(New York City)
The Fantastic Four are extremely surprised to find that, under the mask of Dr. Doom, is the face of Tony Stark. He looks the same as always, but for some scarring around his eyes. He appears to believe he had killed Johnny Storm previously.
Johnny, sporting his green hair, says this doesn’t make any sense. He saw Stark just two weeks ago, and this ain’t him. Reed looks like he’s cottoning on; and Dr. Strange confirms his belief. Floating above the heroic quartet, he informs them that it appears the man they thought was Victor Von Doom entering their reality from the afterlife is in fact a parallel version of Tony Stark, entering from an alternate Earth. Not that old trick again, comments the Thing.
Stark replaces his faceplate, and knows it all makes sense now. “Reed, you genius,” he says. “You got rid of me once and for all, without killing me.” Reed asks why he attacked them. What was it that changed him? Stark quickly becomes airborne, and uses his gauntlets to fire blasts of energy at them. Sue erects a force bubble, and Johnny flames on. Stark informs them that narrowing it down to just one event would take more time than he cares to wait before he kills them. He clearly isn’t wishing to make nice. Ben is pleased to be getting some action after all the chatter.
Reed is eager to discover why Stark is acting this way, but Stark tells him that Richards is the same man; they’re the same people. Why would he assume they would be different? He extends energy from his armor in one concentrated blast, which once again downs his opponents. Picking himself up, Mr. Fantastic replies that, in their dimension, Tony Stark is their ally; even a friend. Stark says he is then a fool. He prepares to continue his attack, but is suddenly felled by an assault by the unseen Invisible Woman.
Down, but not out, Stark figures that, if he’s in another dimension and dealing with an entirely different Fantastic Four than he’s used to, then an old trick might just work. He clicks a button on his chest armor, and a large violet forcefield extends around the area. Johnny’s flame is immediately snuffed out, and he falls to the ground with a ‘krunk.’
The Thing transforms into his human form, and the other two members of the team realize that their powers no longer work either. Because the Thing’s bulk is considerably larger than Ben Grimm’s, he has to hold his shorts up, lest they embarrass him. Sue is concerned for her younger brother, fearing his neck might be broken. Reed demands to know what Stark did to them. He replies that it’s obvious. He’s temporarily removed their powers for a few hours. They’d get them back - but they won’t last that long.
The circle on his chest begins to glow, and another blast prepares to fell the heroes. Surprisingly, for Stark at least, he finds his opponents being moved away inside a mystical ball of energy. Dr. Strange hovers nearby, and he effortlessly removes the team from danger. Now he has Stark’s full attention, he warns the doppleganger that he’s more than a match for him. Stark senses Dr. Strange’s attempts to cloud his mind, but his armor protects him from such an invasive technique. Strange informs him that he has other tricks up his sleeve. With Strange’s mystical power and Stark’s technical brilliance, the two men go at it.
Away from danger, the Fantastic Four pick themselves up. Johnny is in a real bad way, and Sue’s concentration is focused wholly on him. Whilst Reed takes a look at him, Dr. Strange conjures up the crimson bands of Cyttorak, which begin to envelop Stark. Stark is confident he will escape it, and a faint sound confirms it. “It is done,” he pronounces. Strange asks what is done. He suddenly senses something, but it is too late for him to react.
All around them, explosive devices detonate. Numerous buildings in the vicinity are shattered into a million pieces as Stark, now without his green cloak, exits the scene using his rocket-boosted boots. Fools, he calls them. His Reed Richards would never have fallen for that. Rocketing away from the billowing smoke into the night sky, he leaves Dr. Strange and the heroes to pick up the pieces.
A small spherical drone hurtles back to a secreted spaceship, returning to its creator, Titannus. He takes one last look around, before heading back inside the craft to his beloved. She is in stasis, but he talks to her nevertheless, knowing an answer won’t be forthcoming. He tells her he loves this planet. It is spectacular. After everything is done, he thinks they could make a life on Earth, and make it their homeworld.
Suddenly, he notices something on his monitors. An array of feeds provide information on super hero activity around the world. Shown at this instant are Nova, Man-Thing, Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four. “This is promising,” he mutters, “very promising indeed.”
