Appearing in "The Ties That Bind!"
- Donald Halberg
- Doctor Doom (Only in flashback)
- Kristoff's mother (Only in flashback)
- Servo-Guards (Only in flashback)
- Doombots (Only in flashback)
- Time Platform
Synopsis for "The Ties That Bind!"
In order to ensure that Hyperstorm hasn't affected his mind in anyway, Reed has summoned his son Psi-Lord to probe his mind and the results come out clean. After the testing is over, Ben takes the moment to once more celebrate that Reed is alive and well. Johnny then pulls a prank by lighting Ben's shorts on fire. Furious, Ben tries to put out Johnny's flame with a fire extinguisher, but Reed gets in the way before things can escalate any further. When Ben and Johnny continued to chide each other, Reed reminds them how serious the threat of Hyperstorm is and that now is not the time for fooling around. Sue tries to find humor in the situation but both Namor and Franklin point out to her that Reed's captivity at the hands of Hyperstorm were traumatic. They decide to have a conversation on what they should do to deal with Reed's problems. Reed meanwhile finishes his scolding and decides to check on Scott and Kristoff. He finds them in the time/space lab where they are trying to utilize the Time-Platform to send a capsule back to Hyperstorm's era but once again something blocks their attempts. When they report that there is nothing wrong with the device, Reed's father Nathaniel pipes up explaining that Hyperstorm has a mastery of all time and is barring their attempts to return to his era. Having had enough of his fathers secrets, Reed demands that he reveals what he knows. When Nathaniel tries to explain that he is not intentionally manipulating them the two almost come to blows when they are broken up by Franklin.
This tense moment is interrupted by Cassie Lang who has come to remind her father that her classmate Donald Halberg is coming to visit her at Four Freedoms Plaza. When Kristoff enters the room in his armor, Cassie is once again intimidated by his appearance. Having heard Cassie's plans for the day, Kristoff tells her to have fun with her "boyfriend", but Cassie corrects him by saying that Donald is merely a friend. While Scott is somewhat troubled by the feelings Kristoff and his daughter have for each other, he turns his attention back to the Richards clan who are still arguing over Hyperstorm. When Franklin suggest they all cool down, Reed agrees and exits the lab. Heading down the hallway he sees a flash of energy coming out of one of the other rooms and goes to investigate it. He is surprised to see Ben using the device that allows him to change back to human form at will. When Reed tries to get answers from Ben as to where the device comes from and how it works, be brushes Richards off, telling him that he has things to do. While back in his guest quarters, Kristoff rages over the fact that he is cursed to wear armor resembling Doctor Doom and live out his life as one of the Latverian monarchs failed experiments. With Doctor Doom having cheated death just like Reed Richards, Kristoff comes to believe that his entire purpose has been rendered useless and begins stripping off his armor.
Elsewhere in the headquarters, Ben catches up with Lyja who is surprised to see him in human form with the scars no longer on his face. When he asks if she has plans for the afternoon she tells him that she does. When Ben tells her its not important Lyja morphs into a bird form and flies out the window. When Ben thinks how out of practice he is at trying to woo a woman he is suddenly struck by a massive headache and wonders if this is a side effect caused by the device that restores him to human form. Meanwhile down in the lobby, Cassie meets her friend Donald. She is surprised when Donald tells her that he needs the Fantastic Four's help with something, but won't tell her what it is. Kristoff walks in on this and tells him that the Fantastic Four are presently unavailable and Cassie introduces Kristoff to Donald. Elsewhere, Sue and Namor are in a training session. The Sub-Mariner is trying to get Sue to recognize the fact that her husband is no longer the man he used to be. Sue agrees but points out all of the various dangers that they have experienced over the years and how its a lot to process. Unaware that Reed himself is watching from the control booth, Namor goes on to say that Reed has lost his edge and then tries to make a move by kissing Sue, but she uses her powers to thrust him away. She reminds him that the position as man in her life has already been taken. Seeing this Reed is surprised that Namor still harbors feelings for his wife, but can't blame Namor since everyone thought he was dead. Reed then considers that perhaps after his experiences with Hyperstorm that Sue would be happier with Namor after all.
