FANTASTIC FOUR


Reed Richards
MR. FANTASTIC


Susan Storm
INVISIBLE WOMAN


Johnny Storm
HUMAN TORCH


Ben Grimm
THING

ENEMIES


Victor Von Doom
DOCTOR DOOM


Skrulls

OTHERS


Uatu
THE WATCHER

FANTASTIC FOUR

Treatment by Wyzeguy

Start with a breif prologue before the opening credits that shows the expanse of space before heading to Earth, or more specifically, the Earth's moon. There, we see a strange alien citadel, home to a mysterious figure that introduces himself as UATU, the Watcher. In the form of a journal entry, he makes note of the growing number of superhumans on Earth, and devotes the entry to "the four most dangerous" ones: the beings the world has dubbed "The Fantastic Four".

The credits roll, and the scene moves to Earth, where REED RICHARDS is gazing at the moon. He is the inventor of a hyperspace engine for an experimental spaceship, and BEN GRIMM is the pilot. Besides Reed and Ben, the other crew members are astronomer SUE STORM and navigator JOHNNY STORM, Sue's brother. Reed, Ben, and Sue welcome newcomer Johnny aboard the mission, as he's recently completed NASA training. Here, the group dynamic is established, as Reed and Ben are revealed to be two guys Sue has dated in the past, and they still seem to harbor feelings for her. Ben's annoyance with the brash Johnny is more overt; as Ben and Johnny bicker, Sue remarks that it seems like only yesterday that Johnny was an immature slacker, but now he's an astronaut. Reed basically says "I told you so"; he'd given Johnny a job as his lab assistant a few years ago, and channelled Johnny's risk-taking nature into productive use as someone always willing to test out Reed's inventions. The kid has grown up. For the most part.

Meanwhile, in an Eastern European country called Latveria, we find an enormous, regal castle. Inside, an ominous-looking dictator named VICTOR VON DOOM watches the events leading up to the launch with interest, and he makes his own preparations. It's implied that he has agents involved in the mission somehow. It's possible he plans to sabotage the spaceflight. In the background are six robotic guards (called DOOMBOTS), and four green-suited people (three males and one female) we assume are Doom's lackeys. For now, we'll call them GREEN EYES #1 - #4.

The next morning, NASA holds a press conference led by Reed, wherein more about the nature of the trip is revealed. It seems the Voyager probe launched many years ago has found a star system with signs of intelligent life. It may even be possible that the life forms have colonized the entire star system, but so far information is vague. Therefore, Reed and the rest of his crew plan to take the ship through hyperspace to the system and investigate. It becomes clear that while Reed is used to public speaking, he doesn't enjoy the spotlight very much. He frequently slips into his technical jargon and loses his audience without realizing it, but Sue effortlessly takes over and adds a more relatable persona to the proceedings. It's easy to see why Reed and Sue have chemistry: they work well together.

Meanwhile, the downtime between preparations and training allows Ben, Reed, Sue, and Johnny to have plenty of conflict. Ben is the most obvious source of this, as he doubts the hypership will be able to shield its passengers from the cosmic radiation effects of travelling through hyperspace. Reed counters that his fears are based more on '60s-era radiation paranoia than hard fact; everything has been calculated to the twentieth decimal place in preparation for this event. Ben's still not buying it, and when Sue tries to reassure him in private, Ben flirts with her.

Johnny gets increasingly restless as launch day approaches; when he's not in training, he amuses himself by pestering Ben and hitting on pretty much every female member of NASA personnel he can find. But he soon starts to suspect that something's ... off about the mission. He can't put his finger on it, but this seasoned risk-taker had long ago developed a sense for when something's about to go wrong.

Finally, it's launch time, and everything is in place. During a very tense countdown, mission control and the Kirby crew steel themselves, hoping everything goes according to plan. This is the first manned hyperspace mission, so the stakes are incredibly high.

The launch is impressive and dramatic, and Doom and co. watch the proceedings. Everything's going according to plan, which is odd because the viewer had been lead to believe until that point that he wanted the mission to fail. In fact, Doom reveals that his behind-the-scenes machinations were instrumental in getting the project up and running with NASA.

The camera closes in on the four Green Eyes people we saw earlier, who seem to watch the unfolding events with more interest than mere lackeys should have. None of them seem to blink, strangely enough.

In outer space, the ship approaches the hyperspace point. As they intiate the beginning stages of the space folds, Reed crunches some numbers and realizes something's wrong.

Then Victor Von Dom's face appears on one of the monitor screens, in a pre-recorded message where he bids Reed a final goodbye. The conflict that has existed between them is about to come to an end. He removes his armored mask, revealing the scarred face that he blames on Reed's treachery years ago. He wants that to be the last thing Reed and his crew see as the hyperdrive begins to overload. What's more, he reveals that the hyperdrive's specifications were sabotaged to be deliberately off by 0.000035. The significance of this is lost on everyone but a horrified Reed. Out of options, the four of them extricate themselves from their seats in the cabin and override Doom's lockout of the escape pod. Entering the escape vehicle, they manage to put a fair amount of distance between themselves and the exploding hypership. But it's not enough; the pod is blanketed by an energy wave its shielding has no defense against. The cosmic radiation permeates the pod's interior and envelops its passengers. The hypership's destruction during the early stages of its space forld tears open a rift in space, like a crude wormhole, and the escape vehicle is pulled into it.

