Monday, July 18, 2016


Words & Pictures: John Byrne | Coloring: Glynis Wein
Editing: Michael Carlin | Other: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Fantastic Four approach the Warlord’s citadel with their new cowboy ally, Colby, and his right-hand man. They defeat another tripod robot, but are then confronted by a group of women riding flying mechanical steeds. The women describe the history of their world and confirm what Reed fears: his father, Nathaniel, is the Warlord.

Reed moves on alone to the citadel to seek audience with his father, but the Warlord’s holographic visage denies him and sets his defenses against him. The Fantastic Four, Colby, and the futuristic Valkyries battle the Warlord’s robots until Wyatt sneaks away and spots the Warlord himself prepping an anti-matter cannon. Wyatt disables the device, killing the Warlord.

Later, Wyatt comes around and learns that Reed’s father had been duped by his wife. She was the Warlord, using Nathaniel’s scientific expertise for her own greedy ends, conquering the surrounding world. With his adopted home in ruin, Nathaniel chooses to remain there and work to repair it once more.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The Torch reminds us that one of the tripods defeated him last issue and promises it won’t happen again.

The leader of the Valkyries explains the history of her world, which Reed determines has followed the path our Earth could have, had the Dark Ages not occurred.

The story ends with a flash-forward to a reinterpretation of the origin of the villainous Rama-Tut, as seen in FANTASTIC FOUR #19. A note tells us that this scene will tie into an upcoming AVENGERS storyline. (I believe it is the story that revealed Rama-Tut/Kang the Conqueror to be a descendent of Nathaniel Richards.)

My Thoughts: First, I must note that Byrne lettered this issue himself and the results are mostly atrocious.

That out of the way, on to the story itself: This is part three of three, and the second installment felt pretty much entirely like filler, yet somehow the ending to this one comes across as sloppy and hurried. Byrne gives us a two-page spread explaining that the FF are engaged in the bloodiest battle of their careers, then wraps it all up in two more pages via Wyatt lobbing a rock into the Warlord’s cannon. The Warlord dies… off-screen. Reed is reunited with his father (and meets his baby brother)… off-screen. Then we have a rushed single-page coda as Nathaniel declares that he’s staying behind.

Couldn’t some of this third chapter have been bumped up into the excessively padded second chapter, thus allowing some breathing room here, which could have been utilized to actually show us the end of the Warlord and the reunion between Reed and his father, to which it seemed this entire saga was building?

For that matter, whatever happened with Reed’s declaration that his memory was fading two issues ago? He mentions it here as he approaches the Warlord's citadel, but at the same time, he seems to have quite a vivid memory, his thoughts filled with images of his father. Byrne used the memory angle as a hook to launch this tale, but it's not resolved by the story's end. Will he revisit it? I hope so, otherwise it simply becomes a cheap trick.

Byrne has been really off his game through this entire storyline. Hopefully this isn’t an indicator of things to come.


  1. In my somewhat recent read-thru of the Byrne FF run - while agree in with the general consensus of high quality superhero storytelling - I definitely noticed a weird accordian effect with the pacing issue to issue. Stories would start halfway through one issue to wrap up in the middle of the next, and the pattern would continue.

    And it didn't give the effect of a neverending, unending soap opera saga, which most of us will agree is a good thing in comics - but more that he was just really bad at pacing. In that way it reminded me of Fables, of which I have similar feelings.


    1. The pacing is odd during this stretch of issues for sure. I don’t recall thinking that when picking them as they were published, but it really jumps out at me reading them now. That’s just in terms of when discrete plots stop and start, too, never mind the strange choices Byrne makes in terms of what transpires “off-screen” at the climax of this issue, as Matt points out.

    2. This is secondhand because I've never actually read the run, but my understanding is that Kirby & Lee used to do that sort of thing -- ending a story halfway through an issue and beginning the next story before that issue was over -- often during their FANTASTIC FOUR run. Perhaps this is Byrne emulating them?

      At any rate, this isn't the last time he'd do it. His much-despised SPIDER-MAN: CHAPTER ONE series ended every story and began the next one halfway through each issue! At the time, even though I didn't love the series, I thought this was a neat/novel idea.

  2. Very belatedly, but, yes, Lee and Kirby frequently ended stories in the middle an issue to start a new one...if memory serves, the first Galactus story is one they did that with, wrapping up the previous Inhumans story before cutting to the Silver Surfer to start that one. One wonders why Lee and Kirby did it, but Byrne did seem to be imitating it.