- I want the real Franklin back, mister! And I want him NOW!
Appearing in "If This Be War -- !"
Synopsis for "If This Be War -- !"
Reed and Sue are shocked when Reed's father Nathaniel kidnapped their son Franklin and took him into the future, only for a young man claiming to be their teenaged son appears moments later. This teenaged Franklin Richards tells his parents that he spent the convening years fighting alongside his grandfather across various timelines. After explaining himself, Franklin is doubted by his own mother who demands to see her young child. Sue lashes out with her invisible projectiles but Franklin is able to protect himself with a psi-shield. As Reed tries to restrain his wife and get her to see reason, she warns Reed to let her go. When Lyja and Sharon try to step in, Ben tells them to hold back as this is a family affair. Recalling how his parents were always at each others throats, Franklin tells them that things are exactly as he remembers them. Hitting a control panel on his psi-armor, Franklin causes it to disappear in a flash of light and storms out, sarcastically thanking them for such a "warm" welcome. When Reed tries to talk to his wife, Sue angrily storms out of the room as well. Witnessing this, Ben considers all the other problems the group of facing: Johnny's arrest, and their lack of money, and wonders if this isn't the end of the Fantastic Four.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Manhattan, the villain known as Klaw gets a newspaper and reads about the Human Torch's recent arrest and trail over the burning of Empire State University. Planning to attack the court trial, Klaw is shocked when a portal suddenly opens in the streets and a armored warrior woman named Huntara emerges. She announces that she has come to this time to destroy the "Four Who Must Be Destroyed!". When the woman begins attacking a news stand it attracts police officers onto the scene. Seeing this strange woman as a means of getting revenge against the Fantastic Four, Klaw uses his powers to create a hard sound gorilla to keep the cops at bay. He then approaches the strange woman and tells her that he can bring her to those she seeks to destroy.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Franklin walks around acclimatizing himself in the past. He recalls how his grandfather warned him not to time jump to this era, but couldn't help himself if he was going to try and stop what was destined to happen. His thoughts are cut off by Sue yelling at Agatha Harkness. Peering into the next room Franklin overhears Sue ordering Agatha to leave their home after betraying them to Nathaniel Richards. Harkness tries to explain that what she did was for the greater good of the world, but Sue is unwilling to listen and orders the old witch out of her home. Hearing this, Franklin vows that he will not let anyone, not even his mother, interfere with his mission in this time. At that very moment, Johnny Storm is currently sharing a jail cell with a pair of crooks as he waits for his trial. When one of his bunk mates tries to show Johnny whose boss, the Torch flames on his hand to frighten him back. This attract a guard who has come to see what all the commotion is about. The guard scolds Johnny for causing trouble, but lets him out of his cell because it is time to attend his trial. As he walks down the cell block, Johnny hopes he can get out of jail quickly, as he suspects that one of his fellow inmates could be a Skrull spy trying to assassinate him.
Meanwhile in Earth orbit is the ship carrying Paibok and Devos who are continuing to monitor the Human Torch's activities on Earth. Paibok takes great pleasure in making the Torch paranoid before they launch their final attack. Watching his partner, Devos is convinced that he will have to kill Paibok in order to achieve his goal of galactic peace. Devos then thinks back to his childhood when his world was attacked from invaders from the stars. With his family and friends slaughtered, Devos had to fend for himself on his ruined world. Until one day he was found by some soldiers who decided to take the boy in and train them to be their greatest warrior. Devos was later experimented on by a woman named Symka who altered his genetics to make him a great hunter. Given a suit of battle armor, Devos then went out into the stars to create peace in the universe, by destroying everything that would be considered a threat.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Lyja is preparing for Johnny's court date thinking about her former husband. Suddenly she is struck by a contraction and buckles over in pain. This is seen by Franklin who offers his aid, but she merely brushes him off as the pain subsides, explaining it is merely frustration she is feeling. As Lyja storms off to meet up with the others, Franklin is convinced that there is something wrong with her. As Reed prepares for the court trial he struggles with his tie. He is helped by his wife and the couple have a moment to talk about Susan's recent mood swings. They comment about how the world is becoming a darker place and perhaps they are going in that same direction themselves. Sue then kisses her husband, telling him that the others can wait until they are done. Downstairs, Sharon tells Ben that she has been asked to stay behind with Franklin. Furious about this because of her betrayal to the group to Dr. Doom, Ben storms off to join the others in getting a cab. As the Fantastic Four and Lyja leave for Johnny's trial, none are aware that two men have been watching from afar, noting that their target has not left with the team. Meanwhile in Latveria, Doctor Doom is hatching a brand new scheme: Seeking to find a greater power to destroy his foes, he uses the energies stolen from Aron the Rogue Watcher to fire a bream into space hoping to attract a pawn to use against his hated enemies.
