Prologue: Interstellar space is mainly a vacuum. Interplanetary space is slightly less so. And here, inside the orbit of the moon, even with stray molecules of gas, radiation, and artificial satellites, the territory is pretty empty. Most of the time.
From this nothing, a spaceship appears out of nowhere. Its female pilot, De’Lila, sees Earth and wonders if everything on the craft will hold together long enough for them to make it. As the spacecraft crashes into the woods, De’Lila hurries away from the wreckage. She knows she has to clear, for the core’s about to blow. Once it explodes, she remarks that her ship is totally gone. She’s marooned but alive. And those whose betrayal forced her there will live to suffer for it.
New York City – Midtown. Four Freedoms Plaza – home of the world’s greatest super-team who, it so happens, are taking the day off. Inside the building, Franklin rides off one of his mom’s (Invisible Woman – Sue Storm) force slide and into the waiting hand of his dad (Mr. Fantastic – Reed Richards). As he does, Reed tells him to take it easy. If he misses him coming off his mother’s force slide, he’s going to be in real trouble. Sue responds that he, Franklin, just has the same complete faith in his father that his mother does. Reed says for little enough reason but maybe it’s not too late. He’s decided they’re going to find some way to give their son back the power of his birthright.
In another part of Four Freedoms Plaza, Johnny Storm (Human Torch) looks out over the city. While he does, his wife Alicia comes up to him and asks him what’s wrong. He’s been home three whole days now and he’s hardly said a word. She adds that it doesn’t take a sighted person to know that something’s dreadfully wrong. Won’t he tell her? Johnny thinks to himself that she’s right but how can he tell his wife that he met a beautiful blue woman on a journey through time, and he can’t get her out of his mind? Johnny begins to stammer a response but instead, storms off without saying a word.
In the gym, a few doors away, She-Thing (Sharon Ventura) is working out. As she does, she thinks to herself that it was so wonderful to be with Ben, woman to man, on the island. But now, she’s doomed to wear this hideous shell, separated forever from the man she loves. Just then, Ben Grimm enters the room with a bouquet of flowers and a pair of tickets. He tells “her surprise sweetie,” it’s her lucky day. Tickets ta the Desert Rose Band at the Bottom Line, what does she say? She-Thing says that’s wonderful, but she… doesn’t think she could face going out in public right now. Ben asks her if she’s still blue about becomin’ a Thing again. He tells her he understands but remember: if she wants anything, just whistle, he’s there.
Meanwhile, somewhere out beyond the orbit of Mars, a Skrull ship travels through space. One of the Skrulls informs the Captain the subspace phase-out is complete. They’ve reentered the continuum. However, there is negative trace of De’Lila’s ship. The last known vectors indicate an Earth-bound trajectory. The Captain orders them to commence a wide spectrum energy scan and to concentrate on Earth. It’s the only scrap of life in this forsaken corner of the universe. Another of the Skrulls adds that she probably gambled that her ship’s smaller mass would let it phase in close to Earth without destroying her. The Captain states it won’t do her any good. They almost got her once. This time, they’re going to find her and put her down.
Some hundred million miles away, the security guard at Four Freedoms Plaza is asked by an attractive young woman (De’Lila) if this is the home of the Fantastic Four. After the guard answers that it is, she tells him she’d like to see them. The security guard tells her he’s sorry but they don’t see anybody without an appointment. Besides, he’s not even certain they’re home. When the young lady asks him if he can at least phone up and see, the guard replies he doesn’t see why not and turns his back to her. As he’s talking to Dr. Richards and informing him that he has a guest, the guard is surprised to find that the lady has vanished.
Up on the roof, Johnny stares off into the city. While he does, his mind wanders. He wonders what he is going to do. He can’t stop thinking about Nebula, day or night. She was so beautiful, it hurts. Maybe she scrambled his brains or something when she took over his mind. And it’s getting worse with time. He doesn’t want to hurt ‘Licia, but he can’t help what he’s feeling. Somehow he’s got to put her out of his mind.
Just then, Johnny turns around when “Nebula” (De’Lila) puts his hand on his arm. She proceeds to tell him that he’ll never forget her, never. He’s hers, always and forever. Shocked, Johnny exclaims it’s impossible. She can’t be there. Pulling him closer to her, “Nebula” asks him why he doesn’t pull away then. All he has to do is… Just then, “Nebula” shocks Johnny with the ring on her finger and knocks him out.
