Monday, October 24, 2016


Story & Art: John Byrne | Letterer: Jim Novak | Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
And the one and only Joe Sinnott, Special Guest Inker

The Plot: An alien the Fantastic Four once knew as the “Infant Terrible” arrives on Earth seeking their help. The FF accompany the Infant back to his “homeworld”, where they’re attacked by a Skrull warlord and her forces. Reed then reveals that the FF figured out the Infant was a Skrull agent and they played along with him to find out what he was up to.

The group’s adventure is far from over, however, as they learn that, since the collapse of the Skrull Empire in the aftermath of Galactus’s destruction of their throneworld, the asteroid which once beamed Super-Skrull’s powers across the galaxy has been taken over by a Skrull splinter group, and the leader of that group has plans which could result in the end of the universe.

The FF travel to the asteroid, where they bump into the Avengers. The Skrull warlord Zabyk activates his device, and the genetic code of every Skrull in the universe is rewritten, destroying the species’ ability to shapeshift.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This story is part of a crossover with AVENGERS ANNUAL 14, by Roger Stern, John Byrne, and Kyle Baker. That tale follows the Avengers’ side of the adventure, though both issues can be read on their own and result in a complete experience.

Johnny is out to dinner with Alicia, discussing the events of FANTASTIC FOUR 285, when he’s summoned to aid his teammates, and it appears he’s about to propose to her as he is interrupted.

There’s no footnote explaining when the FF met the Infant Terrible, though some quick Googling reveals it took place in FANTASTIC FOUR #24. We do, however receive a footnote later on to FF #2, in which we learn that Skrulls are notoriously easy to hypnotize.

My Thoughts: I’ve never been terribly enamored with this story. It’s basically two semi-related tales cobbled together to form one double-length annual, and neither of them is all that entertaining. The development that the Skrulls, as a race, have lost their shapeshifting abilities is pretty major, and one expects it should have some big repercussions down the road, but I’m not sure it ever comes up all that much before those powers are restored in the pages of Steve Englehart’s SILVER SURFER a few years later.

But the artwork! I could stare at this issue all day. Joe Sinnott doesn’t overpower John Byrne’s pencils. Everyone still looks like a Byrne character, which I appreciate. But Sinnott also makes everything look… right, I guess, almost for the first time in Byrne’s run. Most all the artwork up to this point has been fine; don’t get me wrong. But here, Reed suddenly looks like Reed. Sue looks like Sue (except for that ridiculous mullet). Captain America really looks like Captain America! Sinnott’s bold inks make this look like a doggone Marvel comic in the best possible way. (Though Johnny's "modern" haircut here is perhaps even more hideous than Sue's under Sinnott's Silver Age style.)

Lastly – well, I very rarely try to get political around here. I know where I stand under most circumstances, but I also tend to believe a person’s political opinions are their own and they don’t need to be shared publicly. But, in a couple weeks, the United States will vote for our new president, and there’s been a lot of incendiary talk about race and religion over the past umpteen months as part of the campaign. With that so strongly at the forefront of my mind, the panel at right, with a few succinct words from Captain America about what makes this country so great, really hit home.

I’ll just leave that here with no further comment. Next time: Byrne revisits his most popular X-MEN story arc!

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