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From the Mouths of the Marvels:

“Don't waste your energy on me, Johnny. You'll need it for the war."

-- Reed Richard, p. 15, from FF #506


The FF prepare to take over Latveria.

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Even the FF lack the perspective to get a full understanding of Heaven.

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Featured Characters:

  • Fantastic Four
  • Nick Fury
  • Dr. Doom
  • Alicia Masters
  • Spider-Man

From the Inside Dustflap:

The second deluxe hardcover in the Fantastic Four series collects FF Vol. 3: Authoritative Action and FF Vol. 4: Hereafter!

Fantastic Four Vol. 3: Authoritative Action: It seemed like a simple enough idea at the time: Now that their arch-enemy Doctor Doom had seemingly perished, the Fantastic Four would journey into his nation of Latveria, disassemble its war machine and set its oppressed citizens free. But what appeared to be a black-and-white situation quickly turns a murky shade of gray, and Reed Richards and his family find themselves besieged on all sides - both by those they thought of as their allies and by the very people they are trying to save.

Fantastic Four Vol. 4: Hereafter: Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman and the Human Torch must contend with the defenses of the afterlife - and storm the gates of Heaven itself to rescue their fallen teammate, the Thing. They've faced the destroyer of everything, Galactus. Now, they face the creator of everything, as the Fantastic Four are recruited in the hereafter!

Plus: The FF have a lot to answer for in the aftermath of their authoritative action in Latveria - and when you're trying to regain the trust of cynical New Yorkers, is associating with a certain misunderstood wall-crawler really a wise move?


  Fantastic Four, Vol. 2

Reprints: Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #503-514

List price: $29.99 (US) • $48.00 (Canada)
ISBN: 0-7851-1775-X
368 pages

Original Release Date: 3/2/05
Current In-Print Edition: First Print

SPECIAL BONUS FEATURES: (13 pages total)

  • Introduction by Mark Waid (2 pages)
  • Deleted Scenes (1 page)
  • Email exchange between Waid and Editor Tom Brevoort, setting up the Hereafter story (2 pages)
  • Wieringo Promo piece for FF #509 (1 page)
  • Unused Wieringo pencils, FF #509, page 1 (2 pages)
  • Notes on FF #511 by Waid (1 page)
  • Recap page art, used in FF #62-70, 500-513 (4 pages)

Buy From:
TALES OF WONDER: $20.99 • AMAZON USA: $19.79


Script: Mark Waid


  • Howard Porter (503-508)
  • Mike Wieringo (509-513)
  • Paul Smith (513 backup story)
  • Norm Rapmund (503-508)
  • Karl Kesel (509-513)
Guest Cover Art:
  • Tony Harris (503-508)

FANTASTIC FOUR #503-508: Authoritative Action

Fantastic Four #503
22 pages + cover • November 2003

As eager fans of the Fantastic Four flood their merchandise store and crowd around the Baxter Building, wondering wherethe team has disappeared to after their ferocious fight with Dr. Doom that left much of the top floors of their HQ a dilapidated mess, the armed forces of Latveria prepare to defend their borders from oncoming Hungarian troops. Suddenly, the Fantastic Four showup and drive the Hungarians back. They head inside Latveria and make their way through the frightened and angry local populace, getting to Doom's castle

Reed heads straight for Doom's laboratories, where Doombots are scurrying away through a teleportation machine with hishigh-tech weaponry and gadgets, under pre-programmed orders from Doom in the event he is deposed. The FF put a stop to the Doombotsand retrieve the equipment, then begin accounting for all the weaponry on the grounds and putting the castle in lockdown mode.

The next morning, Sue, Johnny and Ben watch as the crowds begin milling around on the streets, burning their images in effigy. HisFF teammates are shocked to see Reed raising a "4" flag on the castle's flagpole, telling everyone below that the FF are now in control of Latveria.

* * *

Fantastic Four #504
21 pages + cover • November 2003

Col. Nick Fury of SHIELD meets with world leaders in the UN, trying to help mitigate the actions of his fellow countrymen, the FF. He tellsthem the FF have provided a great service in cleaning up Latveria's weapons systems in Doom's absence, so they don't fall into the wrong hands.Yet the world leaders are uncomfortable with the FF claiming sovereignty and want the UN to bring swift action against them. Meanwhile, Reed explains to the rest of the team what their mission is. He takes them to a nearby building and shows them inside. It served as a death chamber for political prisoners who fell on the wrong side of Doom's dictatorship. Reed directs Sue to allow the gathering crowd to see through the walls, so they can get a good look at what their former leader was doing behind the scenes. Then they trash the place. But Reed becomes angrywhen the citizens don't seem to be responding positively to his act of good will.

