Monday, June 13, 2016


Plot: John Byrne | Script: Mark Gruenwald | Pencils: Mark Bright
Inks: Mike Gustovich |Letters: Phil Felix | Colors: Petra Scotese
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Ten lunar orbits ago on the Moon, while the X-Men fought for the life of Phoenix, observers from the Kree and Skrull empires began their own private war in the Moon’s Blue Area. Eventually the Watcher pulled them to his home to receive communications from their respective leaders, the Kree Supreme Intelligence and the Kree Empress R’Klll. The leaders ordered Bel-Dann the Kree and Raksor the Skrull to continue their war as proxies of their entire empires. The winner would determine the victor of the eons-long conflict between the Kree and the Skrulls.

In the present, the Fantastic Four arrive on the Moon for the wedding of Black Bolt and Medusa of the Inhumans. But the ceremony is interrupted as the battles between Bel-Dann and Raksor begin to damage the foundations of the Inhuman city, Attilan. The FF and Inhuman royal family investigate and battle the warring aliens, who escape.

Later, Mister Fantastic hatches a plan to overcome the aliens, whose fighting has gotten dangerously close to Attilan’s nuclear power plant. He and Black Bolt enlist the Watcher’s aid and then confront the aliens again. Bel-Dann and Raksor defeat the Fantastic Four and Inhumans together, and the Watcher decrees that both empires have won, for only by unifying their forces can they ever bring an end to their wars. The Watcher teleports the two aliens back to their empires, then the Inhumans and FF resume celebrating.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The moon orbits Earth every 27.3 days, so “ten lunar orbits ago” would have been 273 days. Nine months. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” happened nine months ago, you guys.

Yeah, I don’t buy it either. Byrne took over FANTASTIC FOUR right after leaving X-MEN, but within that series’ pages, months were declared to have passed between Jean Grey’s death and Byrne’s departure. Since Byrne arrived on FF, at various points he’s thrown in time jumps of three months, several months, and four months. It’s been over a year since “Dark Phoenix”, maybe close to two years.

The issue’s opening scene is more or less a direct lift of a scene from X-MEN #137, in which Wolverine met Raksor, disguised as Storm, but was rescued from him by Bel-Dann. Originally the two fought their way off-panel and weren’t seen again. Here, Byrne shows us what happened to them.

A footnote states that the messages from the Supreme Intelligence and the Skrull empress were sent prior to FANTASTIC FOUR 257, in which Galactus devoured the Skrull throneworld, killing Empress R’Klll.

We’re reminded that Attilan moved to the Blue Area in FF #240. Also, narration informs us that there are currently 1,230 Inhumans.

She-Hulk reveals that she traveled to the Moon and met the Inhumans in AVENGERS ANNUAL #12, which apparently featured some fallout over the Fantastic Four aiding the Inhumans in moving their city.

Quicksilver is a little jealous over the big to-do for Black Bolt’s and Medusa’s wedding, compared with the small, private ceremony he and Crystal shared. Meanwhile, Johnny considers that he's finally over Crystal, and finds himself wishing Alicia could've been at the wedding.

We learn this issue that Black Bolt’s and Medusa’s full names are Blackantor Boltagon and Medusalith Anaquelin (though at some point “Blackantor” was ret-conned to “Blackagar”). John Byrne has declared more than once that he hated this development, and I tend to agree with him. Why can’t they just be named Black Bolt and Medusa? They aren’t humans; they don’t need to have secret identities. Not to go off on too much of a rant, but I get irritated when writers feel a need to “humanize” things that never needed it. Jabba the Hutt having a last name in the STAR WARS Expanded Universe is another example of this. He’s a giant alien slug. It’s okay if he’s just named Jabba the Hutt (rather than – ugh – "Jabba Desilijic Tiure").

My Thoughts: For such a momentous occasion as the wedding of two very long-time Marvel characters, it seems odd Byrne was unable to provide more than a plot to this one. Even a script over Bright’s pencils would’ve been nice, though obviously the best situation would’ve been for Byrne to write and draw the whole thing. That said, Gruenwald’s script is fine, and I appreciate that he works in what, at the time, I believe would’ve been considered “Southern California slang” for She-Hulk (“totally awesome” and “lame,” to be exact). Though he tends to overdo the random thought balloons on characters whose thoughts we don’t really need to see – a normal tic for him.

But I’m not sure M.D. Bright is ready for prime time yet. He will evolve into a terrific artist, but at this point he’s a little green and it shows. His faces are often odd and his figures rarely seem very dynamic – and he draws the Watcher as just a big bald guy, looking neither like the “skinny giant head” version Byrne’s been doing so far or like the “fat bald dude” which was standard in the seventies. And what’s weird is that Bright shows he can draw a “skinny giant head” characters later in the issue, as the Inhuman presiding over the wedding is exactly that!

