won't let up, Alicia surrenders to being scanned by the device.
Meanwhile, at the Vault Prison in Colorado, the Mad Thinker is being mocked by one of the Guardsmen. The Thinker informs him that he is not day-dreaming, but plotting the destruction of the Fantastic Four. Although the Guardsman mocks him, the Thinker is is true to his claim, as he is projecting his mind into a simulacrum of his body on the outside in a secret laboratory. According to his calculations, the Mad Thinker expects a visitor and he is not let down when his former partner the Puppet Master arrives to ask for his help. When the Puppet Master states that he needs help in discovering what is so strange about his step-daughter Alicia Masters, the Thinker states that he also noticed that she has been acting strangely since after she married the Human Torch. Calculating all the data, the Thinker offers to provide insight into the situation in exchange for the Puppet Master assisting in the destruction of the Fantastic Four. When Phillip recounts all the times he lost against the Fantastic Four, the Thinker tells him that once he reads this data the Fantastic Four are as good as dead.
At that very moment at a Park Avenue art gallery, Alicia is trying to sell her latest sculptures, however the curator of the gallery finds her abstract works too cold and alien and that the public only wishes to purchase what Alicia Masters is known for. Outside the gallery, the Human Torch is showing off to a bunch of women with his flame powers. The women are openly flirting with him when Alicia comes out. When they ask if Alicia is his girlfriend, he tells them she is his wife. When one of the women comments about how that's too bad, Johnny sheepishly agrees. As he walks his wife away, Johnny can't help but take one look back at the gorgeous women he was entertaining. Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Johnny is spending time with his sister Sue who has noticed that Johnny has been distracted lately. Eventually she gets Johnny to open up and he tells her how he thought a marriage was supposed to be ideal and how easy Reed and Sue make it appear. When he remarks how much work it actually takes, Sue tells him that nobody every realizes that until they are actually married. When Sue brings Reed some coffee while he works away in his lab, he tells her that he has been going over the brain patterns of everyone he has scanned. He has come up with some strange data that he will have to run through to determine which member has abnormal mental patterns. The whole while Reed is telling this, he is unaware that Alicia is secretly listening in from outside the door.
Back at his apartment, the Puppet Master is going over the data provided to him by the Mad Thinker and cannot believe what he is reading. However he has no choice to believe because if he doesn't act upon this information his step-daughter could die. Stuck between the destruction of the Fantastic Four and the need to rescue Alicia, the Puppet Master makes his decision. That evening back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Ben is preparing an evening snack when suddenly he hears some crashing sounds coming from Reed's lab. Going to check it out, he finds a completely black individual trashing Reed's mind scanner. When Ben tries to stop the invader, he is surprised when the mystery attacker shapeshifts into a bird and manages to slip away. When Ben runs out after the intruder, he rounds the corner and almost runs into Alicia. When Ben asks if she detected anyone nearby, she tells him that she sense nobody. The commotion brings the rest of the Fantastic Four and they assess the damage while Ben tries to explain what happened. They find no trace of a forced entry and when Ben tells them he isn't making it up, they are joined by Franklin who has been woken up by all the commotion. Everyone jokes when Franklin suggests that Uncle Ben had a bad dream, but Ben isn't in a joking mood and storms out. As Johnny and Alicia taken Franklin back to bed, Sue checks on her husband who tells her that their intruder obviously was seeking to obtain his copies of their brain patterns, but failed to get copies which he now begins to analyse to determine what the anomaly within them are.
Elsewhere in the city, Ben Grimm walks the streets in the pouring rain. Eventually he crosses paths with the Puppet Master who calls out to him from an alley. He asks for Ben's help, but Grimm violently grabs him and is about to punch his old foe out when he asks for help for the sake of Alicia. This causes the Thing to pause for a moment and ask to know what the Puppet Master means. Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Johnny has decided that Ben was telling the truth and that there is something strange going on. As Alicia suggests that perhaps the Puppet Master might be involved, the Thing suddenly bursts into the room telling Johnny to get away from Alicia, who he says he intends to kill. From the lab, Sue glances at the security screens and tells Reed that Ben has returned home with the Puppet Master in tow and suspects that he might be under the influence of their old foe. Reed however restrains his wife, telling her that she must not interfere, making her wonder if the Puppet Master is controlling her husband as well.
