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Quote1 All my life I've explored the wonders of the universe, yet what could be more wondrous than life itself? Quote2
Mr. Fantastic

Appearing in "By the Soul's Darkest Light"

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Synopsis for "By the Soul's Darkest Light"

Continued from last issue...

Having accepted Dr. Doom's offer to heal their wounded teammate Shadowcat, the X-Men have come to Latveria where Doom first uses his amazing technology to heal the severe burns on Storm's arm caused by the Human Torch. As his machines heal the damage done, Doom gloats over his intelligence, as Wolverine, Magneto and Psylocke watch. Psylocke is impressed by the technology but is angry that Doom seeks to hoard it for himself when it could use to help heal so many. While outside Doom's castle, Havok, Dazzler and Longshot are enjoying the view when suddenly Doom's robotic guards spring to life and fly off to attack a would-be intruder. It happens to be Rogue, who against Doom's orders sneaked out of the castle to experience Latverian culture and shop for some clothing. Seeing that he robots are attacking their teammate, Havok, and the others come to her aid, using their mutant powers to destroy the robots. This counterattack causes the guards still at the castle to turn on the three X-Men there until Storm (now fully healed) and Doom to order both to stand down. When Rogue angrily tells off Doom for allowing his robots to attack her Doom dismisses it as a misunderstanding between both parties.

While upstairs, Shadowcat is in a special cylinder that tries to slow the process of her eventually molecular disbursement. Although she does not want to die, she does not wish it to be at the cost of the X-Men being in debt to Dr. Doom, possibly one of the worst villains in the world. She decides it would be better to commit suicide than have her friends do that. As she leaves the safety of her cylinder, she is witnessed by her pet dragon Lockheed and Franklin Richards (who is watching in his dream form). As Kitty watches the sunset and prepares to let go and disburse, Franklin desperately tries to convince Kitty not to let go, promising that his father Reed Richards can save her life. Unfortunately, Kitty cannot see Franklin and the X-Men are only alerted when Lockheed lets out a roar. When Psylocke establishes a psi-link with Kitty she tries to talk her out of it, but Kitty refuses. However, before Kitty can discorporate she finally hears Franklin's cries not to let go and she decides to return to her container. When the X-Men arrive they see her back there with Franklin and Lockheed and are relieved that the worst is over. When Doom comes to check on them, Franklin hides and overhears Doom say that tomorrow he will be able to restore Kitty to her normal health.

On the other side of the world at the Four Freedoms Plaza, the Manhattan headquarters of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards is walking wounded through the halls of their headquarters. Carrying what is supposedly a journal where he writes about purposely plotting to mutate his comrades, a revelation that has shaken the team to the core and has caused Reed much doubt about his abilities as a scientist. Walking past the room that he shares with is wife Sue, Reed sees her sleeping and tries to reach out and comfort her but finds that he cannot and leaves. Noticing this, Sue begins to cry. Reed goes back to pacing the halls, cursing himself and continuing to doubt the possibility that he might have subconsciously caused the accident that created the Fantastic Four on purpose. Passing by Franklin's room he finds that boy struggling in his sleep and decides to go to him. When Franklin wakes up he crawls into his caring fathers hand and tells him he loves him, causing Reed to cry. When Franklin wakes up, he tells his father that he had a bad dream and Reed cheers the boy up by telling him his favorite bedtime story. Unknown to Reed, Sue has been watching him invisibly and she is brought to tears because she has not heard her husband nor her son laugh like this in ages.While back in Latveria, Storm is in a combat session with Longshot to test his fighting prowess and to make sure that her recently healed arm is at full fighting order. With the session over the X-Men decide to go back and see how Kitty is fairing.

In Manhattan, the Thing has been wandering the streets in deep thought and has made his way to the Lower East Side to Yancy Street. He ends up at the Yancy Street Bar where he begins to pound back the drinks and think about how his life has changed since he became the Thing. He remarks about how he once loved Sue and lost her to Reed, and loved Alicia and lost her to Johnny. He experiences more sorry when he realizes that Reed and Sue were able to have a child, and that Johnny and Alicia might have one of their own someday. He reflects on how he would not be able to provide a child, and that the Grimm family ends with him. He then thinks about the possibility that his friend Reed Richards may have done this on purpose and becomes even more depressed. When it's closing time, Ben leaves without issue much to the relief of the bar staff. As Ben walks the streets again he is upset that he can't even get drunk and wonders what good he is. As he rounds the corner he sees an accident on the street involving a car and a fuel truck on the FDR Drive. Seeing a frantic woman being pulled away from the blaze, Ben overhears that the woman's baby is still trapped inside. Without a second thought, Ben picks up the flaming fuel truck and throws it into East River and rescues the baby from the flaming car. Upon doing so, Ben is hailed as a hero by rescue crews and the baby's mother even kisses him. Even though he is being praised, Ben tells them that it was nothing and anyone of them could have done what he did.

While at a derelict peer off the Hudson River, Johnny pushes himself to make sure he can still use his flame powers flawlessly, still wracked with guilt over accidentally burning Storm. However, when he doesn't work perfectly enough he goes back to the apartment he shares with Alicia even harder on himself than ever before. When Alicia hears him come in, she tries to comfort him by telling him that people make mistakes and that his flame powers are a tool that can be used for good or to destroy, it's all in how they are used. She also tells him that as a blind woman she fell in love with who he is on the inside, that he is a good person. While back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Reed tucks young Franklin into bed, and is surprised when Sue comes to him and tells him that she had been watching. Together in the living room, Sue tells her husband that the man she was interacting with their son is a caring man who would never manipulate others, and could not possibly be the man who wrote in that old journal. The two reconcile with a kiss as the morning sun begins to rise. In Latveria, Dr. Doom prepares the devices that are needed to restore Kitty to full health, while Besty warns Doom that while she is doing her best to keep Kitty's mind intact time is running out.

Morning in New York: Reed and Sue are talking about Reed's doubts and his mind once again goes back to the X-Men's plight. He realizes that his initial doubt was that despite his calculations being perfect regarding molecular cohesion, he knows that he was sure of the safety of the rocket flight that turned them into the Fantastic Four. Although he is frustrated with his uncertainty, he still wishes to go to Latveria and save Kitty's life. To his surprise Johnny and Ben have returned and have decided to help out, because they are a team and a family. Franklin, awake to hear this is glad to hear it and rushes to his father to give him a hug.

This story is concluded next issue...


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