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Alex Ross (cover)
Superman/Fantastic Four (subtitled "The Infinite Destruction") is an intercompany comic book jointly published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics in July 1999. The tale unites DC's first superhero Superman and Marvel's first superhero team, the Fantastic Four—pitting them against the Cyborg Superman (who gained notoriety in 1993 during DC's "Reign of the Supermen" story arc) and the longtime FF foe Galactus.
Years earlier in deep space, the planet-devouring being Galactus takes note as a matrix chamber containing the infant destined to become Superman flees the ruins of the doomed planet Krypton. He dispatches a tracking craft to follow the chamber—one which is found in the present by Hank Henshaw, the villainous Cyborg Superman who once masqueraded as the Man of Steel. Soon thereafter on Earth in contemporary Metropolis, Superman's capture of a group of terrorists is interrupted when a Kryptonian crystal appears, bearing what appears to be a holographic message from his deceased biological father Jor-El. Superman is stunned as "Jor-El" blames Galactus for the destruction of Krypton.
In a parallel universe, the Fantastic Four and young Franklin Richards are surprised when Superman appears at the team's headquarters, Pier 4 in New York City. Having previously befriended the team, the Man of Steel asks Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) for information about Galactus, who hails from the FF's universe. Pier 4's defense systems suddenly fail, and Superman is abducted by Galactus, who imbues him with the Power Cosmic and conscripts him into service as his newest Herald. Reed is whisked away as well when he attempts to prevent Superman's departure. During the incident Henshaw appears (having used his ability to inhabit and control machinery to bypass Pier 4's defenses). The Invisible Woman (Susan Storm Richards), the Thing (Ben Grimm) and the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) realize that Henshaw is a space-faring being with additional information about Galactus and the Kryptonian crystal. Thus, they reluctantly agree to work with him to locate and free Superman and Reed, in exchange for giving Henshaw access to Galactus.
Superman and Reed materialize on Galactus' huge ship. While Galactus proclaims that Superman will be his most powerful Herald ever, Reed unsuccessfully pleads with the Man of Steel to resist Galactus' will. Reed is outraged after Galactus sends Superman—the last survivor of a doomed world—to find planets to be devoured. Galactus' comments in response seem to confirm the notion that he is responsible for Krypton's destruction. After locating a suitable (and uninhabited) planet, Superman summons Galactus. The two are confronted by Henshaw and the remaining members of the Fantastic Four. No match for the hyper-powered Superman, the group is unable to stop Galactus from devouring the planet.
When Superman later finds a world teeming with life, he is flooded with memories of the destruction of Krypton and its billions of inhabitants (and of a Superman action figure belonging to Reed and Susan's son Franklin). The memories allow him to overcome his mental subjugation and attack Galactus, who then strips him of the Power Cosmic. The Fantastic Four locates Reed, who prevents Henshaw from co-opting any of Galactus' technology for his own use. While Susan, Ben and Johnny struggle to fend off Galactus, Reed and Superman reverse the mechanics of the planet-devouring machine—causing it to transfer energy from Galactus to the planet. They restore the machine to normal only after Galactus agrees to feed only upon uninhabited planets in the future. When Superman demands that Galactus also pay for destroying Krypton, Galactus denies playing any role in the planet's destruction. Ben correctly deduces that Henshaw tampered with the Kryptonian crystal containing the message from Jor-El. Henshaw confesses that he created the false message to prompt Superman to seek out Galactus, hoping to follow the Man of Steel and then tap into Galactus' power himself. Galactus departs, but first punishes Henshaw by transmuting him into a small rectangular metal alloy, most likely without thought or consciousness.
Subsequently, Superman and the Fantastic Four return to Earth. Before leaving the FF's universe (where he is only a fictional character), Superman delights Franklin by giving the boy his cape as a gift.
- Superman was rocketed to Earth while still in his birthing matrix, according to the version of his origin presented in The Man of Steel #1 (October 1986).
- This story occurs in the same continuity as DC vs. Marvel, the 1996 limited series wherein the heroes of the DC Universe (including Superman) meet the heroes of the Marvel Universe (including the Fantastic Four) en masse for the first time.