Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Story & Art: John Byrne | Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: As the members of the Fantastic Four go about their daily lives, Terrax, former herald of Galactus, arrives on Earth. He assaults the assembled foursome at the Baxter Building, annihilating its top two floors in the process. Terrax then travels to the World Trade Center, where he begins to utilize the power cosmic for an unknown purpose.

Seeing the energies of Terrax’s power, Iron Man and Thor leap into action to defend Manhattan as the herald lifts the island into the sky, encasing it in a force bubble. While the Invisible Girl uses her abilities to keep Terrax’s power waves visible, obscuring Manhattan's flight so as not to panic its citizens further, Mister Fantastic orders Frankie Raye to remain behind and guard her. Then Reed, Ben, and Johnny head for the World Trade Center as Terrax flies Manhattan out into space.

Once away from Earth’s atmosphere, Terrax reveals he has been pursued to Earth by Galactus, and wants the FF to defeat the planet-devourer for him.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The story opens a week into the new year, as Reed and Sue take down their Christmas tree. Meanwhile, Franklin appears to tap into his mutant power as he plays with a toy.

In Central Park, the Thing tells Alicia he enjoyed their time together in Doctor Doom’s Liddleville, as seen in issue 236.

On their way to view a rehearsal for a play starring Frankie’s roommate, Julie Angel, Johnny and Frankie pass the condemned tenement where Johnny found the amnesiac Sub-Mariner in FF #4.

As I understand it, the play's lines are dialogue from an issue of the independent comic ELFQUEST, and the series’ co-creator, Wendy Pini, wrote in to a subsequent issue to thank Byrne for the flattery.

Terrax recalls he was transformed into a herald of Galactus in issue 211 (which was drawn by John Byrne for a script by Marv Wolfman, thus making Byrne Terrax’s co-creator).

The levitation of Manhattan is witnessed by Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Man, Thor, J. Jonah Jameson, and Robbie Robertson. Spidey is visiting Aunt May as Peter Parker when it happens, and is unable to return to the island before it leaves the atmosphere.

For those keeping track of our guest stars, this issue is cover dated just one month after the final David Michelinie IRON MAN issue, and the same month as a fill-in during Roger Stern’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run, between issues 227 and 229. (So between Terrax and Juggernaut, Manhattan had a heck of a little while, there…)

Is It Clobberin' Time? Not yet, but I have high hopes for next issue.

My Thoughts: Honestly, not a lot happens in this issue. It's part one of a three-parter, beginning with Terrax’s arrival and ending with him asking the FF for help against Galactus. Aside from the sub-plot stuff, one could charitably call the bulk of the issue “filler”. Heck, Byrne even turns things over to Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Man, and Thor for four full pages in the middle of the issue. I appreciate that he's showing us Terrax is a big enough deal to draw the attention of all these characters, but their cameos are entirely gratuitous and really feel like Byrne killing time to pad out the issue.

That said, I like the sub-plot material and I always appreciate family scenes between Reed and Sue (and Franklin). I feel like a lot of writers play up the “insensitive scientist” side of Reed, often going so far as to portray him as a coldly emotionless dick. Byrne gets that he is a very loving man, and isn't afraid to show it to his family. He may lock himself in his lab for weeks on end to work on his latest experiment, but when he comes out he will be every much the fatherly family man as the best sappy sitcom dad.

So it's nice to see scenes such as the Richardses gathered around the Christmas tree one last time before they take it down. And the scene leads to a fun little gag with the tree too, which is a pleasant bonus. I love when Reed is shown to use his brilliance on mundane things.


  1. I'm just happy to see a continuing, not-done-in-one story.

    1. Yes, Byrne has favored the done-in-ones quite a bit since he started, but over the next several issues that will change. They'll still be mixed in, but it will be among a couple two-parters and then a multi-part exploration of the Negative Zone. (Though technically the Negative Zone stories are most all single-issue stories as well, but they're at least connected by the exploration premise -- Byrne's FF version of the X-Men's "world tour" in a way.)

  2. I guess Byrne's run is pretty slow at the start. I enjoyed most of those one part stories, but I collected the run out of order. I just bought issues as I came across them, and read the issues I had; I've never read the run straight through, in order.
    So, I never realized how many one part stories there were to start off the Byrne years.
    The book starts to really pick up after this point. The Negative Zone story was my favourite from the Byrne period.
    Yeah, I really like how he managed to make a lot of interesting single issue stories, while connecting them all together as the FF exploring the Negative Zone.

  3. I still vividly remember a dumb forum argument from around ten years ago where people just couldn't wrap their brains around my criticism of Yu's layouts and faces in Secret Invasion. This is Byrne being lazy (look at the panel layouts and background detail) and he's still able to add dynamism to something as mundane as a fake Christmas tree.

  4. Thor referring to himself as Frigga's son is a bit curious, considering that Odin went deliberately to extramaritally consort his real mom Jord, or Gaia the Earth-goddess, for to have a mighty son. I believe it's specifically because of this that Thor is the sworn protector of Midgard*. Unless he's covering his bases here, it being Galactus and all. "What Midgård? Nå, can't remember anything åf such!" (Frigga did quite willingly adopt him on-panel though, if I remember my Marvel Saga right.)

    * Earth

    1. Yeah, Thor is her step-son, so for convenience sake, there's no reason that he wouldn't refer to Frigga as his mother.

  5. I love when Reed is shown to use his brilliance on mundane things.

    I love Susan's reaction to it, and Reed's whole show of less-than-brilliant husbandry. You just know even before flipping the page that Reed is done for now, and then find yourself further screeching at him: "No, moron, don't use logic! It's the wife, you'll only dig yourself deeper!"

    1. Franklin actually saves the poor guy there with his sudden and so-not-coincidental subconscious toy rocket shenanigan.