- You may tell your boss that we're tremendously honored by his gracious gesture-- but we're not yet done exploring. What gives this family its purpose and its joy isn't the destination... it's the journey.
Appearing in "Hereafter: Part 3"
Synopsis for "Hereafter: Part 3"
The Fantastic Four have come to Heaven to try and recover the soul of Ben Grimm only to discover that they are actually on the edge of Heaven, and it is blocked by a door that appears to have been created by Reed Richards. Upon closer inspection Reed realises that it is comprised of components of his various inventions. Reed sudenly realises what he's done. The spirit of Dan Grimm explains to the others that his brother can't get into heaven because Reed is keeping his body on life support on Earth and the door. Ben explains to the others that he doesn't want to go back to the land of the living and that he has lived a good life. While Reed and Sue make peace with this and say their goodbyes, Johnny suddenly flames on and attacks. Calling Ben out as an impostor because the Grimm he remembers wouldn't give up on life so easily.
Reed pulls Johnny off Ben and a fight breaks out while Sue tries to contain them. The violence is also causing the ground to crack up. During the scuffle Reed explains exactly why Johnny won't return to the team: He's afraid Reed will kill him just like he killed Ben. Reed finally breaks down at this admission telling them he can't possibly live that down. With the place starting to fall apart, Dan explains that the chaos is being caused by the Fantastic Four's emotions, particularly their sadness. Ben rushes the door to try and crack its mystery and begins pulling off parts, eventually he strips away all the pieces revealing a second door underneath -- a stone made out of interlocking bricks like Ben's Thing form. Realising that he needs Reed to help, Ben rushes to the deepening pit where Richards stands giving into his deep sorrows and regrets. Reaching out, Ben begs Reed to snap out of it, promising that he will return and that he'll never leave his side again. This gets through to Mister Fantastic and reaches up to be pulled out. With Reed out of the bit the chaos ends.
Reed suddenly becomes curious about the door and the others tell him to leave it alone. Dan then pipes up with an offer: He offers them all a chance to stay in Heaven so they can be with Ben forever. Even with all the secrets of the universe and all creation laid bare to him, Reed declines the offer on behalf of the entire team. Dan tells him that was the right answer and suddenly the door behind him opens up and a blinding light issues forth. Dan then tells them that they have been awarded a visit with the creator himself. Ben thanks Dan for all his help and the Fantastic Four all walk into the light. Falling through time and space the Fantastic Four come upon a wooden door standing on a floating rock. Realising that they are coming face-to-face with their maker, the Fantastic Four brace themselves for what they will see on the other side.
They are in for a shock as when they cross over into the doorway they appear in what appearas to be a modest den where a middle aged man is working away on a drawing board. He invites the shocked super-heroes into his home. They are surprised by what they see here and God explains to them that he appears as his creations see him and that how he is represented here is a great compliment. Johnny keeps on asking ridiculous questions until God takes a call from his collaborator. When the Fantastic Four are confused about the drawings that appear to be based on their real lives, God explains that is how he creates things and that the Fantastic Four's adventures become his explorations. To illustrate this, God draws a picture of an alien city and no sooner is he finished drawing do their surroundings suddeny change into the strange landscape in the drawing.
With the landscape changing back to the den, Reed finds it difficult to believe that the wellspring of creation is a mere pencil. God explains that greatest inventions were the most simple. The eraser on the opposite end he states as an example, then uses it to erase the burn on Reed's face. When Johnny asks if they are imagining him or if he is imagining them. God tells Johnny that they are not puppets and that they live their own lives. God then tells Ben that he still has a lot of story left and begins redrawing him back into the Thing. Ben is disappointed to be turned back into the Thing. Having condensed their subplot, God tells them it is time to go. He tells Reed that the device he used to get to Heaven will not work a second time. Before sending them back to Earth, God does up a quick sketch for them and hands it over.
Suddenly the Fantastic Four have themselves back in their headquarters. They look at the sketch drawn for them and see themselves many years older that is captioned "to be continued" and they know that they will all live happily ever after.
- All the trauma caused to the Fantastic Four by Doctor Doom occurred in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #67-70 and Fantastic Four #500. That story ended with Doom being trapped in Hell. The Fantastic Four then tried to liberate Latveria from Fantastic Four #501-Fantastic Four #508 which led to the death of the Thing.
- God appears as Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby. There are many deities that claim to be creators of life on Earth and the universe in question. There are presently no confirmations in story or in any current volume of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe that clarify if "Jack Kirby" is the Christian God, the One-Above-All, or some other deity.
- Jack's collaborator is a reference to his fellow Fantastic Four co-creator Stan Lee.
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