I like the idea of revisiting the Kree and Skrull warriors from “Dark Phoenix”, though. Not that we needed to see them again; I’m sure most readers assumed their little skirmish ended and they each returned home. But why not do something different with them? Sometimes this sort of “untold story” can read like bad fan-fiction, but since Byrne was co-plotter on their original appearance, I think he’s more than qualified to follow it up.

Just wish he could’ve drawn it himself.


  1. I recall PHOENIX: THE UNTOLD STORY's original ending commented that the two warriors killed each other.

    AVENGERS ANNUAL#12 dealt with the U.S. Government first learning about the Inhumans. Despite the FF's explanation (including a scene showing Ben in his 'Oatmeal' form) and best defense of the Inhumans' peaceful intentions, the Government still think Attilan may be a threat. So- because the FF had opposed federals before- they send the Avengers to confirm things: Cap, Wasp, Starfox, Thor, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Vision, and Scarlet Witch (the latter two had already visited Attilan-Moon in the first VISION AND THE SCARLET WITCH LS, where they discovered Magneto was their father).
    Remember in FF#240 about Maximus the Mad's offscreen sacrifice? Well, it turns out Maximus is entombed in some life-sustaining coffin. Shortly after their moon migration, the entombed Maximus managed to switch bodies with his brother Black Bolt (and yet somehow lacked his powerful voice problem). 'Black Bolt' makes an alliance with the evil scientist group the Enclave to conquer the Earth by dropping asteroids into it. He also has the Inhumans fight the Avengers. But the fighting stops when Shulkie threatens 'BB', forcing him to make a vocal protest that completely blows his cover. Medusa- having suspected something was up before the protest- begins to hair-strangle the impostor into revealing the truth. 'Maximus' is freed and reverses the switch. Both teams defeat the Enclave and establish peaceful negotiations with the USA.

    1. Thanks as always for the backstory, angmc43! It looks like I even have that AVENGERS ANNUAL in the ABSOLUTE VISION: BOOK 1 trade paperback! I'll have to check it out.

  2. Well, that was fun, moreso than I would have expected a Dark Phoenix re-visitation to be by anyone who's not Claremont. Byrne so had this planned the minute he chose to park the Attilan on top of the Blue Area of the Moon.

    Gotta admire the fellows splendidly pulling up the auld 'enemy agents stationed far from home find they're closer to each other than anyone on their own side' trick. You see it coming on the first pages when they're jocularly addressing each other by name, but in a way that you'd be disappointed if they didn't.

    Shulkie is back to being a green joke, I see.

    1. Back to being a green joke as in nowadays in current Marvel comics? I confess I haven't read any in years, though I see She-Hulk has some big role in the current CIVIL WAR II crossover.

    2. I was referring to your previously done Byrne FF issue, where I got the wording pretty much lifted from the "forcefield suddenly disappears" scene and the fact that she does have especially bad showing on this one, first launching herself off from the artificial gravity zone and then setting the door button booby trap off.

      I cherish my ignorance of what's currently going on in Marvel Universe, though I may have to check out the recent-ish PAD Spider-Man 2099 stuff they got on Unlimited sometime soon.

    3. I thought the current Spidey 2099 sounded good -- Miguel O'Hara back, written by Peter David -- until I learned it's set in the modern day, not the year 2099! That severely dampened my interest.

  3. The art at least is suitably Byrnesque enough, and the Dark Phoenix Saga bits and the Attilan in general especially for the backgrounds are very on-model in their looks. If it was for example Sal Buscema or Frank Miller filling in for this kind of occasion, the obvious disconnect in the styles would make it look wrong and render everything around it a bit unacceptable. The classic stories have their own look.

    1. Yeah, the artwork fits with Byrne's ongoing style, that's true. It's just not as polished and dynamic as I normally associate with M.D. Bright.


  4. I absolutely love a random Inhuman woman saying “Hello, The Human Torch!”

    // “The Dark Phoenix Saga” happened nine months ago, you guys.
    Yeah, I don’t buy it either. //

    Nor I (which I guess is where your anticipatory "either" comes from, so apologies for the endless loop...). Going only by events occurring in X-Men, Scott left the team and met Alex and returned and met Maddie and married her — all of Cockrum’s second run, then Paul Smith’s, and the first half-dozen issues of JRJr.’s run have transpired.

    // Why can’t they just be named Black Bolt and Medusa? //

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea for them to have actual names of some kind, especially since the superheroey ones by which we know them are, well, superheroey — and English, or in Medusa’s case at least idiomatically so, although that could all be a matter of translation — but the coincidence of “Blackagar Boltagon” reducing to “Black Bolt” is heinously stupid.

    1. Lately, inspired by Mark Gruenwald, I've taken to referring to the S.F. Giants' first baseman as "Brandongar Beltagon".