In hyperspace, the ship is about to break apart. The ambient energy of hyperspace is cooking the unshielded cabin and its occupants. Finally, the ordeal ends and the ship emerges from hyperspace. Out of fuel, it drifts aimlessly in space, its crew unconscious. But not far from the hyperspace rift, a fleet of alien starships awaits in formation.

On Earth, the world reacts with stunned silence as they watch this event on live television. Everyone from the PRESIDENT to people at a local bar are shocked at this turn of events. Even those not watching TV witness the event, as the distant flash of light can be seen from Earth.

Victor Von Doom and the Green Eyes study the readouts of the Kirby's destruction and the resulting wormhole rift on Doom's advanced computers. They're fascinated by this. They also await "communication from the other side", and sure enough, a sound-only transmission comes in. The voice informs them that the rift has just opened on that side ... but something has come through it: a small vessel with four living occupants. Doom is absolutely shocked and enraged. Is it possible that Richards and his crew have survived?

Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny awaken when the escape vehicle's hatch opens. A small group of armed beings enters. None of them look human; they are reptilian aliens with green scaly skin, multi-cleft chins, green eyes, and large goblinlike ears. As they pull the four humans from the vehicle, they reveal themselves to be Skrulls ... and they're in the Skrull fleet mothership's hangar bay. The weakened humans are escorted at gunpoint through a series of corridors, during which Reed comments on the mothership's artificial gravity and unusual-looking technology and alloys. Ben grouses that it's something only Reed would care about -- and it's the least of their worries right now. Reed realizes his muscle control is failing; Sue experiences vision problems; Johnny's body temperature is steadily rising; and Ben feels heavier with each step he takes.

When they reach the mothership's bridge, they meet PAIBOK, the captain, who proceeds to question the humans. He wants to know where they come from, and how they managed to survive a trip through a subspace rift in a tiny unshielded vehicle capable of only limited space travel. Reed answers that their survival might only be temporary; they absorbed an incredible amount of cosmic radiation, and their health is declining fast unless they receive medical attention. Paibok considers this a foolish request, considering the Skrulls know nothing about human physiology. He does, however, consider the subspace rift the humans have opened up to be useful, as whatever planet from which Reed and his friends hail might make a good military outpost. Paibok drills them for further information, but they refuse to cooperate, so Paibok orders his security time to confine them in a holding cell until further notice.

As the four are escorted through a corridor to the holding cells, Reed continues to make note of the alien technology -- the security team's weaponry, in particular. He then stumbles in the middle of the corridor, tripping two of the guards in the process and giving the other three humans the opportunity to overpower the Skrulls. They take the Skrulls' weapons and lock them in the holding cell, but Ben and Johnny have great difficulty trying to figure out how the guards' energy rifles work; despite a superficial resemblance to Earth rifles, the Skrull weapons' mechanics are based on entirely-different design principles. Reed shows them how to operate the guns, at which point Ben asks Reed if his stumbling in the hall was just an act.

REED
I wish it were: my muscle control is fading in and out with alarming frequency.

The four humans fight their way back to the mothership's hangar bay, but Reed instructs them to use a Skrull cruiser instead of their escape vehicle. The other three are amazed by Reed's sudden mastery of alien technology, but Reed simply chalks it up to close observation. The cruiser's controls, he explains, are based not on buttons and levers like human technology, but on glowing disclike sensors that detect the body heat of the operators who pass their hands over them. Despite their reptilian appearance, the Skrulls are warmblooded like humans.

Once Ben gets a feel for the controls, they take off in the cruiser, exiting the hangar into the vacuum of space thanks to Reed's override of the mothership's security system. They head for the vortex, and are followed by a small fleet of similar Skrull cruisers. Johnny makes use of the cruisers' weapons system to target the cruisers and blast them like a video game. They reenter the wormhole and experience a rather bumpy ride through.

BEN
First one to make a crack about my piloting gets to WALK home!

Sue observes that it wouldn't be too long before another Skrull fleet follows them through the space bridge "now that it's open for business", which leads Reed to hatch a plan to use the ship to collapse the wormhole. He instructs Ben to fly the cruiser as fast as it go, while Johnny fires a modified energy burst into one "wall" of the vortex. This interferes with the stability of the wormhole, and it closes just after the stolen Skrull vessel makes it out the other side. Ben uses the last of the ship's power to slow down. Now completely out of juice, the cruiser coasts back to Earth at this reduced speed, which takes the better part of a day. There's no friction in outer space, so if they hadn't slowed down, their return to Earth at top speed might've punched a hole in the planet.

But when the ship reenters Earth's atmosphere, all that ceases to matter. Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny use escape pods to vacate the falling ship, which splashes into the Pacific Ocean. The pods follow suit, but are lightweight enough to float to a remote island. Once on land, the effects of the hyperspace accident reach critical mass:

Sue begins to fade in and out, becoming alternately transparent and opaque. This scares them more than anything. Reed finds himself having difficulty standing up, and his arms and legs have difficulty supporting them. In short order, he finds that he's beginning to lose his shape, and that his body parts are stretching like rubber. A freaked-out Johnny finds his clothes bursting into flame, while his skin and hair are unharmed.

But the most unsettling change happens to Ben, whose body is gripped by pain. His left arm suddenly doubles in thickness, shredding his jumpsuit and sprouting a tough, brownish-orange hide. The middle two fingers fuse into one. He runs away from the others, only to find his movements are getting increasingly sluggish, and his body mass is increasing. He takes shelter in a cave, and Reed and Sue follow the scraps of his spacesuit to him. When they find him, only his voice and blue eyes are recognizable. His entire body is now huge and rocklike, craggy as the Grand Canyon.

