- We all have crosses to bear! I once stood helplessly by while a young partner -- my closest friend -- died!
Appearing in "The Fatal Effects of Virus X!"
- Fantastic Four (Only in flashback)
- New York City
- A.I.M. Command Center
- Central City
- Abandoned Space Port
- Central City
Synopsis for "The Fatal Effects of Virus X!"
The Thing has been infected by Virus X, a biological weapon created by MODOK and AIM. Completely dazed by his exposure, the Thing hobbles his way out of AIM's abandoned hideout and into the streets of the Bowery. As he tries to stumble home, Ben gets the attention of three street hoods who decide to try and jump him. Along the way, they bump into freelance artist Steve Rogers. Recognizing the Thing and suspecting that there is something wrong with him, Steve slips into a nearby alley so he can change into Captain America. When the thugs jump the Thing, he is too disorientated to fight back, but soon Captain America is upon their foes and manages to fight them off without breaking a sweat. By the time he is done, the Thing has collapsed on the sidewalk, prompting Cap to rush him back to the Baxter Building for Mister Fantastic to examine. To assist him, Reed calls on Giant-Man from Project PEGASUS to help out with examining the Thing. When Ben wakes up he is less than happy to find himself being probed by a machine and fights his way loose. As Mister Fantastic tries to talk sense into Ben, suddenly his body begins to mutate even more. Realizing that he is becoming more and more hideous, Ben begins to crack up and loses his temper. Both Cap and Reed step in and get Ben to calm down. Reed is sure that if he can obtain a sample of Virus X he can develop a cure, but after hearing promises of a cure for so many years the Thing is not quick to believe it and walks out. Before Ben can take off in his sky-cycle, Giant-Man catches up with him and convinces Ben to allow him to come along -- since Foster can relate to Ben since he learned that he was dying of cancer.
Meanwhile, Captain America has set out to find a lead on AIM And is traversing the city for answers. Crashing in on the hideout of some criminals, Captain America fights them into submission and demands to know where AIM is hiding out. Miles away at a secret hideout buried below Antarctica MODOK is punishing his minions for failing him on his previous mission by exposing them to Virus X. One of his subordinates informs him that they have received word that Captain America is seeking their location in order to find a cure for Virus X. Believing that Captain America will be able to locate them, MODOK orders his men to prepare a proper reception for him.
At that same moment, Ben has taken Giant-Man to the launching site where the Fantastic Four took their maiden voyage into space and got their powers. There he recalls how he and the others were bombarded with Cosmic Rays which caused his mutation into the Thing. He expresses his disappointments in Reed for not being able to find a cure and fears that he will have to deal with the mutative properties of Virus X until the day he dies. Foster tries to convince Ben to stick in there, able to relate to the sense of futility since he was diagnosed with cancer. Ben has heard the speech before, assuring Bill that he isn't going to give up and commit suicide, but wonders if this constantly mutating form is a reflection of who he really is. Suddenly their pep talk is interrupted by a call from the Sky-Cycle, Captain America has located AIM's hideout, and hopefully the cure.
Soon enough, Captain America, the Thing, and Giant-Man are smashing their way into an AIM facility. Fighting past the guards they are able to locate a teleportation platform that sends them to the secret facility in Antarctica. There they find themselves surrounded by AIM soldiers, MODOK, and a synthoid that has mimicked the Thing's powers. The Thing pounds the ground, sending the soldiers sprawling and a fight breaks out. As the fight rages on, Giant-Man decides that the brawl isn't helping Ben and leaves the scene to try and find the cure. As the fight carries on, Giant-Man locates the lab and forces one of the AIM scientists to turn over the antidote. Examining the application device, Foster is surprised to discover that it could also cure him of his cancer, but the AIM lackey tells him that the antidote can only be administered once. As the battle begins to wind down, the Thing lands a powerful punch that sends the synthoid crashing outside of the AIM base, causing it to begin to flood. With Foster joining them, the three heroes manage to teleport away, just barely managing to recover the antidote when MODOK briefly shoots it out of their hands.
With the Thing fading fast, Giant-Man decides that curing him is more important than his own health and utilizes the antidote which quickly cures Ben and restores him to his normal Thing form. As Ben wakes up he notices that Bill has slipped away. While he and Cap wonder where he went, Giant-Man walks away convincing himself that it was better to cure the Thing than a second rate loser such as himself.
- The Thing recaps the origins of the Fantastic Four #1, this is a heavily abridged version. Some facts about this account:
- In Ben's recollection it is Johnny who questions Ben's courage, when in every other account it is actually Sue who suggests that Ben might be a coward.
- When Ben transforms, he is shown in transforming into a lumpy, lizard-like skin. As explained in Marvel Two-In-One #50, Ben continued to mutate until he assumed his trademark brick-like appearance. This transformation followed through until about Fantastic Four #10.
- This issue makes many references to the fact that Giant-Man has contracted cancer. This happened thanks to radiation he was exposed to while battling Atom Smasher in Black Goliath #3. He is eventually cured in Marvel Two-In-One #85.
- The AIM soldiers in this story are wearing blue costumes as opposed to the trademark yellow uniforms. This is because MODOK was disposed as leader of AIM following the events of Iron Man #70-81 and started his own faction in Ms. Marvel #7. This faction endured until MODOK was seemingly slain in Captain America #313.
- What If? #37 tells an alternate tale of this story from Earth-8321 which explores what would have happened had Giant-Man used the cure on himself.
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