‘Wow!’ gasps Franklin Richards, as he, his parents Reed and Susan Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic, Johnny Storm the Human Torch, Ben Grimm a.k.a. the Thing, the Inhuman called Crystal and Alicia Storm look up to see several more Inhumans teleport into the room. With the exception of the blind Alicia Storm, they have seen it all before. But “out of the mouths of babes…”.
The arriving Inhumans are members of the Royal Family, of which Crystal is also a member. Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon and Karnak, as well as the dog Lockjaw, Crystal’s daughter the infant Luna and her nanny, Maya.
‘Oooh, there’s a ba-by! There’s my little sweetie Luna! Mommy’s missed you so much! Ummm, give a baby a kiss!’ Crystal exclaims. ‘Yahh yahh yahh!’ Luna utters back as Crystal is overjoyed at seeing her daughter. Susan looks over at Crystal and with Franklin at her side, thinks that baby talk sounds so silly when somebody else does it, but she remembers Franklin at that age.
Susan’s thoughts continue, deciding that it can’t be easy having parents in the Fantastic Four, but that Franklin never seems affected by the adventures he has gone through because of them. She hopes that Luna is the same - but she won’t be sorry to take Franklin away for a while.
Medusa stands next to her sister as Crystal turns to Black Bolt and thanks him for approving Luna and her returns to the human world. The monarch of the Inhuman world dares not reply, for his slightest whisper would shatter this room. His eyes and his actions must be his voice - they, and his wife, Medusa, who glances at the stern-faced Maya and informs Crystal that Black Bolt chose her especially to watch Luna while she is gone with the Fantastic Four. Crystal looks at Maya and recalls that she is the one who creates artificial environments.
‘Yes, Princess! I can alter the Earthen atmosphere to that of our lunar home within this area, to ease the child’s, and my, transition!’ Maya responds, stressing that her overriding concern is for Luna’s safety, therefore unless the child is directly endangered, she shall avoid any battles in which the Fantastic Four find themselves. ‘Sounds Jake ta me, Maya’ the Thing declares, adding that any nanny less spooky than old Agatha Harkness is welcome at FF Plaza.
Medusa tells Reed that Black Bolt appreciates the improvements he has made in the potion he devised to counter the effect of Earth’s pollution on Inhumans. Reed tells Medusa that he wouldn’t recommend a regimen of drugs for a toddler either, and tells her that he is glad she has an alternative. Looking at Crystal, Medusa declares that Black Bolt feels that rejoining the Fantastic Four is just what a headstrong young woman needs just now.
Medusa continues, adding that Crystal has been a bit of a trial to all of them, especially herself, in this past year. Crystal steps forward as if to respond, but then, like Black Bolt, remains mute. Medusa remarks that they should turn to Reed’s second concern and the reason the entire Royal Family has come to the Fantastic Four today - the transfer of the mutant Quicksilver to their care. Reed rubs the back of his head and tells Medusa that he hopes the Inhumans have better success in restoring him to sanity than he has. He adds that with their previous detainee, a boy named Kristoff, now ruling Latveria with the fixed delusion that he is Doctor Doom, they have had enough of people with mental problems.
And, on the street below, civilians stop and stare. ‘Hey! Look who’s here!’ one shouts as Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America rides through the streets on a motorcycle, a woman with strawberry-blonde hair, wearing a brightly colored costume sits on the back of the motorcycle, and when Cap pulls to a stop, she thanks him for the ride. The woman gets off the motorcycle and Cap addressing her as Ms. Marvel tells her that it was the least he could do for her after all she went through before they brought the Power Broker to justice. The new Ms. Marvel is Sharon Ventura and she tells Cap that she could have taken a train. ‘No - the ride to New York put the color back in your chee-’ Cap starts to say, reaching up to touch Ms. Marvel’s face, but she pulls away from him. ‘Sorry!’ Cap exclaims, recalling that she sat as far away from him as she could get the whole trip. He wonders if he shouldn’t just leave her on the street, and offers to go up with her, adding that he hasn’t seen the Fantastic Four in a while.