Outside the Baxter Building, Willie Lumpkin is making his rounds, whilst inside, Ben Grimm and Reed Richards materialize. Ben thinks he saw an explosion just before they vanished, and Reed informs him that Dr. Strange got them out of there just in time. Ben wonders how he does that. “It’s best not to know,” is Reed’s response. He then notices that Sue and Johnny aren’t with them. Dr. Strange appears, and informs him that they’re fine. He dropped them off at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Sue is going to stay with her brother. To his knowledge, Johnny sustained nothing more than a broken collarbone and may have a concussion.
Ben asks about Stark. They can’t allow him to just get away. There’s no telling what he might do. Reed admits they’re not in any position to go after him. It’s not like they can call the Avengers either. Strange adds that he’s been in this dimension long enough for his residual energy to dissipate. He can’t track him any longer. He decides to return to his sanctuary, and see if there’s anything in his mystical tomes that will be of assistance. He bids them farewell, and disappears in a puff of magic. Ben remarks that it’s something he just never gets used to. With their powers gone, Ben doesn’t want to even think about what Stark could do in the meantime. Reed opts to put in a call to Nick Fury.
The alternate Tony Stark, now wearing a respectable suit, enters the real Starks’ offices, using identical fingerprint I.D. to get past security. He wanders into a storage room, and finds an array of weaponry. “This is a start.” He wanders to reception, and hands the receptionist a list of instructions. He wants items delivering to certain parties. The receptionist, surprised at his brusque manner, obeys.
Stark continues through the building, and comes across an operations room. He seats himself at the computers, and looks for the energy source that the people of this Earth are using. When he sees nuclear power plants on screen, he wonders if these people are insane. He notices a blip on one of the monitors. It was enormous, but then vanishes as quickly as it came.
Paul Patterson, who was seemingly destroyed in a huge explosion, mysteriously reappears in a large crater. Alongside him is the jade giant; the Incredible Hulk. The naked Paul blasts him and sprints away into the forest, but the Hulk isn’t to be put off so easily. He leaps after him, landing in a pool of water right beside him. He is furious, and is about to crush Paul, when the alternate Tony Stark, once more wearing Doom’s armor, pulls him away from danger. He asks Paul quickly which Hulk they’re dealing with; Banner or Pym? Before Paul can respond, Stark finds a vise-like grip around his boot and turns. “Oh, dear...”
The Hulk slams Stark to the ground, and Stark calls for Paul to run. He turns and uses his gauntlet to scan the Hulk. The energy hurts Hulk’s eyes, and Stark determines it’s Banner. Stark cocoons himself in a ball of energy and rises several feet into the air. The Hulk attacks, and Stark is forced to grab Paul and head skywards. Paul, however, isn’t without his own resources. He turns to the Hulk and uses his own power to blast the giant. Stark warns him to stop, and explains that the madder the Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes. He flies off with Paul in his arms, explaining that the only way to win a fight with the Hulk is to run. Seeing the Hulk leaping towards them in a frenzy, Stark adds that maybe one more blast won’t hurt. Paul obliges, and the Hulk is sent plummeting back to Earth with a crash.
Once they’re far enough away, Stark lands, and deposits Paul on the ground. He thinks they’ve lost him. Paul explains that he woke up in the rubble and the Hulk was standing over him. He though it was going to eat him - so he blasted him. He didn’t like that at all, and it didn’t seem to stop him for long. He doesn’t think he’d have gotten away from him without Starks’ help, and he thanks him. Stark removes his faceplate, and replies that he shouldn’t thank him. He’d just as soon see him perish under the brute’s fists. He couldn’t care less, but Paul’s his ticket home. His nefarious grin says it all, and Paul doesn’t hesitate in summoning energy into his fist.
Aboard his craft, Titannus is watching the Hulk’s battle with Stark. Other monitors show Tigra, Iceman, Daredevil and Dragon Man’s current activities. He likes the look of the Hulk. He’s the most promising specimen yet. He turns to his beloved, and says he thought this world would offer them nothing; that they would find no allies to aid them in their mission. But, as time goes by, he thinks that maybe they were meant to crash there. Earth is teeming with beings worthy to fight for their cause. He turns back to the monitors. “Yes - we were meant to be here.”
Behind Titannus, a voice says, “Excuse me. Exactly what are you doing here?” The voice comes from Japan’s greatest superhero: Sunfire!”