SUE
(startled)
Aaah! What IS that thing?

REED
(dawning recognition) ...Ben?

He won't let anyone near him, especially Sue. When Reed approaches him to reason with him, Ben defensively knocks Reed back with a wave of his hand. Reed's malleable body is plastered against the cave wall, and only through a force of will does the scientist peel himself off the wall and regain his former shape. Ben retreats further into the cave. He wants everyone to leave him alone. "I'm not a man anymore! I'm not even human! I'm...I'm just a thing."

Sue helps Reed exit the cave, where they find an expansive fire raging around them. Johnny emerges from the midst of it, completely covered head-to-foot in flame like a HUMAN TORCH. Reed and Sue are shocked, but Johnny states that the flames don't even hurt him, that he started this inferno by thinking about it. But he doesn't know how to turn off his power. Reed theorizes (while keeping his distance from Johnny) that Johnny can possibly control his ability by concentrating, the same way Reed can hold his shape and Sue can remain visible. Johnny follows this advice, and the flames slowly die down on his body and around them. Reed further theorizes that Sue's vision problems were a result of her eyes readjusting and learning how to see invisible energy. It seems their default forms are now their altered states, and they can only acheive their human forms through forces of will. Sue looks back into the cave and wonders if that's true about Ben as well.

A large spotlight washes over the area, and they look up to find a huge airship lower itself toward the ground. Victor Von Doom emerges with several henchmen who secure the area. Doom greets Reed as an old friend, but Reed doesn't seem terribly happy to see Von Doom. None of the four do, understandably; Doom had set them up to die in space, after all. Doom invites them aboard his airship, where they will be guests of Latveria. Wanting nothing to do with him, they'd rather stay on the island and wait for radiation poisoning to claim them. They do, however, wonder why Von Doom is being so civil toward them.

Meanwhile, a trio of the uniformed henchmen enter the cavern with flashlights, investigating the fourth biosignature they're scanning. They enter a vast network of tunnels and caverns within the cave, before they finally come upon Ben Grimm. They are absolutely astounded at his appearance, and in fact they don't even realize it is Ben; he looks like a rock monster, after all. They open fire on him, thinking he's done something with Grimm, and Ben is enraged by their reaction to him. Bad enough he considers himself an inhuman freak; they're confirming it. Their bullets barely even chip his craggy hide, and Ben mops the cavern with them. Ben emerges from the cave, wanting to know where these agents came from. They must have done something with his friends. Sure enough, he sees them enter Doom's airship, having been finally talked into it. Doom and his other agents spot Ben, and the agents move in to attack. Doom realizes who it is immediately and gets his underlings to stand down and allow him to join his friends. Ben is just as unsure about this as his friends, but Reed has decided to hear Doom out for some odd reason.

Aboard the airship, headed back to Latveria, Reed and his friends are monitored by Doom and his underlings, who study the life signs. Once in Latveria, Doom will enlist the finest physicians and scientists to see to their recovery. Of course, Doom notes, they are in the best of care already, since Doom himself is a scientist. Red, Sue, and Johnny suspect more and more that allying with Doom was a bad idea. Ben, on the other hand, isn't sure what to make of any of this, but he's sure he doesn't trust anyone. However, if this Von Doom guy really can return him to human, then Ben's willing to hear Doom out. Doom assures him that he will cure Grimm one way or another.

At Doom's castle, the four are put through a series of tests to determine the extent of their new abilities (Sue develops the ability to project invisible energy as forcefields; Reed's stretching range grows to about a hundred feet; Ben learns to effectively move around while encased in such invulnerable hide; Johnny learns the blazing hydrogen atoms that surround his body can lift him into the air), but they quickly grow tired of being Doom's houseguests. Sue, Ben, and Johnny watch Reed and Doom from a distance. Johnny remarks that for someone who doesn't like Von Doom, Reed seems to be spending a lot of time with him talking science stuff. Sue guesses that Reed is attempting to atone for all that's happened by helping Doom find a cure for their conditions. Ben, on the other hand, has known Reed the longest. He knows that Reed still doesn't trust Von Doom. After all, he went to college with Reed and Von Doom, and he was there for the start of their rivalry:

Flashback to a university which Ben had attended with Reed and Victor. Back then, Victor Von Doom was a handsome and brilliant young man, but no less arrogant, and desperate to prove himself. Finding an intellectual equal for the first time in his life, Reed tried to befriend Victor, who was only interested in competing with Reed. Victor's primary areas of interest lay in parallel dimensions and harnessing energy, and his experiments therin grew increasingly ambitious and dangerous. This culminated in Victor's construction of a device which he believed would allow him to pierce the fabric of space and time to tap into an outside dimension. The invention failed horribly.

Ben is vague about this in his explanation because he only knew about this second-hand -- only Reed knows the full details of what really happened. Reed, who had been listening, fills Sue and Johnny on the rest: Reed had found out about Victor's invention, and snuck a peek at the schematics. He discovered that Doom's calculations were off by a tiny fraction -- just enough to be disastrous. Alarmed at this, Reed brought this to Von Doom's attention and pleaded with him to reconsider what he was about to do. But Von Doom, unable to believe that he was wrong about anything, was more interested in the fact that Reed had invaded his privacy to study his plans. Accusing Reed of being jealous, Von Doom went ahead with the experiment. It resulted in an explosion that leveled half the university campus. Von Doom's face was scarred in the explosion, which was the ultimate insult to ego. He accused Reed of sabotaging the device, then took his things and went into exile before the university's administration could call Von Doom on the carpet for his actions. Nothing had been seen of Victor Von Doom until over a decade later, when he overthrew the regime that ruled over Latveria. Von Doom claimed a royal bloodline and set himself up as the country's new iron-fisted monarch. Von Doom has used his technological weaponry to forge Latveria into a superpower nation despite its small size. Quite possibly the most feared European nation on the planet, in fact. Reed concludes this by saying that Victor Von Doom blames Reed for what he became; now the tables have turned.