Ms. Marvel reminds Cap that they have been through this, and points out that she has been on her own since she was sixteen, so she doesn’t need a bodyguard. ‘More than that, I don’t want a bodyguard! I’m not a basket case!’ she shouts. Cap supposes that Ms. Marvel is right, and adds that, in any event, it is her decision. He takes off on the motorcycle and announces that he is going to Washington. He asks Ms. Marvel to give his regards to Broadway, and tells her not to let the Thing grind her down.
Cap gives Ms. Marvel a cheery wave goodbye, but his mind is not cheery. He frowns and thinks to himself that there is nothing else he can do for her, and hopes that she finds peace here. Cap then turns toward his own business elsewhere in the country.
And, the still little-known woman called Ms. Marvel stands as stiff as a statue on the Manhattan sidewalk, watching Cap go, but not registering what she sees. People stop and stare at her. Some look on with a smile, others look shocked. Many people come to the Big Apple every year. Many come to change their lives among the possibilities of America’s most powerful and populous city. Few arrive with more power of their own - fewer still have such a crying need for change!
But upstairs, the Fantastic Four have needs of their own, as they and the Inhumans gather around the cell where Quicksilver is being held. Reed announces that he seems docile enough, but that Crystal says confinement causes severe depression in him. The Thing suggests they be ready here. ‘Ya can’t -’ he begins, but as the cell door opens, Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver speeds out, knocking Karnak and Medusa aside. He speeds past Reed and Alicia, who falls backwards into Johnny’s arms as he tells her to relax, that he has her. ‘Stop him, somebody!’ Reed calls out. Gorgon boasts that it will be his pleasure, and his hoof hits the floor with sharp impact, a shockwave shakes the room, and although Black Bolt, Crystal, the Thing and Medusa go flying into the air, the mutant object of the attack laps lithely out of harm’s way. As Quicksilver continues to speed about, Medusa’s snake-like locks whip out at him, but she misses.
Only one defender remains, as the large dog Lockjaw lumbers forward, blocking the doorway. ‘Lockjaw!’ Quicksilver shouts. ‘That beast cannot -’ Pietro begins, but suddenly, as he leaps through the doorway, Lockjaw reaches up, ‘Wha -? He moved as fast as I -’ Quicksilver utters, as Lockjaw clamps down on Pietro’s leg after teleporting into Quicksilver’s path. ‘But that won’t help him hold me, freak! I’ll vibrate myself free!’ Quicksilver shouts.
The Fantastic Four and Inhumans rush over, ‘Good work, Lockjaw!’ Reed calls out, adding that he wanted Pietro out of here, but not under his own power. ‘Always this cult bedevils me!’ Quicksilver snaps. Medusa assures Reed that they will remove Quicksilver from Earth post-haste. She adds that even though Quicksilver’s marriage to Crystal is over, the fact of that marriage makes Quicksilver an Inhuman responsibility forever. The Human Torch tells Medusa that he doesn’t envy her, as Quicksilver is loony tunes.
The Thing frowns and thinks to himself that it is true that Quicksilver was the only outsider in a place where everyone else is related - kind of like here. He looks at everyone, ‘The way Reed and Sue and Johnny and Alicia are related - and I’m not’ he tells himself. The Thing recalls that Quicksilver’s lady started running around with another guy, too, as he looks over at Alicia and Johnny. But his brooding thoughts which have tormented Ben’s soul for so long, go, as usual, unspoken - as does Black Bolt’s farewell to his sister-in-law.
Crystal smiles as Black Bolt places a hand on her shoulder. Again, it seems as if Crystal would speak - and again she does not. And if Quicksilver has anything further to say, he stifles it at the whispered words of Karnak the Shatterer, who utters something into Quicksilver’s ear, as Karnak and Gorgon restrain him. And so, in deep, measured silence, the descendants of genetic experiments conducted eons ago by the alien Kree race depart the world which was once their home for the solitude and sanctuary of Attilan, the ancient island which now resides upon the moon, and leave only their indisputable majesty in their wake!
For a moment, those who watch Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon and Lockjaw depart with Quicksilver, are blinded by the light of the teleport, and then the Thing glances idly out the window - and suddenly stiffens. ‘Nah! It can’t be!’ he exclaims to himself. ‘Can it?’ he wonders as he strides past the others. ‘Ben? Something wrong?’ Reed asks. ‘Wrong? No! Not -! No!’ Ben mutters, before calling out ‘See ya!’