Outside the courthouse where Johnny's trial is taking place, the press is on site, including Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, his city editor Joe Robertson and photographer Peter Parker. Jameson is barking orders at Parker when suddenly interrupted by Silver Sable who hands him a bill for the Wild Pack's services to try and capture both Venom and the Human Torch, much to the delight of her associate the Sandman. Inside the courthouse, Matt Murdock councils Johnny, telling him that the District Attorney is seeking to dismiss all charges laid against the Torch due to the circumstances. Johnny is surprised when one of the witnesses turns out to be Bridgett O'Neil who wants to show her appreciation to Johnny for saving her life. When Johnny calls her "pretty lady", Lyja is instantly jealous and wonders who this woman is to her former husband. Soon the trial begins and as Matt Murdock begins his opening defense the courtroom is suddenly attacked by Devos and Paibok. When Johnny is about to flame on, Murdock advises him not to as it may negatively impact his case, leaving the battle for Reed and the others. From the audience, Peter Parker's spider-sense begins to go off, warning him of another attack. Suddenly Klaw and Huntara come smashing in through the wall as well. Delighted to learn that these newcomers are also seeking to destroy the Fantastic Four, Paibok welcomes them to the battle.
- Other stories occur between the pages of this issue between panel 3 & panel 4 on page 12. They are:
- Young Franklin Richards was taken to the future of Earth-6311 at the end of last issue. Young Franklin eventually returns in Fantastic Four #414. As clarified in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14, the teenaged Franklin seen here is not the child of Reed and Sue, but a divergent counterpart of the child.
- Sue's aggressive behavior is because she has merged with her Malice persona in Fantastic Four #369.
- The Thing is started wearing a helmet in Fantastic Four #375 after Wolverine seriously scarred his face in the previous issue. Ben continues to wear this helmet until Fantastic Four #385. His wounds are finally healed in Fantastic Four #409.
- Ben mentions two other problems that the group is facing:
- Klaw appears here following the events of New Warriors #36.
- It's later revealed that Huntara is apparently the offspring of Nathaniel Richards as explained in Fantastic Four #390. However this is later disputed in Fantastic Force #2 when Paul Alvarez states that he believes that Huntara is his long lost sister Mary Elizabeth Alvarez.
- Sue is angry at Agatha Harkness for betraying the Fantastic Four and assisting Nathaniel in kidnapping Franklin at the end of last issue. From her departure here, she is seen next in Scarlet Witch #1. Agatha remains estranged from the Fantastic Four until the Onslaught crisis in Fantastic Four #416.
- Franklin's mission is to prevent the destruction of his family at the hands of Hyperstorm. A complex series of events that finally reach their conclusion in Fantastic Four #414.
- Johnny is paranoid of Skrull spies because the last time he was almost arrested he was attacked by Lyja and Paibok in Fantastic Four #372, making him a fugitive from the law.
- Johnny and Lyja's quarrel is very complex:
- As revealed in Fantastic Four #358, Lyja took the place of Alicia Masters in order to spy on the Fantastic Four circa Fantastic Four #265. Due to the fact that the Thing was no longer part of the group, Lyja pursued a relationship with Johnny in order to maintain ties to the group.
- Johnny eventually married "Alicia" in Fantastic Four #300.
- Lyja was eventually exposed in Fantastic Four #357 and was seemingly slain the following issue during a mission to rescue the real Alicia Masters from the Skrulls.
- Lyja and her commander Paibok survived and have been trying to ruin Johnny from Fantastic Four #371–374.
- As revealed in Fantastic Four #390 and 393, Lyja and Johnny's "child" is not their offspring but a Gha'Barri implanted in her by Paibok.
- Sharon betrayed the Fantastic Four after Dr. Doom cured her of being a She-Thing in Fantastic Four #350. She did so by spying on the group since Fantastic Four #365 until she was exposed in Fantastic Four #375.
- Doom's attempt to pull a creature from space to use against the Fantastic Four comes to fruition in Fantastic Four #380–381.
- The various guest stars in this story...:
- J. Jonah Jameson appears here from the third story in Amazing Spider-Man #375.
- Joe Robertson appears here between Web of Spider-Man #99 and Amazing Spider-Man #377.
- Silver Sable was last seen in the second story of Amazing Spider-Man #375
- Sandman was last seen in the second story of Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #18.
- Silver Sable bills Jameson for for bounties on Venom and the Human Torch. She carried out these jobs in Amazing Spider-Man #375 and Fantastic Four #373 (This story incorrectly attributes the hunt for Johnny as happening in Fantastic Four #375).
- Sandman mentions that he and J. Jonah Jameson go "way back", Jameson was on the scene when Spider-Man first defeated the Sandman back in Amazing Spider-Man #4.
- Bridgett O'Neil was the girl who Johnny saved from Paibok back in Fantastic Four #371.
- Although credited as their first appearance, the Fearsome Foursome is not actually named until Fantastic Four Unlimited #5.
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