Fantastic Four (1st series) #416

Issue Date: 
September 1996
Story Title: 
Unfinished Business

Tom DeFalco (Writer), Carlos Pacheco (Artist), Bob Wiacek with Candelario/Russell/Milgrom (Inkers), Lenshoek/Huston/Lazzelari (Colors), Richard Starkings and COMICRAFT (Letters), Malibu (Enhancements), Suzanne Gaffney (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

While she supervises the injured heroes in the triage center of Four Freedom Plaza, the Invisible Woman wonders if her son, Franklin, is still alive or if Onslaught has already made use of him. Nathaniel warns her and Reed that he has seen the future and knows they will die if they fight, but Bishop assures the two that there are an infinite number of time streams. In Onslaught’s citadel, Franklin tries to send images of himself to contact his family, but Onslaught intercepts his thoughts and distorts the images into the Fantastic Four’s worst enemies. While Human Torch and Lyja sort out their past, the Super Skrull and Paibok attack, but the Inhumans arrive and save them. Other heroes arrive at the plaza as well, including their old friend, Alicia Masters, and her father and one-time enemy, the Puppet Master. Black Panther and the Fantastic Force save Nathaniel from the Red Ghost, while She-Hulk aids the Thing against Tyros and Namor helps Reed against Devos the Devastator. Agatha Harkness saves Sue from Malice and reveals to the woman that Franklin is still alive, for she can sense that these manifestations originated from the boy. Reed creates a machine to disrupt Onslaught’s psionic powers and all the bad guys fade away. Human Torch arrives with Doctor Doom, who has taken an interest in the Onslaught disaster and offers his aid. The Fantastic Four reluctantly agree to accept his help and have one last meeting with her additional comrades.

Full Summary: 

In a heavily shielded fortress somewhere in the Balkans, a man clad in a green jumpsuit stands in front of a monitor, which displays a satellite image of a Sentinel in New York City under attack by Spider-Man, Archangel, Thor, Ant Man, the Human Torch, and Mr. Fantastic. The man explains to his watching leader that this was the last image their spy satellite sent before it was knocked out by an electro-magnetic pulse. An army of Sentinels have invaded New York City and the area’s heroes have banded against them. His lordship, who sips some wine, tells him that it is quite obvious and that the picture speaks for itself.

He recalls that the Sentinels were created to hunt down mutants. Yes, says the other man, who changes the display to a picture of Onslaught. The man explains that intelligence suggests that this mutant is responsible for the attack. Somehow, this being created a massive citadel out of nothing in Central Park and he also created the EMP that immobilized the city. Fascinating, says Doctor Doom, as he rests his free hand on a globe of the world. Surely anyone who can shape and manipulate the magnetic field like that has power to rival or even surpass Magneto! That kind of power should only be wielded by Doctor Doom.

Does the man have anything else to report? Yes, says Doom’s assistant. According to sources, Onslaught has kidnapped Franklin Richards. Doom’s eyes open widely as he realizes that the son of his greatest enemy has been taken. This mutant named Onslaught may require his personal attention now.

In the makeshift triage center in Four Freedoms Plaza, Susan Richards continues to supervise her injured comrades, who were hurt during the last battle with the omnipotent psionic being known as Onslaught. Nearby, the Beast checks the vitals of Scott Lang, a.k.a the Ant-Man, who was caught in Onslaught’s electro-magnetic pulse and almost killed as his helmet fried. Susan’s brother, the Human Torch, sits down nearby, while the Thing lays on a bed exhausted. The Vision sits stoically nearby Crystal, who rests her aching head on her hands. Bishop sits beside her and rubs his head as well. Sue finds two beat-up stuffed animals and realizes that Franklin, her son, must have left them here before his abduction. Suddenly, she is overcome by grief and asks why that monster kidnapped her only child. She reminds herself that she must not despair, but how long can she go without knowing if her son is dead or alive? If only he could send them a signal.

