- From the looks of that blast -- there won't be any survivors! But... where's Ben--? What's happened to The Thing?!
- -- Human Torch
Appearing in "Comes the Hunger!"
Synopsis for "Comes the Hunger!"
Thinking that Sharon Ventura killed herself after Doctor Doom triggered an unstable mutation in her body, the Thing has flown to Latveria to get revenge only to be shot out of the sky and taken prisoner by some of Doom's Servo-Guards. Unconscious from the crash, Ben is taken to two of Doom's human soldiers, who have him loaded aboard a ship. They decided to pause for a moment to remove the Thing's helmet and see what is wrong with his face and they are horrified by the scars they find hiding underneath. At that very moment, Doctor Doom is meeting with his technicians to follow up on the status of the alien creature that they have been drawing to Earth and learns that it will arrive soon. Doom is then interrupted by one of his Servo-Guards who advises his master that the Thing has been secured within the castle. Doom is surprised to learn that the rest of the Fantastic Four are not with him, but is sure they will come once they learn that Ben is his prisoner. Doom tells his minions to make ready preparations, warning them that a fate worse than death awaits them if they fail. Even as Doom's plan begins to formulate, a strange energy quickly approaches the Earth.
Meanwhile, at the Four Freedoms Plaza in New York, the rest of the Fantastic Four have Sharon Ventura secured in a medi-chamber when Johnny informs them that Ben has left with the Pogo Plane. They quickly realize that Ben must have thought Sharon was killed during their fight and went after Doctor Doom for revenge. As Reed begins to give out orders, suddenly he strains from his injuries and begins to fall over. Sue braces his fall with an invisible force field, but this too causes her great strain from her own injuries. This causes Johnny to wonder what their chances against Doom will be in their current shape. Elsewhere in the headquarters, Franklin strolls the halls mulling over the fact that his mother hates him and will never accept the fact that she is her son, back from many years in the future. His thoughts are interrupted when he suddenly hears a crash. Rushing into the next room, Franklin finds Lyja has fallen on the floor again. He helps her up, but she has him promise not to tell Johnny about her recent bouts of pain. Franklin agrees, but when he tries to probe her mind, he finds her alien thoughts are too difficult to decipher, although he knows this has something to do with the baby she claims to be carrying and that there is something wrong.
While back in Latveria, Doom's technicians have detected the strange alien being as it first appears above Earth's atmosphere and its sudden disappearance on its scanners. Believing that the creature must be trying to avoid their probes, they send out ground troops to try and find it. Meanwhile, the Thing awakens in Doom's banquet hall, being offered a meal by his foe. Still thinking that Doom is responsible for Sharon's death, Ben tries to rush him, but is incapacitated by special restraints placed on his wrists that are designed to give him neuro-shocks. As Doom gloats over his achievements and his latest schemes, Ben tries to fight the neuro-shocks so that he can fight back against his foe. However, just as Ben gets close enough to Doctor Doom, he cannot take any more pain and blacks out again. At that moment two miles away, soldiers and Servo-Guards scour the mountains of Latveria for signs of the alien their master has summoned to Earth. Suddenly the robots explode, and when the two soldiers go to investigate, a golden energy swarms one of the men. His body is sucked dry of all its energies leaving the man a lifeless husk. As his comrade stands horrified, the energy creature that just killed the first soldier emerges from his dead body and envelopes its next victim.
Back inside Doom's castle, the Thing has been shackled to a wall lined with television screens. There Doom waits for his enemy to awaken, and as a jest, removes the Thing's mask. However, seeing Ben's horribly scarred and infected face, Doom actually feels some empathy as his own face had been scarred years ago. Although Doom has not found a way to heal his own face, he offers Ben the chance to heal his own. When the Thing refuses, Doctor Doom punishes him by turning on the television monitors, forcing Ben to look at close-ups of his scarred face. Doom warns Ben that his patience has limits, but offers Ben the chance to not only have his face healed, but his humanity restored. At that moment outside, troops scour the village near Doom's castle where they find that a number of villagers have been slaughtered by the creature they brought from space. As the soldiers report back, they too are attacked and killed, prompting one of the technicians to face the consequences of his failure to capture the creature and inform his master. As he does so, the creature has taken hold of a soldier's body and has begun moving it toward Doom's castle. Doom is about to lose his temper with the Thing when he is interrupted by his technician who warns him of the approaching alien creature. As Doom punishes the man, the alien blasts through the castle wall and begins clashing with the Doombots that greet him there.
Hearing the commotion, Doom leaves his technician and Ben behind and goes for the device he used to steal Aron's Power Cosmic in the hopes of stealing the alien's power. Rushing upstairs, Doom finds that all of his robots have been destroyed. Doom rounds the corner and finds his foe attacking more Doombots, and unleashes the power of his device in the hopes of stealing the alien creature's power. While down below, Ben uses his strength and determination to fight through the neuro-shocks and break free from his bonds. While upstairs, the alien creature destroys Doom's energy draining device. It then rushes the Latverian dictator and tries to drain his energies, but the Thing interferes. Quick thinking, the Thing pulls some exposed electrical wires and thrusts them into the emaciated body of the possessed soldier. While outside, the rest of the Fantastic Four and Lyja have almost reached Castle Doom in a borrowed Quinjet. As they approach for a landing, the outer walls of the castle suddenly explode....
- 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 Fantastic Four #378.
- The Fantastic Four contained her last issue, although Ben thought she was killed and went after Doctor Doom to get revenge.
- 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.
- Doom has been trying to summon an alien creature to Earth in order to steal its power since Fantastic Four #377.
- Although unnamed here, the alien creature begins calling itself the Hunger starting next issue.
- 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 halted 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.
- Sue has had strain on her force field powers since she was injured battling Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #375.
- Franklin mentions how his mother doesn't like him. This is because the teenaged Franklin, 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.
- Lyja's tenuous ties with the Human Torch are as follows:
- 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.
- The device Doom uses to try and steal the Hunger's power is the same device that he used to steal the powers of Aron the Rogue Watcher in Fantastic Four #373.
- Doom boasts that he has humbled the Silver Surfer and the Beyonder. These are references to the following:
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