At that moment elsewhere in the city, Lyja lands in a nearby alley way where she changes into the form of Laura Green, the identity she has taken in order to date and be closer to her ex-husband Johnny without his knowledge. While back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Cassie and Kristoff are giving Donald a tour of the Fantastic Four's headquarters. When they come across a sealed room, Kristoff explains that he has no access to it. When presented with the possibility of getting into trouble, Donald suddenly panics and suggests they get out of there. While elsewhere a strange man garbed in a trenchcoat and a hat stumbles through the streets of New York City. When he accidentally bumps into a tough looking guy, he tries to pick a fight. However getting a closer look of the stumbling man causes the biker to pause. The mystery man then makes a run for it while he man calls him out for being a monster. Later, Kristoff watches as Cassie and Donald play a game of soccer. When she asks Kristoff to join in, he declines and thinks about his lost childhood. He recalls how he never knew who his father was, and after his mom was murdered he was taken in by Doctor Doom as a ward of the state. He recalls how his youth was stolen from him during a period Doctor Doom was believed to have died and his Doombots reprogrammed his mind with Doom's memories and personality so that he could be Doom's successor. His thoughts are interrupted when Donald takes a spill on the field and Cassie notices he is bleeding. When Donald brushes it off and tries to get up, his shirt pulls back enough for Cassie to see that he has bruises and scars all over his back. When Cassie tries to find out what's wrong, Donald angrily tells her he is fine and takes off, leaving both Cassie and Kristoff to consider what they had just seen.
While back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, as the strange man makes his way to the Fantastic Four's headquarters, Reed is working hard in his lab on a means of defeating Hyperstorm. When Sue comes to ask him to come to lunch, Reed loses his temper as he feels there is no time. Sue tries to calm him down, explaining that he needs to slow down, she already lost him once and she couldn't bear to do so again. Suddenly they are called to the reception area by Roberta who is calling an emergency. Going there, Reed and Sue find the strange man has collapsed on the floor. Helping him up, Reed recognizes him as Gorgon of the Inhumans, who asks for the Fantastic Four's help, telling them that his leader Black Bolt has gone insane.
Mr. Fantastic returns to Four Freedoms Plaza, but can he squeeze back into the hearts of those he left behind?
- The teenage Franklin seen here was delivered to the modern age by Nathaniel Richards from Earth-6311 to replace his Earth-616 counterpart. This occurred in Fantastic Four #376. Although everyone reacts as though this is Earth-616's Franklin all grown up, the young Franklin is returned in Fantastic Four #413. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14 confirms that they are separate entities. Franklin believes that his mission was to stop the Dark Raider from destroying the Fantastic Four as explained in Fantastic Four #387, however this is part of a larger scheme to stop Hyperstorm that is not realized until Fantastic Four #414.
- Until recently, the Fantastic Four believed Reed had died battling Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #381, in reality he was a prisoner of Hyperstorm the entire time as revealed in Fantastic Four #407.
- Johnny's date with "Laura Green" mentioned in this issue is chronicled in Fantastic Four: Unplugged #4.
- Nathaniel Richards has been subtly manipulating the Fantastic Four since the threat of Hyperstorm was barely even realized back in Fantastic Four #375.
- The device that Ben is using to return to human form at will was recovered from Brazil in Fantastic Four #405. All the plot points involving its origins and side effects on Ben are dropped when Ben sacrifices the machine to help battle Onslaught in Fantastic Four #416.
- Kristoff feels pointless because as Doom's heir he believed that he was to succeed Doctor Doom after his apparent demise in Fantastic Four #381, however Doom turned up alive and a prisoner of Hyperstorm in Fantastic Four #406.
- Lyja mentions how Ben's face has recently been healed. Ben's face was horribly scarred when Wolverine slashed his face in Fantastic Four #374. Ben's face was healed by Hyperstorm during the events of last issue.
