Quote1 It's nothing to do with destinies or desires, nothing supernatural about it. It's a random factor that no one could have anticipated... because it is almost beyond belief. The question now becomes... what do I do about it? Quote2
-- Mr. Fantastic

Appearing in "Random Factors"

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Synopsis for "Random Factors"

Reed Richards calls his wife from the secret government facility where he tells her about the work they are developing a process to replicate the conditions that created the Fantastic Four. However the call is screened and mission specific information is cut out of their phone call. After trying to explain what he is doing the best he can, he asks how the rest of the team is doing in his absence. Sue tells Reed that Ben is out enjoying his newfound wealth with a shopping spree. Johnnyis taken along with him and is bored with the prospect of helping Ben purchase a new wardrobe.

Sue also mentions how she got a phone call from Simone DeBouvier, a case worker for the New York City Child Welfare Division. Ms. DeBouvier asks to meet with Sue, and Sue assumes that they are probablty seeking to get the Fantastic Four to assist with fundraising again. When Sue ends the call she is amused that the word "love" is bleeped out when Reed tells her that he loves her. This is because one of the scientists working with Reed is a Doctor Debora Love. Reed is left with Doctor Love to give Reed a tour of the space ship they are working on and the facilities. Soon Reed is given the tour and he feels a sense of familiarity with this ship and the one that took the Fantastic Four on their historical space flight. The entire tour makes Reed feel old.

Back in Manhattan, the Invisible Woman meets with Simone DeBouvier. She quickly learns that DeBouvier is not coming to seek the Fantastic Four's aid for fundraising, but to inquire about the welfare of their children. Sue is in shock and Ms. DeBouvier goes through a list of the number of times the Baxter Building has been damaged or attacked by super-villains. Sue soon finds herself answering a litanty of questions, none of them that she is comfortable telling the truth. When asked about Franklin and Valeria's baby sitters, instead of telling them about the Inhumans on the moon, she tells the caseworker that they are from New Jersey. When it came to talking about the danger that comes to the home, Simone decides to talk to Franklin one-on-one.

Franklin begins telling about the time that Doctor Doom attacked at the family through Valeria how Franklin spent time trapped in hell. He goes on to tell about how his family took over Latveria for a while after they defeated Doom leading to the government taking all their money. He also talks about how Galactus recently came to their home. When DeBouvier asks about the location of Franklin's father, Franklin explains that nobody knows where he is, and this is a frequent occurrence.

Back at the secret military base, Reed and and Doctor Love are taking a lunch break and they get to talking about the project. Only one looming mystery remains, and that's the mystery of why the Fantastic Four all ended up with unique powers. She points out that everyone on board Reed's ship that day were exposed to the same level of cosmic rays and in the same conditions, science dictates that they should have all developed uniform abilites. Reed is surprised that he never thought about this before, and Doctor Love talk about how they need to figure out what caused this near impossibility.

At that moment, at a fancy restauraunt Ben and Johnny are attracting undue attention, particularly beacuse of the expensive jewelery that the thing is wearing. Ben decides to excuse himself and goes to the bathroom. There Ben has a dialogue with himself in the mirror. The part of him that is still Ben Grimm questions why he shouldn't be concerned that the woman are only interested in him because of his money. However, his Thing side is still in love with Alicia Masters. However the Ben Grimm side tells Ben that in the meantime this he shouldn't feel guilty for taking advantage of the status his newfound wealth grants him.

At the Baxter Building, Sue defends the decision they have made to be easily visible in New York City. This does little to set Simone's mind at ease, she begins telling Sue that she is only interested in the welfare of the children and will do anything to see that it's done. This causes Sue a moment of pause, when suddenly Ben and Johnny return from their day out. When they ask Sue what's wrong, she explains that the Fantastic Four may have met their greatest foe: a bureaucrat.

While back at the military base, Mister Fantastic sits outside in the desert, he ponders over what he and Doctor Love were discussing. Reed realises that their powers were not just completely random, but somehow tied to their personalities. He recalls how Sue was ignored as a child and that manifested in her abilitiy to turn invisible. Johnny was a hot headed youth and as such those powers manifested in flame. Ben, the brave test pilot with a rough exterior literally gained one when he was transformed. Reed realises that even he, in his endless pursuit of knowledge, stretching himself to the limits of human science manifested in a unique ability based on his personality. Reed begins considering the reasons for this as he returns to his work. His thoughts about the possibilities and they get him thinking about the Voyager Space Probe that was sent out in to space. He recalls how it contained a golden disc filled with information about human history as a message to other intelligence life in the universe. Suddenly, Reed considers the prospect of other intelligent life trying to contact the Earth and how it's method of communication could be not as obvious as what humans are used to. He begins to wonder if the cosmic ray storm was a method of communication from an alien space.

As Reed begins to think this over, suddenly something goes wrong with the project and the rocket suddenly explodes. Many people are saved thanks to the quick thinking of Mister Fantastic. Later Doctor Love meets with her superior to brief him on the accident. When she begisn to piece together the day's events, she begins to suspect that Reed might have purposely set the rocket to explode.


Continuity Notes

  • Franklin recaps Doom's vicious attack on the Fantastic Four wherein Franklin was trapped in hell, Doom's subsequent defeat, and the Fantastic Four's failed coup of Latveria, and about Galactus' recent visit to Earth. This all happened in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #67-70, Fantastic Four #500-508 and 520-523.

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