Monday, April 18, 2016

FANTASTIC FOUR #260

"WHEN TITANS CLASH!"
Story and Art: John Byrne | Letters: Jim Novak | Colors: Glynis Wein
Editor: Bob Budiansky | Titan: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Prince Namor of Atlantis flies over the sea near Northern Canada, but some force drains his strength and he plummets into the water. Meanwhile, in New York, the Human Torch and the Thing battle Tyros the Terrible. The Invisible Girl soon joins the conflict as well, but Tyros’s enhanced stamina proves a match for the full trio.

Doctor Doom observes the fight from his airship overhead and eventually realizes Mister Fantastic is not coming to his teammates’ aid. Doom descends to the battlesite below and orders Tyros to halt his assault -- but Tyros attacks Doom instead, fusing his armor and rendering him immobile. As Doom struggles to figure a way out of this predicament, the Silver Surfer descends from the sky and engages Tyros. Using his full power against the Surfer burns Tyros out, disintegrating him. Even as that happens, Tyros and the Surfer collide with Doom, apparently killing him.

Later, Sue returns to the Baxter Building with the Silver Surfer and leaves him in the medical room while she searches the FF’s headquarters for Reed. She finds no sign of him, but before she can continue her investigation, Namor arrives, pleading for her aid.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Obviously Reed is still missing, as noted above, and the rest of his teammates become aware of that this issue.

Namor is investigating the Canadian sea following the arrival of a group of barbarians in Atlantis who informed him of some terrible goings-on up north.


Tyros refuses to end his attack on the Fantastic Four, citing their betrayal of him in FF #242 – 244 as the reason he must finish them.

We’re reminded that the Silver Surfer came to New York to investigate a “matter transferal beam” he saw headed there last issue. There is no further mention of the beam in this chapter.

Though it goes unsaid here, we see a strong hint that Doctor Doom swapped his consciousness with that of an innocent bystander after his armor was fused. Thus the bystander perishes in Doom’s body and Doom lives on in his. Spider-Man’s Aunt May puts in a guest appearance as one of the crowd observing the fight when the transfer happens.


Tyros/Terrax dies this issue, a fate Byrne intended to be permanent (we see his body disintegrate and we’re told that “…the mortal form of the creature called Tyros boils away”). But Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley would resurrect him seven years later in NEW WARRIORS #1.


We’re told to follow Namor and Sue into the pages of ALPHA FLIGHT #4, now on sale, so we’ll do just that this Wednesday.

Is It Clobberin' Time? Most assuredly.


The Quotable Doom: “Ignorant alien savage! I am Doom! This is my plan! My victory! Without the degradation of Reed Richards it would mean nothing!”


My Thoughts: Every so often, John Byrne’s stories are prone to little lapses in logic, or perhaps in characterization, which leave a reader scratching his head. Most frequently in my experience, this is done to separate members of a group (or keep them separated for an artificially prolonged period of time).

The most famous of these in my mind is the run of X-MEN issues Byrne co-plotted with Chris Claremont. I absolutely love that run, so I can overlook this flaw, but the fact remains that there’s a bit where the X-Men return home from a long-running “world tour” and settle back into their mansion without attempting to contact anyone who might conveniently inform them that a couple of friends they believe dead are, in fact, alive. This is all done in the interest of advancing a sub-plot focused on Phoenix, leading up to “The Dark Phoenix Saga”.


Here, we have something similar to that. In the aftermath of a tremendous battle which saw the demise of Doctor Doom and a ton of property damage, a battle which saw the Silver Surfer seriously injured and for which Reed Richards never arrived despite two FF emergency flares being fired in the process, Sue takes the Surfer back to the Baxter Building by herself. She even notes that she “…wish(es) Johnny and Ben hadn’t gone off to take care of their own affairs.”

This is clearly done to get Sue alone for the arrival of Namor, so she can accompany him into ALPHA FLIGHT #4 without the rest of the team tagging along. But can anyone actually imagine a situation where Johnny and Ben would go off on dates or to decorate Johnny’s apartment or whatever else, rather than return to headquarters with Sue and make sure Reed is okay first?

