Ben Grimm has been a lot of things in his life. He was a poor kid from Yancey Street, a gridiron hero; even a decorated pilot for the good ol’ U.S. of A. He was then transformed into the Thing after being bombarded with cosmic rays during a space mission with three of his friends. They became the Fantastic Four and, since then, he’s had some incredible adventures. Now, on top of that, he’s incredibly rich.
Today, he’s been visiting his old buddy Goliath, also known as Bill Foster. It turns out that Bill’s dimensional wave inducer has been stolen by a criminal named Cauldron, and they’re on his trail. Cauldron looks like a waste disposal unit on legs. Unfortunately, he’s also powerful and, when Goliath touches his metallic armor, it scolds his fingers. The Thing isn’t so susceptible to heat after all these years spent alongside the Human Torch, and he rushes the villain. As he approaches, Cauldron unleashes a wave of green gunk from his mouth, which is red hot. He laughs at having cooked up the Thing like a lobster, but the smile is wiped from what could possibly be called his face when the Thing delivers a powerful strike. As he punches Cauldron, he screams, “It’s clobberin’ time!”
The assembled crowd goes wild, and Ben admits to himself that was really for the tourists. It really makes their day. With Cauldron down for the count, with his mouth caved in by Ben’s fist, Goliath takes back his contraption. He’d been hoping to get Cauldron to talk, so he could find out who’s behind this little snatch-and-grab. “M’not fayin’ nuffin’!” replies that wounded villain.
The press is soon on hand to harass Ben. One reporter tells her audience that she’s on the street with the Thing, who’s recently become one of the wealthiest men in the world. She asks if it’s true that he’s dating hot young actress Carlotta LaRosa. He replies that they’re just good friends, before a woman taps him on the shoulder and tells him he just wrecked their car. Is he gonna pay for that, or what? Ben reckons he can cover it. Her husband asks about her injuries too, and the woman feigns a whiplash injury. “Me, too! I got whipwaff, too!” grumbles Cauldron. This infuriates Ben, and he has to be held back by Goliath before he really gives them something to rack up the hospital bills.
Soon, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are on hand to cart the villain away in shackles. Ben calls his chauffeur, Bunny, and asks her to bring the car around and give the lawyers a call. Ben says to Bill that his coming round today was pretty lucky for him. Bill grins, and replies that there was a reason for that. The dimensional wave inducer is just a prototype, “but with a sizeable capital investment…”
Ben isn’t impressed that the get together was just a business thing. As he climbs into his extremely long wheelbase white Hummer, Bill adds that the idea is possibly very lucrative. With this technology, they could drastically cut the cost of dimensional travel. The potential applications are limitless. He wants to put together a presentation for him, but Ben makes his excuses and heads off. Bill presumes he’s going to meet Alicia Masters, but Ben wishes people would let that go already. He and Alicia are just good friends. P>
Alicia is reading a story written in brail about Ben’s billionaire playboy lifestyle, and that he’s always ready to shout his new catchphrase, “It’s club-hoppin’ time!” She also reads about his relationship with up-and-coming actress, Carlotta LaRosa. Alicia thinks he’s sweet, but an idiot. Her current beau, Mr. North, appears carrying breakfast and she kisses him sweetly.
Peter Parker and Mary Jane are also at breakfast. Peter wonders what Ben’s doing running around with all these actresses and supermodels. M.J. asks what’s wrong with actresses and supermodels. Peter knows he’s put his foot in it and doesn’t go up that road. He then adds that Ben’s just an average guy, and it’s hard to imagine him living that lifestyle; being waited on by chauffeurs and butlers. Jarvis arrives and asks if he will be needing any more coffee or tea this morning. Peter just can’t catch a break this morning.
Outside the tower, Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man are flying around, chatting. Simon asks if she’s going to the Thing’s poker game this Friday, but Carol replies that she’s not sure. She’s thinking of blowing it off. They’re just not fun anymore. It’s supposed to be a friendly game, but Ben keeps making these ludicrous bets, like the money doesn’t mean anything to him. She finds it uncomfortable. She’d also prefer it if the games were held somewhere familiar instead of some fancy apartment.
Meanwhile, at the new Baxter Building, Johnny Storm is about to grab an opportunity he’s been waiting ages for. He enters the hangar bay and takes a ride on Ben’s souped-up sky-cycle. Unfortunately, the handling is too much for him, and it takes Mr. Fantastic’s elasticity to save both him and the two million dollar vehicle. Johnny can’t believe it’s worth that much. He realizes that Ben’s always lived like a billionaire. Reed admits that he has. He’s always worked hard to endure that Ben would want for nothing. The difference now is that Ben controls the purse strings. Johnny laughs that this will end in disaster, but Reed lets on that he’s planning a little experiment that should rectify matters, and help Ben come to terms with his excess.
Over at Ben’s new digs, the Atlas Towers off Central Park West, he wakes once more to the realization that things are a little different now. He could get used to his new life, but he’ll never get used to seeing his reflection in a mirror. He dons his dressing gown and Hulk slippers, and wanders into the living room where Carlotta LaRosa is standing there in sexy lingerie. She’s on the phone to a friend, making arrangements for the coming Saturday. It’s for a big party in the Hampton’s, and everyone’s going to be there. She asks Ben if he minds, and he replies with a kiss on her cheek. “Sure thing, doll. Whatever you want.”