As Sue, Ben and Johnny explain to Reed their reservations for laying claim to a whole country, Reed listens diffidently as he leads them througha booby-trap laden hallway to a top secret chamber in Doom's castle. Once they get there, they see Doom's massive stash of weaponry, includingICBMs tipped with nuclear warheads. Reed rallies them to agree to his plan- to eradicate Doom's stash of weaponry so that if he ever comesback, he will have lost it all.

* * *

Fantastic Four #505
21 pages + cover • December 2003

Reed opens the day by giving an impassioned speech to the Latverian populace explaining his actions and the crimes Doom had committed in the past. He then invites the locals to enter Doom's castle and destroy it as an act of catharsis. Hundreds stream in and begin bashing the place up, including a portrait of Doom's mother, which Reed goes out of his way to help destroy. Ben sees this and is shocked at the hyper-aggressive behavior of his best friend. He must also step in to help disable a would-be suicide bomber representing the Latverian Resistance, stopping Reed from choking the man and instead releasing him, making sure the Latverians know they don't represent the evil that Doom did.

The UN convenes to inform Nick Fury that a United Nations coalition is forming to boot the FF out of Latveria, as well as potentially threaten war against America if they refuse to help corral their citizens in. Back at the castle, Sue and Ben get into an argument over what they're doing, with Ben suggesting they're going too far, and Sue stepping in to defend her husband's protective actions.

Later, Ben and Johnny set a trap for the Latverian Resistance, following one of their members back to his hideout so they can stop them. But once there, a large group of Doombots come pouring into the room, attacking both Johnny and Ben and also the Latverians. As the Doombots slowly overtake them, from the din and smoke comes Reed, holding a gadget he used to control the Doombots.

* * *

Fantastic Four #506
21 pages + cover • January 2004

As Latverian society becomes more civil and responsive to Reed's leadership, the townspeople realize that they are being converged on by foreign troops led by the UN, at all directions. The Hungarians, Chinese, Russian, and Americans are setting up war positions. Nick Fury is in Reed's castle lab discussing the situation, with Fury telling Reed what he's up against, and Reed defending his actions, no matter how crazy they seem to others. Nick tells him he has a deadline to pull out.

Reed takes Sue back to a cell where he kept Ben and Johnny after they almost ruined his plan the previous night. The duo are enraged that Reed knocked them out and jailed them when they were trying to help. Reed explains that he sent the Doombots to break up the Resistance meeting and punish them, so that when the FF saved the Latverians, they would look even more like the good guys. Naturally, Ben and Johnny can't allow the Doombots to continue their rampage, so they head down with Sue to the city streets and destroy all the Doombots chasing the Resistance. Once they're all destroyed, the Latverians cheer on the FF and lift them up in gratitude. Reed watches from above, as he relishes one more of Doom's assets destroyed- the love of the Latverian people.

But the party doesn't last for long, and the threesome head up to confront Reed and his out of control ways. They try to talk to him, but he says some incredibly insensitive things to Sue that drive Johnny to nearly attack him. Reed warns them of the war footing the UN troops are on, and tells them Nick Fury is prepared to attack in less than 40 minutes. They set out to reach Fury, to convince him not to delay action, leaving Reed behind. Fury informs them that they're going to be arrested for treason to the United States if they don't stand down immediately.

Reed is finally alone, and he continues writing his last note to Sue, Johnny and Ben. It explains that he meant to drive them away, so he could be alone to sacrifice his life to finally end this nightmare.

* * *

Fantastic Four #507
21 pages + cover • January 2004

Nick Fury buys Sue, Johnny and Ben five minutes to rush back and try and convince Reed to surrender with them. Meanwhile, Reed is preparing his final solution to the problem of Doom. He presses a button and a machine teleports him away from the Latverian weapons lab, which he has set to self-destruct. At the same time, Doom is being tortured by the demons who trapped him there, but he, too, is teleported away.

They both emerge face-to-face in an elaborate room paneled with their past exploits playing out before them. Reed informs Doom that he hascreated a "Mobius dimension", a four-dimensional finite space that folds back on itself infinitely. Doom tries to escape, but every door leads back to the room he was trying to leave. Reed tells him that the only way he can be sure to protect his family is to keep Doom here in this space as his jailer, and make it a place neither of them could ever escape from.

