“You always used to say ya liked me as the Thing! Ya used to say you didn’t care if I never got back to normal!” “I know! But — this time — you were — different!“
Reed’s experiment to restore Ben Grimm to his human form is successful, this time with the added bonus that Ben can now change back to his rocky, super-powered form by willing it, much in the same way that the Torch can “flame on”. Before Reed can run any more tests, Ben takes off with Alicia to spend time in the city. Reed gets snappish and yells at Sue, who goes to visit Franklin at Agatha Harkness’s house. On the subway, Ben causes a scene by suddenly transforming into The Thing, and later on nearly kills some armed robbers, stopped in time by Alicia, who senses a change in him. Sue visits Franklin and is surprised to find that he can sense her while invisible. Meanwhile, Reed is visited by a man called Janus who is desperate to gain entry to the Negative Zone. Reed forbids him and so Janus attacks Reed and enters anyway.
This is the first issue to feature the art of John Buscema, whose work on Silver Surfer — properly speaking, a Fantastic Four spin-off series — was very popular, but the act of which was a bone of contention with the departed Jack Kirby who never got recognition for having created the character. Kirby left Marvel very abruptly, but with justification. He was unreasonably asked for many last-minute changes and rewrites with almost no compensation for his time — only payment for the final, accepted pages. One whole issue of his was initially rejected, but later cut up and used piecemeal as another story to compete with the work he was then creating at DC comics. That involved the character of Janus, and we will see the pages next issue.
All of which is to explain the rather fragmented feel of this issue. The drama centers mainly around Ben Grimm and his reworked powers that would add a new dynamic to the team. There is intrigue in the changed behavior of the Fantastic Four as well, how they don’t lose an opportunity to snipe at one another, further evidenced by The Thing’s disproportionately violent action.An unreasonable amount of time is taken up by Reed relaying the FF’s adventures in annual 6 to Janus. The lack of a central problem makes this issue not so much a story in itself but a bridge between two stories, with a slight reorientation regarding the character of The Thing.