She returns to her conversation with her friend, Milan Ramada, and informs her that, although everyone will be at the party; Milan herself won’t. She is infuriated, and throws her phone away violently, smashing a nearby lamp.
(later, night time)
Milan drives her sports car to Luna Park in the Bronx. She steps out and looks around. The place looks deserted, but her daddy told her that this was the place. Suddenly, the ground opens up beneath her, and she drops like a stone past whirling saw blades towards a circular disk covered with deadly spikes. She screams but, amazingly, she drops through the disk and lands on a bouncy liquid-filled bubble bed. A holographic image of Arcade appears beside her, laughing. He explains that the spikes were just holograms, before asking what he can do for her. Milan smiles, and asks if he does parties. She’s talking killer parties.
Meanwhile, Bunny drives them both to the Hampton’s where the party is being held. Ben’s nervous, but Carlotta is expecting this to be fun. Ben feels that, whenever he’s with Carlotta, he’s always the big shot; the guy throwing money around like it’s nothing, but at this shindig, everyone’s gonna be like that. He figures the only reason they want him around is for the freak factor.
As they step from the Hummer, the guests greet them and seem awfully pleased to see him. He shakes a few hands before Carlotta takes him to meet their hostess. Carlotta explains that her hostess can’t come and greet them until they enter the grounds as she’s under house arrest. Ben wonders what kinda people Carlotta’s mixed up with. He’s a super hero. He can’t be seen consorting with crooks. Carlotta asks him to calm down, and tells him she’s not a real criminal; she’s a white-collar criminal. That’s completely different.
Irma greets them at the door, and she thanks Ben for coming. He’ll be the star of the party. Ben never figured the upper crust were so into him, but Irma points to a series of statues in her garden that Alicia Masters created. They are of several of Ben’s former incarnations. Ben checks the sculptures out, and reckons he’s a regular walking’ Warhol soup can to them.
Irma informs him that she’d also like him to see her latest acquisition. Two workers dressed in white and sporting baseball caps sporting a capital letter A on them, bring the new sculpture around. It’s another depiction of Ben. Irma whisks Ben away to the party. He’s the guest of honor, and she’d hate to leave everyone waiting. Unheard by anyone else, one of the workers, calling herself Dragon Lady, informs her boss by radio that the package is in place. Her colleague, who calls himself Rover, confirms the drop, and asks someone inside the sculpture if they’re all right. They confirm that they are.
Inside Irma’s palatial home, guests are mingling and drinking champagne. Amongst them is Frank Schlicting, better known as the Constrictor. He’s trying to maintain a low profile, but his cover is almost broken when Tony Stark approaches him and says his name out loud. Franks asks him to keep it down. Tony tells him he’s got some gall, mixing it up with law-abiding citizens. Before Frank can respond, Kyle Richmond joins the conversation and says, with a little sarcasm, “Oh, right. Like you’ve never done anything illegal, Stark?”
Tony tells Kyle this isn’t the time, but Kyle mentions that all those years he used to run around as Iron Man, he never told his investors. Wouldn’t that be considered fraud? Tony decides to leave them to their own conversation, and Frank thanks Kyle for the intervention. Kyle asks him not to mention it. He’s a sucker for second chances. He could say they’ve made him who he is today.
The two men step outside to hear Ben’s speech. He stands before the admiring crowd and begins his oration, and they laugh at his lame jokes. Inside the sculpture is what looks like a small boy; a mini-Arcade listening to everything on earphones. Arcade himself is listening from elsewhere. The laughter is the last straw, and suddenly a small device emerges from the sculpture’s mouth and emits a piercing high-pitched scream. The guests cover their ears and they begin to pass out. Even Ben reels in agony. He knows he has to shut it down fast, but he can barely stand as he sees the sculpture climb off its dais and approach him.
Ben swings his right fist at the sculpture, but it stops his hand with ease. The Sculpture exclaims, “Nice one, slowpoke!” but Ben’s not that stupid. He asks if it’s ever heard of the ol’ one two, as his left fist smashes into the sculpture’s face. Surprisingly, the sculpture’s head raises itself on a metal support, and a panel in its chest opens to reveal the mini-Arcade inside. It immediately, zaps Ben with a gun, which takes him down in an instant. He can barely utter the words, “Wotta revoltin’ development,” before he passes out.
Ben awakes on a beach with numerous party guests wondering what on Earth just happened. He lifts himself from the sand and asks where in Sam Hill he is. Beside him is Frank Schlicting, now dressed in his Constrictor costume, and Kyle Richmond in his Nighthawk outfit. Frank asks if this is someone’s idea of a joke, and Kyle informs Frank that it’s not just him. Ben’s also in his FF uniform. Kyle asks what all this means. They look around and see master criminal Arcade standing on a rock with the mini-Arcade. Behind them is a macabre castle and fairground. Arcade informs them that it means that they’ve just won an all-expenses-paid trip to the grand opening of Arcade’s Murderland! “The deadliest place on Earth.”