Back in Latveria, Nick Fury mobilizes the UN troops for an assault on the castle.

Reed explains to Doom that he was driven to this ultimate sacrifice by Doom's unrelenting attack on the lives of him and his family through the years. But even though neither Reed or Doom can leave, the room can be entered from the outside, and Johnny, Sue and Ben come pouring through the door, having arrived just as Reed left the laboratory and following him inside the dimensional portal. Reed turns frantically and yells at them to leave and close the portal before Doom can get out.

Once Fury gets past an angry mob of civilian Latverians, who are furious with the UN for deposing Reed Richards. Once inside the castle, he sees the FF lying on the floor of the chamber, dazed. As Reed, in a panic, tries to find where Doom is, the Latverian ruler reveals himself: he has taken over the body of Sue Storm, and is using her powers to demolish Fury's troops.

* * *

Fantastic Four #508
22 pages + cover • February 2004

The team try to stop Doom without hurting Sue's body, as well as protect Fury's troops from harm. Fury has brought along weapons specifically synchronizedto take down each of the Fantastic Four, and they use them to stop the FF, while Doom floats away to check on what's going on with Latveria. The evidence that his dominion over Latveria has been turned on its head mounts, and seeing the FF flag flying from the castle flagpole is the last straw.

Doom returns and the FF attack him, using the advantages they know to debilitate Sue's powers to good effect. But despite a strong warning from Reed, Johnny gets too close to Doom and he projects himself inside of the Torch's body and turns Johnny's flaming powers against the others. Ben diverts him by telling him they destroyed his secret weapons lab, and Doom flies off to check that situation out. Free of his attack for the moment, they revive Sue and plan the next attack on Doom. They chase Doom down in his empty weapons lab, where Victor flies into a rage at them for dismantling all he had built. He flies towards the Thing, getting control of his body and then grabbing Johnny's body and threatening to break him in half with the Thing's strength.

Doom challenges Reed to go ahead and kill him. Ben tries to break free of Doom's grip, but realizes he's not able to in a way to save Johnny's life, and urges Reed to kill him. Reed fires the gun Nick Fury provided to take out the Thing and it blasts him in the chest, leaving a gaping hole. With his dying words, Ben tells them that Doom is gone from his body, and he slowly dies.

Flashing forward six weeks in time, the FF have become social pariahs in America. They've had to sell off their assets, including patents on Reed's inventions, and their merchandising store is closed. Reed calls Sue and tells his estranged wife that he's got a plan to bring Ben back to life.

* * *

FANTASTIC FOUR #509-513: Hereafter

Fantastic Four #509
21 pages + cover • March 2004

Flashing back six weeks, Reed Richards stands over the body of Ben Grimm, desperately trying for an hour to revive him from death. Enough is enough, however, and Sue and Nick Fury step in to calm him down from his mania.

In the present time, Reed spends all waking moments trying to craft a plan to return Ben Grimm to life, and while in a dream state, he sees the image of Doom and it all comes clear to him. Meanwhile, Johnny is working at a garage, daydreaming that Ben is still with him. Alicia Masters spends her time nursing her grief by sculpting one statue of Ben after another. Sue has moved in with her with the kids to get away from Reed, andshe and Johnny discuss the future of the Fantastic Four in light of the financial and public image disaster they find themselves in after takingover Latveria. While on the phone with Johnny, Reed beeps in and tells Sue of his plan to bring Ben back to life.

Within minutes, both Johnny and Sue burst into Reed's lab demanding to know what he means by all this crazy talk. Reed says that within Ben's body, which he has in a water chamber, there is the faintest detection of a brainwave. His idea is to follow the trace hints of the brainwave to where the rest of his consciousness lies, which happens to be the place commonly referred to as "Heaven." To get there, they will put into usethe flawed design of Victor Von Doom, the chair he used to try and reach his mother in the afterlife when he and Reed were youths, which exploded in his face and set him on the path to evil. Reed has fixed the design flaw and is ready to use it to access the afterlife where the energyof human souls go after the body dies.

Sue and Johnny are completely unsure of what to do, but they are willing to accept their role in the journey, and together they head off to Heaven through Doom's newly-developed machine.

* * *

Fantastic Four #510
21 pages + cover • April 2004

Reed, Sue and Johnny arrive through Doom's transdimensional teleporter in a grassy landscape, wondering if they've made it to Heaven. Reed informs them that it's likely that whatever they see will be filtered through their belief systems and interpreted in a way they can comprehend as humans. They are immediately swarmed by flying men with wings who wield flaming swords, who's single message to them is "You don't belong here." But soon, they disappear; Reed interprets it as a mere warning to leave. Indeed, from a distance, Ben Grimm and another man stand watching, worried that their attempt to turn them back didn't work. They turn their attention to try and open the giant door behind them.

