'Where is he? Where is that miserable, obnoxious flamin' freak? It's clobberin' time!' Ben Grimm a.k.a. the Thing shouts as he punches through a wall into one of the labs used by Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr Fantastic. 'I'm gonna pulverize him!' the Thing boasts, while Reed, whose body is stretched into the air as he tinkers with various pieces of machinery, asks Ben if he has gone mad. 'You should know better than to come bursting into my laboratory!' Reed points out, adding that he and Johnny were about to enter a critical phase in their attempts to develop a flame which burns without oxygen. Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch is blasting some flame into a piece of machinery Johnny tells Reed to go easy on Ben, adding that he has enough trouble keeping track of his own name – simple safety regulations are totally beyond his grasp. 'Don't be as careless with your mouth as ya are with yer flame, wise guy – it ain't the healthiest choice!' the Thing mutters, holding up a clay statue of himself which is now headless, he explains that it was given to him by Alicia a few years back, and now somebody has mooshed it. 'And I'm betting it was you!' the Thing tells Johnny, asking him what he has to say for himself now.
Johnny turns to the Thing and tells him that his engine is a little low on oil, before asking him what the big deal is anyway, as Alicia can always repair it. 'Besides, it bears a much greater resemblance to the original model with that flat head!' Johnny jokes. 'That does it, ya smart jawed, practical joking little creep -' the Thing shouts as he lunges forward to attack Johnny, but he is stopped by Reed, who wraps his extended body around his friend and tells him to calm down. 'You know the Torch would never deliberately damage one of your personal possessions' Reed tells him. 'That ain't the point – he's really sticking it to me lately!' the Thing declares, shouting that he has had enough, as he pushes Reed away from him. Johnny flames on and surrounds the Thing in a cage of fire, asking him what is wrong with him. 'You've suddenly become Mr Sensitive – the Phil Donahue of the super hero set!' Johnny adds, pointing out that if he won't listen to Reed, then this flame net will hold him until he has come to his senses. 'Yer kidding yerself if ya think this is gonna stop me!' the Thing retorts. 'I'm the ever-living blue-eyed Thing!' he declares as he rips some fire-proof paneling off the wall, and uses it as a shield to walk through Johnny's flame cage. 'Whoa! Ease off! No need to get hostile!' Johnny tells his teammate as the Thing lumbers towards him. 'Hostile? I'll show ya hostile! I'll show ya major league hostile!' the Thing exclaims as he wraps the fire-proof panel around Johnny.
Johnny tells Ben to cut it out, to stop clowning around, otherwise he will get a lot worse than a face full of steam. Johnny blows some steam into the Thing's face, and the Thing readies his fist, warning Johnny that he has just earned himself a trip to the moon. 'Yer flying courtesy of the Grimm Special!' the Thing declares, and he slams his fist forward – but it stops inches from Johnny's face. 'Something blocked my punch!' Ben declares, surprised. 'I should certainly hope so! It was one of my invisible force fields!' Susan Storm a.k.a. the Invisible Woman announces as she enters the room, accompanied by Alicia Storm, Johnny's wife. 'Sue!' Ben gasps. 'I realize that men will be boys – but I thought you two had outgrown these childish macho games!' Susan exclaims, telling Ben that he should be ashamed of himself. Sue points out that Ben might have accidentally injured Johnny had she not intervened. As Reed helps Johnny out of the panel, Johnny tells his sister that he could have easily busted free, but he didn't want to shatter the Thing's fragile self-esteem. 'Johnny? Is my husband all right?' Alicia enquires. 'He's just peachy, Alicia!' the Thing tells his ex-girlfriend.
