Monday, November 21, 2016


Writer/Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Al Gordon
Colorist: Glynis Oliver | Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Michael Carlin | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

(Credits as printed in the issue:
A Byrne-Gordon-Workman-Oliver-Carlin-Shooter Production)

The Plot: The Fantastic Four embark on a tour of their new headquarters as its construction nears completion. But before the tour is finished, they receive an emergency call from SHIELD and head up to the SHIELD space platform. There, Nick Fury reveals that a “rip” in space has appeared over Earth, and Reed deduces it is a portal to the Negative Zone, torn open when the Baxter Building exploded in orbit months earlier.

Reed heads out in a spacesuit to investigate but is sucked into the Zone by a tractor beam. The rest of the FF and Nick Fury follow in a SHIELD shuttle, to find Reed a captive of the Fantastic Four’s old enemy Blastaar. The group makes quick work of Blastaar, snagging the Cosmic Control Rod from his collar. But the villain tricks the Human Torch into tossing the Rod into a cell which holds its true owner, Annihilus. The insectoid warlord is reinvigorated by his long-lost weapon and quickly defeats Blastaar and the FF.

In the positive universe, SHIELD realizes that the Negative Zone portal is widening and within five hours it will consume and destroy the Earth.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Sue's new hairdo (and the final style she will wear in Byrne's run) makes its debut. I think it suits her. It's not my favorite look for her since Byrne came on board; for that we would look to the long hair she sported during the big Doom/Tyros fight circa issue 260, but it's not bad.

The Fantastic Four are wowed by their new headquarters and find that they barely miss the old Baxter Building.

As soon as the FF depart, leaving their construction worker tour guide behind in the sub-basement, he’s killed by the evil Basilisk, eager to avenge himself against Spider-Man and the Thing over a defeat suffered in MARVEL TEAM-UP 47 — but Basilisk is in turn assassinated by the Scourge of the Underworld. A footnote points to current issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA for more on Scourge.

She-Hulk remarks that the SHIELD Helicarrier went down in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL 18. Reed notes that he thought Fury was on a leave of absence from SHIELD, which may also be a reference to the graphic novel, wherein he left in a huff after being ordered to apprehend She-Hulk for study.

Reed describes how the Baxter Building’s destruction would have opened the Negative Zone portal:

Reed believes that, since he was pulled to Blastaar’s ship without properly passing through the Negative Zone’s “distortion field”, he is still made of matter inside his spacesuit — and if he’s released from the rig and touches any of the Zone’s native anti-matter, it will create a massive explosion.

My Thoughts: I guess I say it a lot, but this is another issue which suffers from “Part One Syndrome”. The Negative Zone portal and even Blastaar himself are really only here to set up the true villain of the story, Annihilus.

Mind you, I’m looking forward to next issue’s battle with Annihilus after he was teased throughout the prior Negative Zone saga circa the 250s and then was blown back through the portal before he could actually fight the FF — but I can’t help feeling this issue could’ve been put to better use some other way; perhaps with an actual tour of the group’s new headquarters. The Baxter Building was destroyed in issue 279. It’s been nearly a year since then and Byrne has teased the new headquarters for some time in that span. True, in real life a massive skyscraper would take a couple years, rather than just a few months, to build, but there must be some compression of the timeline here or, even if Byrne had done a few of the between-issues months-long jumps which drive me nuts, we’d still be waiting for the new HQ a year or maybe even two years after the old one blew up!

Nonetheless, Blastaar is fun, SHIELD is cool, the new headquarters is shaping up, and there's nothing like a good old-fashioned “Justice is served!” to take me back to my childhood. There isn't anything wrong with this issue; I just feel like it’s not as well-utilized as it could’ve been.


  1. “You old warhorse!” exclaims Reed upon seeing Fury. What follows in my head: “Sometimes I can’t believe we first met during my OSS days back in World War II.” “That’s ’cause we didn’t, Stretcho. Mebbe once upon a time in ’63 we did, but it’s 1985 now, an’ you’re still only 40 years old. I guess I might’a seen ya in ’Nam, though.”

    // Basilisk is in turn assassinated by the Scourge of the Underworld //

    I have a soft spot for the Basilisk, since the nifty cross-title team-up between Spider-Man and the Thing from Marvel Team-Up #47 and Marvel Two-in-One #17 featuring him was among my very early comics reading. So I’m not happy about Scourge doing him in here just on vague general principle, much less sucker-blasting him — and never mind that I don’t understand how the hell Scourge knew to infiltrate the construction crew so he’d be on hand right when Basilisk emerged from making his way through solid bedrock to the FF’s new sub-basement. Also, I’m familiar with Scourge in broad strokes but he came along just as I was dropping the last few Marvel titles I got at the time and I didn’t know, or remember anyway, that I’d ever read an issue with him in it, cameo or not.

    1. +1 on Basilisk. We never got anything of the main Scourge thing but we did see an occasional never-seen supervillain whacked by the Scourge in some issues they were publishing like THOR or this FF. Except that didn't apply to Basilisk, because for some unfathomable reason they did put out a cardboard-covered Spider-Man special album printing MTU #47 and ASM ANNUAL #11 back in 1981 as one of the very curious publication choices of those times.

    2. My only exposure to Basilisk outside of this issue is his entry in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES ROLEPLAYING GAME, so I have no real attachment to him. But I'm always sad when one of my obscure pet characters is killed off, so I feel for you guys!