Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Words and Pictures: John Byrne | Letters: Jim Novak | Colors: Glynis Wein
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The mutant Quicksilver arrives at the Baxter Building, and after a brief misunderstanding skirmish, informs the Fantastic Four that the Inhumans need help: they are assaulted from without by the sinister Enclave, while inside their hidden city of Attilan, a plague has infected them and led to the deaths of numerous Inhumans. The FF readily agree to assist, and Quicksilver summons the teleporting Inhuman dog, Lockjaw, to bring them all to Attilan.

There, the heroes find that the war is over, ended by the sacrifice of the Inhumans’s insane enemy, Maximus. But he plague remains. Reed determines it’s caused by exposure to the ever-increasing volume of pollutants in the Earth’s atmosphere and declares that the Inhumans must move. When he learns that Attilan has been moved before, Reed suggests that it be transported again, to the Blue Area of the Moon. The Inhumans agree and, after the FF assist in prepping the city and plotting a course, Inhuman king Black Bolt transports Attilan to its new home.

Later, in the aftermath of the move, Inhuman princess Crystal, wife of Quicksilver, gives birth to a daughter.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: It's winter in New York as the story starts, and Christmas is around the corner, evidenced by the Thing attempting to hide the gifts he's purchased for young Franklin. As he looks for a hiding place, Ben muses that it's almost as if Franklin can read his mind sometimes.

During the skirmish with Quicksilver, Frankie is surprisingly callous when she nearly takes the mutant intruder’s life.

Johnny is surprised to learn his former girlfriend Crystal is pregnant, and Frankie realizes he's not entirely over the Inhuman princess. Later, when the Fantastic Four depart with Quicksilver and Lockjaw, Reed orders Frankie to remain behind as her training is not complete. Once the team is gone, Frankie pines for the cosmic adventure she’d expected when she joined the FF.

The war between the Inhumans and Enclave is described by Quicksilver to the FF, then ended off-panel, Maximus having sacrificed himself while Quicksilver was on his way to New York. Curiously there are no footnotes to any of this, but they're clearly references to some other story. Some quick research on my part reveals that this all went down in AVENGERS ANNUAL #12.

Reed determines that the “plague” affecting the Inhumans is the same vulnerability to pollutants which afflicted Crystal some time earlier, during her period as a member of the Fantastic Four. Again, there is no footnote.

There is, however, a reference when Medusa describes the prior movement of Attilan, which occurred in WHAT IF…? #30. (A canonical story happened in an issue of WHAT IF…??)

We’re also reminded that the Blue Area of the Moon, inhabited by the Watcher, first appeared in FF #13, and that Phoenix of the X-Men perished there in X-MEN 137.

As Attilan cruises out of the Earth’s atmosphere, it is tracked by SHIELD’s orbiting satellite; however SHIELD’s attention is drawn from the flying city to a “power-pocket strong enough to vaporize the whole hemisphere,” a seed to be followed up next issue. As was the custom of the time, SHIELD is stated here to stand for “Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage-Law-Enforcement Division”.

When Quicksilver’s and Crystal’s daughter, soon to be named Luna, is born, Reed reveals that somehow Quicksilver’s mutant gene and Crystal’s Inhuman gene canceled each other out and the girl is an ordinary human.

Is It Clobberin' Time? At last! When Quicksilver invades the Baxter Building, Ben is quick to unleash clobberin’ time upon him.

My Thoughts: This is probably about as close to a “quiet issue” as John Byrne ever gets. He's on the record — and I agree with him to an extent — as believing that every issue should contain at least some action, because since “every issue is someone’s first,” if a person picked up a quiet issue as their inaugural exposure to a title, they might be bored and not return.

So we get a brief fight between the FF and Quicksilver to lead things off, before moving into a much less action-oriented tale. It's really just concerned with following up a previous Inhumans adventure and moving them to a new location. I'm not sure why Byrne decided Attilan should reside on the Moon rather than in the Himalayas, but the Inhumans in the Blue Area was their status quo when I first encountered the characters and for many years after, so having them anyplace else feels wrong to me, even though they initially debuted as Earth-dwellers.

Other things to like about this one: Frankie’s casual attitude toward killing an intruder, which follows up from a scene in which she attacked Wendy’s abusive father last issue. True, she's only using her power on those she believes deserve it, but nonetheless this set-up for her willingness to take a life, along with her above-mentioned yearning for cosmic adventure, will pay off in a big purple way just a few issues from now.

And the other bit that I really like here is Byrne’s treatment of the Thing: he reminds us that Ben is an ex-astronaut, and has him use those skills to plot Attilan’s course to the Moon. Ben is always the de facto pilot for the FF, but it's rare that his intelligence is played up beyond that. He's generally depicted as a savant behind the stick of pretty much any flying craft, but with that natural skill comes a great deal of education as well. Remember, he attended college with Reed and Doctor Doom, became a fighter jock and then a test pilot afterward, and eventually joined the space program. He's no dummy, and it's nice to see his intelligence played up now and then.


