The last time I did a comprehensive FF re-read I stopped with the last of the Kirby issues (or rather the first two of the four Romita issues that wrapped up the story). That brings me up to Fantastic Four #105. John Romita was as humble to take over Fantastic Four for the King in 1970 as he had been to take over Spider-Man from Steve Ditko in 1966. He didn't feel qualified in either case, as did his best to draw in their respective styles both times. Why Stan Lee didn't assign Joe Sinnott to ink I have no idea, but #103-105 were inked by John Verpoorten. 

#105 opens with the Thing, Johnny and Crystal enjoying some hot dogs from a street vendor, when suddenly the city is wracked by a series of explosions. Crystal unexpectedly collapses, and Johnny flies her back to the Baxter Building to seek Reed Richards' help. Meanwhile, Sue has been shopping and finds herself closer to the source of the mysterious explosions. She goes to the street to find Dr. Zoltan Rambow, a colleague of Reed's, pursuing an energy being.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed has diagnosed Crystal as having an adverse reaction to the pollution she has no resistance to and says she must return to the Inhumans' Great Refuge or die. Reed has also discovered, in Crystal's DNA, what he thinks can be a cure to the thing's condition. Summoning Lockjaw, Crystal quickly says her goodbyes and departs immediately for the Great Refuge. Johhny flies off in frustration and soon comes upon his sister in conflict with the energy being. Sue cannot leave the conflict, but urges her brother to get Reed and Ben. Johnny returns to the Baxter Building only to find Reed at a critical juncture in his attempt to cure Ben.

CLIFFHANGER: Reed must choose between the life of his wife and that of his best friend.

It is widely accepted that Jack Kirby plotted most if not all of the Fantastic Four stories. I have generally come to the conclusion that if Stan Lee is credited with "script" that Jack Kirby provided the plot (or at least co-plotted). The credits for this issue list Stan Lee "story" and John Romita "illustration." #105 is one of the most densely-plotted and action-packed issues in a long time (the Sub-Mariner/Magneto conflict notwithstanding). Jack Kirby certainly didn't have anything to do with this issue. I think just because Stan Lee hadn't been regularly plotting Fantastic Four for some time doesn't mean he couldn't

Views: 3436

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

#224-225: Harek Korgon, a 15-foot-tall blind mutant, leads a sect of Vikings near Earth's northern magnetic pole. Mr. Fantastic promises to keep their existence secret and, indeed, I (for one) have not seen them since. #225 guest-stars Thor.

The concept of a lost society of Vikings in the Arctic calls to mind the Disney film The Island at the Top of the World (1974), which Wikipedia tells me was based on a 1961 novel. A 1972 Superman story introduced Valdemar of the Flame, the champion of a hidden Viking society in northern Maine.

Later parallels include the lost village of Eilif from Thor #342-#343, which was in a volcanic crater in Antarctica, and the long-dead preserved Norse settlement dedicated to Loki in X-Men/Alpha Flight #2, in northern Quebec.

Interesting. Never heard of The Island at the Top of the World. Tracy and I have Disney+ now and can't think of anything to watch on it (at least I can't; maybe Tracy has some ideas). Maybe we'll watch this.

#226: The cover proclaims "three unexpected guest-stars!" The guests are Ilongo Savage, Richard Carson and Genji Odashu, and that claim is certainly true if one has never read Shogun Warriors. I never read an issue of that series in my life, but the Fantastic Four guest-starred in its final two issues, #19-20. Marvel frequently wrapped up a cancelled series in the pages of another, more popular, series back then. There was a time when, knowing I had the end of a short-lived finite series, I would have sought out the backissues of the cancelled series, which could probably be found cheap. I probably read more such series that way over the years than I have from the beginning.

I read Shogun Warriors back in the day, but my issues are long gone. I remember the series as being OK, but not great.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Interesting. Never heard of The Island at the Top of the World. Tracy and I have Disney+ now and can't think of anything to watch on it (at least I can't; maybe Tracy has some ideas). Maybe we'll watch this.

#226: The cover proclaims "three unexpected guest-stars!" The guests are Ilongo Savage, Richard Carson and Genji Odashu, and that claim is certainly true if one has never read Shogun Warriors. I never read an issue of that series in my life, but the Fantastic Four guest-starred in its final two issues, #19-20. Marvel frequently wrapped up a cancelled series in the pages of another, more popular, series back then. There was a time when, knowing I had the end of a short-lived finite series, I would have sought out the backissues of the cancelled series, which could probably be found cheap. I probably read more such series that way over the years than I have from the beginning.

#227: A meteorite lands at Lost Lake Resort in Pennsylvania and the FF are called into investigate. Inside the meteorite is an "egg" with five parasites inside. The creatures, which resemble prehistoric trilobites, attach themselves to hosts, then devolve them back along their evolutionary paths to their prehistoric selves. For example, a hawk is transformed into a pteranodon, a dog into a wolf-like creature, an eel into a "sea serpent," and a man into a Neanderthal. One attaches itself to Sue, too, but that turns out a little differently. Double-Twist Ending: Unbeknownst to the FF, before Sue's transformation is reversed (by Franklin), she lays several "eggs" underneath the Fantasticar. When the vehicle takes off, they are incinerated... all except one, which crawls off to spawn a new race? Or to die 15 feet away? Seeing as how we haven't seen them since, I'm going to guess the latter.