In his room, Ben Grimm worries about Shary. She’s really takin’ bein’ the Thing again hard, too hard. Mebbe he’ll talk ta Stretch after he an’ Suzy get done playin’ with Franklin. He doesn’t wanta bother ‘em when they’re seein’ the kid fer the first time in weeks. Just then, “Alicia” (De’Lila) comes into his room and asks if she can see him for a moment. After Ben tells her sure, “Alicia” wraps her arms around Ben and tells him it’s Johnny. Something’s wrong and he won’t tell her. She doesn’t know where to turn. She needs some TLC; she needs him. Surprised, Ben tells “Alicia” to waitaminnit. For Pete’s sake, stop it – she’s married. Shocking him with her ring, “Alicia” remarks that’s true but sometimes you shouldn’t remind a girl.
In another area, Sue looks in on Franklin and sees that he’s asleep. Although they were only gone a few days on Earth, subjectively they were away from home for weeks. She just wanted to hold him and play with him all night and he took full advantage of it, the little stinker. As she turns her attention to the mail that arrived while they were gone and laments of having to take care of some bills, Sue is surprised when “Namor” (De’Lila) appears behind her and asks her, Susan Richards, why she bothers. He tells her to forget this menial drudgery and fly away on the wings of true love.
Sue asks him what he is doing there. They heard he was saving the environment or something. “Namor” tells her all in good time. This is a special visit; he has a surprise for her. With that, “Namor” shocks Sue with his ring and knocks her out. Entering the room, Alicia asks Sue what is happening. She then mentions to the person in front of her that they’re not the Sub-Mariner. He’d never harm Sue. Who is he? Turning around and backhanding her, “Namor” remarks that he hadn’t meant to be quite so brutal but they do what they must. And he would have used the synapse disrupter in any case.
Shortly, in the gym, She-Thing tells “Ben” (De’Lila) that she’s sorry about the concert but it was sweet of him to bring her some tea. “Ben” tells her that she’s gotta stay irrigated after a tough work-out. As she drinks it, he tells her there’s a little extra kick in this cup. It’ll work wonders. Just then, She-Thing holds her head and remarks that’s funny. She feels strange. Can’t keep her eyes open. She’s losing… After she collapses in a heap on the ground, De’Lila tells her the word is “consciousness” monster. She was afraid the disrupter wouldn’t penetrate her thick hide but a drugged drink will serve her just as well.
In the special section of Four Freedoms Plaza, the Rad-D room, Reed Richards works on a piece of equipment. As he examines it, he exclaims he thought so. It would be possible to engineer an automatic recall sequence into the radical dodecahedron’s time sharing capabilities. Of course, the practical considerations of a total enhancement of simultaneity are mind boggling, but theoretically…
Just then, “Sue” (De’Lila) walks up behind him and tells him all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. They’ve been gone for so long. Doesn’t he think his work on the Rad-D could wait a little longer? Smiling, Reed says perhaps, it will keep just this once. As she puts her hand on his neck, Reed asks her what is on her hand. It looks like… MO<
Once she shocks him, Reed yells out in pain but is still conscious, much to De’Lila’s surprise. Lying on the ground, Reed deduces that it’s not Sue, but an intruder. He’s lost control of his body. Her device must create some sort of neural interference. Her likeness is too good; she must be shape-shifter. As De’Lila leaps at him, she determines that Reed’s elastic abilities must render him partially immune to the disruptor’s effect. She’s got to render him helpless before he can summon aid. With her legs wrapped around his neck, Reed wonders how she knew about the Rad-D. Is she a telepath? Struggling, he knows that he’s got to send an alarm and alert the Avengers. If he can just reach the control panel... Before he can make it, De’Lila again shocks him and is finally able to take him out of commission.
Triumphant over her foes, De’Lila remarks incredible. She thought Richards would be the least of the Fantastic Four. She seriously underestimated him but no matter. She has done in minutes what the Skrull Empire has failed to accomplish in years. The Fantastic Four are hers. She then mentions that she finds Reed Richards rather attractive. A pity he was so observant. Had he not noticed her disrupter, they might have enjoyed themselves before it became necessary to put him under.
Far above, at the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, the Skrull Captain orders his lieges to assume geosynchronous orbit above the planet and to begin a wide spectrum scan for Skrull mind-wave indices. No matter how she may have disguised herself, she will not remain hidden for long. Just then, one of the Skrulls informs him that he’s receiving high density Skrull-like readings. After another Skrull adds that he does as well, another remarks that there are dozens of them. Bearings indicate that the primary source is a single location in the great ocean below them. The Captain tells them to cloak the ship and take them down. This warrants a closer look. Pointing to an island below them, one of the Skrulls remarks that’s where the readings are emanating from. The Captain tells him, Meg’Ror to initiate landing sequence. If it isn’t De’Lila, it’s something the Skrull Empire should know about.
