Monday, June 6, 2016


Chronicler: John Byrne | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Bob Budiansky | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: While the members of the FF sit with Sue in her hospital room, Doctor Octopus lashes out in the waiting area. Bruce Banner changes to the Hulk in preparation to fight him, but Reed, steeled by grief, breaks things up and orders Octopus to voluntarily return to prison. Octopus agrees.

The Human Torch and She-Hulk return to the Baxter Building, where the Torch spends a few hours showing his new teammate around. Later, in the FF’s “trophy room”, the mask of Doctor Doom comes to life and begins flying around, blasting at the Torch and She-Hulk. Mister Fantastic arrives and deduces the mask is being controlled from outside the Baxter Building. He seals the building against exterior signals and examines the mask. It should not have been capable of the feats the FF observed, leading Reed to consider that Doctor Doom may yet live.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This story takes place during a period when Bruce Banner has control over the Hulk, however Reed notes that control is not as strong as it had previously been.

Johnny notes that with Reed, Sue, and him having all moved out, She-Hulk will be the only member of the Fantastic Four residing in the Baxter Building. A few moments later, She-Hulk reveals her origin to the Torch:

Doctor Doom’s apparent death in FF #260 is referenced.

In Belleporte, Connecticut, a nosey neighbor named Alma snoops around “Reed and Sue Benjamin”’s house, but is caught in the act by their neighbor, Alice Winchell.

Not continuity, but perhaps worth noting: Whoever assembled artwork for TSR's MARVEL SUPER HEROES ROLEPLAYING GAME ADVANCED SET in 1986 used two images of She-Hulk pulled from this issue.

My Thoughts: She-Hulk came into this series in an odd way, as part of Jim Shooter’s mandate that every title be changed somehow following SECRET WARS. So with no explanation other than that she’s filling in for the Thing, she arrives in issue 265, just before an inventory issue followed by a Mister Fantastic solo story tied into the “Sue’s miscarriage” sub-plot. So now, finally, three issues after her debut, we actually get to see her in a bit of action (and we’re treated to an origin recap, to boot).

“Shulkie” puts up a fair showing against Doom’s powered mask, demonstrating her strength and nigh-invulnerability as she attempts to clobber it with a giant metal pillar, forces herself through its “concussion field”, and then falls thirty-plus stories out of the Baxter Building, only to return completely unscathed by the final page.

And it’s clear already that Byrne enjoys drawing the character, too. Her action poses seem to allow for more dynamism than the Thing’s bulky frame could normally pull off, and even “at rest”, there’s something inherently cheesecakey about her, so she’s never dull to look at.

Beyond fleshing out She-Hulk, Byrne uses this issue to alert the Fantastic Four that Doom may still be at large in a particularly eerie fashion. Pitting them against his seemingly autonomous mask is a brilliant idea and is a great way to give readers a Doom “appearance” even while the man himself is off the table.

(Unfortunately the eeriness of this concept is undermined a bit by SECRET WARS, which is ongoing at this time and features a living, breathing Doom in every issue.)


  1. (Unfortunately the eeriness of this concept is undermined a bit by SECRET WARS, which is ongoing at this time and features a living, breathing Doom in every issue.)

    ... who has for past weeks been tangling with 3/4 of the Fantastic Four, making everything anyone says here about Doom having disappeared in #260 and never been seen since utter nonsense.

  2. At this point in Bill Mantlo's HULK, Nightmare was screwing up Bruce Banner's control of the Hulk (all in an attempt to get revenge on Dr. Strange). This would result in Bruce temporarily suppressing himself, resulting in a savage Hulk that Dr. Strange had to teleport into another dimension (the progression- or regression- was creatively shown by having each HULK issue show a picture of Greenie in Lab clothes, slowly unraveling into savagery).
    Would one call 'She-Hulk recounts her origin in a Byrne comic' a 'Byrne-ism?' Byrne would repeat the account in HULK#316 and Byrne's SHE-HULK#1.
    I could be wrong, but in this issue, Shulkie believes that some anomaly caused her to retain her intelligence-personality in Hulk-form. This was before Bill Mantlo (or Barry Windsor Smith) developed the 'Hulk-is-Bruce-Banner-releasing-long-repressed-anger-from-an-abusive-childhood' origin, thus explaining that Jennifer's well-adjusted upbringing kept her from going 'Shulkie-smash!'

    1. Thanks for the recap of Mantlo's HULK, angmc43! A few years back Marvel released three big trades of his full run, sort of prototypes for the eventual Epic Collection series. I bought all three, but I've never gotten around to reading them. Someday, though.

      I'm not sure if Byrne specifically recapping She-Hulk's origin is a "Byrne-ism" as much as it is a "Shooter-ism". Byrne usually gives Shooter credit where it's due, and I think he's said more than once that it was Shooter who encouraged writers to recap new characters' backstories as they appear (note the Doc Ock recap last issue as well).

      Byrne using She-Hulk so much over the years seems to have naturally led to his recapping her origin often.


  3. I’m so glad Jim Novak is back. Michael Heisler’s lettering on the past few issues was rough.

    This cover floored me when I first saw it.

    1. The cover is pretty cool, though I've wondered for some time how Byrne did it. It seems like a precursor of his current STAR TREK fumetti books, though I don't know whether personal computers were able to pull that sort of thing off back in 1984.

      I like Jim Novak. I'm not the lettering aficionado you are, but he's one of the guys I've always associated with pretty good work. Though I think my favorite letterer of the eighties is John Workman on Walter Simonson's THOR. He does some of Byrne's FF too, but it never looks as nice as in THOR.

      I also really like Joe Rosen; probably because I associate him with the Roger Stern/John Romita, Jr. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. And of course Tom Orzechowski is fantastic on pretty much everything.


  4. // The cover is pretty cool, though I've wondered for some time how Byrne did it. //

    I see Eliot R. Brown credited with the photo in the GCD. He did a lot of photos for Marvel at the time, as well as technical specs for OHOTMU, but I’ve long remembered Byrne (or the editor) mentioning in a lettercolumn that Andrea Braun, then his wife, had taken the picture. Maybe she made the mask and Brown took the photo, although since she was a photographer it might be just as likely that Brown made the mask and Braun took the photo.

    1. Of course Eliot Brown is involved! Every time you see something out of the ordinary in a Marvel comic of this era, he seems to be there somewhere. Talented guy!