Sue catches up with Reed later in their guest suite, where they're treated like royalty. Sue knows Reed well enough to surmise that there's something Reed left out of his story. Then it clicks into place: she remembers how shocked Reed was to hear a certain number back in the hyperspace shuttle before all hell broke loose. ".000035". Reed reveals it to be the exact number by which he'd claimed Victor's dimensional invention was off. And that's the extent to which Doom had altered Reed's own schematics for the hyperspace drive.

SUE
But ... I don't understand. How could you have missed that if had checked and rechecked your figures so many times during the...? (voice trails off as realization dawns) You didn't recheck them, did you?

REED
I did, Sue. I mean, I checked the figures to the fiftieth decimal point many times--

SUE
How many?

REED
Countless times!

SUE
(shouting)
How many times, Reed?! REED
(shouting back)
Not nearly enough! All right? Not as many times as I should have! (soft voice)
I was careless, Sue. I was careless, I let my arrogance get in the way, and because of it, Victor Von Doom was able to take advantage of the situation.
(beat)
And you -- Ben, Johnny, and you -- almost paid the price. Now our bodies have been changed into something ... something other than human. Ben especially. And chances are slim that we'll ever become normal again.

SUE
But you'll find a way to cure us.
(beat)
Won't you? Reed?

REED
Victor and I have been putting our heads together to determine what transformed us in the first place. While he assures Ben that he can turn him back to normal, I'm certain he's lying. I think he knows as well as I do that Ben can't revert to human form any more than the rest of us.

SUE
"The rest of us"? I thought we already had human forms.

REED
We do. But our physiologies have still changed in fundamental ways.
(extends the length of his arm)
I can stretch my malleable cells. You can project invisibility as easily as Johnny can project flame. Our bodies have been altered to compensate for our powers, but the only true difference between the three of us and Ben is that Ben stopped looking outwardly human.

SUE
So your saying we're stuck like this.

REED
For the forseeable future, at least. Until a cure can be found. Or we die.

SUE
(holding him close to her)
Then we learn to deal with it. We stop blaming ourselves for everything that went wrong, and we deal with it. The only way we're going to get through this is together.

The two of them kiss, and they find a solace in each other that rekindles their one-time romance.

But Doom is already hard at work trying to unravel the four's fragile bond. Realizing that they would wreck his plans if they united against him, he decides to sow mistrust among them through manipulations. He capitalizes on Ben's hatred of himself, and suggests that it was Reed's fault ... that Reed WANTED this to happen and is putting on an act. Doom suggests that he and Ben form an alliance, as Doom has the resources to return Ben to human form.

BEN
Yeah? And what if it doesn't happen? What if I CAN'T turn back?

DOOM
Your strength is extraordinary ... and is growing by the day. Imagine the power at your command not as a curse, Grimm, but as a gift. A gift thousands would kill to possess. A power that could be brought under control.

Ben is uncertain about this, as Doom is the same man who set them up to die in outer space, but he does begin to see the possibilities of his strong new form.

Johnny, who's already enthralled by his fiery powers, decides to amuse himself by seeing just how far outside of Doom's boundaries he can go. He manages to sneak past Doom's henchmen and Doombots, and uses his power to fly away from the castle and toward the nearest Latverian city of Doomstadt. He quickly gets used to channelling updrafts to stay in midair, and he figures out how to fly like a fighter jet. He has serious fun with this, but he ends up causing panic in the streets below, as the locals are obviously not used to seeing burning people flying overhead. Doombots converge on him, and Johnny evades them, leading them on a merry chase away from the city and across the countryside. Away from innocent bystanders, Johhny then cuts loose and roasts a few Doombots before he exhausts his power and is surrounded by the rest at a remote cemetary. Von Doom, Reed, Sue, and Ben show up, and Doom calls off his robots. Johnny gets a serious scolding for his brazen rule-breaking, and it takes Sue's insistance to keep Doom from having Johnny spend the night in jail.

Reed is especially thankful of this, for two reasons (which he soon privately reveals to Johnny): first, he has a pretty good idea what a Latverian dungeon is like, and second, Johnny's excursion has allowed Reed to observe how Doom's security system operates. Everything that happens contributes to Reed's understanding of Doom's methods.

In the castle's innermost sanctum, Doom observes Reed's conversation with Johnny via surveillance. He tells the Green Eyes foursome that it's time for the next phase of his plan.

The next morning, over breakfast in the Grand Dining Hall, Doom reveals to the four that he had an epiphany last light: he has figured out exactly how to cure Ben's condition and return him to normal. This meets with mixed reactions ranging from delight to mistrust, but everyone agrees that this opportunity should at least be looked into.

That afternoon, after hours of preparation, Doom unveils a new invention: a platform chamber designed to draw the ambient cosmic energy out of Ben's form and make on-the-spot corrections to his DNA structure to return him to what he was before his transformation. It's a complex piece of technology, but it was designed and constructed entirely by Doom and his robots and underlings; Reed and his friends were not even allowed to see it beforehand. This is interpreted as a rather cutting snub of Reed's potential to contribute.

