Appearing in "Payback!"
- Human Torch
- Bridget O'Neil
- Professor Janson
- Invisible Woman
- Nathaniel Richards
- New York City
- Keewazi land
Synopsis for "Payback!"
Waiting at the Last Gas Saloon on the New York docks, Wolverine reflects back on a moment where he allowed his anger to get the better of him and he slashed the Thing's face scarring it forever. Hoping to atone for this mistake, Logan waits at the bar for the Thing to arrive so they can talk it out. However when Ben Grimm arrives he is not in the mood to talk. Outside, a seemingly innocuous looking homeless man notes that the Thing went into the bar and radios to his employer the Mad Thinker to inform him that everything is going according to plan. Satisfied, the Mad Thinker sets his next plan in motion and deactivates his simulacrum, transferring his mind back into his physical body which is still incarcerated in the Vault prison in Colorado. There he gloats how Wolverine's recent attempts to apologize for scarring the Thing has given him the perfect opportunity too slay one of the last surviving members of the Fantastic Four. As the seemingly homeless man skitters away to initiate his plan he is unaware that he was being watched by Ant-Man, who had stowed away aboard the Fantasti-Car in case Ben needed any help.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma the Human Torch practices his abilities with the She-Hulk. Afterwards when they stop they talk about the loss of Reed and how the Fantastic Four have broken up. When Jennifer offers to rejoin the Fantastic Four on a temporary basis again, Johnny tells her that he's never going back to the group. When he spies the strange blonde woman who has been eyeing him the entire time he's been out on the archaeological dig, Johnny excuses himself to go and talk to her. However before Johnny can catch up with the woman he is stopped by Professor Simon Janson who thanks Johnny for saving his life after he became a vessel for Raptor the Renegade. While Johnny is distracted, the woman (secretly Lyja in disguise) bumps into Bridget O'Neil who is interested to know who this stranger is.
Back in New York, the Thing is uninterested in having a drink with Wolverine, telling the mutant that he only drinks with his friends. Wolverine explains that he has asked Ben to come out so he can apologize for slashing his face earlier in the hopes they can make amends. The Thing wishes to do nothing of the sort, angrily smashing the bar with his fist in a fit of rage. With the situation deteriorating rapidly, Logan decides to oblige the Thing and pops his claws. The two are about ready to fight it out when they are interrupted by Ant-Man who tries to warn them they are about to be attacked when suddenly three men armed with high tech weapons come busting through the wall.
At that moment in Latveria, Nathaniel Richards has Doom's Servo-Guards working dilligently trying to find the location of his son -- but he is not talking about Sue's missing but presumed deceased husband, Mister Fantastic. Sue demands answers as to the identity of this long lost son, and there whereabouts of her husband, but when Nathaniel tells her that he can answer her but she won't like the answer he provides if he were to tell her now. Sue concedes and agrees to do things Nathaniel's way... for now. Out in the hallway, Sue is suddenly visited by the flaming apparition that she and the rest of the Fantastic Four saw previously. The flaming spirit tells her counterpart to listen to Nathaniel as he is the key before vanishing once again, leaving Sue more confused than ever.
The battle rages on in New York, but the high tech assassins prove to be no match for the three heroes. As Ant-Man mobilizes an army of ants, Wolverine disables the merc armed with a freeze thrower, while the Thing takes down a man with mechanical gauntlets and another with a hydrolic whip. With the three enemies down, the battle is far from over when they are joined by a synthetic being called the Super Android F-4, which can mimic the powers of the Fantastic Four. While back in Oklahoma, Lyja introduces herself to Bridget O'Neil as "Laura Green" and they get to talking about Johnny Storm. Much to Lyja's surprise, Bridget and Johnny are not dating and are only friends. More so, Bridget tells "Laura" that Johnny has been more interested in her since the mystery woman appeared on site. O'Neil warns "Laura" to stay away from Johnny because he is healing from a broken heart. Lyja reflects how she is the author of this pain.