The Thing points out that everyone seems mighty concerned about Johnny, but nobody gives a hang about him. 'It figgers!' he snaps. 'Ben, wait -' Sue calls out, but Ben tells her to forget it, as he isn't in the mood, and storms out of the lab. Johnny picks up the headless Thing statue, and Alicia asks him if he near. 'What happened? Why is Ben so upset?' she enquires. 'Don't ask me! He just freaked out because his dumb statue got wrecked' Johnny replies. Alicia's sensitive fingers race along the clay surface, enabling the blind sculptress to assess the damage. Johnny asks his wife if she can fix it, but Alicia replies that she doesn't know. Reed tells Alicia not to worry, and explains that the figurine is only a symbol of Ben's underlying anxiety, as he has been under tremendous stress lately. Reed holds onto the statue and tells the others that after years of being trapped within the body of a monster, Ben finally thinks he is cured, only to revert back to being the Thing, then he experiences a series of temporary mutations, and his girlfriend, Sharon Ventura, unexpectedly deserts him and... Reed's voice trails off, 'Is something wrong, Reed?' Susan asks as Reed looks down the corridor where the Thing is walking away, and remarks that the head of the statue looks like it was crushed, not melted. 'Who would have committed such a deliberate act of vandalism? And, more importantly... why?' Reed wonders.
Sometime later, standing over the grave marked Marcia Masters, is Phillip Masters a.k.a. The Puppet Master. He tells his dead wife that he doesn't want to alarm her, but that he fears something is seriously wrong with their little girl. Noting the flowers in disarray at the grave, Masters points out that it is obvious Alicia hasn't been out here to see her mother in quite some time, and that isn't like her. He remarks that he can only view her from a distance, because of the strained relationship he has with the Fantastic Four, but that there are many other differences, subtle, disturbing things that only a parent would notice. He adds that her entire personality seems to have changed, ever since she married the Human Torch. 'Don't worry, my love. The Puppet Master will solve this mystery!' Masters boasts as he puts a bunch of roses at his wife's grave, then turns to walk away.
Back at his home, the Puppet Master decides that the time for subtlety is passed. He has tried every conventional way of contacting his step-daughter, short of an actual visit, and he has failed. Putting on a protective suit, he starts molding some clay and declares that he must speak with Alicia face to face, he must learn what has happened to her and why she has changed. The Puppet Master states that if he is unable to go to his daughter, then he will use his special radioactive clay to craft a puppet – a pawn who must obey his will and bring Alicia to him. The clay starts to take the form of a young hero called Marvel Boy!
Just then, across town in the Manhattan penthouse which occasionally serves as the base of operations for the super-powered teenagers who call themselves the New Warriors! 'Way to go, Marvel Boy!' Namorita calls out to Vance Astrovik a.k.a. Marvel Boy. 'Yahoo! I knew he could raise that ball!' Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin declares from where he crouches on a ledge in the training room, and Marvel Boy telekinetically raises a large ball in the center of the room. 'That's the easy part – now he's got to spin it!' Night Thrasher a.k.a. Dwayne Taylor points out. 'Is that fast enough?' Marvel Boy asks as the large ball spins midair. 'It'll do' Night Thrasher replies, before telling Firestar that she is up next. While Rich Rider a.k.a. Nova stands at the other end of the room, Angelica “Firestar” Jones swoops down, and uses her microwave blasts to sever some small balls that are connected to the larger one that Marvel Boy is holding up. 'Just one at a time until we get into a rhythm!' Night Thrasher tells her. 'If rhythm's your thing...then Speedball's your man!' Speedball exclaims as he leaps into the air, 'Just follow the bouncing ball...and the ricocheting hero!' he declares as his bouncing spheres knock the severed ball towards Nova.
