Monday, September 12, 2016


Story and Pencils: John Byrne | Inks: Jerry Ordway
Colors: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Edits: Mike Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Hate Monger’s influence over New York grows, and he sends Malice out to destroy the Fantastic Four. Meanwhile, the Human Torch is reunited with Alicia, who explains that Sue went missing after she encounted someone who looked and sounded like Reed.

At Avengers Mansion, Mister Fantastic heads for the roof to utilize a device he believes will counteract Hate Monger’s power, but Malice shows up and attacks. Johnny returns to help, and Daredevil soon arrives as well, tipping Reed off to the fact that Malice is using invisible force fields as her weapon of choice. Reed deduces that Malice is actually the Invisible Girl.

In order to overcome Hate Monger’s programming, Reed convinces Sue to hate him for real. Somehow this hatred overcomes the artificial hatred instilled by Hate Monger, and Sue becomes herself once more.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Hate Monger recalls that Malice defeated She-Hulk last issue. (She-Hulk herself only appears for one page in this installment as she suddenly realizes Malice is Sue.)

A footnote tells us that the Fantastic Four have been staying at Avengers Mansion since the Baxter Building was destroyed in issues 278-279. Reed also recalls that Franklin had a precognitive dream in issue 276, the same issue which a late footnote reminds us featured Reed breaking his arm. Soon after, Johnny recalls the “Wraith War” from ROM #65, which crossed over into FANTASTIC FOUR 277.

Avengers butler Jarvis tells Reed he’s unable to raise Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for help, due to their own ongoing adventure in AVENGERS #258.

Reed tells Daredevil this issue that he has deduced the scarlet swashbuckler does not see via conventional sight, a revelation which seems to unnerve Daredevil.

My Thoughts: The true identity of Hate Monger’s master continues to be danced around this issue, though the artwork continues to make no secret of the fact that it’s Psycho-Man. Also, even though he revealed on the previous issue’s final page that Malice is actually Sue, Byrne dances around that fact again here, giving her another unmasking scene near the story’s conclusion. Presumably this is to further the philosophy that “every issue is someone’s first” by letting new readers learn the secret here just as old readers did the previous month. (Though this theory would make a lot more sense if Malice wasn't depicted unmasked on the cover!)

Byrne continues to show us how Sue is essentially the most powerful member of the FF—something Reed himself comments on at one point, which is illustrated by her taking out Johnny (cutting off the oxygen to his flame with a force field) and nearly defeating Reed (turning her field into a spiked sphere when he surrounds her with his elastic body). Add to this the fact that she already beat She-Hulk last issue, and Byrne has finally reached the endgame for his slow development of Sue’s confidence and abilities, which began way back when he first took over writing the title.

Plus we get this great scene where Reed goes full-on Silver Age, ignoring and belittling Sue in order to get her to turn on him. It’s both horrifying and hilarious at the same time.

And then comes SECRET WARS II #2, where, for some reason, the Hate Monger story is wrapped up by a blast from the Scourge of the Underworld:

By Jim Shooter, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha & Joe Rubinstein,
Rick Parker & Joe Rosen, and “M. Hands”.

But though Hate Monger is gone, his story isn’t over yet. Psycho-Man is still out there and Sue reveals on FF 281’s final page that she knows where to find him and she will have her revenge upon him.


  1. Reading Alicia's comments about feeling hatred, and considering the later revelation concerning her, one wonders what she DID in that anger...

    1. Has it ever been clarified exactly when Alicia was replaced by a Skrull? I assume she was one at this point due to the romance with Johnny starting, but I have no idea precisely when the switch occurred.


  2. I think Ordway’s inks over Byrne have really found their groove.

    // Reed tells Daredevil this issue that he has deduced the scarlet swashbuckler does not see via conventional sight //

    A nice touch, I thought. Byrne using Daredevil to give Reed the clue he needs to suss out Malice’s invisible force field, and thus her true identity, works neatly too. I also like how Daredevil gets involved simply because he’s in Manhattan, which along with the FF staying at the Avengers’ mansion — but the Avengers not even being on hand beyond Jarvis — is a quintessentially Classic Marvel kind of thing.

    Johnny mentions that a shape-changer is “hangin’ ’round with the X-Men”. I don’t think that would be Mystique at this point, so I guess it’s Warlock. The remark feels oddly forced, though; maybe it’s just dialogue that attempts to (shared-)world-build and comes off stilted, or maybe it’s a bit of dismissive snark on Byrne’s part if he’s known to dislike that character.

    1. Y'know, I didn't really catch the "shape-changer" line, but I guess it pretty much has to be Warlock. Circa 1985, I don't believe they had any others on their roster unless maybe he means Wolfsbane...?

      In any case, you're right that it comes off as dismissive, but then so does pretty much every reference Byrne makes to the X-Men during this era!