Appearing in "Only the Swamp Survives!"
- Fantastic Four
- Alicia Masters[Chronology 4]
- Nick Fury
- Nazis (Only in flashback)
- Howling Commandos (Only in flashback)
- Giant-Man (Bill Foster) (Illusion)
- Quasar (Wendell Vaughn) (Illusion)
- Franklin Richards (Illusion)
Races and Species:
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "Only the Swamp Survives!"
After a failed test of a new fitness device for Ben, the Fantastic Four are visited by Nick Fury and scientist Dr. Hansdor. He has come to ask Ben to help test out a new super-jet the FX-24 that would be able to travel at speeds of Mach-6, and they believe that Ben is the only one with the skill and endurance to fly the device without any ill effects, unlike the previous test pilots.
Although there is a risk of death, Ben agrees to test the jet out after he has a tearful time alone with Alicia. After rigorous training, Ben goes to Florida to test out the new jet. As the test begins, in the swamps near Citrusville, some hunters come across the shambling muck-monster known as the Man-Thing, that is drawn by their fear and burns them at its touch. While up in the sky, the FX-24 has a jet failure and crashes in the swamp. At the airfield, all assume the worse and begin trying to track Ben down, while Alicia hopes and prays the man that she loves is still alive.
The Man-Thing, meanwhile, is drawn to the sound of the crash, leaving the two hunters to flee the scene. It witnesses the Thing emerge from the jet, and even though he is practically on death's door forces himself to move through the swamp and find help. As Ben wanders through the swamps he reflects back to the days when he was a soldier during World War II and about a mission he once had with Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.
In this memory, he was assigned to pilot the Commandos into the mountains where the Nazis were hiding out. They would get shot out of the sky and Dum Dum Dugan would be taken hostage, the young Ben Grimm would aid the Howling Commandos in smashing the Nazi base and freeing Dugan from captivity.
During his recollection, Ben would be spotted by the two hunters previously encountered by the Man-Thing, who would mistake the appearance of both monsters as an invasion of some sort and begin shooting at Ben, however, the Man-Thing would rescue the Thing. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four and Nick Fury would begin tracking Ben through the swamp, the Torch mostly upset due to his previous chiding of Ben to accept the mission.
The Thing finally collapses in the swamp and with the fear of approaching death causes the Man-Thing to attack him. Surprisingly, the Man-Thing's burning touch startles Ben out of his fear and makes him continue his struggle to survive. With no more fear in the area and the arrival of the Fantastic Four and Fury, the Man-Thing slinks away unseen into the swamps. Ben is taken to a hospital where he is given immediate medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery.
- Originally, per Fantastic Four #11, it was stated that Ben Grimm had fought during World War II. However, due to the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 this can no longer be considered fact without significantly aging the character. As such references to Ben's military career is typically generalized. As such, there is no official explanation as to how Ben can recollect fighting in World War II alongside the Howling Commandos. One could assume that he was hallucinating, or given his proximity to the Nexus of All Realities, perhaps he was recalling the memories of another version of himself from an alternate reality. One possible reality could be Earth-98 seen in Fantastic Four Annual #1998 which is a reality where the Fantastic Four were formed in the year 1961.
- That said, based on the available facts the World War II flashback in this story likely took place in the year 1942 prior to the events of Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #8. This can be discerned by the fact that the Howlers do not have Junior Juniper (who died in 1942 circa Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #4) and the inclusion of Pinky Pinkerton who joined in Sgt Fury #8.
Events in this story occur behind the scenes that affect the chronology of the following characters:
- Adventures of the Thing #4 (July 1992)
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