In a hellish realm, Mephisto addresses his beloved Death as he watches the one from beyond through a scrying glass. While his own power is naught in comparison, to protect his beloved Death, the Beyonder must be destroyed. He sees him sitting on a small South Pacific island as he has for days now and wonders what he is thinking about.
Mephisto seethes with rage at the thought that the Beyonder could do to them what he wishes. Even they are subject to his whims. Enraged, he has his demons return to torturing the souls. The agony calms him down somewhat and he recalls, horrified, how the Beyonder temporarily destroyed Death, thus cutting off Mephisto’s supply of souls. How relieved he was when the Beyonder restored his beloved Death. But what guarantee is there that he will not change his mind again, he worries.
He informs Death he has a plan and shows her the huge device he calls Beyondersbane. It has the power to cause the Beyonder’s undoing and ironically the power came from the Beyonder himself. He expended an enormous amount of energy to destroy Death. Energy is never truly lost and it would have returned to him slowly once he restored Death, except that Mephisto intercepted and siphoned it into his device. It is held there but barely.
Mephisto reminds Death that, once before, part of the Beyonder’s power was stolen by Dr. Doom and for a short time the Beyonder seemed vulnerable. He is not certain if he is vulnerable now and fears him. Yet he must follow this plan. What choice has he? What should he do?
“The Death of a God is sweet…” Death unexpectedly speaks. The Beyonder’s or his? Mephisto asks frightened. Beloved?
Meanwhile, on a tiny Pacific island, the one from beyond sits and ponders. Suddenly, a somewhat chunky man arrives in a motor boat. He greets him with an “aloha” and introduces himself as Ed Strunk. He’s on the next island. They are neighbors. He was a sales exec but gave it all up to come here and find himself – become a famous painter or something. He got any magazines or Jack Daniels? No, is the Beyonder’s curt response. What is he doing here? Ed inquires. Thinking, the Beyonder replies. Repeating the word a few times in consideration, Ed announces it’s a great idea!
At that moment, a hundred and fifteen miles to the south, a film crew is shooting a scene for a science fiction movie, the star of which is the Fantastic Four’s Thing. With the shoot over, an actor gushes that he is fan.
They are distracted by the mail plane landing. The pilot Hertneky also brings Ben’s beer and, after some good-natured ribbing, they are all drinking. Hertneky asks where Ben got the stuff first. Ben replies in Pittsburgh, when he was on the wrestling circuit. Hertneky recalls he wrestled that Beyonder fella there. Ben becomes enraged and squeezes the box with the beer cans, with predictable results. He shouts at him not to mention that name around him – ever. Puzzled, Hertneky recalls Ben whupped him. He wanted to kill him, Ben admits. He tells him the whole story.
The Thing’s story:
He tells him how he and many other heroes were kidnapped by the Beyonder to another world to fight. Eventually, the other heroes returned to Earth. For some reasons, the Thing was able to change to his human form on Battleworld and so he stayed behind.
Before long, he got into trouble and lost his human half altogether. He returned home to find his best friend Johnny Storm had stolen his girlfriend, Alicia Masters.
After that, Ben travelled around for some time and ended up as a wrestler. During that time, the Beyonder came to Earth. He must have fallen on hard times too and ended up as a wrestler. Ben met him in the ring. Recalling how the Beyonder had screwed up his life, he almost killed him. He wanted to, so bad he could taste it.
Ben finishes his tale. He wimped out at the end. He still wants to though. He wakes up at night thinking about it.
Not far away, Ed hasn’t gotten the Beyonder to talk any more, but he figures there is something to his sitting and thinking approach. He promises to come back.
Two days later, Ed brings along some of his friends from the big island who want to try out the ‘think system.’ They sit down and do just that.
Meanwhile elsewhere, a sinister-looking type calling himself Bitterhorn makes deals with several supervillains, among them the Juggernaut, the imprisoned Electro as well as Baron Mordo.
While word spreads about the Beyonder as a South Sea island guru, the power couple Absorbing Man and Titania also make a deal with Mr. Bitterhorn.
In his realm, Mephisto considers the latest development with the Beyonder a bit worrisome but is pleased with progress otherwise. His agent is recruiting the necessary lackeys. As each lackey shakes hands with Bitterhorn, he is imprinted with an invisible sigil that links him to Beyondersbane. When the time is right, the lackeys will attack the Beyonder. If he uses any of his awesome powers against them, or if one of them but touches him, a mystic circuit will be closed and all the energy within Beyondersbane will surge back into the Beyonder in a sudden overwhelming power feedback, destroying him in a fireball of cataclysmic energy. Earth too shall be destroyed approximately with a third of the universe, not to mention all the lackeys. Of course they don’t know that.
He announces he senses Death’s question: will the power in Beyondersbane be enough? Probably not. But, thanks to the consensus among all great powers of the multiverse, he has another source to draw upon. For a critical moment, all the power in the universe shall be added to what he already has, for the operator of his machinery is the personification of the universe itself… Eternity. With his power, there must be enough.
Mephisto enthuses how wonderful it is. Several trillion beings will die. She should consider it a gift. And of course, he will reap his share of souls, it will be like… Christmas! A demon informs him the Legion Accursed is formed. All 99.
On the Beyonder’s island, an aerial news crew finds the island full of thinking people. The CBS crew want to talk to the guru but Ed Strunk introduces himself as his friend and informs them he doesn’t want to talk much. He just likes to be left alone to think. Ed will talk to them.