Back in their quarters, Johnny flames on as Alicia makes a run for it. Ben does not feel threatened though as he rips up some of the fire proof carpet and uses it to smother Johnny's flame and restrain him. Ben then chases after Alicia vowing to get her while Johnny follows behind trying to stop him. Ben manages to cut Alicia off in the hanger by smashing through walls in order to get at her. Johnny also gets there and tries to keep Ben at bay with his flame powers, but the Thing is not detoured. He manages to get to a fire extinguisher and douses Johnny's flame again. By the time Reed and Sue catch up to the rest of the team, Ben has Alicia cornered and is demanding she reveal the truth while striking the wall behind her. Eventually "Alicia" gives in and begins to change shape. Much to the shock of everyone in the room, the woman they thought was Alicia Masters was actually a Skrull!
- The members of the Fantastic Four were all last seen in Spider-Man #23, while Franklin was last seen in Fantastic Four #350.
- As revealed this issue, the woman who has been posing as Alicia Masters has actually been a Skrull spy the whole time. It is revealed next issue that the spy is named Lyja and that she has been posing as Alicia since Fantastic Four #265.
- The Mad Thinker has been a prisoner of the Vault since his arrest back during his last appearance in Power Pack #54. He exhibits the ability to project his mind into an artificial body to continue his schemes while still in prison. The Thinker first exhibited this ability back in Amazing Spider-Man #242.
- The Puppet Master and Mad Thinker have had a long standing series of alliances. At the time of this story the pair have worked together in Fantastic Four #28, Strange Tales #126, Sub-Mariner #14, Captain Marvel #13, Avengers #63, Fantastic Four #100, Marvel Team-Up #6, and Fantastic Four #300.
- The pair mention that the "Alicia" has been acting strange since she married the Human Torch. That happened in Fantastic Four #300.
- The Puppet Master states that every time he has gone up against the Fantastic Four he has lost. As of this story that assessment is correct. The Puppet Master has failed to destroy members of the Fantastic Four in: Fantastic Four #8, 14, Strange Tales #116, Fantastic Four #20, Strange Tales #126, 133, Fantastic Four Annual #3, Fantastic Four #100, Marvel Team-Up #6, Marvel Two-In-One #9, Fantastic Four #168-170, 236, Thing #5-6, 34, and Fantastic Four #300.
- Johnny states that Reed and Sue are still on their "honeymoon" after being married. This happened in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, roughly eight years have passed since Reed and Sue were married.  Johnny talks about how Reed and Sue having an "ideal" marriage, he seems to be selectively forgetting about the time that Reed and Sue were separated and almost divorced between Fantastic Four #130-149.
- The Puppet Master mentions Ben's love of Alicia Masters. This is a complex history which is as follows:
- Ben and Alicia began dating around Fantastic Four #9. For years Ben struggled with the idea that Alicia loved him for who he really was and the idea that he was a monster. Frequently, Ben flip flopped between thinking Alicia only loved him out of sympathy. Since Fantastic Four #245 he came to believe that Alicia only loved him because he WAS the Thing.
- When Alicia was later tortured by Annihilus in Fantastic Four #251-256 it caused Ben to re-evaluate their relationship. Between Thing #2-9 Ben began considering breaking up with Alicia.
- Then in Thing #10, Ben, Johnny and Reed were kidnapped by the Beyonder to fight in the Secret Wars. In Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #3, Ben discovered that while on Battleworld he could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms. When the Secret Wars ended in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #12 Ben decided to stay behind while the others heroes returned to Earth.
- While Ben was away, as revealed next issue, Alicia was replaced by Lyja during the events of Fantastic Four #265. Without the Thing around, "Alicia" pursued a relationship with Johnny in order to maintain a direct connection with the Fantastic Four.
- When Ben returned in Fantastic Four #277, he was upset to find that "Alicia" and Johnny were in a relationship, and he became estranged from the Fantastic Four in Thing #23.
- Ben eventually, and begrudgingly, returned to the team in Fantastic Four #296 and was the best man at Johnny and "Alicia's" wedding in Fantastic Four #300. Although Ben soon realized that he still had feelings for Alicia in Fantastic Four #303.
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