Once the aircraft lands, the Captain tells the landing party to stand by. They’ll keep station there until they return. Departing the ship, Private Bag’Le laments that is another way of saying, “You’re expendable.” Maybe they should just wear bull’s-eyes on their backs. His Sergeant tells him he didn’t hear that private. He then tells him that it’s time to begin a detailed scan of the area immediately. He adds that he doesn’t get it. It can’t be De’Lila. There’s more than one of whatever it is. Their percentage of Skrull mind-wave similarity ranges from 73.36% to nearly 94%. And anyway, why would there be Skrull-like readings anywhere on Earth? After Bag’Le replies it beats him, the Sergeant says whatever it is, they can handle it. Skrull warriors are the most fearless in the universe. Just then, they see two gigantic monsters appear on the horizon. As they turn and run away, the Sergeant tells Bag’Le he thinks they’ve seen enough – back to the ship, on the double.
Inside the ship, one of the Skrulls informs the Captain they have a visual sighting by the scouting party. Preliminary indications are that they are not dealing with Skrulls. And there are several more such creatures in the immediate area that the scouting party will encounter shortly. He adds that each individual seems unique, but they all exhibit a primitive Skrull-type brain structure – curious. The Captain informs him their scientists can ponder that later. He has an idea. Arm the slave darts, targeting each of the creatures within range. Attach a remote mind scanner to each and prepare to discharge them on his signal. Whatever these things are, they are going to help them locate De’Lila. With that, multiple targeting systems are set and neural disruptors are fired at 9 different monsters.
The Captain gives the order to plot a teleport drop for each creature, scattering them across the wretched planet and then prepare to transport them on his command. He adds that he wants them all programmed to maximum ferocity level. They’ll increase the mental stress level across the planet and watch their scanners. That should flush out their prey soon enough.
Meanwhile, far below the surface of the Earth, among the hidden byways, Mole Man asks one of his followers who disturbs his silent hour of contemplation. He tells him to step forward and speak, that he may judge him. His follower informs him there is a disturbance. Some craft has landed on Monster Isle. And master, whoever it is has taken control of the inhabitants of the isle. Enraged, Mole Man asks what? The dwellers there are under his protection. Whoever dares to interfere with them does so at his own peril. Departing his throne, Mole Man tells Ugu to follow him and let them see what manner of being has been foolish enough to disturb the Mole Man’s domain. Perhaps they shall allow them to live long enough to regret it.
In Manhattan, De’Lila (under the guise of Sue Richards) remarks that Richard’s equipment is all that she’d hoped it would be and more. There’s no record of anything that will assist in her search but the variety of super-beings on the planet Earth is greater and more varied than anywhere else in the known universe. And with the aid of the Fantastic Four’s computers, she shall locate those she needs to help achieve her destiny. After looking at a computer screen depicting the images of Colossus, She-Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Black Panther, Jean Grey, and other unidentifiable super-heroes, De’Lila picks four of them. They should be sufficient for her purposes. And a little guile will deceive such simple beings with ease.
Looking back, De’Lila sees an automatic monitor pop on where a newsman gives the report that the largest of these creatures is now approaching Hong Kong harbor. Others seem to be scattered across the globe and are nearing various major population centers. But just where they come from or what their purpose is remains a mystery. De’Lila remarks to him, maybe. But it sounds like her pursuers have arrived to her.
Above the streets of the city, one of New York’s favorite swingers is looking for action, unsuccessfully. He doesn’t know it yet but his search will soon be over. As he makes his way atop the city, Spider-Man says “ho hum.” Looks like another dull evening in town. He might as well pack it in and head home. As his spider-sense begins to tingle, Spidey remarks that’s funny, he’s getting the feeling somebody somewhere is calling his name. It seems to be getting stronger as he heads toward the East River. It’s leading him right to Four Freedoms Plaza.
When he gets there, he adds that he doesn’t like this at all. His spider-sense is ringing like a four alarm fire. Whatever’s happening must be real ugly. Standing in front of Four Freedoms Plaza, Hulk tells Wolverine “I’m not gonna ask you again, shrimp.” Puffing on a cigar, a plain-clothed Wolverine tells the Hulk he’s lucky he’s in a good mood tonight, or he’d be wearin’ his undershorts around his ears by now. So he’s going to say it in words of one syllable. He didn’t call him and he doesn’t know what’s going on.