'Nice pass, Squirt! Hot potato coming at you, Legs!' Nova calls out as he smacks the ball towards Namorita who hovers higher in the air, while Speedball crashes onto the floor. 'I'm ready!' Namorita replies, before asking Night Thrasher if she is really supposed to hit him, as she diverts the ball towards him. 'Our enemies would!' Night Thrasher points out, as he rides a skateboard, then leaps over the ball, which lands in a net behind him. 'Nice shot!' Night Thrasher tells Namorita, before suggesting to everyone that they pick up the pace. As Marvel Boy continues to hold up the large ball, Firestar breaks off another of the smaller ones and asks 'If this exercise is supposed to strengthen our teamwork – why is Thrasher the only one endangered?' 'Because that's how our resident psycho likes it' Nova points out as he hovers nearby. Speedball tells Nova to ease up a little. 'Don't you think you've been ragging the guy a little too – woops!' Speedball exclaims as he misses the smaller ball, and crashes into the wall, he bounds off it and slams into Nova.
'Hey!' the distracted Marvel Boy shouts. 'Look out below!' Firestar warns everyone as the large ball drops to the ground. Firestar drops down to her teammates and asks them if they are all okay. Night Thrasher tells Speedball to stop clowning and start concentrating, for in an actual combat situation that clumsy stunt could have cost a life. 'Not to mention a new floor' Speedball jokes, when suddenly, Marvel Boy clutches his head and screams. 'What is it, Vance?' Namorita asks. Shocked, Vance announces that he just received a telepathic flash, warning him of danger – incredible danger. 'Since when do you get telepathic flahses?' the confused Speedball asks. 'No time to explain – I must go... now!' Vance announces as he takes flight and leaves the room. 'Wait!' Namorita calls out. Nova tells his teammates that he would be mighty skeptical if anybody but Mr Enthusiasm had pulled that stunt. 'What's that supposed to mean?' Night Thrasher retorts. Namorita tells them to stop it, as this is no time for stupid macho posturing. 'Vance obviously needs our help' she points out.
Meanwhile, in the art studio of Alicia Masters-Storm, 'C'mon, baby, this statue means a lot to Ben! He can be a real pain at times...but he is family' Johnny tells his wife as he hands her the damaged statue. But Alicia tells Johnny that she doesn't know, pointing out that she hasn't worked on a piece of representative sculpture since before they were married, and she is not convinced she can properly repair it. Johnny reminds Alicia that she has recently had a few shows with plenty of realistic statues. Alicia explains that was old work, unsold gallery inventory. 'This is an example of my new stuff' she adds, motioning to a sculpture nearby. Johnny wraps his arms around Alicia and suggests that they might be able to work out a trade. 'What do you have to offer, Mr Storm?' Alicia smiles. 'Something hot and delicious, Mrs Storm' Johnny replies, when suddenly, 'Get away from her!' shouts Marvel Boy as he bursts through a window into the studio. 'Who is it, Johnny? What's happening?' Alicia asks. Johnny tells Alicia to relax and stay calm, as it is Marvel Boy, from that kid Warrior team he told her about.
Johnny warns Marvel Boy that he better have a good reason for busting in on them, 'Or we're talking a flash-fried facial!' Johnny warns Marvel Boy, who replies 'No reason! No explanation! I only know that the woman must come with me, and – I have no time to waste on you!' Johnny raises his arms defensively as all sorts of sculptures are suddnely flung towards him. 'What the -' he calls out, while Alicia asks 'What was that terrible crash? Where's Johnny?' Marvel Boy grabs her and tells her that he isn't important. 'Forget him!' Marvel Boy declares, announcing that they have got to get out of here. He picks her up and telekinetically flies them both out of the window he crashed through moments earlier. 'No! Leave me alone! Put me down!' Alicia pleads. Vance tells her that he is sorry, but he can't stop now.
At that moment, Johnny flames on, and bursts through all of the sculptures that Vance dropped on him. 'I don't believe it! That young punk caught me flat-footed!' the Human Torch exclaims, declaring that if Spider-Man ever hears about this, he will be ruined for life. Flying through the broken window, Johnny remarks that he feels sorry for the insurance company that covers Marvel Boy for medical catastrophes. 'The Human Torch is fighting mad!' the hero declares as he flies after Marvel Boy, and starts throwing bursts of flame towards him. 'Okay, wise guy! You've had your chance! Show a little class...and release the lady! Don't force me to bring you down the hard way!' the Human Torch calls out to Marvel Boy, knowing that Marvel Boy has him at a real disadvantage, as he can't let his flame balls stray too close to Alicia. 'Why? Why are you doing this?' Alicia asks Marvel Boy, who replies that he can't explain his actions – he only knows that he must do them, and he has no choice.
