On a walk through a New York City park, Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm, and Medusa are suddenly accosted by a trio of young hoodlums. Ben is wearing an overcoat and hat, so they do not recognize him. The leader, Angie, pulls out a knife, but when he recognizes Ben, he has second thoughts. Ben rips a lamppost out of the ground and bends it into a pretzel as the hoodlums cower in awe, but Reed cautions him not to use his power lest he kill the boy. So Ben simply drops the lamppost, and as the four teammates leave, he tells the hoodlums that the day they can untie his knot is the day they can call themselves tough. As the teammates walk by a winged statue. Ben sees someone flash through the sky, and a second later the Silver Surfer, mounted on his surfboard, appears before them. After all these months, shouts Johnny, the Surfer has returned. But the Surfer says that he has not come as a friend, and he shatters the statue with his fist. Ben quickly grasps the Surfer's meaning and attacks, and Johnny flames on as well, but Reed cautions Johnny that the Surfer is too powerful for him. As the Surfer evades Johnny's attack, he asks them to forgive him for what he must do, for he has no other choice. Regardless of their struggles, he says, in the end he will certainly triumph. But Johnny attacks again, and the Surfer hits him with a blast of cosmic power that extinguishes his flame. Reed catches Johnny, saying that if the Surfer has harmed him, nothing will stop their retribution. But the Surfer circles around and heads directly for them. If the one thing that makes his life bearable is to survive, he says, the Fantastic Four will have to die. As the Surfer envelops the teammates in cosmic energy, they feel their souls begin to drain away. But just as the Surfer is about to kill them, he regrets what he has been forced to do, and he stops. The foursome pick themselves up. The Thing brandishes his fists, but Reed restrains him, saying that there is clearly a reason for what the Surfer has done. The Surfer confirms this, and he starts to tell them his story. A few months ago, shortly after he left the Defenders, he flew to the top of Mt. Everest to meditate. He remained there for many weeks, entranced and unmoving, until he decided to try once more to break free of the barrier that Galactus placed around the Earth to imprison him. The Surfer flashed around the world faster and faster, his concentration strengthening with each orbit, until the world itself seemed no longer to exist. Then, gathering all his cosmic energy, the Surfer struck the barrier—and passed through. Unfortunately, as soon as he penetrated the barrier, his cosmic power left him, because Galactus's power extends far beyond the barrier. The Surfer's body began to shrivel and weaken, forcing him to return to Earth, and the barrier sealed itself behind him. Helpless, he plummeted toward the ground as his power slowly returned to him. He impacted like a meteor in a village square, and although he did not know it, he was in Latveria, near Dr. Doom's castle. As the Latverian townsfolk rushed toward him, he emerged from the crater and happened to see a poster of Latveria's new queen—his beloved Shalla Bal herself. He could hardly believe his eyes, for he believed that she was forever banished to Zenn-La by Mephisto. The thought that she had been so near all these months nearly drove hum crazy, and he quickly forced the townsfolk to tell where their queen resided. Soon he flashed to the castle on his surfboard, but when he flew over the battlements, he could hardly believe his eyes. There, battling armed and armored guards, were the Fantastic Four themselves. He hesitated, not knowing what to do, and as he watched, more guards arrived, armed with energy weapons, and destroyed the Fantastic Four But as he continued to watch, he learned that what he saw were robots in a routine training exercise,not the real Fantastic Four.