- The first time I used my power I had no control, I couldn't help myself......I ignited my nova flame!
- -- Harry Soong
Appearing in "The First The Final? Fire!"
- Jomo Kimane (First appearance) (Mind-swap with the Thing)
- Farisa Mansour (First appearance) (Mind-swap with the Invisible Woman)
- Harry Soong (First appearance) (Mind-swap with the Human Torch)
- Manoli Wetherell (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Mister Fantastic (Only in flashback)
- X-Men (Mentioned)
- Timmy Jones (Mentioned)
- Puppy (Mentioned)
- Hulk (Bruce Banner) (Mentioned)
- Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom) (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "The First The Final? Fire!"
Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Storm and her brother Johnny mount an elevator that will taken them aboard a space ship located at a private launching pad in Central City. This experimental space flight will alter the course of their lives forever...
Hearing of a battle near their Pier Four headquarters three of the four members of the Fantastic Four arrive at the scene of the crime. There they meet with NYPD Detective Charlotte Jones who informs Sue that her husband Mister Fantastic was witnessed at the scene of the battle and was teleported away from the scene. Sue then pulls out a scanning device that detects an energy source that leads them to a payphone. While Sue runs through their database to learn who might have been responsible in the kidnapping. Meanwhile, Ben decides to do some old fashioned detective work by calling the operator and finding out where the last call on the payphone was made. The scanner identifies the source as coming from Pipeline a member of the Press Gang and Ben's call to the operator came up with an international number within the nation of Genosha. Hearing this Charlotte Jones tells the Fantastic Four if Reed is caught up with the rogue nation of Genosha, he is good as dead.
As the four future members of the Fantastic Four board the fateful spacecraft that will take them into space, Ben Grimm gripes about launching before they can run the necessary checks to ensure the radiation shielding will protect them. Reed tells Ben that they can't wait because someone is trying to shut down his project. When Ben questions Reed's conspiracy theories, Reed asks him why he is still with them. Ben responds that he made a promise to Reed to pilot his ship. Reed assures Ben that he has tested every contingency and the flight will be safe. Without further argument the ship is launched...
At their Pier Four headquarters, Sue, Johnny and Ben entertain Valerie Cooper, the Special Presidential Assistant for the National Security Agency and Metahuman Affairs. She has come on behalf of the White House to impart information on the nation of Genosha. She plays a documentary produced by NPR reporter Manoli Wetherell about the reclusive island nation off the coast of Africa. The Fantastic Four learn how the Genosha is a nation that has virtually eliminated all crime and povery and has achieved a great deal of progress. However this seeming utopia is built on an ugly truth: it's mutant population has been forced into a slave class system that sees their genetic structures altered so that they can be put into specific forms of slave labor in order for Genosha to maintain their standard of living. The documentary then goes on to say that the mutant outlaws known as the X-Men exposed Genosha's dark secret leading to civil war between the Mutate slave class and the Genoshan government. In response the United Nations has placed embargos on the nation in the hopes of containing the civil war within its shores.
Cooper stops the video there and explains that things are much more grave than that: that a new mysterious player has been providing the Genoshan government for advanced technologies to help them win their war and fears that the kidnapping of Mister Fantastic might be used to their advantage. Cooper goes on to explain that while any action the Fantastic Four has the approval of the American government, the United States must maintain plausable deniability and as such the Fantastic Four must go in alone and without backup. Determined to free Reed the rest of thE Fantastic Four leave Franklin in the care of Alyssa Moy and Alysande Stuart and take off in the Pogo-Plane.
The Fantastic Four's ship reaches escape velocity and exit the Earth's atmosphere. No sooner than they are in outer space the crew of Reed's ship is suddenly warned of approaching cosmic rays. As these rays begin to bombard the ship. Reed reports that the rays are penetrating the hull of the ship. As Ben tries to get control of the ship he suddenly feels too heavy to move and orders Sue to take the controls. When she tires she is horrified to find that her hand is turning invisible. Meanwhile, Johnny feels like he is burning up and soon his space suit begins to start smoking. With no other choice but to abort the mission, Ben resists against the crushing weight on his body and hits the auto-pilot switch that will take them back to Earth.
The Pogo Plane has reached orbital levels so that they can fly into the nation of Genosha undetected. While Sue and Ben are optimistic that Reed is okay, Johnny isn't so sure, stating that Reed hasn't been the same since he battled Crucible. Ben agrees with the Torch, pointing out that even he's notice that Reed is somehow not as smart as he used to be. Sue admits that she has noticed as well but was selfishly enjoying how much more attentive Reed was with her and Franklin to raise any concerns over it. As they are preparing to set a course for Genosha their ship is suddenly shot out of orbit....
The space ship carrying the four travelers had made a crash landing. Sue pulls herself out of the water and finds an arm that resembles Reed but all stretch out and with the same feeling as taffy. Going to the ruins of the ship she is horrified to see that Ben has been transformed into some monstrous Thing. As Ben blames Reed for what happened to him, Johnny suddenly screams for help because he is burning before suddenly exploding into flame....