  1. For a period of time, there was a back-up strip in the pages of What If? titled Untold Tales of the Marvel Universe.
    It was a series of short stories telling stories about the origins of the Marvel Universe and continuity from pre-Fantastic Four #1.
    It was a fun series. Most of the stories were written by Mark Gruenwald.
    So, that's the continuity being referenced in What If?, not the actual "alternate time-line" story that What If? was known.

    1. Thanks! I've never been a big WHAT IF...? person, so I had no idea about those back-ups. I appreciate your explaining it. I may have to seek them out; as I noted when I covered the High Evolutionary serial a few months back, I really like when Gruenwald does that sort of historical stuff.

  2. every issue should contain at least some action, because since “every issue is someone’s first,” if a person picked up a quiet issue as their inaugural exposure to a title, they might be bored and not return.

    Nonsense. I think my first AVENGERS issue was #194, "Interlude", where the only thing even reminding of action was Cap throwing his shield at a hurled snowball, and it was an awesome issue and I felt like having more.

    You're always in for awesome when the story's named "Interlude". You may quote me on that in about twenty issues if you like.

    1. Oh, I know "Interlude" well. It's a great issue.

      Though I do agree with Byrne to some extend, as I said above. I don't need (or even want) a cover-to-cover fight scene. But when I was a little kid (say, younger than twelve), if I'd picked up a comic with absolutely no action in it, I probably wouldn't have bothered with it again. When I got into my teens, I learned to like that sort of thing, though.

  3. I read that WHAT IF? canonical back-up story of the Inhumans' first migration to the Himalayas. There IS actually a canonical WHAT IF? issue. No. 4 WHAT IF THE INVADERS HAD STAYED TOGETHER AFTER THE END OF WORLD WAR II? This story happens in the mainstream MU, with Roy Thomas retroactively fitting the history according to period comics (the post-WW2 ALL-WINNERS SQUAD and the YOUNG MEN COMICS story of the original Human Torch incinerating Adolf Hitler at the Bunker April 1945) with retcons (following through with Steve Englehart's retcon that the Captain Americas who appeared between 1945 and AVENGERS#4 were official impersonators who carried on the mantle, in this case, the masked Spirit of '76, and- after Spirit's death in battle protecting a pre-presidential JFK- the Patriot).
    I read the AVENGERS ANNUAL first, so I was confused by the flashbacks that showed Block-form-Thing coming to the outskirts of Attilan and then a flashback of the space migration with Mud-form-Thing.
    Happy event for Pietro and Crystal! After this, it all goes downhill...

    1. Hey! I even have that issue of WHAT IF...? in INVADERS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION vol. 2! Someday I'll get around to reading it. Thanks for letting me know about it!

  4. So as somebody who has never read this run yet. I wonder how it has gained such a large reputation given how Byrne's run has got off to what seems to me such a lacklustre start. It can only go up I suppose?

    1. Well keep in mind this is only one person's opinion and as in anything, your mileage may vary. Plus I'm coming to this decades after the fact. It might have been more engrossing at the time.

      I do thin it gets better as it goes along, though.

    2. Soon after I started reading they started putting out FF from #258 onwards on our local monthly changing hero book, and it was fun and competent quality basic superheroing from issue to issue (we got two to five original issues per book, so that effects on the reading experience obviously). There's the usual superhero story, and on the sidelines their civilian life peccadilloes go continuously onwards smoothly, and even more the Galactus "arc" runs long term and activates occasionally. She-Hulk substituting the Thing is a great move that brings new vitality to the foursome set.

      Plus, Byrne art was sort of golden standard at the time. Be it the X-Men, Avengers, MTU, the art side just delivers and makes even a story with crappy plot kind of okay.

    3. I agree on Byrne's artwork. I look at his work, especially in the seventies on X-MEN, and it's light years ahead of anything else Marvel was publishing at the time.

      Also, I love how he plays this long-term game with Galactus, using him for a two-part story here and there, but linking them all together to form one bigger arc.

    4. I don't know about light years, and that's mainly because of Starlin/Leialoha WARLOCK. The art's just timeless; when I read them recently in M.U. I thought I had picked up something from 90s instead by mistake. 90s as it should have been.

      But damn, the question by Nikos is an intriguing one. And one you can't really answer right now, because of spoiling. It's not all nostalgia, I can tell that, but...

    5. Yeah, Starlin's work also looked ahead of its time. But I think the Byrne X-MEN stuff seems so much more advanced to me mainly due to Austin's inking. It looks more polished and cleaner than anything else Marvel was putting out in that same era, other than perhaps Bob Layton's finishes on IRON MAN. I think I just like really slick, crisp and clean inks.