Finally, everything is ready, and Ben steps into the transformation chamber. He's bathed in energy, and undergoes a rather painful process. But he reverts to his human form before everyone's startled eyes. Ben emerges from the machine a new man, and very much indebted to Doom. Ben claims that if Doom kept his word on this, that there's no reason Reed and the others can't trust him. Even Reed is impressed by this, and he's so relieved to see his best friend's human face that he doesn't notice that something is subtly ... off about Ben Grimm. But Sue notices it more readily. She also glances at the floor, and realizes something is definitely wrong here. She concentrates, and turns the entire laboratory floor invisible, transformation chamber and all! Beneath the chamber is a tube connecting to the dungeon below, where the real Ben Grimm (rocky Thing form) is being carted away by the Doombots. This leaves the question of who the "human" Ben is. Doom orders his henchmen to seize Reed and co. before they can figure this out, but Reed, Sue, and Johnny use their powers to fight back. In the melee, "Human Ben" is injured, and reveals himself to be one of the Green Eyes people ... a Skrull.

Faced with the realization that Doom is working with the Skrulls (which explains quite a bit), and that the other three 'Green Eyes' beings are of the same species, Reed and co. realize they're in deep trouble. Reed sabotages the transformation chamber so that it explodes and covers their escape, and Reed and co. escape into the dungeon below to regroup with Ben and figure out how to escape. They find Ben in the company of Doombots, who strap him into a chair to prepare to alter Ben's mind so he'll become Doom's mindless servant. They free Ben and escape into the transport tunnels below the castle.

With Johnny lighting the way, Reed leads the four through the tunnel to one of Doom's minor underground laboratories (he has a dozen of them located underground -- one for each Latverian city, and each connected to the castle by the tunnel system). Reed disables the security system lying between them and their goal, and in the lab beneath the city of Gojradia, they find the device they're looking for: a teleporter platform capable of sending them anywhere on Earth.

JOHNNY
Wait ... was there one of these at the castle?

REED
(programming coordinates into the console)
Yes, but in order to reach it, we would've had to go further into the heart of the castle, and the idea was to get away from Von Doom.

SUE
(taking her position on the platform as the others do the same)
How much of a lead time do we have on them?

REED
Less than a minute.

BEN
What's to stop 'em from followin' us with this doohickey once we're outta here?

REED
The virus I've placed in Von Doom's technological network should stall them at least long enough to--

BEN
All right! Just push the button, already!

Doom and the Skrulls arrive just in time to see the four fade from sight.

The four reappear on the island where they manifested their powers in the first place and where Doom found them, and Sue, Johnny, and Ben wonder why Reed sent them here of all places. Reed reveals that Latveria has claimed salvage rights for the Skrull vessel that Reed and co. brought to Earth. Latverian crews have been busy trying to remove the vessel from the ocean and bring it to Von Doom's castle. Sure enough, as they stand on the island's shore, they can see a fleet of helicopters rise into the sky, each one chained to part of the Skrull cruiser. Their return trip to Latveria, it turns out, would take them right past the island, which gives Reed and his team a chance of intercepting the transport. But just they're about to attempt this, U.S. government forces take them into custody, pointing out that Von Doom has every right to confiscate the vessel thanks to salvage rights, as Latveria was the first nation on the scene.

Later, as the four are in custody, Reed is still trying to reason with officials. He claims that the reason Latveria was first on the scene was that Victor Von Doom knew about the whole thing well ahead of time: he was the one who planned it. But Reed and crew have no way of proving their story other than the fact that they've been endowed with superhuman powers. But as it is, they can look forward to spending the rest of their lives under a microscope as lab rats. Their transformation has made them a scientific curiosity. Reed reminds the officials that their powers were an indirect result of Von Doom's malevolent plan, and that it would have been premeditated murder if he'd succeeded. As it is, what happened to the bodies of Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, and Johnny Storm can be considered a human rights violation. Which sounds like an exaggeration, but it isn't.

Cut back to the Skrulls' side of the spacial rift. Their scientists, who have been working feverishly to reopen the wormhole, use the Earthlings' escape vehicle to run tests. They've just hit paydirt, and construct a weapon that will permanently reopen the rift, giving them unlimited access to Earth. After all, Reed Richards' solution to cave in the phenomenon was a quick-fix solution at best. The Skrulls are able to get subspace transmissions through in the meantime, and they inform Von Doom on Earth of what's happened.

Cut to Latveria, where Victor Von Doom and the earthbound Skrulls are delighted to learn of this turn of events. And the salvaged Skrull cruiser is due to arrive shortly...

In private, Reed makes a deal with the government people -- including the U.S. President -- that if the U.N. leaves the four alone as far as the scientific studies go, they'll not only prove that all they're saying about Von Doom is true, but they'll bring Von Doom in front of the world courts kicking and screaming if necessary.

PRESIDENT
You know you don't have the authority to do this.

REED
That can change. I know more about Victor Von Doom than anyone alive.
(beat, deadly serious)
I have a plan.

Under Reed's plan, the four become a peacekeeping organization sanctioned by the U.N. to act as the Earth's first (and last, if need be) line of defense against superhuman and cosmic threats. They're given the full treatment: uniforms, a headquarters in New York's Baxter Building, and vehicles designed by Reed and constructed by large teams of workers.

