- Don't lie to me, Ben! Reed couldn't help me the last time I was a She-Thing!
Appearing in "Only Death Be My Salvation!"
Synopsis for "Only Death Be My Salvation!"
In revenge against Sharon Ventura for wringing on her deal to spy on the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom has caused Ms. Marvel to begin uncontrollably mutating, transforming her into a form even more hideous than her previous She-Thing form. The Thing has rushed her to Four Freedoms Plaza where Mister Fantastic and the rest of the Fantastic Four, along with Johnny's ex-wife Lyja, and Franklin's future teenage self, try to find a cure. During the middle of tests, Reed suddenly collapses in extreme pain, having not fully recovered from being attacked by Huntara's psionic scythe, forcing Sue to call a halt to experiments as she brings her husband to be for rest. Watching as Sue leads Reed away, Lyja can't help but feel sorry for the strain Sue has been under: not only has her husband been seriously injured, but her own invisibility powers are hampered and her son has been replaced by a teen who claims to be Franklin Richards from the future. With this recent delay and her continued mutation, Sharon loses her temper and breaks free from her restraints. Ben gets her to stop trashing Reed's lab and vows that Reed will find a way to cure her. Seeing this Johnny hopes Doom will pay for what he has done and Franklin assures his uncle that Doctor Doom will pay for this.
Meanwhile, in Latveria, Doctor Doom is having dinner and getting the latest updates on a new mutant disease that proves to be fatal to all mutants who have been exposed to it. Doom demands that the Servo-Guard obtain more information as he intents to try and develop a cure in case the virus mutates and begins effecting the human population and puts his people at risk. Upon hearing that his minions have delivered his "message" to Sharon Ventura in New York, Doom is pleased. Lastly he is informed that Project: Space Probe has made initial contact with a powerful being from space. Pleased, Doom begins heading to his lab where he reflects on his recent attempts to obtain and control the Power Cosmic. Arriving to his lab, Doom is informed by one of his technicians that not only has contact been made with intelligent life, but this powerful life form is now heading toward Earth.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Lyja watches as her ex-husband begins bonding with Franklin over a game of pool. As Johnny tries to make sense how his young nephew could have been taken to the future and returned as a teenager, Franklin asks about the woman who was part of the attack of the Fantastic Four that injured his father. When Johnny begins to describe the woman, Franklin inadvertently pulls the memories from Johnny's mind and realizes that it is Huntara, and believes that she must have come back to this era to stop his quest. Suddenly, Ben bursts into the room and tells the others that Sharon has gone missing. At that moment aboard the a spaceship above Earth, Paibok, Devos, Huntara and Klaw recover from their battle against the Fantastic Four. While Paibok and Klaw treat each other with contempt, Devos and Huntata find a mutual admiration for each other over their fighting skills. Before discussions can get much deeper, Paibok reigns them all in to discuss their next plan to destroy the Fantastic Four.
At that moment in Manhattan, the members of the Fantastic Four are out searching for Sharon Vetura. As Johnny flies over the city, the Torch marvels over how his lawyer Matt Murdock manages to get him out on bail after he accidentally set fire to Empire State University. Johnny is happy to be free, but his mood is soured when people in the street begin to panic at the sight of him. He is called down to the ground by a woman who appears to be Johnny's classmate at ESU, Bridgett O'Neil. "O'Neil" engages in small talk with Johnny until he has to break off conversation with her to continue his search. When Johnny is out of sight, Lyja resumes her normal form, convinced that Johnny is two-timing her. Elsewhere in the city, Ben spots Sharon skulking in an alleyway watching people from the street. Ben tries to convince her to come back to the Four Freedoms Plaza and give Reed a chance to cure her. She has a hard time believing that Reed can cure her, pointing out all the times that Reed failed to cure Ben over the years. She also points out how Ben won't even let anyone look under his mask to see the damage done to his face. When Ben continues to appeal to her, Sharon loses her temper and hits him so hard he goes flying across the street.
As Sharon goes on a rampage on the streets, Ben quickly recovers and tries to contain her, but her new form is more powerful than his. Johnny quickly spots Ben's battle with Sharon and fires a Fantasti-Flare into the sky summoning Sue and Reed to their location. Meanwhile, Ben and Sharon's battle take them to into the subway below. There Sharon knocks Ben aside long enough to attempt to commit suicide by throwing herself on the third rail of the subway track, jolting her with a seemingly lethal jolt of electricity. Soon after, Johnny, Sue and Reed arrive on the scene. When Reed checks on Sharon's body, he discovers that she is just barely clinging to life. When they try to communicate this to Ben, they find that he is gone. Thinking that Sharon has died, the Thing has returned to the Four Freedoms Plaza where he prepares to launch the Pogo Plane on a direct course to Latveria so he can get revenge against Doctor Doom. Sometime later, as Doctor Doom prepares to receive his alien visitor, he is informed of the approach of the Pogo Plane in Latverian air space. Doom orders a proper welcome for the intruder and as the plane approaches Castle Doom it is blasted out of the sky.
- A number of events have happened between last issue and this story. A number of events happen between A number of events happen to the Fantastic Four between pages 20 and 21 of last issue.
- Ben later appears in Deathlok (Vol. 2) #36
- Johnny and Ben make an appearance in Quasar #50
- The entire team later takes part in the Infinity Crusade event which runs from Infinity Crusade #1–6. Members of the Fantastic Four also appear in the following Infinity Crusade cross-over stories that also occur in during this event.