With their ship about to break up as it makes a crash landing toward Genosha, Sue manages to erect an invisible force field to keep the craft together long enough for Ben to try and touch down with the landing gear out. Although he manages to land them safely, the ship is totaled which angers Ben since they had only just recently got it built after dealing with headaches from the FAA. When Ben demands to know what shot them out of the sky, they are confronted by the artificial female known as Ayesha who claims responsibility. When the Fantastic Four attack her, she is easily able to overpower them and turn their powers against then before they ae easily defeated.
When the Fantastic Four come to they are no longer in their own bodies. Standing before them are Crucible and Ayesha who tell the Fantastic Four that their minds have been swapped into the bodies of their minions Jomo Kimane (Ben), Farisa Mansour (Sue), and Harry Soong (Johnny). The Fantastic Four are unimpressed and this angers Crucible. However he is satisfied that he now has new soldiers in his war against the Mutate population and that he intends to test the full strength of the Torch's abilities. Johnny warns Crucible about how uncontrolable the powers of the Human Torch are, but the old and overweight body of Harry Soong also has a weak heart and the stress causes him chest pain. Convince that the Fantastic Four are no longer a threat, Crucible leaves them locked in a room, telling them to get used to their new bodies.
Later, the Fantastic Four seem to get into an argument over their perdicament and the stress causes Johnny to apparently have a heart attack. Seeing this on the security monitors, one of the guards calls for a media. This plays right into the three body swapped members of the group, who put on the ruse to lure someone into the room so they can escape. Knocking out the guards, Johnny puts in a call into Crucible's lab to try and warn him against the test before it is too late. However, the Crucible refuses to listen and orders the test to continue. When the real Harry Soong unleashes the full force of Johnny's nova flame he has no control over it and the upper floors of the building they are in suddenly explodes. Realizing they only have moments to escape, the body swapped members of the Fantastic Four try to escape in an ambulance. Although they manage to get clear of the flames, the force of the explosion throws their vehicle off an overpass where it crashes on the street below...
- This story recaps the origins of the Fantastic Four. In an attempt to modernize the tale it. It appears to take elements from both the established origin of Fantastic Four #1 and the Heroes Reborn version of Fantastic Four Vol 2 #1. Some more details about this telling:
- Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, the original version depicted in Fantastic Four #1 wherein the Fantastic Four were trying to beat the Russians in the Space Race has been deemed a topical reference and has been excised from this version of the origin.
- Unlike the version of the origin depicted in Fantastic Four #236 and Fantastic Four #358 this version does not explain what Reed is trying accomplish on his space mission or what sort of space travel technology he is using. Likewise it is simply stated that they were mutated by cosmic rays, not including the Van Allen Belt radiation and sunspot activity explanations provided in Fantastic Four #197. This is the only version of the story that suggests that sabotage by an unknown party might have been the cause of the ship not being able to shield them from cosmic rays.
- This version shows the Fantastic Four crash landing near a body of water although doesn't explain where. The crash landing site is very similar to the Heroes Reborn origin of Fantastic Four Vol 2 #1. The crash landing site has always been a source of contradiction with accounts stating that the ship crashed in Ithaca, New York (Thing #10, Fantastic Four #245); Stockton, New York (Fantastic Four #296) and even outside Central City, California (Fantastic Four Vol 3 #60).
- When emerging from the ship the Thing is depicted as having a dinosaur-like skin hide. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, the Thing's body continued to mutate after the crash. He ultimately assumed his trademark brick-like appearance around Fantastic Four #10.
- Based on the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 the birth of the Fantastic Four happened roughly ten years prior to this story.
- This story makes references to the efforts of the X-Men to expose and end the persecution of mutants in Genosha. The references made are as follows:
- This story references the X-Men's first foray into Genosha which happened in Uncanny X-Men #235-238. Where members of the group were briefly made prisoner there before breaking free and escaping to tell the outside world what happened in that country.
- The X-Tinction Agenda when the Genoshan government and Cameron Hodge tried to get revenge against the X-Men and their allies in X-Factor and the New Mutants. This was depicted in Uncanny X-Men #270-272, X-Factor #60-62 and New Mutants #95-97. Although this story only references the Uncanny X-Men issues.
- It also references when Magneto and his newly formed Acolytes attempted to wage war against Genosha in X-Men Vol 2 #1-3.
- It also mentions Cable's recent activities in Genosha in Cable #26-28.
- Incidentally this story does not reference when the government sponsored X-Factor went there to investigate the Legacy Virus in X-Factor #88-91, the Avengers and X-Men's conflict with the Acolytes there during the Bloodties event (Avengers #368, X-Men Vol 2 #26, Avengers: West Coast #101, Uncanny X-Men #307 and Avengers #369), nor when Excalibur got involved in the civil war in Excalibur #86-87 & X-Men Prime #1, or the X-Man visits there in X-Man #6-7, all stories that also play a role in the civil war that is happening in this story.
- Johnny mentions Reed's battle against Crucible from Fantastic Four Vol 3 #5.
- When last seen Ayesha (then being referred to as Her) was last seen was in Cosmic Powers Unlimited #2 where she and the members of the Enclave departed as allies. It is later explained in Marvel Encyclopedia: Fantastic Four that they somehow betrayed her, restored themselves to human form and brainwashed Her to be their loyal slave.
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