Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Story and Art: John Byrne | Lettering: Joe Rosen | Colors: Bob Sharen
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: A man named “Skip” Collins, an army veteran with the unconscious ability to manipulate reality, goes about his daily business, changing the world around him even as he is unaware of the alterations. Skip’s boss sends him to New York City on business, and once there, Skip heads for the Baxter Building to look up the Fantastic Four. He spots Reed and Sue Richards leaving the building on a date and follows them.

Soon, Skip’s desire to see the FF in action causes his power to create a massive earthquake which levels Manhattan and reverberates across the globe. The Fantastic Four conduct damage control, and Reed eventually determines the source of the quakes is a gravity wave from deep space. The FF board their rocket ship and take off to investigate.

Skip watches from ruined Manhattan as the FF depart, and wishes that things hadn't turned out this way. His power returns things to normal and then leaves him forever. Meanwhile, the FF find the source of the gravity waves: Ego, the Living Planet.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Skip’s power is a result of his participation in nuclear tests back in 1955.

According to a guidebook carried by Skip, the Baxter Building was constructed by Jackson Leigh Baxter in 1961.

Johnny visits with Frankie Raye, telling her he wants to get back together, but she believes the Human Torch is above loving a “mortal” woman. Johnny also mentions again that Frankie is irrationally afraid of his flame powers.

Is It Clobberin' Time? As there is no active villain this issue, and the Thing does not typically declare “Clobberin’ Time” against inanimate objects, it is sadly not Clobberin’ Time for the second consecutive issue.

My Thoughts: I've never really watched THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but the series seems like it's probably in John Byrne’s wheelhouse, and this issue certainly reads like it could've been an episode of the show. For the majority of the story, Skip is our POV character, unconsciously manipulating the world around him, completely oblivious to the chaos he's causing.

I like the idea, and it's what you might call a “quiet” issue -- there's no villain, no real fighting either. The problem is that there's no real conflict, nor is there any character development. You really need one of those to make a story feel important. The issue isn't boring; it's simply that aside from the cliffhanger, it doesn't feel in any way essential to the FF’s ongoing saga. Byrne basically just uses this plot for an excuse to send the team into space to meet Ego.

But on the plus side, this is the first cliffhanger of Byrne’s run. Hopefully this is where things start to pick up. Issue 232 was a fine introduction to the team, and 233 was a decent “offbeat” tale with a sub-par ending. Here we have an interesting story with no sense of importance, but at least the series finally has some forward momentum.

I guess I can't fault Byrne for starting small, especially as this was his first actual assignment as a writer; in fact I think it's a good plan. But on X-MEN just before this run started, where Byrne claims he was the main plotter for the final couple years, he demonstrated a very strong grasp of ongoing serialization and sub-plots (if the claim is true, of course). Three small issues is plenty; it's time for him to bring some of that long-term plotting skill to bear on FANTASTIC FOUR.


  1. I'm going to be so free as to doubt Byrne's claim that he was the main plotter for the X-men in his final years on the title, co plotter certainly but main plotter ?
    Byrne is a bit self aggrandizing at times
    And even if he was the main plotter, he still had Claremont to contend with and bounce ideas off.
    And Claremont was a force to be reckoned with.
    Even if think that the Claremont\Byrne run is a bit too over rated, there is good stuff before and after that run.
    The dark phoenix saga plays it's awfully save in that the atrocities, Phoenix commits are nice and safe and far away. Moore's Miracleman by comparison, does the same thing but keeps it small and close and there is no doubt what so ever, that Kid Miracleman is a monster.
    But that's neither here nor there.

    On a different note, have you ever noticed that a lot of my initial comments read like mini essays and some times they are even longer then your review ?
    ..That's probably why I started reviewing comics myself, because I apparently have got a lot to say.
    Not much about these comics yet, I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting for my run to arrive.

    1. Yes, I take Byrne at face value on his claim since I've never seen anyone outright debunk it, but I do tend to find it a bit far-fetched. While always willing to collaborate with his pencilers, Claremont rarely seemed the type to give over that much creative control uncontested -- at least until he was more or less forced to when Jim Lee came along.

      I don't mind the essays! They're fun to read.

    2. A quick google later so far, all I can find is this:
      Where Cronin mentions that Byrne is a co plotter, but nothing else.

      The summaries here, list Byrne as co plotter:

      The only issue that site says he plotted was 140:

      Byrne is listed as co plotter from issues 141 till 143 and with 144 he has left the title.
      All the other titles had him listed as co plotter or penciller.
      140 is the only title he is the main plotter for.

      Course those are just 30 year old credits, but if Byrne was the main plotter, I imagine he would have given the same kind of credit as with 140

      This article here: makes mentiones of Byrne developing plot ideas, but doesn't outright state he was a main plotter.

      I have no doubt that Byrne was instrumental in elevating the X-men to the next plane, but I don't think he was the main plotter.
      Co plotter isn't that bad of a position to be in

      And this has turned in to another mini essay again.
      Speaking of those,I am working on reviews again. But this time I plan to work far in advance, with at least 10 reviews for each title.

    3. Byrne has told that the editor changing from Roger Stern to Louise Simonson had a part in his departure from the title specifically because Simonson, unlike Stern, was "of the school" that the writer writes and the artist draws, which (apparently) was a derivation from how things had been up to that point. Certainly not a main plotter, but maybe he had some stronger unofficial say on things when Stern, a pal of his, was doing the editing duties.

    4. Yeah, like I said -- I take Byrne's statement as face value because I've never seen it contradicted by anyone, but I also take it with a grain of salt. I'm sure Teemu is right in that the transition in editors may have scaled back the amount of input Byrne had on the plots, too.


  2. // this was his first actual assignment as a writer //

    His first ongoing assignment as a writer at Marvel, anyway. I figure that’s what you meant, so I’m not aiming to correct your statement so much as clarifying it for the sake of other readers. He’d written a few things that he drew at Charlton and had even written Marvel Two-in-One #50 before this.

    1. Thanks! I did mean it in terms of a regular ongoing gig, though I probably should have phrased it better. I'm familiar with MTIO #50, and also with the 2-parter from FF #220-221, which Byrne also wrote and penciled, though I admit I was unaware he'd written his own stuff at Charlton! I had thought he was "just" an artist back then.

    2. I know he wrote a bit of Doomsday +1, at least. I’d thought he wrote some Rog 2000 himself but — per the GCD [ignore roughly half of the first page's worth of results as it's foreign/reprint stuff with bad keydates] — it seems not, although to my surprise he did write an issue of Space: 1999. I was one fictional year off, apparently. 8^)