But the costumes themselves prove to be the breaking point for one member. Reed has designed their blue-and-white uniforms out of "unstable molecular fabric", a durable material that can withstand the excesses of their powers due to the unique way its molecules are bonded together. Prominently displayed on the uniforms' chests is a circular "4" insignia. Reed wants to call them The Four, and insists that they stick together. Johnny is naturally the first to grab a uniform. But Ben isn't having it. His life has been ruined by everything that's happened.

BEN
You think just because we got the government to nice with us, that it changes what we are? We're freaks! We ain't human anymore! We know it, an' THEY know it!
(grabs one of the uniforms on the table)
Unless you got one o'these that'll hide this ugly face o'mine, I ain't interested!
(throws the uniform forcefully at Reed, who catches it)

REED
(hurt by this turn of events)
Ben, please reconsider--

BEN
YOU reconsider! I'm tired o'playin' by your rules all the time, an' I'm tired of goin' along with your bright ideas! All they're gonna do is get us killed!
(to Sue and Johnny)
Either of you wanna play superhero? Go ahead and join his little marching band. Wanna live to see your next birthday? Get out while you can.
(turns toward the door)

SUE
I'm staying, Ben. BEN
(stopping in his tracks and turning around to face her)
WHAT?

SUE
I said I'm staying. Reed's right: we have to stick together. ESPECIALLY if we're "freaks", as you put it.

BEN
You really wanna stay here with him?

SUE
Yes. I've made up my mind.

BEN
So you're stayin' with him. Not me.

SUE
I'm sorry, Ben--

BEN
(angry)
It's because I look like THIS, doesn't it?

SUE
Ben, your appearance has nothing to--

BEN
So that's it, huh? You an' him?

SUE
And Johnny. I'm not abandoning my brother.

BEN
Hunh. Guess that's it.

Ben grabs his extra-sized trenchcoat and leaves. They're now The Three.

The United Nations. Victor Von Doom has arrived in New York to reveal to the world his plans for the alien ship in Latveria's possession. Mostly, however, it's just a smokescreen to get the world's leader in one place as...

In space, the spacial rift is reopened, and the Skrull warship fleet makes its way to our solar system. Upon reaching Earth, they broadcast a live feed to the humans' television sets, demanding their surrender. They plan to turn Earth into the latest Skrull military outpost, with humans as their workers and subjects. Paibok, the Skrull doing the speaking, punctuates this statement by ordering his crew to fire upon three of the many man-made satellites orbiting the planet. This knocks the satellites out of orbit, where they plummet to terra firma and cause extensive damage. Two hit major cities, while the third lands in the middle of the Atlantic and causes a huge tidal wave effect.

Panic among the Earthlings is legendary, and the Earth's military forces scramble to prepare a proper counterattack. The President realizes that Reed was right about all of this, which doesn't do him a lot of good as he and the other world leaders are helpless to stop Doom's takeover. Doom's elite Latverian forces (including Doombots) secure the UN building in under a minute, and his Skrull cohorts are there as well to dictate to the world leaders the terms of the new world order.

Reed makes preparations to go into battle, and he has to compensate for Ben's absence. Sue and Johnny are understandably concerned about the odds they're about to face.

JOHNNY
Wait -- you think we even have a CHANCE, here?

REED
We don't have a choice, Johnny.

Ben Grimm returns to his old neighborhood, a much different man from when he left it -- in more ways than one. He wonders why Yancy Street is almost deserted, until he finds out that the public has been notified of an alien invasion; everyone's inside. But he finds this out from the local teenagers -- who comprise the Yancy Street Gang to which Ben once belonged in his youth. The kids give him a sour welcome, which is understandable considering he looks alien, not at all like the Ben Grimm who used to lead the gang. Ben has zero luck convincing him that he's not here to hurt anyone. Tempers flare. He ends up taking out his frustrations on the kids, hurting them badly and causing quite a bit of property damage. He's forced to flee from the police ... but before he can get too far, he notices that the skies over Manhattan are filled with Skrull cruisers and warships. The invasion has begun.

The Skrulls close off Manhattan Island from the outside world within a matter of minutes, and declare that the island is now under martial law. Any interference from outside forces will result in the complete destruction of one of the world's largest cities. Luckily, Reed's team was on the island at the time, and they don't count as "outside forces". They confront the Skrulls and Latverians, using their powers and Reed's short-notice equipment to overcome the Skrulls' superior technology. Their first order of business is to take over the Skrulls' main warship (captained by Paibok) before the Skrulls know what's going on. They're only marginally successful, as they have to do quite a bit of improvising. All their teamwork so far had taken Ben Grimm into account, so the Three are not quite a well-oiled machine. At one point Johnny overextends the use of his flame while fighting atop the warship. He falls off the ship, plummeting toward the street below. It takes a great force of will for him to reactivate his flame and pull out of the dive:

JOHNNY
Rrrhhhh .... FLAME ON!

As soon as they secure the bridge, Doom sends them a transmission stating that unless they surrender, all the political figures inside the UN building will be executed.

