Appearing in "The Thing and the Thunderiders"
- Thing (Joins the Thunderiders)
- Vance Astrovik
- Black Marauder (Possesses Richie "Champ" Champoulion)
- Unspecified Midwestern town
Synopsis for "The Thing and the Thunderiders"
The Thing and Vance Astrovik are searching for the woman who resembles Tarianna, the woman that Ben created on Battleworld. Along a stretch of midwestern highway, Ben is almost run over by a group of motorcyclists if not for the quick thinking of Vance, who pushes Ben aside with his telekinetic powers. Being helped up off the side of the road, Ben reminds Vance that he is looking out for him not the other way around. Watching the motorcycle riders speed off, Ben recognizes the one on the end as the woman he saw in the circus poster earlier. When he calls her "Tarianna", Vance corrects him and recognizes the motorcyclists as the Thunderiders the stunt motorcyclists that she joined up with after leaving the circus. With that confirmation, Ben bolts off after them with Vance in tow. Not far away the Thunderiders have parked their bikes at their camp and remark about how they almost came close to hitting someone on the road and recognize him as the Fantastic Four's Thing. When Ben approaches, the Thunderider's Wolf tries to tell Ben that it's not their fault he almost got run over because he was walking out in the middle of the road. Ben tells him that's not important because he's come to see... and suddenly he clams up seeing this mystery woman for the first time in the flesh. Ben approaches the woman, Sharon Ventura is her name, and the other Thunderiders stand back knowing that Sharon can take care of herself regardless of what happens. Vance watches in anticipation hoping Ben will say something to her. But when the Thing chokes, Sharon Ventura silently turns around and walks away.
When Vance tries to console Ben, the rest of the group is not interested, and Wolf can care less why the Thing is in their presences. Still Cowboy sees this as an opportunity and tells Ben that they are looking for a new member of the Thunderiders and offers both Ben and Vance free tickets to their show that evening. When the Thing begins to doubt himself and is about to walk away from the scene, Vance convinces him that he should try to talk to Sharon after going through all the trouble trying to find her. Vance also convinces Ben that he should try to join up with the Thunderiders, not only because he needs a job but also because he will be able to be near Sharon all the time. Ben agrees that this is a great idea and decides to give it a shot. Insider the arena the Thunderiders are testing a new potential member Richie "Champ" Champoulion. After doing some motorcycle aerobatics and jumping over a ramp he ends his performance by skidding to a halt in front of Sharon and handing her a bouquet of flowers. The Thunderiders are very impressed, but that is when the Thing appears and expresses his interest in trying out. Everyone likes this idea except for Wolf who doubts the Thing's abilities. When Sharon offers Wolf's motorcycle for Ben to ride, the Thunderiders agree to give him a shot.
Getting on the motorcycle, Ben floors it and jumps over the ramp. When he lands he tries to impress Sharon by driving with no hands on the handlebars. However he is too distracted to notice that he is speeding toward one of the walls that rings the arena. When Ben finally notices he jams his feet into the ground, breaking his speed enough that he just barely avoids crashing. This display impresses all the Thunderiders including Wolf who found the entire feat unbelievable, but is no less upset that Ben almost trashed his motorcycle. While the Thunderiders go to deliberate their choice, Ben asks Richie to join him for a drink, but the "Champ" rebuffs his offer. The Thunderiders begin considering who should join the group, with the idea of building a custom bike for the Thing and the potential good publicity of having a former member of the Fantastic Four in their group, most everyone is leaning toward choosing Ben except for Wolf, who thinks the Champ is the better driver. R.U. Reddy points out that they haven't felt the "link" that summoned the Marauder since Honcho left the group and they changed their name from Team America, and that they have started to feel it again ever since the Thing showed up. When they put it to a vote, everyone votes for Ben except for wolf, including Sharon Ventura, who believes that Ben will be a good replacement for her on the show. Disgusted by being outvoted, Wolf storms off in anger. He runs into the Champ outside who asks him how the vote went and Wolf informs him that the rest of the group chose the Thing over him, angering Richie as well.