Sue’s attention is diverted to Scott Lang, who tries to get out of bed. Sue asks her friend what he thinks he is doing. Scott tells her that he is trying to sit up. She and the others need all the help they can get and surely there is something he can do even in his present condition. Sue tells Scott that she appreciates the effort, but he best rest and get his strength back. Wouldn’t Dr. McCoy agree? Beast agrees, but admits to himself that after his recent experience being a prisoner of his doppelganger from a destroyed reality, he could also use some rest. Sue holds Scott’s hand and he tells her that he feels so helpless and that he cannot stop worrying about his daughter. Sue assures him that his daughter is fine. Cassie is with Kristoff. Scott chuckles over how he and Kristoff have had their differences, but he doesn’t doubt the man will protect Cassie with his life. Scott regrets not taking the time to get to know the man better, though.

They all have regrets, says Sue, and they have all wasted time. Right now they can only pray that they get another chance to correct those mistakes. They will get that chance, says her husband, Reed Richards. Onslaught may be the most powerful being on the planet, but right now he is working on a neuromantic disrupter, which should negate Onslaught’s psionic control over the city. Beside him, Nathaniel Richards tells his son that even if his device works, they mustn’t confront Onslaught.

Are you insane, asks Sue. Does he suggest that they abandon Franklin? Nathaniel tells Sue that he is only warning them for their own good. Have they forgotten that he has traveled through time? He has seen the future! The Fantastic Four and many of their allies will be obliterated during the final battle with Onslaught. Nathaniel leaves the room and tells the couple that if they truly wish to live, then fleeing is their only option. Perhaps he has a point, says Beast. Sue tells Hank that if she has learned anything in the past, it is that her father-in-law twists facts to his own advantage. Bishop assures Sue that there are an infinite number of timelines. Nathaniel could have been mistaken.

Worried, Reed tells Bishop that anything is possible. He has never thought much about destiny. He believes that humans determine their own fate through their decisions. Speaking of which, says Sue, the two of them have been putting too many decisions on hold. She thinks it is time they thought about what the future holds for them and their family.

Franklin Richards finds himself alone in the heart of Onslaught’s citadel. He is frightened, but he refuses to give into despair. He knows his parents will come, so he concentrates as he floats in the air, meditating. Onslaught recently taught him a trick, which was to use his mind to reach others. That is how Onslaught was able to capture the man known as X-Man. Franklin learned his lesson and is now trying to use his new power to contact his family by projecting images of himself. It is a desperate act, but high atop it is not unnoticed. Onslaught stands outside his citadel and senses Franklin’s plan. As psionic energy races past him towards Four Freedom’s Plaza, he considers intercepting the images. However, a cruel smile appears on his face. No, he will allow the images to reach the Fantastic Four, but not in the manner the child intended!

At the top of Four Freedoms Plaza, Hawkeye complains that he is bored. Iceman agrees, but someone has to watch Onslaught in case he makes a move. Hawkeye agrees that the citadel must be watched, but someone else should do it. This is a waste of his talents. He is a fighter, not a watcher. Suddenly, Iceman looks in the distance and says that Hawkeye is about to get what he wished for. No, says Hawkeye, it isn’t possible. As the two look off into the distance, Iceman tells him that it is possible. Onslaught seems to have more tricks than the archer has arrows.

Inside, Reed and Sue find some private time for themselves and look out a window at Onslaught’s citadel. What happened to them, asks Sue. They had a classic fairy-tale romance. How can this be their version of “happily ever after?” Reed assures her that things will improve, but Sue is not so certain. Stuttering, she asks if they are good parents. They love Franklin, but when she thinks about all the danger he has been, well, it just isn’t fair. She is right, says Reed. They are the ones who chose to be the Fantastic Four, not him. However, what can they do? They have responsibilities. Sue reminds Reed about the responsibilities to Franklin. Reed tells her that, when this mess is over, the three of them will take a sabbatical until they can find the answer. The two embrace and Sue thanks him and tells her husband that she loves him.

