Monday, July 25, 2016


Penciling & Scripting: John Byrne | Inking: Al Gordon
Coloring: Glynis Wein | Lettering: Diana Albers
Editing: Michael Carlin | Editing-in-Chiefing: Jim Shooter

The Plot: While the Fantastic Four attend to their personal lives on Earth, the Thing is still trapped on the Beyonder’s Battleworld. There, he meets the Frankenstein monster and both are captured by a masked man named Kemp, in the employ of Doctor Julius Akerman, the Monster Master. The Thing and the monster are placed in Akerman’s wagon with Gregor Lupus, a werewolf, but the Thing gets free by changing to Ben Grimm.

A fight breaks out between Ben and Kemp, which is joined by the werewolf at Akerman’s command. Ben becomes the Thing once more to fight the werewolf, while the monster exits the wagon and kills Akerman. Free of his spell, the monster and the werewolf depart, while Ben continues his trek across Battleworld.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This tale is continued from THE THING #19. That issue is reprinted in the FANTASTIC FOUR BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS volume 2, but I have elected to skip it as its story is sufficiently recapped in this issue.

And the recap is simply: Ben Grimm, traveling across Battleworld in search of a woman named Tari, has run into a number of creatures he recalls from the monster movies he watched as a child. He knows these are figments of his imagination, as Battleworld has brought several of his thoughts to life over the time he’s spent there, but they’re real enough to cause him trouble.

As the action shifts to Battleworld, we’re told that SECRET WARS #9 is currently on sale.

Ben compares the speed of the werewolf with that of Quicksilver, in what I assume is a bit of hyperbole on his part.

We’re told to see THE THING #20 for the resolution of Ben’s quest for Tari.

On Earth, She-Hulk (in a rare appearance as Jennifer Walters) visits Sue in Belleporte, where nosey neighbor Alma Chalmers spies her changing into a jade giantess. Chalmers decides that the Benjamin family are witches and must be destroyed.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Johnny and Alicia deepens, and is observed by Reed. Reed also declares that the Fantastic Four have outgrown the Baxter Building — and with none of the team currently living there, he suggests they find a new headquarters.

The story’s final page features a sub-plot contribution to ongoing events in the Spider-Man family of titles, as the web-slinger’s alien costume escapes from captivity in the Baxter Building with the help of a mysterious drone.

Is It Clobberin' Time? Like the cover says — at last!

My Thoughts: It’s been roughly ten issues since the Thing was last seen in a non-flashback capacity in this series, so Byrne takes a moment to remind us that, while She-Hulk may be temporarily filling in for him, Ben Grimm is most definitely still a member of the Fantastic Four. There’s not all that much to the story, continuing as it does an adventure from the Thing’s solo series, but for once I can forgive that since it’s nice to simply see the ever lovin’ idol of millions in action, written and drawn by Byrne.

Byrne is, ostensibly, the writer of THE THING as well, but in truth, once the Battleworld storyline begins in issue 11, he only writes seven of the twelve chapters of the “Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger” saga, with Mike Carlin and Bob Harras doing fill-in duties for the remaining five installments. And of course he draws none of it, as Ron Wilson is THE THING’s regular artist.

So, while the Earthly sub-plots are of greater concern to the overall storyline in this issue, the Thing’s appearance is a welcome diversion. My only real problem with the issue is the inking from Al Gordon. He’s a fine inker; don’t get me wrong — and I like his work here as a change of pace. But his lines are so light and thin, in general they just don’t look right over Byrne’s pencils*. I assume Byrne must like the look, because Gordon returns next issue as well, and then within another couple issues, Jerry Ordway will be on board as the series’ regular inker, using a very similar style. But we’ll cover that when we get there.

* On a strange note, I should mention that Gordon's lines look much nicer and heavier in the Marvel Unlimited version of this issue (the source of the above screenshots), while in the Omnibus they're very light and scratchy. This is the opposite of the way it normally goes, where in general the physical collected editions look better to me than the digital format.


  1. That mysterious drone doesn't get explained until the (relatively) recent Spider-Man/FF crossover limited series, right? Or was that a retcon to an explanation we get between this issue and that series?

    1. Hmm, I know I read that SPIDER-MAN/FANTASTIC FOUR miniseries, but I don't remember it touching on this drone business. The drone is explained, however, in the upcoming issues 278-279.


  2. I’ve been noticing since the arrival of She-Hulk that everyone calls her by that name — Alicia excepted, in the issue where they’re waiting in the hospital I believe, after Jen offers her real name — so I was glad that Sue finally calls her Jen here. Of course she was actually in her Jennifer Walters form at the time, and like we’ll see next issue she’s still nominally keeping up a secret identity on certain fronts at this point, but I’m so used to She-Hulk’s identity not being secret and, more to the point, the FF is such a family that it felt like she was being distanced from the in-group in that way whether it was intended on Byrne’s part or not.

    Akerman’s name is surely an homage to Forrest J. Ackerman, known as a founder of SF fandom and in particular as the editor/publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

    1. I would also like to think that when Frankonstiin's monster has been captured by a man named Kemp, the connection to the movie Young Frankenstein is not a coincidental one.

    2. You know, that's a good point -- I hadn't really registered that none of the team were calling She-Hulk by her civilian name!

      I know of Forrest J. Ackerman -- that is, I know the name -- but I really know nothing about him otherwise. Thanks for pointing out the connection.

      And Teemu, I appreciate the YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN note as well -- unfortunately appropriately timed, I suppose, given we lost Gene Wilder last week.

    3. Alas, as an avid lover of the 70's Mel Brooks comedies with him and Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman & co, I was aware of that having happened.

      I did notice the Kemp bit already on my initial reading of your post (and the issue from MU) thought, but commented on it only now as Blam brought up the homage dimension.