Meanwhile in a nearby bar, Ben expresses his doubts to Vance thinking that he muffed up the chance to join the Thunderiders and decides that after they are done their drinks they'll just leave. Before Vance can convince him otherwise, the Black Marauder suddenly comes crashing in through the window. When Ben demands to know what's going on the Marauder charges at him, forcing Ben to use a table as a ramp to deflect the motorcyclist back out the window he came from. Ben chases the Marauder back outside just as the Thunderiders come out to see what all the commotion is all about. Ben grabs a nearby motorcycle and tries to race after the Marauder, knocking him off his bike. As the two struggle on the ground, the Marauder breaks free and then mentally summons his bike and speeds off again. Sharon races up to Ben and tells him to hop onto the back of her motorcycle. Meanwhile, Cowboy has run to a payphone so he can call Honch in Washington D.C. to tell him what's going on. As Cowboy tells Honcho everything that is going on, Sharon manages to get Ben close enough to the Marauder for him to leap on the other motorcycle. As they fight on the bike, they come speeding toward Cowboy who is too engrossed in his telephone conversation to notice until Wolf pulls him away.
Realizing that the Marauder needs to be stopped the Thunderiders all begin to circle around him. When Vance pushes the Marauder off his bike with his telekinetic powers, Ben manages to land a blow that splits open his helmet revealing Richie Champoulion as the host for the Marauder. Rushing back to the phone Wolf tells Honcho all this, who theorizes that evil can influence the Marauder as well. Realizing that he was the cause of the Marauder attacking the Thing, Wolf apologizes and welcomes Ben to the Thunderiders, telling him that he will make a great replacement for Sharon. Upon hearing this, Vance asks Ben if he is going to be all right.
Ben Grimm begins a quest for the woman of his dreams only to confront the incredible ... Thunderiders!
- At this point in time, Ben was recently involved in the Secret Wars in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1-12. After which he decided to stay on Battleworld because he believed that that planet allowed him to change back and forth between his human and Thing form. He was there from Thing #11-22 when he sacrificed his ability to return to human form to stop Grimm the Sorcerer. In Fantastic Four #277 and Thing #23 Ben learned that not only that his teammate Johnny Storm is now dating a woman who everyone thinks is Alicia Masters, but also that Reed Richards knew that Ben could change back and forth any time he wanted for some time prior to the Secret Wars. Some additional facts:
- Johnny isn't really dating Alicia Masters, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358 she is really Lyja, a Skrull spy who took Alicia's place circa Fantastic Four #265.
- Reed was aware that Ben could change back and forth at will in Fantastic Four #245. Although Ben thinks he's lost his humanity for good following the events of Thing #22, this is also proven as false as seen the next time Ben is restored to human form in Fantastic Four #326.
- Sharon Ventura resembles Tarianna the woman that Ben dreamed up on Battleworld and adventured beside from Thing #12-22. When they defeated Grimm the Sorcerer she ceased to exist as she was a product of his imagination.
- Vance is tagging along with Ben because, as revealed in Thing #32, he ran away from home because his father was abusing him.
- The Thunderiders were previously known as Team America, they had to change their name for legal reasons. This is a reference to the fact that the Team America concept was licensed out to Marvel by the Ideal Toy Company. Originally Ideal made a like of successful line of toys based off of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. They quickly rebranded the toys when Knievel was found guilty of assault in 1977. Marvel produced a Team America comic based on the retooled toyline. When Marvel lost the licensing rights to the Team America name they were forced to rename the group when they appeared in comics.
- Honcho left the Thunderiders after their last appearance in New Mutants #8.
- The Thunderiders learned that they were mentally linked and could summon the gestalt mind of the Marauder thanks to being genetically altered by Hydra during their childhoods. This was revealed in Team America #12.
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