And down in the lobby he exits the elevator, ‘It looked like her! She wuz a long ways away - I can’t be sure - but I think it wuz - she came ta see me - where is she?’ the Thing exclaims as he gets outside and sees that the person he was looking at has vanished. He turns the corner art the end of the street, ‘Aww, no! Y’ gotta be kidding? Where is she? Sharon -?’ the Thing calls out, while wondering if he is cracking up under the strain, thinking he saw the only other girl besides Alicia he was ever interested in. ‘Or did she split - because I ran out on her?’ he asks himself, deciding that he has to look around, that he has to find her.
Down another street, Sharon Ventura walks with her head hanging low. ‘Ms. Marvel - what a joke!’ she thinks to herself. ‘I’m Sharon Ventura, a lady wrestler with delusions of adequacy and a shootful of the Power Broker’s steroids. I’m no marvel. I should never have come here’ Sharon tells herself, recalling however that Ben was good to her when they ran into each other along the California circuit, and her mind starts to wander back:
Sharon kept her distance from the Thing at first, but when he started to mutate, she couldn’t let him face it alone - and by then, she had fallen for the Power Broker’s line about augmenting her strength for straight cash with no strings. She had the power and the mask - the whole bit. Ben was determined to stay away from the Fantastic Four, and glad to have become a West Coast Avenger, so Sharon went up against the She-Hulk who was a member of the Fantastic Four at the time, just to keep her away from the Thing. But Ben sneaked out during the fight. So, Sharon set out to destroy the Power Broker, because his procedures had a secret, second part - addiction to his drugs and his orders. Sharon managed to escape the second part, she had the strength - but not the guts. She also had a boyfriend, Lieutenant Mike Lynch - but he sold her out! Karl Malus, the Broker’s tame scientist, was more interested in trying to have Sharon de-augmented than addicting her just then, and while she was held captive, some of his henchmen became… interested in her.
‘And I couldn’t do a thing about it…!’ Sharon tells herself, remembering the recent events in her life. ‘Super heroine! Ha!’ she laughs.
Two avenues over, the Thing is pacing the streets in search of Sharon. He wonders if he is cracking up, as there are more costumed kooks in this city than ever, but none of them are Sharon. Ben reminds himself that Reed is going to be out of here soon, then the Fantastic Four is going to be all his, so he better not be slipping gears. ‘Yer the one’s gotta make this team stay on top, so ferget girls that ain’t there -’ the Thing tells himself, when suddenly, ‘Oh my goodness!’ a woman nearby gasps. ‘What’s up?’ the Thing asks. ‘I am, Ben! I need to talk to you!’ Crystal calls out as she hovers overheard. The Thing asks Crystal if it can wait, explaining that he is looking for somebody. ‘Never mind. The boss is always available’ the Thing tells Crystal, who drops to the ground and tells him that when they were fighting Doctor Doom, Johnny said something - and it made her realize how upsetting the return of his first love is to him, just after his marriage to Alicia. ‘Yeah?’ the Thing asks, leaning against a building.
Crystal reveals that she almost asked to return with her family twice just now, as she feels she oughtn’t stay. ‘Hey, if you can bust up the kid’s marriage, it can’t be a very good one!’ the Thing replies. ‘Maybe it’s I who is being “busted up”, Ben’ Crystal supposes, reminding him that she and Johnny were each other’s first love, and watching him hate her is painful. Ben puts a large rocky hand on Crystal’s shoulder and tells her that watching Johnny hate him ain’t no Sunday in the park, either, but the whole situation is Johnny’s fault, so whatever his problems, he has to do what is right for him. ‘C’mon, tough it out with me -’ the Thing begins, when suddenly, in as pretty a puff of smoke as Houdini ever produced, six beings are standing where none stood before - with one so obviously the leader that all eyes lock on him alone. ‘DIABLO!’ the Thing shouts. ‘The Master of Alchemy!’ Crystal gasps.
