by Jason McDonald and Mike Shirley
Assistant Editor: Jason McDonald
in Chief: David Ellis
From Reed Richards' private journal, 20th century
My mother died when I was seven.
I remember certain things about her: the way she looked, the way she smelled, the way her voice shounded when she laughed ... but beyond that I recall very little about her. Perhaps if she'd lived longer, that could have changed.
From then on, my father raised me, and it was he who shaped the person I became. While it's no secret that he inspired my fascination with science and mysteries, I think he contributed just as heavily to the way I dealt with my emotions. I kept them buried inside and ignored the strong ones because I'd watched him do it. I don't know whether I ever properly mourned my mother's death, and I sometimes wonder if he ever did either.
Sue Storm and her brother Johnny were two of the first people to teach me how to get in touch with my emotions. Ben Grimm helped as well, but Johnny taught me the value of spontaneity, and Sue taught me how to love. Ben taught me how to relax, though I'm sure he questions how well he succeeded.
While few could likely tell, I've actually grown more in touch my my feelings in the years since I'd formed the Fantastic Four. I haven't opened up all the way, naturally, but I'd like to think I've developed beyond what I'd been in my youth, with only my father as a role model.
I'm not getting any younger. The gray hairs on my hair are starting to outnumber the still-brown ones, but it seems me my family in the Fantastic Four keeps me feeling young. They also keep me feeling sane, which is invaluable considering the lives we lead.
I suppose I could actually tell them what's on my mind, but it seems some things never change.
Maximum Security Prison 'Octagon', The Negative Zone, Late January, The Year 2100
"Well, I must admit this call comes as a surprise," Dr. Cameron Daye commented over private commlink as he sat in his office. "Is there something on your mind, Mister Storm?"
There was a pause on the other end as the caller seemed to consider his next words. "Yeah, you could say that," the clone of Johnny Storm answered. "I think I'm going crazy, Doc."
Daye's eyebrow raised. Interesting. "So you've finally decided to confide in me? I recall you were fairly quiet during out last interview...."
"Well, I didn't feel like sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings with a complete stranger. I still don't know if this is a good idea, but...."
"You feel the need to communicate your thoughts to someone," Daye replied, speaking into the microphone on his desk as he admired the psychology diplomas and certificates on his wall. "And you believe that no one around you -- not even your teammates -- would understand."
Station Four, The Negative Zone, Early January
"You wouldn't understand, Johnny," the clone of Sue Storm asserted as she and her brother Johnny walked down a hallway.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he shot back. "All I wanna know is what made you and Ben get so hot and heavy all of a sudden."
"It's none of your business."
"Never stopped me before. Besides, clones or not, you're still my biological sister. Yet we never really spend any time together, do we?"
Sue rolled her eyes. "Of course we do, we're--"
"On the same team, yeah. But I mean, outside of that. The only time you really act like my sister is when you're bossing me around."
"Because you need somebody to keep you in line, little brother."
John stopped in his tracks, grabbing Sue's arm to stop her as well. "See that? You're still calling me 'little brother'. News flash: we're the same age, Sue! We were quick-grown to be the same body-age, and we were released from that containment thing at the same time. All four of us were." He let go of her. "So if anything, we're fraternal twins."
"You're still immature, Johnny."
Orange flame burst from Johnny's body, surrounding him in a fiery aura and lifting him up a foot above the floor. "Why you patronizing--!"
"Got a problem with 'er, Junior," Ben Grimm's unmistakable gravelly voice sounded behind him, "you take it up with me."
Johnny turned around, witnessing Ben's five-hundred pounds of rocklike armor and irritation stomping toward him. The corridor's reinforced walls shook from his footsteps. Ben was codenamed The Thing, and he was certainly an angry Thing when it came to protecting Sue, his new girlfriend.
"'Junior', huh?" Johnny replied, jets of hot plasma flaring up with each breath. "See? This is exactly what I'm talking about. You're saying you treat me like a kid because I act like one, but how the hell are you going to even recognize when I'm acting like an adult when you keep--!" He shook his head. "Forget it! Just forget it; I don't know why I waste my time."
A diagonal-downward blast of flame propelled him through the corridor away from Sue and Ben at a high speed. Angling toward Reed Richards' laboratory, section, he decided, "at least Reed doesn't treat me like a kid."
End of Preview.
Full Issue coming soon.