Monday, March 14, 2016


Story & Art: John Byrne | Lettering: Jim Novak | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editing: Tom DeFalco | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Reed shows Ben his new portal to the Negative Zone, then departs with Sue to host a meeting of the Baxter Building’s tenants. Meanwhile, Johnny visits Julie Angel at acting class, while Ben goes to pick up Alicia Masters from her apartment.

Later, at the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four leave young Franklin in Alicia’s care and climb aboard Reed’s new Negative Zone Exploratory Module, Mark I. The team heads into the Negative Zone to explore, but less than two hours after their departure, Negative Zone warlord Annihilus emerges from the portal and assaults Alicia.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Reed and Ben recap the villains of the Negative Zone, as well some of of its recent history.

Reed laments that perhaps buying the Baxter Building wasn’t such a great idea after all, as he now needs to deal with frustrated tenants. He makes plans to have his lawyers put together a service to attend to tenant issues. (Do Nelson & Murdock still represent the FF at this point in time?)

Johnny meets Julie’s new roommate, Sharon Selleck, and finds himself the unknowing participant in a love quadrangle with the two girls and their acting classmate, Grey Landers (who looks suspiciously like Christopher Reeve).

Sue considers that the Baxter Building may not be the best place for a child to grow up, especially now that Franklin has lost his powers. Later, she also notes that she’s never been to the Negative Zone before.

Is It Clobberin' Time? Nope, it’s a “quiet issue” so there’s no one around to be clobbered.

My Thoughts: Surprisingly, John Byrne tries his hand at a full-fledged “quiet issue” here. I’ve noted before that he was not a fan of this sort of installment, believing that since “every issue is someone’s first,” a person who picked up such an issue as their introduction to a super-group might be turned off from returning due to the lack of action. But there’s no action to be found here, though Byrne does find time to demonstrate all of our heroes’ powers in more pedestrian ways, and he ends things on a pretty menacing cliffhanger.

So an all sub-plot issue, this isn’t bad. I like seeing Reed forced to acclimate to life as a landlord, and the soapiness of Johnny’s relationship (or lack thereof) with Julie is like something out of a Spider-Man comic. Unfortunately, Byrne will pretty quickly drop both these sub-plots (in fact I don't think the landlord business ever comes up again during his run), which makes these scenes feel a bit pointless in retrospect.

Beyond that, this is probably one of Byrne’s artistically stronger installments in a while. There are backgrounds aplenty and he gives us some nice Kirby-style technology shots as well. If, as has been claimed, his work is due to suffer with the addition of ALPHA FLIGHT to his monthly duties, the problems don't seem to have started yet other than a few missing backgrounds mentioned last time.


  1. I know what's coming next.
    The issue I have been waiting for
    and sadly Marvel ballsed my PDF version up, by not rotating it.

    Thanks Marvel !

    1. Wow, that's annoying! Though I don't know what you're reading on, but the Adobe Reader program has a feature to rotate pages for reading purposes, if that's of any help.

    2. I use Comic Rack usually. ( or CDisplay EX ) But in this case I will have to use Adobe Reader.
      I'm not really fond of Adobe Reader, but I can use it once in a while.

  2. he was not a fan of this sort of installment, believing that since “every issue is someone’s first,” a person who picked up such an issue as their introduction to a super-group might be turned off from returning due to the lack of action.

    I've never understood that fear. My first two issues of X-MEN, the first two issues of any comic book that I then started to read continuously (to this day), were both quiet issues (though I guess one had a brief hero-on-hero fight in it), and that's what made me WANT to come back for more. Every comic book had ACTION in it, but these had characterization - that they were willing to trust I could be entertained without gratuitous action was part of what made me like them.

    I dunno. Maybe I was just a weird kid?

    1. I think partly it may depend on when you pick up a comic. If I was like seven and I grabbed an issue where the characters spent all their time talking and not fighting anything, I might not come back. If I was twelve or so, it'd probably be a different story.

    2. That's a fair point (I was 11 when I got hooked on comics/the X-Men), though I still wonder how many seven-year-olds were likely to pick up FF, even in the early 80s; it seems like even by then, Marvel had settled on a "for ages 10 and up!" kind of sensibility across the board - certainly not the "our comics are mainly for bitter 30-somethings" mentality of today, but still an acknowledgement that the days of out-and-out kids being the primary market were long past.

    3. Needless fear. For my first Marvel issue I got a Spider-Man issue from my cousin at the age of seven, which prompted me to buy a SPIDER-MAN issue and an UNCANNY issue of the same month, and even if the Spidey issue printing ASM #256-257 premiering Puma was extremely fun 52-page romp, I was totally sold by the UNCANNY one printing mainly #199. The thing gripping me from the first go was the grown-up-ish character interactions that were miles above the few pre-crisis Superman and Batman issues I had hithertofar gotten which were too simple in their consentrating to the heroics.

      After that in next two months there was UXM #201 and Mary Jane remembering all her pasts, and my love for Marvel wasn't but solidified.


  3. I recall not getting into the FF as a young/early comics reader in part because they didn’t wear masks and had boring matching costumes, but of course the ’70s were hardly the mag’s finest hour. And that said I don’t remember being turned off by “quiet issues” per se, while I do remember rejecting stuff that was creepy or dark; by my teens the insightful, relationship-oriented stuff was exactly what interested me most (or at least as much as did any cool battle scenes) in my superhero comics, including creator-owned/driven riffs on the genre from independent publishers. Byrne’s run was the first time I ever read FF regularly, although by then I owned a Pocket Books reprint of the first half-dozen issues, which I enjoyed, and had read some of the later classic Lee/Kirby tales in other collections.

    1. I think I was the same way with the FF as a kid -- the lack of masks and secret identities was a turn-off for me. I knew who they were and I liked the Thing, but overall I just wasn't impressed.

      And in truth, I'm still not -- I like the FF in theory, but I've never really been a regular reader of their series. Something about them has just never really "clicked" for me. This Byrne run is pretty much the biggest consecutive chunk of FF I've ever read and even it, while decent most of the time, doesn't really jump out at me like Spider-Man or the X-Men or the Avengers.

      I tend to prefer the Hulk and Doctor Strange, for example, as guest-stars in other characters' comics rather than headliners in their own, and I think I feel that way about the Fantastic Four, too.

      But I do intend to read the full Lee/Kirby run someday, just so I can say I did.