Bill Sienkeiwicz's sense of humor is on display and two pumps at a gas stations read "Ethyl" and "Fred." The opening splash appears four pages in. In this issue (and throughout this run(), Reed Richards is depicted smoking a pipe. 

#228: Apparently, #222-223 wasn't the last word on Franklin Richard's powers during Doug Moench's run. After what happened in #227, Reed and sue decide to take Franklin for some experiments in biofeedback. (Moench must've read an article in Scientific American or something; he's obviously done some research.) Also from #222, "Lorrie" makes a second appearance for her and Johnny's first date. The first thing they do is accompany Reed, Sue and Ben to Franklin's first biofeedback test. (!?) After that, he takes her (in the FantastiCar) to a hamburger stand, where a bully becomes jealous of his date's reaction. Later, the two couples meet again atop the local "make-out look out point." 

Meanwhile, the biofeedback experiment has released a ball of ectoplasmic energy which travels to the bully's body (due to writer's fiat). Moench says the bully and Franklin have exchanged egos, but from what I recall of psychoanalysis, they've exchanged ids. No matter. It all works out in the end. franklin appears to be at least five years old in these stories, maybe six, but (not to get ahead of the conversation) when Byrne takes over, "his" Franklin appears to be closer to four. The de-aging of Franklin seems to tie in to Byrne's theory about the age of the Marvel Universe (since Fantastic Four #1, that is). Just keep that in mind.

In this issue (and throughout this run(), Reed Richards is depicted smoking a pipe.

I remember that in an early (really early) issue of FF, Jack Kirby had Reed smoking a pipe. Almost always, he didn't smoke anything.

The first thing they do is accompany Reed, Sue and Ben to Franklin's first biofeedback test. (!?)

Since Johnny was world famous and known to be cool, he could get away with this as a first date. None of us could.

"Since Johnny was world famous and known to be cool, he could get away with this as a first date."

That remains to be seen. (Her last name is revealed to be "Melton" in #229, BTW.)

#229-230: More light humor: Alicia was shown to be working on a statue of Moon Knight in #227; in this issue, she finishes it. Also shown in her studio is a statue of a king with the name of "Shooter." Two word balloons emerge from the credits. Salicrup's reads, "Hey, Jim. How do you like our little tribute to ya?" and Shooter's responds, "I'll get you for this!" 

A "negative being" appears in the sky above New York emitting tendrils of "black light" which affect light, gravity and oxygen. The being's name is the Ebon Seeker (a.k.a. Negative Star and Dark Dreadnaught and Cosmic shade) and, at the end of the issue he is joined by his opposite counterpart, Fire-Frost. #230 provides their origin. they were originally lovers known as Xanth and Shareen, who somehow come both from the far future as well as the distant past. He acts as a living black hole, and she follows him, as kind of a Silver Surfer/Galactus or Pariah/anti-matter wave in reverse.

Several city blocks of Manhattan, centered on the Baxter building, are transferred to the Negative Zone as part of the Seeker's attack. the FF are able to successfully evacuate most of the people, but there are still several hundred trapped with them. Moench reveals his inspiration for this story: Carl Sagan's Murmurs of Earth about the Voyager probes, not the only pop culture of the day to use that as a springboard (although the series never got as far as "Six" in reality). this is really a two-part story, although at the end, the blocks of property are still floating in the Negative Zone.

#231: This issue deals with the team's efforts to return the buildings to our reality while those trapped with them rebel against their efforts, all while they struggle against Stygorr, the Nightlord of Subspace. Back on Earth, Alicia and Lorrie (with Franklin) bond over the possible loss of the Fantastic Four, and Lorrie feels like an outsider, especially when Alicia refers to Lorrie's "love" for Johnny. She ends up breaking up with him at the end of the story.

One thing I have learned over the past weeks of reading "gaps" in my collection (Dr. Strange, Thor, Fantastic Four) via Masterworks is this: I didn't really miss all that much. Here's what Doug Moench has to say about his own run: "True to his word, Jim Salicrup made the run as painless as possible, but my other fears--continuity and control--still came true to a certain degree. I remember being asked to feature certain characters I probably would not have touched of my own volition, and warned against going in certain directions because they might or might not conflict with other directions which might or might not be pursued elsewhere in the possible future. None of it was overbearing or even particularly bad. It was just all the mildly maddening stuff I much prefer to avoid, especially if total freedom is a viable alternative."