Upon seeing the Hulk and Wolverine standing there, Spidey asks them both what they are doing in the Big Apple. In unison, both Hulk and Wolverine tells him it’s none of his own business. Spidey tells them yeesh, forget he asked. Wolverine tells Spidey that he thought he heard somebody callin’ his name, only nobody was there and nobody knows he’s in town. So he followed the call and he ended up there. Same with gruesome, only he thinks he had somethin’ ta…
Just then, the Fantastic Four’s security guard rushes out of the building and tells Wolverine, Spider-Man and the Hulk that Mrs. Richards said they’d be out front. She’d like to speak with them. Turning around, Hulk tells him he’s got to be kidding. Nobody orders the Hulk around and especially not some fresh faced kid just out of kindergarten. Wolverine proceeds to tell Hulk to chill out. If he gets tough, he’s bettin’ he can take ‘im. And if it’s the FF, he’s bettin’ it’s important. Hulk reluctantly agrees and tells the security guard all right. Let’s see what the score is. He doesn’t like anybody messing around inside his head.
The guard informs them that Mrs. Richards is waiting upstairs in the penthouse and then asks where the fourth one is. Spidey tells him there’s “Nobody here but us chickens.” Who else was he expecting? As Ghost Rider suddenly appears on the scene and begins to drive his motorcycle up the side of the building, the guard simply replies “him.” After watching Ghost Rider drive up the building, Wolverine remarks that he’s heading straight up to the penthouse. Using his extraordinary leaping ability, Hulk jumps into the air and says nobody beats his time. Swinging up the side of the building, Spidey adds that he sure wouldn’t want to miss a good party. Turning to Wolverine, the guard asks “what about him?” Wolverine replies #@*# show-offs. Getting in the elevator, Wolverine says the next time he hears voices, he’s gonna head home an’ take a nap.
Exiting the elevator and entering the penthouse, Wolverine is shocked when he sees that it is a wreck. He then wonders who coulda done this to the headquarters of the Fantastic Four. Consoling Mrs. Richards, Spidey tells her that she’s got to get ahold of herself and tell them what happened. Sue replies that she doesn’t know what happened. Not for certain. She was out shopping and when she returned, she found all this and worse. That’s why she used one of Reed’s latest inventions, a mental alarm resonator to call for help. It’s only experimental, but she had to try. And they came. Hulk tells her tough luck, but he’s outta there. Nobody fools around with his mind. And he’s in no mood for fairy tales.
Just then, Sue tells him to wait. There’s something she must show him. Ghost Rider tells Hulk that he may with to stay. He fears this is no fairy tale. Already innocent blood has been spilled or he should not be there. Sue tells Ghost Rider he’s right. More right than he knows. Leading them into a room filled with the bodies of the members of the Fantastic Four covered in sheets, Sue remarks they were summoned there in response to the blood of her family. Hulk says this isn’t possible and asks if they are…
Sue tells him they are all dead and their killers still live. Spidey thinks to himself that his spider-sense was tingling like crazy, but he never thought it would be something like this. Spidey then asks Sue if they are the first to know. Sue tells him yes. She hasn’t told anyone yet because if the word were to get out that the Fantastic Four are dead, all their enemies would resurface. And right now, they can’t afford that. When she arrived home, Reed was still alive, barely. He didn’t tell her much, he didn’t have time. But the Fantastic Four have always known that their lives were on the line. They made that choice.
Before he died, Sue continues, Reed warned of a terrible threat against humanity. Showing the heroes an image on a monitor, Sue points out that the enemy has caused the great beasts of the Earth to rise up against mankind. But the monsters aren’t the real danger. The Avengers, the Armed Forces, and others will stop them, or delay them. The real threat is the beings who killed her family so they couldn’t stop them, the ones who are driving the monsters against them. And unless they are found, and stopped, millions of innocents die, too.
Hulk says it sounds like work. How are they supposed ta find these “drivers?” Holding up a device, Sue tells him with this a sub-photonic spectro-analyzer. Reed was able to record his assassins’ energy configurations before the enemy overwhelmed them all. Hidden somewhere on Earth, that energy is driving these monsters and that’s where the assassins are to be found. The device will locate them. But they are deadly. Even the four of them may not be able to stop them. Hulk defiantly says the one of him can stop anybody. But the three heroes around him can come along for the ride. Ghost Rider adds there shall be a just measure of vengeance. Spider-Man pipes in that it looks like he may be a little late for dinner tonight. Wolverine remarks to just call them the new Fantastic Four. Now it’s time to go kick some butt and take names.