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Appearing in "The Return Part 1: The Judgment"

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Synopsis for "The Return Part 1: The Judgment"

It's been one year since the Onslaught event and the rebirth of the worlds greatest heroes in Franklin Richard's pocket universe.

On this world it is a beautiful day and Reed Richards is up early in the morning, Sue gets up shortly after him and complains about how he can be a morning person. While it may be sunny on Counter-Earth, back on the FF's native world there is a powerful rainstorm hitting the United States. On a make-shift raft on the flooded streets of New York City, Franklin Richards cries for his parents. Before him is Ashema, a Celestial given human form who tells Franklin that he has great power and he must now decide the fate of the world that he has created, as only one Earth can survive the coming disaster. Franklin falls into the water as he is being told this and drawn down deeper and deeper.

He wakes up and finds that it is all a dream and that he is still in the swamps of the Florida Everglades. In his waking his blue ball rolls away and is gobbled up by an alligator. Horrified by this, Franklin's moment of fear attracts the attention of the Man-Thing. While in Queens, New York, Peter Parker is visiting his Aunt May. They are watching a news when a special report commemorating the 1 year anniversary of the supposed death of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers at the hands of Onslaught. While the report goes on to talk about the emergence of new heroes such as the Thunderbolts, it still mentions the loss of Earth's heroes and the threat of beings such as the Hulk, who has been on a rampage every since the heroes disappearance. Elsewhere in New York City, the Hulk watches this report from the shop window of an electronics store. He is glowing green with gamma radiation and is wracked with pain, and all he wants is the pain to stop.

Elsewhere at the observatory of Warren Rothschild, the elderly astronomer has been watching an approaching anomaly through his telescope for some time when suddenly it crashes through his observatory, killing him instantly. It is Ashema, having arrived on Earth, she steals a trench coat from the observatories locker room and leaves.

Back in the swamps, Franklin's fear changes to anger (stopping the Man-Thing's approach) and he uses his power to kill the gator and get his ball back. Although Franklin is relieved that he got the ball back, he feels sorry that he had to kill the gator in order to get it, but he rationalizes to the Man-Thing that even though he doesn't know why, the ball is important. Peering into it they see the image of two Hulks, and between them Bruce Banner. On Counter-Earth, that worlds version of the Hulk is on a rampage, leading to the Thing and Thor coming to put and end to it. Viewing this through his ball, Franklin is surprised to see his Uncle Ben alive and well. Ashema then appears before Franklin and explains to him that he is finally ready to understand. When the Man-Thing tries to defend Franklin from her, Ashema causes the creature to experience fear, causing it to burst into flames and run into swamp.

On Counter-Earth, the Fantastic Four sit down to breakfast and the Thing relates to them how he and Thor battled the Hulk earlier, however the Hulk managed to get away. Sue suddenly breaks down into tears and when Reed tries to find out what's wrong, she doesn't know but she swears that something is about to happen. Back on Franklin's Earth, Franklin argues with Ashema about hurting the Man-Thing, trying to convince Ashema that it is a living creature, not simply some thing to be manipulated. Ashema stops the boys shouting and then using his fathers experiments as a metaphor for what the Celestials are doing, she explains that they are coming to destroy every living thing in the universe.

To show Franklin his handiwork she sends him traveling into his toy ball which transports him to Counter-Earth. Ashema shows him that after the Onslaught incident he created an entire world to send his parents and their allies into so that they could survive and live reborn lives. Seeing his creation with his own eyes, Franklin realizes that these are living people and he is horrified with the prospect of having them all snuffed out. Stuck with this moral quandary Ashema shows Franklin the fruit of his labor...

That night, Reed and Sue have gone to bed and they are talking about Sue's earlier breakdown which she still cannot explain. Just then, Franklin materializes at the foot of their bed, now face to face with the parents he's lost for an entire year -- who have no recollection of who he really is, Franklin tells his parents that he has to make a choice to decide which universe will live, and which one will die and tells them he doesn't know what to do.

This story is continued next issue...

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