Nonetheless, besides that weird little mischaracterization of one half of the FF, this is mostly a very strong “all-action” issue. I have a bit of a quibble with the Silver Surfer dropping from the sky to serve as nothing more than a deus ex machina to finish Tyros where the FF have failed, but the fight is so well choreographed that I can't complain too much.


This issue gives us a slam-bang, knock-down battle featuring the death of a major villain and the apparent death of another, and it’s all beautifully drawn. At this point, despite the fact that he’s writing, drawing, and inking both FANTASTIC FOUR and ALPHA FLIGHT simultaneously, any complaints I previously had about Byrne’s artwork have evaporated. Somehow he’s producing some of his best work since he started on this series (save for the lack of backgrounds, of course).

7 comments:

  1. I love Aunt May commenting on the assumed powerfullness of the FF, like this is the every day way talk the New Yorkers would comment of stuff like this happening in their world. When not being in pathological horror about mutants instead.

    I didn't find the Silver Surfer thing deus ex machina here at all, because 1) he's appeared in previous issue teaser, making his appearance here but expected and 2) needed, because Tyros seems to not be much short of what he was as Terrax and the FF sans Reed have little hope of even surviving the fight if a big cannon like the Surfer isn't rolled there, and 3) when it's all done here he'll have an elemental part in the Reed's disappearance shenanigans sort-out. Our anthology book though had all this printed in one 116-pages issue so to me it was a page flip rather than a month's wait. They did omit the Namor bits, but I think that's for the embetterment of the story and seeing the pages now seem a bit extraneous. At the same time I feel a bit cheated about that though, cos I like my Marvel Universe huge and interconnected.

    I absolutely love the high-speed beard-grab the Surfer performs on Tyros here, and love it even more in retrospect because INFINITY GAUNTLET will see he try it again on the other purple-skinned dude, who ducks.

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    1. Actually, I went to peek a bit ahead and this is no accident: our book printed the pages up to the one where Sue walks the Surfer to the infirmary and goes to the stairs, and then cuts into the page three in #261 where Sue is in stairs and walks directly to phone to the Avengers Mansion. It works seamlessly, except for the Surfer walking up asking if he can help (and I always chalked that up to his just healing awfully fast because of the cosmic power).

      The Namor bit may have been planned from the beginning to be easily removable for the convenience of international publishers and readers who didn't have ALPHA FLIGHT under publication for themselves.

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    2. Hmm, interesting. I've never really heard about Marvel, especially in this era, catering to the reprint market, but it's certainly possible.

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  2. Tyros/Terrax dies this issue, a fate Byrne intended to be permanent (we see his body disintegrate and we’re told that “…the mortal form of the creature called Tyros boils away”). But Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley would resurrect him seven years later in NEW WARRIORS #1.

    In fairness, they did state explicitly that their Terrax was a "disembodied sentient energy form" in NW #1. And that's more fairness they ever deserved, because in terms of establishing your new fancyass super-crew, having a punch of kids take Terrax of any condition 1) out in 2) half an issue is utter nonsense and below even UXM #281; made even worse by the character assault on Avengers who show up stealing their thunder, because everyone knows when you take out a former herald of Galactus who's totally out of your own league in your own book the Avengers will be there to pat your back.

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    1. Whoah whoah whoah, I won't sit for the integrity of the New Warriors being impugned! It wasn't actually Terrax, so I don't see why they can't manage to defeat him (which they did by lifting him off the ground), and the focus from the beginning is on character-building, not fights.

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    2. I could be giving benefit of a doubt this time... but then Nicieza rolls in his KINGS OF PAIN Annuals event and Proteus, the other cherished villain of fame who saw his on-panel demise under Byrne's watch, and any possibility to it and to respecting anyone's perceived integrity evaporates like the integrity of Proteus when someone sticks two fistfuls of organic steel into him.

      Doom has shown us in #258 what happens when you take other people's great villains and use them like chumps. Apparently someone didn't learn the important lesson then, despite obviously having read the issue.

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    3. I really have no problem with the New Warriors beating Terrax/Tyros in their first outing, especially if he's in a weakened state (I haven't read the issue in years).

      Byrne, of course, has his own thoughts on the matter: "[Nicieza] brought back Terrax, after I'd had him consumed by the Power Cosmic. Pretty thorough way to get dead, I would have thought, even in the Marvel Universe.

      "Came back in the wrong borough, too!"

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