Nearby, the rest of the New Warriors are on the street below, 'At last! We've found Marvel Boy – and look who he's tangling with!' Night Thrasher declares, motioning to the Human Torch. 'Oooo-boy' Speedball mutters. 'Gee, fellas...I'd really love to stick around for this fight, but I think I hear my Mama calling' Speedball jokes. Namorita, Nova and Firestar take to the air, with Firestar remarking that she wishes they knew what this was all about. Night Thrasher agrees, but points out that they can't wait for answers, and that Vance needs them so they will have to take him on faith.
'So, the rest of the Brat Pack has finally arrived!' the Human Torch exclaims as Nova and the girls appear between him and Marvel Boy, while Speedball bounds onto a street light. 'We're sorry, Mr Torch, but we can't let you harm our teammate' Firestar announces. Namorita asks him to stay back until they sort this thing out. 'You heard the ladies, Hot Stuff. What's it gonna be?' Johnny boasts that the Human Torch doesn't take a backseat to anyone. 'Get out of my way, I'm in no mood to mess with a bunch of amateurs!' he warns the New Warriors. 'Bad decision, buster!' Namorita replies as she smacks him in the face. 'Yeah... real bad!' Nova agrees as he slams into the Torch as well. 'Aside from being unfriendly... you people are also very foolish! You're playing in the big leagues now!' Johnny declares as he drops down and evades another attack, continuing to fly after Marvel Boy. 'We've battled foes a lot tougher than you!' Night Thrasher boasts as he stands on the roof of a car as the Torch flies towards him. 'That's strictly a matter of opinion, pal!' the Torch replies. 'Besides, in case you've forgotten...I have a few friends of my own!' the Torch exclaims as he blasts some fire into the air, creating a large 4 symbol.
Mere moments later, back at Four Freedom's Plaza, Susan and Reed are in a living area with Ben. 'Ben, we're glad you finally calmed down and decided to -' Susan begins, when suddenly, 'Look!' she exclaims as she sees the flaming 4 through one of the large windows. 'The Torch!' Reed declares. The trio rush down a corridor, with Sue remarking that Johnny must be in danger. Reed points out that his signal came from the direction of the waterfront. 'Let's go! I may be real annoyed with that flamin' freak...but nobody is allowed too clobber him except me!' the Thing exclaims as the trio get into their Fantasti-Car and take off into the air. 'Get this crate in gear, Reed!' the Thing exclaims. Reed, at the controls, replies that they are moving as fast as possible, and will be across town within seconds.
And soon: 'There's Johnny!' Susan calls out as the Fantastic Four fly over the area where the New Warriors have surrounded the Torch, and Marvel Boy holds Alicia nearby. 'Sheesh! Ol' Hothead really knows how to win friends and influence people!' the Thing jokes, while Nova alerts the other Warriors to the approaching Fantastic Four. Nova turns to Marvel Boy and asks him if he minds telling them what this is all about before they take on the world's greatest super team? It involves...er...and alien invasion...mind control...and a complete reversal of reality as we know it!' Marvel Boy responds. 'Say...what?' Nova asks. Then, with the speed of a guided missile, Nova blasts towards the Fantastic-Car – but then, 'YEOW!' Nova cries out as he is knocked backwards. 'Oh, his achin’ head!' the Thing jokes, while Reed tells Sue that she did good work – her invisible force field has bought them time to land.