That evening, in the apartment of Owen Reece and Marsha Rosenberg, the couple are playing Trivial Pursuit with a friendly couple when they are interrupted by the news discussing the Beyonder’s latest lifestyle decision. Owen makes an excuse and leaves the room.
Marsha follows, to find the room transformed cosmically. He informs her the major powers of the universe – save him – are conspiring against the Beyonder. He can’t quite tell what their plan is. They are being very clever. The Beyonder will never notice until it’s too late. He begins to cry, undecided what to do. Half of him wants to warn the Beyonder, the other half hopes they succeed. She gently prods him to rejoin the game.
Meanwhile, at Xavier’s school, the X-Men and New Mutants are watching the news as well. Rachel Summers announces that, now that they know where he is, they should go after him. Magneto points out he is doing nothing and suggests they leave him alone.
And in Manhattan, Spider-Man muses if he should try the think system. Nothing else he does ever works.
And one hundred fifteen miles from the Thinkers’ island, Ben Grimm watches TV and learns the guru is the Beyonder.
Sometime later, in a cavern far beneath Thinkers’ island, Mephisto has gathered his troops. He and Death stand in front of a giant hourglass. If the Beyondersbane device is not used soon, meltdown is almost certain. His Legion Accursed is massed and held in stasis at the peak for readiness. In mere moments, Eternity will have finished the focusing of his own power and they will strike. He wants to see how the Beyonder is faring above.
Ed informs the Beyonder of hundreds more arriving since the news report. The Beyonder decides to leave. He’s annoyed at the crowd.
Mephisto is horrified. If he moves, they will have to recalibrate everything. The device will melt before they are finished. He must keep him there. He decides to create a diversion to distract him.
In the Thing’s quarters, he has a nightmare of Johnny Storm stealing his girlfriend, Alicia. He wakes up with a start to find a man standing at the foot of his bed. He recognizes his father, who berates him for letting that Beyonder bum push him around. He turns into Ben’s old coach, who reminds him when the going gets tough the tough get going. He changes into Sue Storm of old, who tells Ben she never thought he would be a coward, and finally into Alicia, who claims the Beyonder forced her to betray him.
She turns into his wrestling manager Ed Garner, who shows him the contract for his next bout. Just sign and he can settle up with that Beyonder guy! Don’t bother reading the fine print. It just discusses how he will have lots of power, and some minor stipulations. Not caring, Ben quickly signs, then begins to swim over to the Beyonder’s island, intending to start the fight at once.
Back in his lair, Mephisto gloats that, with the Thing’s power a hundredfold multiplied, he should be able to distract the Beyonder, and later his soul will be Mephisto’s.
On the Beyonder’s island, Ed still tries to convince the Beyonder to stay but his mind is made up. Suddenly, they hear noise from the cove. The Thing has arrived. He vows to kill the Beyonder… for Alicia! The Beyonder asks if they can talk about this.
No! the Thing shouts and smashes a boulder. He orders him to fight. The Beyonder remains seated and refuses. Ed asks he thought he was one of the good guys? Ben is confused. He is but he wants him dead and won’t be denied.
The Beyonder muses if one such as Ben can have doubts about his role, then perhaps is not so terrible that he does. Ed suggest they all talk.
Below, the sands have run out. Mephisto orders the Legion Accursed to attack. He gloats: whether the Beyonder slays them or they him, either way the circuit gets completed. Eternity and Beyonersbane will wreak their fury.
The villains burst onto the surface to kill the Beyonder. Ben wonders whether to help or stop them. The Beyonder muses if he is really so monstrous that horde wants to slay him. Should he let them, should he kill them or simply teleport away? Mephisto fears he will take the third option and Death just waits. Eternity stands ready, the mighty of the multiverse tremble and Owen Reece is distracted from playing Trivial Pursuit.
Seeing the Beyonder not react, Ben finally against his own urges decides to protect him. He faces the villains and battles, knowing deep down what’s right. However, he wonders how he is so powerful and does so well against the horde of villains. Unless that dream--? Nah, he tells himself.
Even more villains come in from the air. The moment is at hand, Mephisto fears.
The Thing grabs the Absorbing Man and throws him against the flying villains before they can reach the Beyonder.
Nooo! Mephisto howls as the Thing single-handedly ruins his plan. He realizes the only way to stop the Thing with his multiplied power is to tear up the contract, which would mean he loses the rights to Grimm’s soul. Mephisto hesitated then does so. Now he shall triumph, he believes, for his sole remaining villain, the Juggernaut, is unstoppable.
The Juggernaut hits the Thing several times then reaches out for the Beyonder.
Now! Mephisto shouts.
When the going gets tough the tough get going! the Thing recites from the ground and grabs Juggernaut’s ankle. He holds him back and causes him to fall. The meltdown begins. The villains all begin to glow and disappear. Beyondersbane melts down and the energy within dissipates and returns to the one from beyond.
Death leaves and Mephisto begs her to come back. At that moment, in the pits, the wretched for a moment forget their own pain. Eternity strides back to its own palace in the multiverse.
In Denver, Owen Reece senses the crisis has passed and fears that eventually he is going to have to get involved.
Meanwhile, on Thinker’s island, the Thing would like to take out he Beyonder but collapses.
The Beyonder realizes that, while he’s been thinking about his role in the cosmos, he helped some others find theirs, especially Ben. Just by sitting here, he forced him to realize his true role is a defender of life, not a murderer. Maybe his true role is to teach others this. He thinks he’s on to something here...