- The forming love triangle between Lyja, Johnny and Ben is due to the following:
- Lyja used to pose as Ben's now ex-girlfriend Alicia Masters. As revealed in Fantastic Four #358 she did so during the events of Fantastic Four #265.
- She pursued a romance with Johnny and they were eventually married in Fantastic Four #300 but Ben eventually exposed her as a Skrull in Fantastic Four #357.
- Although the real Alicia was rescued in Fantastic Four #358, Ben could not rekindle the relationship due to the fact he was currently in a relationship with Sharon Ventura (which had been on going since Fantastic Four #317). Although Sharon was mutated further in Fantastic Four #379 and went missing after Fantastic Four Unlimited #5, Ben could not bring himself to renew his romance with Alicia, even when the Puppet Master tried to force it in Fantastic Four #393.
- Meanwhile, as revealed in Fantastic Four #390, Lyja sought revenge against Johnny for abandoning her during the rescue mission that she allowed her fellow Skrull Paibok implant a Sha'Barri egg in her body. Since Fantastic Four #371 she led Johnny to believe she was pregnant with their child.
- Lyja realized that she still had feelings for Johnny betrayed Paibok to be by his side in Fantastic Four #374. She eventually gave birth to the Sha'Barri egg in Fantastic Four #385. However she was forced to admit that it wasn't their child in Fantastic Four #390. Horrified by this deception, Johnny rejected her in Fantastic Four #392.
- What Ben is not aware of is the fact that Lyja still cares for her ex-husband and has been posing as a woman named Laura Green since Fantastic Four #393 just to be near him.
- Ben had secretly realized that he is attracted to Lyja in Fantastic Four #407.
- Namor's aggressive attempts to woo Sue is due to a long standing history between the two: Namor was constant competition for Sue's affections since the Torch revived him in Fantastic Four #4. Sue eventually decided on Reed over Namor following the events of Fantastic Four Annual #1 (as explained in Fantastic Four: The Wedding Special #1) and Namor eventually moved on when Reed and Sue were married in Fantastic Four Annual #3. When Reed and Sue were briefly separated in Fantastic Four #130, Namor appeared to take advantage of that in Fantastic Four #147. Although Sue was driven by her past emotions for Namor, the Sub-Mariner was actually willfully involved in an attempt to bring Sue and Reed back together as seen in Fantastic Four #149. After learning that Reed was lost and presumed missing, Namor has remained almost consistently at Sue's side since Fantastic Four #385.
- Kristoff's recollections of his past are as follows:
- Although he states that he doesn't know who his biological father is. Nathaniel Richards claimed that he was Kristoff's father in Fantastic Four #395. However these claims have not been substantiated.
- Kristoff and his mother were reduced to living in poverty after Zorba Fortunov usurped the Latverian throne from Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #200.
- Doctor Doom liberated Latveria in Fantastic Four #247, but not before Kristoff's mother was murdered by the Servo-Guards under Zorba's command at the time. Doom took Kristoff in as a ward.
- When Doctor Doom was seemingly killed battling Tyros the Tamer in Fantastic Four #260, this Doombots reprogrammed Kristoff with Doom's memories and personality in Fantastic Four #278 in order to succeed Doom as ruler of Latveria. However Doom cheated death by transferring his mind into a new body and was later restored to normal by the Beyonder in Fantastic Four #288.
- What's not referenced here is how Kristoff took control of the Latverian throne for a time after he was perceived as the true Doctor Doom by Doom's robots in Fantastic Four Annual #20 until Doom was able to regain control of the throne in Fantastic Four #350.
- The subplot involving the abuse Donald Halberg is eventually curtailed and quickly resolved in Fantastic Four #416 in order to tie up loose ends before the Heroes Reborn event.
- As revealed next issue, Black Bolt is going insane after his antenna was damaged by Thor back in Fantastic Four: Atlantis Rising #2.