Elsewhere, Ben walks into a room and catches Johnny with Lyja and quickly sees that the two want to be alone. He looks at the couple and thinks to himself about how he hopes the two settle their differences and stay together. At least one person around here should be happy. A voice from behind calls his name and he turns to see Alicia Masters and her father, Philip, also known as the Puppet Master. Alicia apologizes for the surprise visit and explains that Roberta, their robot receptionist, allowed them in unescorted. Thing tells her that they have been having lots of drop- ins recently, so Reed programmed Roberta to let anybody in. The Puppet Master admits that he knows that hardly applies to him, but it looks like the end of the world and he was hoping the Fantastic Four could use his help. Sue walks into the room and tells him that there is enough room for more help in their triage center. She welcomes back Alicia, who tells Susan that it is good to see her again. Philip asks Sue if Alicia should join them, but Sue tells him that she seems to be doing well where she is right now, with Ben.

In a stairwell, Johnny and Lyja sit and discuss their past. Lyja hears a crashing sound, but Johnny tells her that it is probably Ben, blowing off some steam. Lyja hesitantly begins to explain to Johnny that she wants to apologize to him, but she honestly doesn’t know where to begin. She is ashamed of the way she lied and deceived him. She wouldn’t blame him for hating her. Johnny admits that he did try to hate her, but he couldn’t find it in himself. Lyja asks if he could ever forgive her. Already done, says Johnny, as he leans over for a kiss. His room will always have room for her. Suddenly, the Super Skrull and Paibok, the Power Skrull, appear before the two. The Super Skrull tells Johnny that he won’t allow his crass human lips to touch a Skrull woman. Paibok sarcastically asks Super Skrull if he hasn’t already heard. The Human Torch and Lyja were once married, but that was so she could spy on the Fantastic Four.

Lyja leaps at Paibok, but he traps her in a block of ice. He criticizes her for her treachery. She betrayed her race when she fell in love with the Torch. Lyja quickly changes the form of her body in order to break out of the ice, but Paibok creates more and more ice, as any Skrull can change their form, which means Lyja is not so special. Paibok creates a glacier around Lyja, but suddenly the glacier is shattered to pieces. Standing upon the rubble are Karnak and Gorgon of the Inhumans. Karnak tells Lyja to have hope, as the Inhumans shall free her. Gorgon tells Karnak to step back, as Paibok is ready to attack again. However, he has not reckoned with the wrath of Gorgon. Gorgon slams his foot into the ground and sends a blast towards Paibok, which knocks him to his back.

The Human Torch chases after the Super Skrull, but cannot land a hit. Super Skrull continues to taunt Johnny about his relationship to Lyja, but Johnny tells him that bigots like him should shut up. Johnny remembers that the Skrull has the same powers of the Fantastic Four and decides that he needs to lure him outside so he can maneuver. Suddenly, the Black Bolt flies in front of him and Johnny thanks him for the assistance, although he could have taken out the Super Skrull with a hot flame blast. The Black Bolt zeroes in on his target and collides with it. Johnny decides he needs to warn Reed but, before he can, he becomes surrounded by some concussive blasts. He looks down to see Blastaar. The Human Torch wonders if super-villains are taking advantage of the chaos caused by Onslaught. Blastaar is wrapped up in long red tentacles of hair. Medusa tells Johnny that, whatever the reason for the invasion, there are many people indebted to the Fantastic Four, such as the Inhumans, who eagerly will come to their aid.