The team traverses a giant field of floating blocks that Reed has to put together with his outstretched arms. He and Johnny get into an argument, with both of them blaming each other for Ben dying. Soon, the plane of reality shifts to a comfortable home setting, where Sue is surrounded by versions of Val and Franklin from different stages of their life. As Sue confides in her concerns to her husband, reality once again shifts, and they find themselves in a campfire setting in the woods, a favorite spot for the Storm family when they were kids. Sue and Johnny catch up with their long-dead parents, who warn them that they're about to get booted out of Heaven.

A river of blood rises up around them, and they are pulled down into its torrents. As Ben continues to try and open the door that he can't budge, worried that he'll have to eventually give up and ask Reed to help him. Sue, Johnny and Reed make it through a final onslaught from a swarm of tiny angels buzzing by them. They finally arrive at the location where Ben is standing. Reunited, they all hug. Ben is not in his rocky form. He introduces them to his brother, Dan, who died when Ben was a young boy. He had been trying to help open the door to Heaven, but together they couldn't do it. It's revealed to Reed that the door will forever be closed to Ben because it was designed by Reed himself.

* * *

Fantastic Four #511
21 pages + cover • May 2004

Reed realizes the ramifications of what he's done. By keeping Ben's body alive on Earth with high-tech gadgetry and high hopes, he's doomed his soul from being able to enter Heaven. As it slowly dawns on Reed and Sue what that inevitably means, they begin to make their goodbyes to Ben, who is ready to enter. But Johnny simmers to an explosion and attacks in a fit of rage for being a coward, then he turns on Reed, demanding that he do something to fix the situation, to save his best friend. Sue sticks up for her husband, and then all hell breaks loose, with a flood tide of emotions pouring out of the three of them. An earthquake starts to sunder the ground beneath them, caused by the emotional outpouring of the three angry teammates.

Ben rushes to the controls of the door to try and open it, while Reed falls down into a pit, overcome by emotions and unable to move. Ben rips apart the wires and circuitry in a desperate and final attempt to open the door, when he sees that behind all the gadgetry is the texture of his rocky skin as the Thing. A light bulb goes off over his head, and he dashes over to the pit edge to rescue his friend, Reed. He tells Reed that it wasn't him that built the door after all, he just realized it was him all along, by blaming Reed for every bad thing that had ever befallen him. But his change of his heart of hearts make him realize that there's no longer any reason to hold onto such grief, and he wants to live to restore his faith in friendship. He gets Reed's attention and pulls him out of the pit, and the quake calms down.

But just as they all decide to head back home, Reed takes an interest in the door to Heaven, and Dan says that the "Big Man" inside has given them an invitation inside if they so choose to accept it. After agreeing to the terms in which they would enter, Dan opens the door for them. They are led into a huge glowing white light, where they all say their goodbyes to Dan and fall down into a floating abyss of time and space. They finally settle on a rock where stands a plain old door. They open it, realizing they will next be in an audience with God....

They open the door, and behind the door is a living room in a home, with an art table set up in the corner. An older gentleman sits drawing with a pencil, a cigar sitting in an ashtray next to him. The man explains who he is and what he does: he is a creator who tells stories, his characters full of what is good and godlike in humanity. He takes a call from his collaborator, working out a story plot concerning the Silver Surfer. He shares with them some of his drawings, of fantastic places where the mystery of the journey of life unfolds. He also shows them how as "creator" he can use the eraser on the end of his pencil to wipe out such things as the mottled scars on the left side of Reed's face. Miraculously, the scars disappear.

Then, too, Ben's rocky texture returns, and he is the Thing again. The Creator explains that he's going to be that way anyway when he wakes up in Reed's tank. He hands them a souveneir drawing and they are teleported away back to the Baxter Building. The Fantastic Four are awestruck at having met their creator, and at a loss for words, they look down at the piece of paper he handed them and sees what he drew: the four of them, gathered together in their senior years with happy and content looks on their faces.

* * *

Fantastic Four #512
18 pages + cover • June 2004

As Johnny Storm walks the streets of New York City, he picks up on the vibe that he's become just as hated as Spider-Man. In fact, he's been voted the "Least Eligible Bachelor" for the first time, an award Spidey had won five years running. While talking to Reed, who is busy inventing new things he can patent to restore the FF's financial footing, Ben plays a prank on him, paying Franklin to wear a Spider-Man hat. Fed up, Johnny sets up a meeting with Spider-Man.