Diablo is flanked by five strange beings, and pointing at the Thing, reminds him that he and his fellows locked him behind iron and stone, and it took him years to gather the nutrients for an alchemical escape. ‘It will take my Elementals but moments to effect my revenge!’ Diablo boasts. The Thing tells Diablo that he is nuts. ‘You may control Elementals, pal, but this little lady controls elements!’ the Thing declares, motioning to Crystal. ‘And I remember well how you enslaved me when I fought with the FF before!’ Crystal snaps. She tells Diablo that his powers are formidable, but that his luck has always failed him. ‘Had you attacked a week ago, you could have avoided me - but this is a new FF you face!’ Crystal exclaims as she fires an energy blast into the air, forming a number four signal. ‘Oh my dear - I knew full well of your return to the group! In fact, it is the very reason I attack at this time! You see, I have added someone just for you - the transmutant!’ Diablo exclaims, motioning to a golden member of the Elementals.
Crystal uses her power to make the ground around the Elemental break and fly up at him. ‘The earth doth shake at thy command, fair one - but the earth-elemental steadies my path to you!’ the Elemental replies. Crystal surrounds him with fire, but he boasts that it is useless against him. He strides towards Crystal and takes her hand, transmuting her into solid gold. ‘Holy cow!’ the Thing exclaims. Diablo points out that a golden statue has no power to counter his will. He adds that men have sought the secret of gold for centuries, only he discovered it in Ninth Century Spain! He points out that next to the elixir of immortality, it is the crown of his achievement thus far. ‘But the final destruction of those who have plagued me in this century will rival that!’ Diablo declares, as Reed, Sue and Johnny arrive on the scene. ‘You always could talk a good game, alchemist!’ Reed exclaims, while Susan reminds him that the Fantastic Four have always matched his talk with deeds. ‘And we did it last time by beating the rest of your Elementals!’ the Human Torch reminds him.
‘Of course you did, Human Torch - which is why I changed your opponent this time, from air and fire - to water!’ Diablo replies, and as the Human Torch flies down towards Diablo, he finds himself splashing into water, as the water Elemental surrounds the young hero, putting his flame out. Trapped in the bubble of water, Johnny can’t breathe, and can’t break free, as the Elemental flows around him, whatever he does. Johnny looks frightened - he knows that he will drown as easy as that. ‘Unless - I push my power to the limit - and beyond! Got to burn! Even in water! I’ve got to burn!’ he thinks to himself, concentrating hard, bubbles start to form around the Human Torch, and the Elemental water creature looks strange, bubbling and steaming - before suddenly exploding. Johnny gets to his feet, ‘Steam makes a real nasty explosion, Diablo!’ Johnny calls out. ‘You needn’t instruct me in the staples of the laboratory, youth - but I must remind you that water can ever reform!’ And on cue, the water rises around Johnny before he can flame on.
The Thing knows that Johnny can’t push that much power again and again, so no matter what he thinks of him, he has to save Johnny, but as he strides towards his teammate, a whirlwind starts to form around him. ‘So ya give the air guy to me this go-round, huh?’ the Thing asks Diablo. ‘What’m I supposed ta do, wear myself out punching thin air?’ the Thing mutters. ‘No, Thing - you are supposed to suffocate, just like your friend!’ Diablo responds, and the Thing looks concerned, as he never realized the wind Elemental can suck all the air into himself, keeping it from Ben, who falls to the ground, he wasn’t ready, didn’t get a breath. ‘Whut good’s muscles if yer brain blacks out?’ Ben asks himself. ‘But if I can’t do better ‘n the Torch - the Torch! When I fought him, I sucked in lotsa air and blew his flame out!’ the Thing recalls. He knows that there isn’t any air here, but his lungs have to be strong enough to suck the Elemental in. He opens his mouth wide and sucks the wind Elemental in. ‘They are!’