Ben makes his way back to Manhattan, which is now the scene of immense panic and devastation. Everyone's trying to get away from the aliens, and Ben Grimm's craggy appearance doesn't set anyone at ease. But he notices that the near-hysterical people have accidentally knocked down a blind woman. They're about to trample her, but Ben decides to intervene and use his intimidating size and visage to his advantage. The people give Ben a wide berth, giving the woman the space she needs to prevent being trampled. Ben checks to see if she's okay, and only then does he realize that she's blind. As a result, she's the only person in town who isn't afraid of him. She introduces herself as ALICIA MASTERS, a sculptress whose studio/gallery they're right next to. She takes him into her place to show why even what her touch detects about Ben isn't enough to intimidate her. She's always been able to sense other people's "inner beauty", to the point that she can visualize what that person looks like and create a likeness from clay or marble accordingly. The statues and busts displayed around her gallery and studio are incredibly lifelike, and convey a wealth of emotion -- even the unfinished ones. And Alicia insists that Ben's facial features and rough skin texture remind her of an unfinished statue, a work of art. Ben is reluctant to let her touch his face, but he's moved by her sincerity. She insists that the human he was still exists in him, no matter what he now looks like. But their conversation is cut short as Ben realizes that the sounds of war that were coming from the vicinity of Midtown have stopped. Ben doubts that a cease-fire or treaty has been called, so he leaves the studio in order to find out what's going on. He also doubts that Reed, Sue, and Johnny could have stopped the Skrulls and Latverians, so he fears the worst.

He has no idea how he's going to make it to his friends in time. Then he notices one of the smaller Skrull cruisers is flying a bit low to the ground, and apparently hasn't noticed him yet...

At the UN building, the Three stand before Victor Von Doom, who plans to execute them for their "attempt at an uprising". He plans to make an example of them on live TV, , and he orders Sue's and Johnny's death first, so his hated rival Reed can watch. He shackles them with special devices he designed to negate their powers, and he gives a speech while a Doombot prepares to blast them to atoms. But Reed , noticing the shaky hierarchy between the Skrulls and Doom, asks a very interesting question:

REED
Why are they about to executed by one of your lackeys, Victor?
(gestures to the high-ranking Skrulls)
Why not them? Don't they deserve the honor of executing us? It's their world now, after all.

DOOM
(glaring at Reed)
Silence. Now.

REED
I've watched how you and the Skrulls interact, Doom, and for the life of me I can't figure out who's in charge. I understand that you're apparently the Skrull's ambassador to Earth, and you're now the most powerful human on Earth.
(beat, lazy shrug)
But you don't act like it. How much power are they going to let you keep, now that this is a Skrull-occupied world?

DOOM
(striding toward Reed, now face-to-face with him)
It matters not to you, Richards. You will not live long enough to witness this new world order.

KL'RT
(speaking up)
Actually, Von Doom, his words have merit. Our deal was that you control the human subjects for our subjugation, while remaining subordinate to us. Yet you seem supremely disinterested in viewing anyone as an equal, let alone a superior. I have wondered how willing you actually are to share your newfound global power ... and I believe I now have my answer.
(locking eyes with Von Doom)
You never planned to acquiesce. You just wanted an avenue for this level of power, and you were planning to betray us. In your eyes, we are neither your equals nor your superiors, but merely pawns in your game. Correct?

DOOM
What guarantee would I have that you would not strip me of all rank and condemn me to the worker pits once you gain dominion over this planet?

KL'RT
You have our word.

DOOM
(derisive)
The word of a race of shape-shifters. Of deceivers.

KL'RT
You have just guaranteed that you WILL be stripped of power and consigned to the worker pits with the rest of humanity.

DOOM
Doubtful. You and your kind will be crushed in the fist of Victor Von Doom!

Von Doom zaps Kl'rt point-blank with an energy blast, dropping him.

JOHNNY
(muttering, now that nobody's paying attention to them) Looks like the honeymoon's over...

The Skrulls and Latverians prepare to make war on each other, when the aforementioned Skrull cruiser crashes into the UN building. Ben Grimm emerges from it, ready to fight.

BEN
What's everybody lookin' at? Got a problem with my flying?
(beat, cracking knuckles as Doombots approach him)
All right, kids, you know what time it is?

He then speaks the three words that have become one of the most beloved catchphrases in comics:

BEN
It's CLOBBERIN' TIME!

He punches the nearest Doombot into scrap metal, and goes to work on the next two. Doom and the Skrulls concentrate their efforts on him, ignoring both their own rivalry and the Three, who are still powerless. Sue attacks a Skrull, getting the alien to fire on her shackles with his hand weapon. Her power returns, and she levels the Skrull with a forcefield and uses her power to dismantle the other shackles. The Four are united in combat once again, and they quickly turn the tide against their would-be oppressors. Then they notice Von Doom fleeing down a hallway with a few soldiers, apparently planning to regroup.

They follow him, and Sue creates a wall of invisible energy in front of the Latverians to stop their escape. WHAM! Doom's soldiers are easily defeated, but Doom is a bit harder. But Ben Grimm's superstrong punches manage to finish him off ... but "Doom" turns out to be a robot duplicate, acting as a decoy. They find out the real Doom is escaping in his Latverian airship. Reed tells his teammates not to follow, because he already knows where Doom's headed: back to Latveria.

They're a team once again, and as they prepare to take the fight to Doom himself, they lay one hand atop another in a classic teamwork gesture from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days. First Sue's hand ... then Reed's ... then Johnny's ... then Ben's huge mitt, which dwarfs the others. Hold on this image, then dissolve to...

Latveria. Hours have passed, and Victor Von Doom is back in his homeland, sitting on his throne. He sees that the Four have arrived, ready for a final confrontation. When they arrive in his throneroom, he sees that they wear special eyepieces that allow them to see through any Skrull disguises or robotic duplicates. They take on Doom four-against-one, but Doom ultimately bests them with the sheer personal power of his advanced armor. Then he uses an entirely different method on them: he casts a spell on them using sorcery, and leeches the cosmic energy from their bodies.

