Appearing in "Lifelines"
- Daniel "Dan" Grimm Jr. (First appearance) (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Daniel Grimm (First appearance) (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Elsie Grimm (First appearance) (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Thompson Avenue Gang (flashback)
- Dr. Jacob "Jake" Grimm (Only in flashback)
- Alyce Grimm (Only in flashback)
- United States Air Force (Only in flashback)
- Victor von Doom (Only in flashback)
- Fantastic Four (Only in flashback)
- Reed Richards' Rocketship (Only in flashback)
Synopsis for "Lifelines"
The Thing wanders past his old stomping grounds on Yancy Street. He stops by the tenement building where he used to live only to find that it is now a condemned, abandoned building. Going inside, he wanders down to the old superintendent's office. He bursts through the door where he finds a group of juvenile delinquents squatting. This is the new Yancy Street Gang. The leader of the gang begins swearing and throwing debris at the Thing, calling him a traitor. Ben puts the punk in his place and tells the group the story of his origin.
Ben grew up in this building and worshiped his older brother, Dan. But what he did not know was that Dan was the leader of the Yancy Street Gang. Their father was out of work and an alcoholic so Dan was the only one bringing any money into the Grimm household as a product of his gang activities. One night, young Ben secretly followed his older brother to observe his late-night gang activities. That night, the Yancy Street Gang was rumbling with a rival gang. Ben watched as his older brother was stabbed in the stomach and killed by a rival gang member.
A few years later, Ben's parents died and he went to live with his uncle Jake and Aunt Alyce. As Ben became a teenager, he took over his brother's slot as leader of the Yancy Street Gang. But his uncle Jake eventually talked him out of that way of life, and Ben went off to Empire State University. There he met Reed Richards and had a brief run-in with Victor von Doom. Reed told Ben that he would one day build a rocket ship, and Ben jokingly volunteered to fly it should that day ever come.
After a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force, Reed found Ben again and convinced him to pilot his rocket ship. Reed and Ben, along with Johnny Storm and Susan Storm, became the crew of the rocket and flew aboard as the ship passed through a region of cosmic rays which ultimately turned them into the heroes known as the Fantastic Four.
After telling the story of his life to this kid, Ben feels as if nothing he said is really sinking in. But he holds hope that maybe this kid will one day abandon the Yancy Street Gang and forge a new life for himself as Ben once did.
- This is the first time the Thing's childhood is examined. Some of the elements in this story are expanded upon in a series of flashbacks in Fantastic Four #335. Fantastic Four Vol 3 #56 also focuses on this era of Ben's life but focuses more on his involvement and expulsion from the Yancy Street Gang. In that version of the story, Ben is dropped off at home by the police and his father isn't present because he is drinking at a bar.
- Although not mentioned here, Ben's Aunt Alyce later dies in a car crash, as mentioned in Fantastic Four #239, Ben's Uncle Jacob then went on to marry his second wife Petunia.
- Ben's first encounters with both Victor von Doom and Reed Richards depicted here were first glimpsed upon in Fantastic Four Annual #2. This encounter is also rehashed in Fantastic Four #11, Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men #4 the second story of Fantastic Four #416 and Books of Doom #2.
- This story also recaps the origins of the Fantastic Four which first occurred in Fantastic Four #1. The Thing is depicted in that point of the flashback with dinosaur-like skin. As revealed in Marvel Two-In-One #50 the Thing continued to mutate after the crash eventually transforming into the brick-like form that is his trademark around Fantastic Four #10.
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