The Super Android gives the Thing and Wolverine a run for their money, with it's ability to utilize the Fantastic Four's powers. Watching from the sidelines, Ant-Man feels more useless than ever and wonders how he can help in the battle that is raging on. While in Latveria, Sue demands an explanation as to who they are looking for. Nathaniel begins explaining that during his travels through time he ended up in Latveria in the past where he collapsed from injuries sustained in battle. He was taken in by a woman who nursed him back to health and they soon fell in love. Nathaniel explains that before he left to continue his quest, she was pregnant. He finishes his recollection by revealing that this other son is apparently Kristoff Vernard, the future heir of the Latverian throne, a revelation that Sue finds impossible to believe. Back in New York, both the Thing and Wolverine are not gaining any headway battling the Super Android. Finally, Ant-Man has a solution and after slingshotting himself at their foe, he douses the android with his Pym Particles, causing the Super Android to shrink in size. With their foe shrunk down to ant size, the Thing then flicks him into the Hudson River. When the Thing is about ready to start his fight with Wolverine again, Ant-Man steps in and tells them they really should talk. After discussing things, they quickly realize who was responsible for sending their attackers. The following day the Mad Thinker waits in anticipation for reply from his hired assassins when one of the guards comes with a mail call. Opening the envelope, the Mad Thinker is frustrated when he finds a photograph of the Thing, Wolverine and Ant-Man having beers together with a note on the back reading "Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!"
- Prior to this story the Fantastic Four had broken up in Fantastic Four #392. The team is drawn back together in Fantastic Four #397.
- The entire plot surrounding Wolverine and the Thing is centered around the fact that in Fantastic Four #374, Wolverine scarred the Thing's face with his claws during a battle between the Fantastic Four and the Secret Defenders. The Thing's face eventually gets healed in Fantastic Four #409
- Wolverine is depicted with bone claws in this story, since the Thing last saw Wolverine, Logan had the Adamantium pulled from his bones in X-Men (Vol. 2) #25, he discovered that he had bone claws in Wolverine (Vol. 2) #75. During this period of time, circa Wolverine (Vol. 2) #79, Wolverine discovered that his healing factor was failing him and that he was going to die, as such he began closing unfinished business. This issue becomes a moot point when Wolverine's healing factor is jumpstarted in Wolverine (Vol. 2) #100.
- The Mad Thinker has been operating from within the Vault prison, projecting his mind into android bodies as need be since Fantastic Four #300.
- Johnny and She-Hulk mention how Mister Fantastic is dead. He was seemingly slain by Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #381. However both turn up alive and well in Fantastic Four #406–407 when it is discovered that they have been prisoners of Hyperstorm the entire time.
- She-Hulk offers to rejoin the Fantastic Four. Jen filled in for the Thing during a leave of absence from Fantastic Four #265–300.
- The apparition that appears before Sue was last seen in Fantastic Four #387. As revealed in Fantastic Four #398 the projected image of Susan Richards in this story is a holographic projection created by Nathaniel Richards which he uses to subtly manipulate the Fantastic Four into place for his much larger goals of defeating Hyperstorm.
- Lyja and Bridget O'Neil speak of the romance life of Johnny Storm. Which is quite complicated as follows:
- Lyja (as revealed in Fantastic Four #358) replaced Alicia Masters circa Fantastic Four #265 to spy on the Fantastic Four. Since the Thing was away from the team, she pursued a relationship with the Torch.
- The couple eventually got married in Fantastic Four #300.
- Lyja was exposed as a spy in Fantastic Four #357 and they rescued the real Alicia in Fantastic Four #358 where Lyja seemingly died.
- When Johnny got to Earth he got a legal divorce to end his marriage with "Alicia" in Fantastic Four #359.
- Lyja survived and sought revenge against the Torch for leaving her dead, teaming with with Paibok and Devos in Fantastic Four #370. As revealed in Fantastic Four #390 Lyja was implanted with a Sha'Barri as a last ditch attempt to kill the Fantastic Four. Lyja later led Johnny to believe it was their unborn child in Fantastic Four #371.
- Realizing that she still loved Johnny, Lyja came to his side in Fantastic Four #374 and their romance recovered until she gave birth in Fantastic Four #386 and she was forced to reveal the truth about their "baby" in Fantastic Four #389 apparently ruining their relationship for good.
- Nathaniel's flashback takes place years before Kristoff's mother was slain in Fantastic Four #247. As Nathaniel does not have cybernetic eye these events must have occurred following his appearance following the events of Fantastic Four #273. His claims that he is the father of Kristoff Vernard are unsubstantiated.