DOOM
I am not only a master of technological and political arenas ... I am also a master of the Dark Arts. A master of sorcery, as my beloved mother once was, many years ago.
(to Reed)
Who do you think I was trying to contact back then, Richards, when I had devised an experiment to reach another plane of existence. I was attempting to locate my mother in the afterlife, and learn her greatest secrets.
(beat, angry)
But you interfered ... and sabotaged my work. You destroyed my face, and my one chance to commune with she who gave me life! And for that, no demise is too horrible for you. Nor for these ... friends who have chosen to ally themselves with you.

REED
(in pain, losing his shape)
For ... the last time ... Victor ... I didn't ... sabotage ... your machine! Your own ... your own arrogance did that ... when you made a miscalculation ... and refused to acknowledge it!

DOOM
LIAR! Victor Von Doom MAKES no mistakes!

BEN
Sure y'did ... when you decided to mess with us!

With the last bit of strength he can muster, Ben slams his fists through the stone floor beneath him, causing it to cave in and drop the Four into a basement laboratory. Doom loses his concentration, and the spell is broken before he can remove all their power. He fires at them through the hole, but Sue is able to sustain a forcefield to block the energy blasts. Reed pulls Doom into thebasement with them, and Johnny roasts Doom's armor with intense flame jets. But all four of them are still weakend from the power drain, so Doom has no problem defeating them.

Except when Reed pulled Doom down with them, he located the device on Doom's armor that regulated the flow of cosmic energy into him. And Johnny's flame destroyed it. Victor Von Doom receives the full influx of cosmic energy he absorbed from the Four, and it's much worse than any damage Johnny could do.

REED
(following his explanation of what he'd done)
NOW I'm guilty of tampering with your technology.

Doom retreats into another chamber, this one housing his teleporter platform. He goads the Four into following, then adjusts the machine's settings to deposit the four of them in a very specific place. But it's never explained where that place is, as fatigue from the battle and absorption of cosmic radiation causes Victor Von Doom to lose concentration and coordination. He passes out in the middle of programming the machine, falls onto the platform, and the teleporter activates. The Four immediately vacate it and watch as the unconscious Doom is teleported someplace else, but they have no idea where. Reed examines the console, but even he can't make heads or tails of Doom's current location.

The U.N seizes control of Doom's castle, with plans to dismantle Victor Von Doom's weaponry and equipment. They also debate upon the installation of a democratic system of government for Latveria, but that will be a long, slow process. The Four help the efforts any way they can, which mostly amounts to being in charge of disabling Doom's security system and figuring out how his arsenal works. Most of the Skrulls have either fled Earth or have been imprisoned, but a few remain, and the Four make it their business to keep an eye out for rogue Skrulls.

One of the U.N. workers takes an unusually keen interest in the technology inside the Skrull cruiser the Four used to return to Earth. He's very familiar with it, as if it's one of the last reminders of home. While no one else is looking, the worker shapeshifts back into Skrull form. It's Kl'rt. And he's not finished with Earth yet.

Later, in New York, the Four have their first official press conference on the front steps of the Baxter Building. They explain who they are and what they're about to the press, who are full of questions. The reporters seem curious about Ben, who looks like he's in a constantly sour mood, whether he is or not. Reed and Sue field questions about him at first, but Ben decides to speak up for himself:

BEN
I don't care what I look like now; I'm still Benjamin Jacob Grimm. A native New Yorker.
(beat) I've been in the military, so I've got that protect-an'-serve attitude down pat. That means I'm more than willin' to risk my neck for each an' every one of you.
(beat)
All I ask in return is that if you people see me on the street, treat me like Ben Grimm, not a Thing. Don't run from me, 'cause I ain't a monster.
(gestures to Reed, Sue, and Johnny)
Grant me the same kinda respect you'd give them, or to any cop or fire-fighter, an' we'll get along fine.
(beat, ironic smile)
Hell, think of me as a guy in a big rubber suit, if it makes you feel better.

This gets a few chuckles from the press. One reporter then asks if Ben is able to return to human form. Ben reveals that he is not, at the moment. But he and Reed will be working on that. One skeptical journalist wonders why Ben has even elected to stay on the same team with Reed Richards, the man who's responsible for his condition.

BEN
(narrowing eyes)
"Condition?"

JOURNALIST
(nervous)
Uh, well, I mean, uh ... your ...

BEN
I'm stickin' with him 'cause he's my best friend. We went to college together. I trust him enough that if I'm gonna be a guniea pic for the rest of my life, I might as well have him workin' the microscope. Next question.

One last reporter asks Reed what the group is going to be called. Reed replies that the name "The Four" has been tossed around, but he's leaning toward the group name, "The Fantastic Four". Dissolve to...

The Earth's Moon. The Watcher's citadel. Uatu, who was seen in the first sequence, continues his journal entry. He explains that the Fantastic Four are now finding out that the universe is a much larger and more dangerous place than they could have ever imagined. But their ultimate test will soon be upon them, as a new threat is on the horizon. On a viewscreen behind him, we see a planet-sized spaceship. In the foreground of that, we see a silver-skinned humanoid zig-zagging through the cosmos on a silver vehicle shaped like an Earth surfboard.

UATU
Making his way toward Earth-space is Norrin Radd, herald of the feared entity known as Galactus ... Devourer of Worlds.

Fade Out.