Elsewhere in the building, Reed chases after the Wizard. The Wizard boasts that he is far more superior to him and is unbeatable with his anti-gravity devices. He will go down in history as the man who killed Mr. Fantastic. Reed wraps himself into a ball and ricochets off a wall. He builds up speed with enough force to flatten the Wizard. Reed hits the villain, but the man vanishes as soon as he is touched. Reed realizes that this has to do with the other attacks he heard about that are occurring throughout the building. It is more than a coincidence that so many of their enemies would attack now, so it must be Onslaught. Has he been able to combine his ability to alter perceptions with Franklin’s ability to restructure matter? He sees his wife, Sue, being attack by the Mad Thinker and his latest android and decides to figure his question out later. The Mad Thinker tells Sue that, according to his calculations, the battle will end in 2.7 seconds. Sue agrees and hits the Thinker and his android with an invisible battering ram. Sue is surprised to see her enemies gone. As he helps her to her feet, Reed tells her that he has a theory. He thinks Onslaught is using their son’s abilities to create their enemies.

Before Sue can ask about her son, Devos the Devastator attacks Reed and tells him that his guess won’t save him. It is his sacred duty to eliminate any life-form capable of causing war, and he will take pleasure in killing them. A fist crashes right through Devos’ chest and a voice tells him that his pleasure is to be denies. Devos dissipates as Namor the Sub-Mariner asks what kind of magic would cause his enemy to disappear with one blow. Sue is surprised to see him and asks what he is doing here. Namor admits that they recently departed under bad circumstances, but Onslaught is a threat to all. They must put away their squabbles and fight together. Reed admits that after all that has happened in the past, he doubts they will ever be friends. However, Namor will always have his respect. Reed welcomes him to the team as the two clasp hands. Namor tells him that he is worthy of the name Mr. Fantastic. Reed orders Namor to stick with Sue, because he has to finish his neuromantic disrupter.

Nearby, the Red Ghost materializes several apes, which quickly take down Kristoff. One of the apes turns into a plasma gun for the Red Ghost, who stands before Nathaniel and announces that he will destroy him. Nathaniel recognizes the Ghost from his son’s files, but asks how he knows his name as they have never met. The Ghost admits that he cannot say, but for know he should only know that he and his companions must die. Suddenly, the Black Panther knocks the gun out of his hand. The Panther announces that today the Fantastic Four and all their allies are under protection by him and the Fantastic Force.

Devlor picks up one of the apes and says that, while they have only met the alternate reality Franklin, they are still miffed over his abduction. Vibraxas asks if “miffed” is the best word he can come up with, as he blasts away another ape. The Red Ghost laughs at them and tells them that he has now entered his phantom-like state, which means none can touch him. Huntara tells him that her scythe can rip through the fabric of reality as she strikes the Ghost with it. The Ghost disappears upon contact and Huntara admits that she did not mean to kill him. Nathaniel explains that she didn’t. There is only one explanation for these manifestations: Franklin.

In Reed’s lab, Reed tells Ben that the disruptor is their only hope against Onslaught’s psionic attacks. Thing admits that he doesn’t know how it will help against their new enemies, but he’d rather wrestle Tyros the Terrible, who he is wrestling at the moment, than listen to Reed explain. Thing grapples with Tyros and thinks to himself that he is glad that he stashed Alicia in the triage before coming to the lab. She-Hulk walks in and asks Ben if he needs a breather. Thing boasts that he is warming up, but she should feel free to lend a hand. In seconds, Tyros is knocked out the window where he dissipates in the air. She-Hulk brags that Ben wishes he could do better.

Reed tells the two that the disruptor is complete, but he needs a power source capable of withstanding Onslaught’s electro-magnetic pulses. The Thing offers to use the alien gizmo behind him that has just been sitting around collecting dust. He figures it has more juice than Onslaught can deal with. Reed is shocked, because the machine is the one that can restore him to human form. That machine is his last chance to be normal and it cannot be reconstructed. He cannot ask Ben to make that sacrifice. Ben rips the main generator of the machine out as it crumbles. He wasn’t offering, he was volunteering. Franklin is his godchild, after all.

