- My point, an' I got one, is this: Safety ain't all it's cracked up t' be. Not if ya live a life worth th' risks. Sure, I coulda wallowed over one lousy break instead o' facin' th' world. An' some days, I still do. I backslide. And yer gonna do that, too. It's hard not ta. Yer gonna get lost in th' bad. But so long as ya got folks around who love ya, ya gotta remember tomorrow c'n always be better.
- -- Thing
Appearing in "5th Wheel: Part 2"
- Victor von Doom
- Annihilus (Only in flashback)
- Borers (Only in flashback)
- Toby and his mom
- NYPD officers
- Cosmic Control Rod (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "5th Wheel: Part 2"
After being traumatised in Hell, Franklin Richards was brought to Cony Island by his mother and the Thing to try and snap him out of his distant mood. When they were recognised by the patrons of the amusement park and subsequently swarmed by autograph hounds, Franklin began lashing out at people, yelling at them and telling them to leave his family alone. When the crowd begins to turn on them because of Franklin's outburst, the Thing pretends to be going on a rampage in order to scare them all away. When they try to console Franklin he is no moved at all. As Sue tries to call Reed, Ben tells Franklin that they'll always be there to save him from danger. This causes another outburst from Franklin, who calls Ben a liar. Franklin begins to lash out screaming about how they need to stop acting like normal. The police arrive and it only agitates Franklin even more. When they try to calm Franklin down, Sue suddenly realises what's wrong: Franklin still thinks he's trapped in Hell.
Meanwhile, some 30 years in the past, Johnny has brought Reed to Hungary where they are spying on a young Victor von Doom and his childhood love Valeria. Johnny tells Reed that if he wants a quick solution to fix all the damage Victor has done to them in the present, all Reed need do is take one of the weapons they brought and kill Von Doom before he grows up to become the monster that he is. Reed powers up the weapon and takes aim and then stops when he can't bring himself to pull the trigger. When Johnny tells Reed that he has to let out his rage and frustration to get out of this depressive funk, otherwise Doctor Doom will win. Reed tells Johnny he's right and suddenly fires the gun. Back in the present, Sue is consoling Franklin and trying to convince him that she will never let anything happen to him again and that she will protect him no matter what. To demonstrate this, she uses her powers to make everything around them seemingly disappear into nothing leaving nothing but her, Franklin and Ben. When Franklin still doesn't respond Sue begins to cry. When she asks Ben what she can do, Ben tells her that what she is telling Franklin is crap. Shocked by this, Sue scolds Ben while plugging Franklin's ears.
In the past, Reed's shot at the young Victor von Doom only succeeds in shaving off a portion of his hair. The young Von Doom calls out to his unseen attackers challenging them to face him face-to-face but Valeria convinces him that they should flee. Johnny is shocked that Reed would take the shot and uses his flame to melt the weapon. He scolds Reed for potentially causing a time paradox that unravels the whole universe. Reed tells Johnny that he wasn't aiming to kill Victor, he was shooting to get a sample of his hair which he can use for the plan he just formulated. With the lock of hair recovered, the pair use the Time Platform to return to the present. There, Ben explains that they need to explain to Franklin that the world is not always a safe place. They then tell Franklin that while bad things happen they will never give up in trying to rescue him from whatever danger presents itself. Ben then levels with Franklin and talks about how when he was first transformed into the Thing he lost his entire life, not only did he have to learn basic functions again, he couldn't do the things he loved most. He then tells the boy that he eventually made it through those rough times with the help of Reed and Sue and regardless of what he lost, he had so many other amazing adventures. He also tells Franklin about the time that he and the rest of the Fantastic Four ventured into the Negative Zone and risked their lives fighting Annihilus to save the life of Franklin when Sue's pregnancy got complicated. Ben's talk has Franklin realise he's still not trapped in Hell, and finally understands that life isn't without risks.
Later, Ben recounts how Franklin is starting to readjust to his routine life while Reed's working away in his lab again. Ben believes that the team will never be the same again after their experiences with Doctor Doom, but he figures that maybe that's okay.
- This story states that Reed and Johnny have ventured back to the 20th Century. The specific date is not specified as the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 would make it a topical reference. Victor's childhood happened about roughly 36 years from this point.[Timescale Math 1]
- All the trauma caused to the Fantastic Four by Doctor Doom occurred in Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #67–70 and Fantastic Four #500. Reed's scarred face is eventually healed in Fantastic Four #511.
- Ben mentions the time that he, Reed, and Johnny ventured into the Negative Zone to steal the Cosmic Control Rod from Annihilus as the energies contained in it could save Sue and Franklin from a potentially fatal child birth due to Sue's cosmic radiation. This happened back in Fantastic Four Annual #6.
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