When the two meet, Spidey is initially impressed that the Torch is asking advice from him, but soon he becomes offended when he realizes the angle at which Johnny Storm is coming from: he wants to know how Spidey deals with being such a loser all the time. While Johnny continues with his insensitive train of thought, Spidey entertains notions of strangling him, until a Homeland Security helicopter scoots them off their perch at the Statue of Liberty. They decide to meet again at a park the next day.

Ben meets up with Sue at Alicia's home, where he is perturbed to see Alicia working on an endless amount of statues of him. He settles down, though, and the two share a tender moment with each other.

Spidey and the Torch meet the next day at a water park, with Spidey concealed behind a huge trench coat. As soon as its revealed to the crowd that two super-hero celebrities are in their midst, the crowd turns on Johnny, bugging him about the recent misadventures by the FF. Also, a lone voice rises up from the crowd, challenging them in a righteous fury for hounding him when all he wanted to was to hold down a normal job. It's Hydro-Man, who drops his civilian guise and changes into his watery semblance, punching Spider-Man across the way. Hydro-Man chases his longtime enemy Spider-Man, as the Torch moves in to help. But a giant water slide above him bursts and sends gallons of water over him, dousing his flame and knocking him into a nearby kiddie swimming pool, where he realizes that the force of the water knocked his pants off! He's completely naked and surrounded by a bunch of kids!

* * *

Fantastic Four #513
15 page feature story + 10 page backup story + cover • July 2004

Spider-Man makes his way over to Johnny and webs him up a pair of shorts, and then the crowd starts throwing food at him for starting this fight. Ben sits at home watching live coverage of this whole debacle, laughing his butt off. Hydro-Man runs into a bathroom, hiding inside the plumbing. Johnny checks out the women's room, and sends a bunch of women screaming. Hydro-Man sneaks out of the toilet and knocks his block off. While Johnny is bumbling about, Spidey acts the hero, saving little kids and keeping Hydro-Man on the defensive. He saves a park employee dressed as a squid, then grabs his giant trench coat made of unstable molecules and catches Hydro-Man inside.

As all the kids rush to Spidey to get his autograph, countless insults are heaped on Johnny. But Spidey suddenly notices the squid character he had saved earlier is about to fall from a tall platform. All he can do is point, because he's out of web juice. The Torch flames on and flies up and grabs the squid before the platform collapses.

Meanwhile, the shadowy figure of the Wizard rescues Hydro-Man from captivity and secrets him away.

After saving the squid, who happens to be a very attractive young lady inside the suit, Johnny gets hailed as a hero once again. Spider-Man is tormented by the fickle public for not saving the squid. As Johnny rubs it in that the "natural order of things" is once again restored, with the public loving him and hating Spidey, Spidey leaves behind a memory of this day at the park. He webbed Johnny's underwear to the flagpole.

BACKUP STORY: "Best Left Forgotten"

Art: Paul Smith

Sue Storm tries to get her husband's attention by rousing jealousy in him. She plants in his mind reminders of her long-time affection for Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Reed finally catches on and promises to give her the attention she has been craving. But first, Sue is tomake the acquaintance of an unexpected visitor, Reed's old exploring companion, the gorgeous brunette Alyssa Moy. Moy has come to him for his aid, and she needs to borrow the services of his wife, the Invisible Woman. Together, they go back in time through a chronalportation device, and no sooner are they at their destination than the two women are engaged in passive-aggressive, catty one-upmanship, all over Reed.

While in the ancient Mayan ruins, they see the young selves of Reed and Alyssa spill out of another time portal. Sue is entranced watching herhusband exchange romantic and tender moments with a woman he had known long before he had ever met Sue. Alyssa tries to moveher away before she can see them kiss, but it's too late. But suddenly, giant octopus arms reach through the portal machine to grab at the past-time Reed and Alyssa. They struggle to save themselves, but they can't. Only modern-day Sue can, and from the shadows of the ruins, she sends out an invisible force beam that helps close the aperture and send the octopus back, saving Reed and Alyssa.

Sue and Alyssa return back to normal time, with Sue confident knowing that not only does she have the permanent place in Reed's heart, but shewas responsible for saving both him and Alyssa way back in time. And what makes her happiest is that she knows Alyssa knows!

-- synopsis by Gormuu


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