The Thing then blows the wind Elemental out of his mouth, right into a parked car, sending the car flying backwards. ‘This must be what they mean when they talk about “blowing somebody away!” Ben tells himself, before the air Elemental returns, whirling around the Thing once more, Diablo asks him what he has accomplished? An extra breath or two of life? For just the like the water Elemental, this one can turn to the attack. Diablo looks pleased with himself, believing he has found the perfect counter to each member of the Fantastic Four’s power this time. ‘I’m sure you’ll agree!’ he calls out. But nearby, Reed stretches over the earth Elemental and asks how it is supposed to stop him, as he can slip through his clumsy fingers like so much sand. ‘I’m glad you mentioned sand, Mr Fantastic - though it’s something even nastier he’s covering your flexible form with now!’ Diablo responds as the earth Elemental covers Reed in some much, which sticks to Reed, no matter how far he stretches.
The earth Elemental starts to fold the muck around Reed, compressing him down. ‘And like the others, you cannot use your power if you cannot breathe!’ the Elemental declares, while Reed is in incredible pain. The mammoth muscles of the earth-creature shift like earthquakes under his “skin” the pressure unrelenting. And nearby, a gloved hand that is free of the muck goes limp. At the same moment, Susan is inside an invisible force field, protecting herself from the fire Elemental’s attack. She knows that Reed, Ben and Johnny are all down, and that the fire Elemental may be the most insidious attacker of them all. She can protect herself from burning with the force field, but the flames around the field are using up all the oxygen. She wonders if Diablo has really found a weakness that they cannot overcome? Susan suddenly remembers that Maya, Luna’s nanny, could provide the oxygen they all need with her power - but she said she wouldn’t help if Luna weren’t threatened. Forlorn, the Invisible Woman wonders what she can do, as turning invisible will not help. Suddenly, she stops breathing, her field falls, and the heat overwhelms her, as Susan collapses, overcome by the flames.
‘They’re all out - all of ‘em - and now - even my second breath - even my lungs - failing me!’ the Thing tells himself, struggling to break free of the wind Elemental, when suddenly, he realizes that the Elemental is pulling back. ‘Air! I got air! Why?’ Ben wonders. Looking up, he sees the reason: ‘Sharon! It’s Sharon!’ The Thing shouts as Ms. Marvel punches Diablo in the face, knocking him over. ‘She wuz here - and she came back! And she’s doing to Diablo’s attack what he did to us - knocking out the brain behind it, instead of tackling it straight on!’ the Thing exclaims. But suddenly, ‘Hey, Sharon, that’s enuff! Yer killing the bum!’ the Thing calls out as he walker over to Ms. Marvel. ‘You bet!’ Ms. Marvel replies as she continues to punch Diablo. ‘What’re you, nuts?’ the Thing asks, ‘Let me go, Ben! I hate him! I hate all his kind!’ Sharon screams as the Thing grabs her wrist.
The Thing tells Sharon to cool down, as this isn’t any way for them to have their reunion. ‘Reunion? I was trying to get away from you, until I hear the commotion in the streets!’ Sharon snaps. ‘Oh - fer a minnit, I fergot - fergot I wuz a monster’ the Thing replies turning away. Sharon looks at him, and as the rest of the Fantastic Four start to regain consciousness, Sharon goes over to Ben and tells him that she didn’t mean it, that it has nothing to do with him. ‘It’s just - the tortures I’ve been though - I hate men - especially the smug ones, reveling in their power! But I…I could never hate you!’ Sharon announces. The Thing frowns and asks Sharon if what she is saying is that he isn’t a man? ‘Not like them - with their moustaches and brutal hands! You’re the Thing! You told me, you’ll never be a man again!’
Sharon puts her arms around Ben and tells him that she doesn’t know what to do, that she just wanted his comforting spirit near her - but she felt so ashamed, so useless. ‘I’m so confused, Ben! I want to be strong, but I - don’t know -! Tell me, Ben! Tell me what I should do!’ Sharon asks. Reed, Crystal, Johnny and Susan gather around Diablo, ‘Looks like the lady saved us just in time’ Reed points out. ‘What a fight Diablo must have put up’ Crystal remarks. ‘Did anybody see it?’ Johnny asks. ‘Not me’ Susan replies. ‘Good heavens!’ she gasps as Reed turns Diablo’s bloodied face towards them, and announces that they have to get this man to a hospital at once. The Thing puts an arm around Sharon and he tells her what she is going to do: ‘Yer gonna join my Fantastic Four!’