- Reed specifically appears in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #18, Web of Spider-Man #104, Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #56, Warlock Chronicles #2, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #19, Web of Spider-Man #105, and Darkhawk #31.
- Sue appears in Thor #464, Marc Spector: Moon Knight #57, Web of Spider-Man #104, andDoctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme #55.
- Johnny is seen in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #18, Web of Spider-Man #104, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #19, Darkhawk #30, Web of Spider-Man #105, Darkhawk #31, and Web of Spider-Man #106.
- Ben appears in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #18, Web of Spider-Man #104, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #19, Darkhawk #30, Web of Spider-Man #105, Darkhawk #31, Alpha Flight #127, Web of Spider-Man #106.
- Ben and Reed later make a brief cameo in X-Men (Vol. 2) #25.
- Then follows the last two pages of last issue, followed by the events of this issue.
- Some facts about Sharon's mutations here:
- Sharon was mutated into a She-Thing form in Fantastic Four #310 when she was exposed to Cosmic Rays.
- She eventually sought a cure from Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #350 in exchange for spying on the Fantastic Four.
- Sharon's duplicity was exposed in Fantastic Four #375, and Sharon betrayed Doom, who vowed to get revenge against her.
- Doom sent his minions to spy on her in Fantastic Four #377 and they later triggered her current mutation at the end of last issue.
- Reed was injured by Huntara last issue.
- The Thing is wearing a helmet here because his face was scarred battling Wolverine in Fantastic Four #374, he started wearing the helmet in the following issue. Ben continues to wear the helmet until Fantastic Four #385 and his face is ultimately healed in Fantastic Four #409.
- Lyja mentions some of Sue Richards' trials and tribulations recently:
- She mentions Sue's inability to cast her invisible force fields without great strain. This was due to injuries suffered upon her by Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #375.
- She mentions the teenaged Franklin, who replaced Sue's Franklin after he was abducted by Nathaniel Richards in Fantastic Four #376. The future Franklin remains until he is swapped back with his Earth-616 counterpart in Fantastic Four #414. As Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14 clarifies, this is not an older version of Earth-616 Franklin, but an alternate reality counterpart.
- The virus that Doctor Doom and his Servo-Guard are discussing is the Legacy Virus, which was unleashed upon the mutant population by Stryfe in X-Force #18 following the end of the X-Cutioner's Song event. Some facts about Doom's concerns here:
- The Servo-Guard states that the virus is fatal and has killed all mutants infected with it. This is a vague reference to the recent death of Illyana Rasputina who succumbed to the virus in Uncanny X-Men #304
- Doom's concerns that it might mutate and spread to the human population are valid. Later on in X-Men (Vol. 2) #27, a viral based mutant named Infecta dying of the virus. This caused it to mutate and effect humans, although the only human ever recorded as having the virus was mutant researched Moira MacTaggert in Excalibur #80.
- Although Doom begins collecting data to find a cure, one is not developed until the Beast developed a cure in Uncanny X-Men #390. Which happens two years after this story in Marvel time.
- Doom mentions how he once wielded the Power Cosmic of a Watcher. He is referring to when he stole the powers of Aron the Rogue Watcher in Fantastic Four #373, he lost most of that power in Fantastic Four #375.
- Franklin knows who Huntara is because, as revealed in Fantastic Four #390, they grew up together. Franklin's mission in the past is to stop Hyperstorm from killing the Fantastic Four. A complex quest that finally reaches fruition in Fantastic Four #414.
- The Fearsome Foursome are not named here, they are officially named in Fantastic Four Unlimited #5.
- Klaw remarks how Devos' ship is not as impressive as the one owned by Galactus. Klaw was a secret visitor aboard the Worldship of Galactus due to a complex series of events:
- Klaw's form was absorbed by the mutant named Dazzler, who has the ability to convert sound into light energy. She did this in Dazzler #9.
- Later when Dazzler was abducted by Galactus in Dazzler #10, she unleashed this energy upon her foe. It was believed that Klaw was dead.
- However in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #6, Doctor Doom invaded the Worldship and discovered that Klaw was still alive, that his energies were trapped within the walls of the ship and freed him.
- Following their appearances here, the Fearsome Foursome are next seen in Fantastic Four #382.
- People are afraid of the Human Torch due to the fact that he accidentally set fire to Empire State University in Fantastic Four #371. Johnny was on the run from the law after that in the following issue until he turned himself over to the authorities in Fantastic Four #376. Johnny's court trial was from Fantastic Four #377–378.
- Lyja disguises herself as Bridgett O'Neil an ESU student that Johnny first met in Fantastic Four #366.
- Lyja's jealousy over Bridgett is due to the following facts:
- 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.
- Eventually, Lyja betrayed Paibok when she realized she still cared for Johnny, and came to her ex-husband's side in his battle against the Secret Defenders in Fantastic Four #374. She has remained by his side ever since.
- She first started becoming jealous of Bridgett after meeting her during Johnny trial in Fantastic Four #377–378.
- The top levels of the Four Freedoms Plaza are seen destroyed here, as they were destroyed by a Gamma bomb in Infinity War #2/Fantastic Four #367. Repairs have been halter due to the settlement that the Fantastic Four had to make with Empire State University in Fantastic Four #375 to pay for the damages caused by Johnny to campus in Fantastic Four #371.
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