Fantastic Four #299

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When Johnny asks the Thing to be the best man at his wedding, Ben goes berserk believing it to be yet another one of the Torch's wild pranks. Chasing him across the Four Freedoms Plaza, Sue and Reed step in to try and calm down but Ben is too angry to be talked down. Instead of continuing his altercation with Johnny, Ben decides to go out and blow some steam. In the lobby he is swarmed by reporters who want to know what his status with the group is and if his return to the Fantastic Four is marking the end of She-Hulk's membership on the team. Among the group is Daily Bugle photographer Peter Parker -- secretly the hero Spider-Man -- When Ben shoves aside one of the reporters, Peter uses his spider-like reflexes to save them from a nasty spill. As Ben is getting into a cab, She-Hulk and Wyatt ask him where he is going and that he is going to miss the wedding party. The Thing simply ignores them and dives off. When they get upstairs, She-Hulk learns what happens and she reams out Johnny for being so insensitive as to ask Ben to be his best man while he is still hurting over the fact that Johnny and Alicia are together. She-Hulk decides to resolve matters in her own hands and storms out of the building. Johnny apologizes to Reed and Sue for causing so much trouble when they are about to officially open their headquarters to the public.

Meanwhile, She-Hulk manages to track Ben down to a bar and convinces him to start talking about his past relationship with Alicia. Ben recalls how he first met her when her step-father the Puppet Master first attacked the Fantastic Four years earlier. Using his puppets to take control of Ben and then disguising Alicia as Sue, he sent the Thing to attack Reed Richards. However that plan was foiled when Ben stumbled over some chemicals that briefly changed him back to human form, severing the control the Puppet Master had over him. The two began dating almost immediately after that, and Ben didn't mind how strange he looked because Alicia seemed to love him no matter what he looked like. Ben's recollection is interrupted when the television begins playing news coverage of the opening ceremonies for the Fantastic Four's new headquarters. Ben gets upset and demands the television be turned off, when the bar tender refuses, the Thing throws his beer bottle at the television destroying it. She-Hulk smooths over the situation, pays for the damages and tells Ben that she is going to take him someplace else.

Back at headquarters, Reed concludes his unveiling, announcing the name of their new headquarters as the Four Freedoms Plaza. When the press begins asking questions about the Thing, Johnny takes this moment to slink away. Noticing this, Peter Parker decides to see what's wrong and slips away himself to change into Spider-Man. Spidey catches up to the Torch and the two begin talking about what's going on. Spider-Man is shocked to hear that the Torch is getting married. As Johnny begins talking about what's going on, they are overheard by a woman in the apartment below. Hearing this news, the woman rushes to the phone and calls the Daily Bugle newsline.

Elsewhere in the city, the She-Hulk and Thing arrive at Al's Bar, a dive that is located near a building that is about to be demolished. Inside the bar are members of the demolition crew who are having a few drinks after their shift. The room grows immediately quite when the two powerhouses enter the establishment. Sitting in a booth in the back, Ben talks about the end of his relationship with Alicia. How she wanted them to get married, but Ben didn't feel that he could as long as he was the Thing. Then Alicia was hospitalized after she was tortured by Annihilus. This led Ben to think that they should stop seeing each other. Before he could tell her this, Ben was whisked away with other heroes to take place in the Beyonder's Secret Wars. There he discovered during a battle that he could change back and forth between his human and Thing forms on Battleworld. He then goes on to explain how he decided to stay on Battleworld until he lost his power to change back into human form and learned too late that Reed knew he had the power to change back and forth all along. He then quickly recounts returning to Earth and discovering that Johnny and Alicia had since formed a relationship. This led to Ben leaving the Fantastic Four and wandering the United States to figure out where he belonged. He then tells Jennifer how he thought he found his place fighting in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation. But during his time there he started to mutate even more forcing him to hide. This led to his eventually living with the Mole Man who cured him. He finishes his tale by telling her that he grudgingly returned to the Fantastic Four and is hurt because Johnny asked him to be his best man.

She-Hulk is annoyed by this point, explaining to Ben that he is not the only one out in this world suffering. She compares Ben's problems to that of her cousin Bruce, who has to live with the nightmare of being the Hulk and having no control over his alter-ego. When Ben is upset by the comparison he smashes the table with his fist. This causes the bar tender to ask them to step outside if they are going to fight. She-Hulk thinks this is a perfect idea and literally throws Ben out of the bar and into the building slated for demolition. There the two fight it out as the construction workers cheer them both on. The two fight it out but are too evenly matched, but succeed in demolishing the building. Pulling themselves out of the rubble, Ben pauses when he hears the demolition workers cheering him on. The Thing realizes that She-Hulk instigated the fight in order to allow him to blow off steam. Eventually, the Torch and Spider-Man arrive and Johnny apologizes to Ben for not considering his feelings. Ben tells Johnny that he is sorry as well, realizing how important the big day is for himself and Alicia and decides that he is going to be the best man at the wedding after all. With everything cleared up, Ben and She-Hulk decide to go and get another drink -- this time some non-alcoholic ones.

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