It's the 20th anniversary of the Fantastic Four and we're getting a double-sized story to celebrate the occasion!
Byrne is reliving the origin of the FF. Here they are inside that spacecraft.
Ben is in a dour mood. Something inside him must be sensing that he's going to be the unlucky one in the group - the one who would no longer look human at the end of this. 'This' being 'cosmic ray bombardment'.
The story takes us as far as the foursome's crashing back to Earth. We are shown that it is all a bad dream of one Johnny Storm and we follow him as he starts his day in his rather distinctive car.
We look in on Reed and Sue.
Oh I get it. This is 'what if the FF never became the FF'. Waitaminute, are we about to read about four totally normal people? Refund on my comicbook please.
Ben Grimm owns a tavern and he's married to Alicia Masters and she can see.
This part I really, really like. Why doesn't Marvel have the Thing turn to human at will? I mean they've already done every other thing (pun intended) to every other character right?
I should also mention that the space flight dream sequence? Every one of the four is having it; unbeknown to each other. Sue has an specially bad one when they do turn into the FF and begin whaling on each other.
One more thing: Richards isn't the uber-brilliant scientist here because something is always distracting him.
Hmmm, could the difference between the 'F' student and the 'A' student simply be a matter of being able to block out the rest of the world and focus?
Oh look, Ben reveals his dream. In it they are the FF except Ben is super-strong yet human looking.
I'm not suprised that Reed is able to correlate all the dreams in one sitting.
In the university, a colleague of Richard's shows him a complicated and expensive looking device.
Reed has to contend with an obnoxious colleague: Victor Von Doom! I mean, Victor Vaughn.
A villain to the end Doc.
Reed dozes off and in his dream we see clues to what is happening here.
Ten to one Doom is the shadowy figure behind the Puppet Master.
A bump in the head 'wakes up' Reed to the truth.
Reed tries a little experiment that does not go as expected.
Reed explains the situation to the others.
Then it is Puppet Master's turn to explain.
And the Puppet Master's able assistant? Darth Vader.
Here's the full setup. Wow.
For Victor Von Doom it's pretty much game, set and match.
Doom has also double-crossed his partner the Puppet Master. Philip Masters is trapped with the Fantastic Four in the artificial town.
Reed begins to use the one 'super power' that Doom cannot take away.
Let's think about Ben of a minute. Here he's human, here Alicia can see and she's his wife. What must this be doing to Ben?
As you can see this town has had an impact on the Fantastic Four.
Here is Reed's solution:
In a surprise move Ben changes his mind and volunteers to be first.
The way Reed has set this up they're going to have stronger power levels than normal. Of course, they're still going to be miniature versions of the FF.
Remember that Alicia can see here so Ben is worried about it but the universe cannot be totally cruel to the kind-hearted Thing.
So what happens when you move to the outskirts of town? This happens.
So what happens when you threaten the Human Torch? This happens.
The Fantastic Four (miniature version) are back!
Hah! I knew it. It's good to be the Thing.
The four break out to find a control panel and they begin to modify it based on Reed's instructions.
The task of finding Doom falls to Sue.
More than this, Sue sees Doom's real face.
The plan falls into place.
Literally falling into place.
And just like that, they're back.
My heart is breaking for Alicia. Damnit! Why!
Unlikely as it appears, Doom seems to have slipped into some kind of coma.
Really? By electrocution? Doom? The armored Doom? That armor can survive the Hulk. And you know, it is unlikely because Doom tranferred his consciousness back to his robot body in the miniature town.
Unfortunately, Doom is in the land of puppets and the Puppet Master is deeply angry at him.