When the Fantastic Four exit the Fantasti-Car, Reed tells the others to spread out, and points out that Nova has already recovered. 'Yeah, but he ain't got any smarter! He's comin' in fer another pass!' the Thing declares as Nova speeds towards them, and Speedball bounds alongside. 'He's all yours, Ben!' Reed calls out. 'I'll try to contain this young fellow' Reed remarks as he expands his body around Speedball, 'Don't strain yourself, pops! I'm a lot harder to hold them I look!' Speedball boasts. Reed completely envelops Speedball, who bounds about inside Reed's stretchy form. Reed reports that he is well aware of Speedball's bouncing abilities, and remarks that he even has a few theories about the use of his kinetic energy. 'I try to keep current on everyone known to possess super-powers!' Reed boasts. Reed struggles as his form is stretched further and admits that it seems he greatly underestimated Speedball, for the pressure that he is generating within him is too much, too fast. Reed is knocked about and remarks that he could continue to absorb the impacts of Speedball's unending ricochets by allowing his body to expand to the its outermost limits – but that would only delay the inevitable. 'Uh-oh' Speedball utters as he is expelled from Reed, who reverts to his standard form. 'It's no use! I can no longer restrain him!' Reed exclaims.
Speedball is knocked past Nova, who has confronted the Thing. 'You want to get flattened with one shot, Thing? Or should I take my time?' Nova asks. 'Just don't break yer fist on my jaw, sonny boy. I'd hate ta be accused of punk abuse!' the Thing retorts. 'Excuse me! Playing through!' Speedball calls out as he bounds towards the Thing and Nova. 'Stay back! Don't get between us!' Nova exclaims, but then, pressed against Nova and unable to bounce away, Speedball absorbs the full, crushing impact of the Thing's punch...with unexpected results, as the Thing is smacked backwards through the air. 'Way cool He must have been caught in some kind of kinetic backlash!' Speedball exclaims. 'What a revolting development' the Thing mutters.
Even as the Thing crashes to the earth a full city block away, Firestar blasts the Torch with some microwave energy, while dodging the fireballs that he fires towards her. Namorita carries a pole as she flies towards the Torch, while Night Thrasher, on his skateboard, suddenly finds himself forced upwards. 'It's just an invisible force ramp, young man!' the Invisible Woman calls out, before surrounding Night Thrasher in an invisible force field, she states that she and her friends don't want anyone to get hurt, and remarks that he seems to be a little too vicious for her tastes, so she will keep him out of trouble. 'Don't kid yourself, lady! I can easily bust free with the weaponry I carry!' Night Thrasher boasts. 'Give it your best shot, buster' Susan replies. Nearby, Mr Fantastic wraps himself around Nova and exclaims 'Enough! There's no real reason for us to fight!' 'Oh yeah? Tell that to the Thing' Speedball replies as the Thing rushes towards them. 'Hope ya like the West Coast, Charlie... that's where yer gonna land after I drop kick ya inta orbit!' the Thing warns Speedball.
Down a nearby alley, Marvel Boy looks back at the battle and declares that his friends – his teammates – need him, so he must go. 'You can help them! You can save them all! Stop this fight! End this nonsense!' Alicia urges him, but Marvel Boy replies that he must join the battle. Even as Marvel Boy races away, a harsh voice whispers to the frightened and sightless woman. 'Alicia – I have come for you, child!' the voice utters. 'Who is there? Who are you?' Alicia asks, backed up against a wall.
At that moment, Marvel Boy strikes the Invisible Woman with a telekinetic shove. 'Something behind me -' Susan utters as she is tossed into the air. 'Nice telekinetic push, Marvel Boy! You made the Invisible Woman drop her shield!' Night Thrasher exclaims, free from the invisible bubble.