Outside, the Human Torch finds himself surrounded by the Dragon Man and Annihilus. He realizes that, for every bad guy he defeats, another one comes. He cannot keep this up any longer. As if in response, the two villains are blasted with electricity and disappear. Johnny is shocked to see his savior, but is more shocked to see that Onslaught recruited Doctor Doom. Doom tells Johnny not to be silly. He is not for hire. Besides, if he wanted him dead, his body would be on the pavement already. Cautiously, Johnny tells Doom that they should pretend as if he believes him when he asks why he is here. Doom explains that he needs to talk to Reed and even Johnny can assume the topic. No matter how lax the Plaza’s security is today, Doctor Doom always requires an escort.

In the building, Sue finds herself stuck against a wall. Malice tells Sue that she is disappointed, because she had heard that she gained more strength. However, it seems that she is still the same frightened girl who cannot do anything without her father’s approval. Sue tells Malice that her old tricks won’t work. She has gotten over her insecurities and they won’t hold over her, and neither will Malice! A woman from behind tells Malice to be gone. Agatha Harkness uses her magic to dissipate Malice, as she tells the vile woman that she is a friend of the Richards family. Sue hugs Agatha, who tells Sue that she knew she could defend herself, but asks that Sue indulge an old woman. Sue thanks Agatha for coming. Agatha tells her that she had to come if her former charge was in danger. However, she has news about Franklin.

In the lab, Reed tells Thing and She-Hulk that the battles are still going on, but his machine should put them all to an end. Thing tells him to press the button already, which Reed does while he prays that he calculated everything correctly. Suddenly, waves of pure energy radiate out of the machine. Even Ben realizes it is working, as all the villains around the plaza fade away like a bad nightmare. Thing congratulates Reed on defeating Onslaught, but Reed tells him that this was only a minor victory. Their foe still possesses unlimited personal power. It doesn’t matter, says Sue as she walks in. They have the best reason to win and she asks Agatha to tell the others. Agatha tells the heroes that though the physical images were distorted by Onslaught, she could sense that they originated from Franklin. Sue happily tells Reed that their son is alive. Renewed with hope, Reed tells her that they will find a way to rescue him.

Johnny walks in and tells them that they have another walk-on. Doom tells Johnny that there is no time for levity. Even their combined powers may not be enough to beat Onslaught. Jokingly, Johnny tells the others that his new friend isn’t much for laughs, but he has a rustproof guarantee. Sue admits that she would have accepted anyone willing to save Franklin, but can they trust Doom? No, they cannot, says Reed, but defeating Onslaught helps Doom’s personal agenda and they could use the assistance. Johnny tells the couple that he and Ben will keep an eye on their enemy. It isn’t like they have anything else to do, says Thing.

Sue agrees that Doom can stay, but he does things their way. She tells her family that this is the big one and it may be their final battle. Whether they win or lose, she wants them all to know she loves them. Sue sticks her hand out and Thing complains that he doesn’t want to do the corny hand thing. Johnny puts his hand on his sister’s and tells him that it is tradition. Reed adds his hand and agrees that there is no better way to face this conflict. Thing gives in, but swears that this will be the last time they do this.

All the heroes, and Doom, gather as Reed tells them to listen up. He isn’t going to waste time explaining what is at stake here. They are fighting for far more than the life of his son, though that would be enough. If they fail, humanity dies. Get ready to rumble, for in the words of his dearest friend, it’s clobberin’ time! “’Nuff said!” adds Thing.

Characters Involved: 

Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)

Devlor, Huntara, Vibraxas (Fantastic Force)

Black Bolt, Gorgon, Karnak, Medusa (Inhumans)

Beast, Bishop (X-Men)

Crystal, Vision (Avengers)

Agatha Harkness, Alicia Masters, Ant-Man II, Lyja, Namor, Puppet Master, She-Hulk (Fantastic Four allies)

Franklin Richards

Nathaniel Richards

Doctor Doom

Doom’s assistant


illusions of Onslaught



Dragon Man

Mad Thinker


Tyros the Terrible


Story Notes: 

This issue is part of Phase Two of the company-wide Onslaught crossover.

Franklin was captured in Fantastic Four (1st series) #415.

Franklin was used to capture X-Man in X-Man #19.

Issue Information: 

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