- Ignorance was bliss.
- -- Thing
Appearing in "Old Friends"
- Istvan the Accursed Albino (Main story and flashback)
Synopsis for "Old Friends"
Seeing the Ben Grimm decades after he tormented him, Istvan the Accursed Albino still recognises him, despite his different physical appearance and attacks. The brawl carries across the fair ground until the ferris wheel is damaged. When the Thing braces it, Istvan attacks the Thing, hitting the spot where he was wounded in battle until the carnival owner, Paul Balk orders Istvan to stand down. When Balk asks Ben to confirm if Istvan knows him or not, the Thing denies knowing him very well. When he apologises to the crowd for wrecking the fair he is surprised when they begin cheering him and carry him out of the fair and into town. Paul Balk watches this and is unimpressed by it.
The Thing is taken to the diner where he is given a massive meal. Ben is about to dig into some mashed potatoes but pauses to tell the locals about the trouble he had with some cows when he first arrived in town. This puzzles the locals who insist that there are no cows in Clarkston. The locals keep insisting that Ben drink his milkshake, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Paul Balk who demands to speak with Ben privately. Balk is unimpressed with the fact that the Thing drove away all his business due to his celebrity. When he points out nobody will want to spend money to see a freak when they can see one for free. This upsets Ben, but Paul calls Ben on the fact that he was not above name calling when he first met Istivan years ago. He then calls Ben on the fact that he only had to deal with being a freak after the accident that gave him his powers, and didn't have to to live with his freakish appearance at birth. Having lost his appetite, Ben leaves the milk shake and is about to storm out of town when he decides it is better to go and apologise to Istvan before leaving.
On his way he spots some of the local sneaking into a nearby barn where a strange glowing light inside. Sneaking up to peak into the window, Ben is surprised to witness the locals transform into members of the Kree. Trying to sneak away, the Thing exposes himself when he accidentally steps on a branch. Trying to get away, Ben suddenly feels sick to his stomach and wonders what the Kree fed him. Getting to the fair grounds, Ben is suddenly surrounded by cows and suddenly he realises what is so strange about them. Suddenly Ben is surrounded by the freaks and Paul Balk. Balk tells Ben that the baby will be theirs, but Ben has no idea what he is talking about. With his stomach wracked with pain, Ben witnesses as the cows and Paul Balk transform into what he suspected them to be: Skrulls. Balk himself is actually Paibok the Power Skrull.
- The Skrulls turning into cows is a homage to Fantastic Four #2 where Reed Richards used hypnosis to force three Skrulls to shape shift into and behave like cows.
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