'Don't you know me, Alicia? Can't you recognize my voice?' the Puppet Master asks as he steps out from behind some crates. 'No! No! Stay away! Leave me alone! Don't hurt me!' Alicia responds. The Puppet Master tells Alicia that he would never harm her, and asks her if it is all the excitement, the confusion which prevents her from identifying him? 'Or is it...something more? What happened, Alicia?' the Puppet Master asks. 'WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOU?' he shouts as he lashes out, totally unable to accept his step-daughter's blatant rejection, the Puppet Master instinctively discards the puppet within his hand, and as the carving of Marvel Boy is flung away, at that very moment the real Marvel Boy clutches his head and screams, while flying towards the nearby river. 'He'll never survive if he crashes into the water at that speed!' the Human Torch announces, as he pushes himself and pours on the flame, flying closer to Marvel Boy, he declares that he can't let him die, no matter what he has done. 'I did it! I got him!' the Torch calls ut as he grabs Marvel Boy before he hits the water.
'Nice catch, Johnny boy! The Jets need a receiver like you – but where's Alicia?' the Thing calls out. 'There she is – but who's with her?' Speedball asks, pointing down the alleyway to where the Puppet Master has grabbed Alicia's arms. 'You must come with me, child! You must...unless...of course! The truth is so obvious! Why didn't I see it before?' the Puppet Master exclaims. 'What do you mean? Who are you?' Alicia shouts, when suddenly, the Fantastic Four and the New Warriors race towards the alleyway. 'Leave her alone, Puppet Master!' Reed exclaims. 'You heard the man, creep! Get yer mitts off'a her before I land on ya like a ton'a bricks!' the Thing warns the Puppet Master. 'Puppet Master? Oh... no!' Alicia utters. The Puppet Mastertells her that there is nothing to fear and holds up a robot puppet, 'I am fully prepared for this contingency! It's a pity that you cannot see my companion – a giant robot puppet!' the Puppet Master declares as a giant robot bursts forth from the warehouse next to the alleyway. 'Sweet mama!' Nova exclaims. 'Ben! Johnny! You know what to do!' Reed calls out to his teammates. 'Yeah, yeah. But I don't think this joker takes American Express' the Thing jokes. 'Offensive positions, Warriors!' Night Thrasher instructs his teammates.
Reed manages to wrap himself around the robot's viewing plate, and he instructs Johnny to move in. The Human Torch and Firestar start blasting at the robot, and the Torch tells Reed to watch himself, as he and Firestar don't want to accidentally singe him while they are melting the robot's arm joints. 'I guess that leaves the legs to us!' Namorita exclaims as she and Nova grab a leg each. 'Make a wish pretty lady – and let 'er rip!' Nova exclaims. 'Timmmber!' someone shouts as the legless robot falls forward. 'Everybody get back – it's clobberin' time!' the Thing exclaims as he punches the remains of the robot, smashing it to pieces. 'You demolished it with a single blow!' Nova declares. 'Naturally. The idol of millions ain't no weak-kneed wimp!' the Thing boasts, while the Torch asks 'Where's the Puppet Master?' 'That crummy little weasel!' the Thing exclaims. 'I'll bet he took off before my grand finale!' the Thing adds, to which Nova tells him that he is sure one day he will recreate it for him in living color.
Johnny rushes over to Alicia and asks her if she is okay. Alicia replies that she is fine and asks if that horrible man was really her father. 'That was him, all right. What did he want?' Johnny asks, taking his wife in his arms. Alicia replies that she doesn't know, adding that he didn't have time to explain. Marvel Boy approaches the Fantastic Four and tells them that he is real sorry for the trouble he caused. Reed tells Marvel Boy that it wasn't his fault, and explains that the Puppet Master used him as he has used others. 'Wish I could say it was fun to see you guys again. It wasn't!' Nova exclaims. 'Those clowns are pretty raw for a super team' Johnny points out as the Fantastic Four watch the young heroes turn and speed away out of the alley. 'So were we when we started' Sue reminds Johnny. Reed announces that the New Warriors give him hope and confidence for the next generations. 'What a gyp! All I got was heart-burn!' the Thing complains, while Sue adds that she wishes they understood what the Puppet Master hoped to gain by kidnapping Alicia. Reed replies that he has a hunch they will learn that soon enough – and that they won't like the answer!