The credits of #231 are a particular head-scratcher. Writers are listed as Moench & Gurland"; artists as "Siennkiewicz, Sinnott & Moore." At least Moench clears up the mustery of who "Gurland" is: "Although I have no memory of this, it seems my final issue was partially rewritten (continuity!) by someone credited as 'Gurland.' Except Gurland never really existed. He was Keyser Soze and Keyser Soze was actually Roger Stern and Gurland was his then-girlfriend's last name, meaning Stern's now nailed but I'm off the hook."

that doesn't explain who "Moore" is, though. To my eye, the first 16 pages look as if they are by the regular Seinkeiwicz/Sinnott team; the next five look to be penciled and inked by Sienkeiwicz's hand alone; it's the last page I can't figure out. It doesn't appear to have been touched by either Seinkeiwicz or Sinnott. I suspect "Moore" is a joke (like "D. Hands") for "more"; that is, the art is by "Seinkeiwicz, Sinnott and more" (but that's just a guess). If anyone knows for certain (or has another guess) I'd like to hear it.

We are now on the brink of the Byrne era (the real one) but, before that, when I return to this discussion: another opinion of everything I've looked at in this thread so far.

The GCD says Al Milgrom did "breakdowns" p.30 and Frank Giacoia "finished art" and inks. It says "and Moore" was a typo for "and more" but I like your theory better.

The page looks tacked on to clear the decks for Byrne, which could mean it wasn't Moench's decision to write out Lorrie. It's my guess "Gurland", the editor, wrote the last page. Perhaps he redialogued the earlier Lorrie bits to set it up. What strikes me is the story had 22 pages, like those before and after. So was a deliberately done as a 21 pager so there'd be room for that page? Or was a page dropped?

I think Sinnott didn't ink the title again until Fantastic Four Annual #19 and #287 in 1985. He did ink issues of The Thing.

Milgrom inked by Giacoia? Yeah, I'll buy that. The fourth panel (of the two heads) looks particularly "Milgrom," if nothing else does, necessarily. 

"The page looks tacked on to clear the decks for Byrne..."

I agree. 

Only "Gurland" knows for sure. 

It's sometimes difficult for me to believe that a "comic book guide" used to be more than just a price guide. I still often refer to my favorite one, 1983's "Super-Sized Annual" of FantaCo's Chronicles series. Here's what it had to say about the issues I've examined in this discussion so far.

"With the departure of Stan Lee in #125, the book entered another strong period. #129-183 (by Roy Thomas and/or Gerry Conway), with only a few exceptions, are all above average. It should be noted that #177-179 and #181-183 form a continued story. the first two issues are excellent, but this quality is not maintained to the end. the next 48 issues are of very inferior stradard, as no author was able to invent and capitalize upon any original plots or directions and all stories read like very poor imitations of what had gone before. the savior came in the form of John Byrne. His reintroduction of many of the factors which made the book such a success in the early '60s and his will to experiment has resulted in a string of memorable issues..."

...which I will get to presently. 

THE JOHN BYRNE ERA

This next part of the discussion requires me to go back to "omnibus" format as the Masterworks have not yet reached this point. It has been more than 20 years since I last read John Byrne's Fantastic Four in its entirety. I remember that specifically because, soon after I joined this community, a huge discussion of it got underway. Even now, I don't generally participate in discussions unless I'm in the mood to follow along with the reading. Because I had just read it so recently, I opted out of the discussion. Besides, I reasoned, it would always be there waiting for me whenever I was in the mood to re-read the comics. I have come to regret that decision.

Discussions in those days were very different than they are today. (Those of you who were around back then can vouch for that.) Discussions on the old board had upwards of a dozen active participants who posted every day on every issue. We haven't had a discussion like that in a long time. It's no one's fault; that's just the way things are. Although there's no way to replicate the discussion of John Byrne's Fantastic Four, I am going to try, and I invite anyone who may be reading this to follow along and join in. Starting today, I am going to commit to a steady pace of at least one issue per day. Although I hope to post more than that some days, my intention is not to skip a day from here on out. 

Back in the '80s, before long-running series were renumbered at the drop of a hat, the idea was to make the transition from one creative team to another as seamless as possible. Readers generally didn't know (at least I didn't) from the outset that an outstanding run had begun (Walt Simonson's Thor being an exception). Frank Miller kind of "eased in" to Daredevil, just as John Byrne had previously eased in to X-Men and Captain America

Similarly, Byrne's first issue of Fantastic Four didn't immediately signal (again, to me) that something special had begun. I wasn't actually reading Fantastic Four at the time of #232 (I started several months into his run), but I mean in retrospect. I like to think of What If...? #36 as his "first" issue. 

WHAT IF...? #36:

I'm not a huge fan of Marvel's What If...? series. Of the individual issues I do like, I tend to prefer either the stories that actually take place in the MU proper (such as #4), or the ones does by the creative team associated with the issue in question (such as this one). Byrne begins with a two-page recap (and update) of the FF's origin, then proceeds to tell the story of what might have happened had a coller head (Reed's) prevailed and the test flight of his star-drive waited until the ship had stronger shielding. He then goes through the plot of FF #1 point-by-point and beat-by-beat showing how a powerless-yet-still-fantastic four might have handled the threat of the Moleman, leaving it up the reader to carry it forward. Needless to say, the unpowered team turns out to be just as heroic as cosmic-powered team.

I'll be back tomorrow (if not sooner) with my thoughts on #232. Join me, won't you?

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2021   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service