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

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While Byrne reduced the age difference between Reed and Sue, he sure made it more uncomfortable! It wouldn't have been so bad if he said Reed went to college early (which was a distinct possibility) but Sue fell inlove with when she was TWELVE!

That's younger than Kitty Pryde was when she became infatuated with Colossus!

Heck Byrne even had an adult Superman kiss a thirteen year old Lana Lang in one of his Generations books!

Wasn't there a similar thing between James and Heather Hudson?

Philip Portelli said:

While Byrne reduced the age difference between Reed and Sue, he sure made it more uncomfortable! It wouldn't have been so bad if he said Reed went to college early (which was a distinct possibility) but Sue fell inlove with when she was TWELVE!

That's younger than Kitty Pryde was when she became infatuated with Colossus!

Heck Byrne even had an adult Superman kiss a thirteen year old Lana Lang in one of his Generations books!

Philip Portelli said:

While Byrne reduced the age difference between Reed and Sue, he sure made it more uncomfortable! It wouldn't have been so bad if he said Reed went to college early (which was a distinct possibility) but Sue fell inlove with when she was TWELVE!

That's younger than Kitty Pryde was when she became infatuated with Colossus!

Heck Byrne even had an adult Superman kiss a thirteen year old Lana Lang in one of his Generations books!

They tried to explain that away, something about Reed staying in the boarding house Sue's mom ran for a while ... Sue was fascinated, Reed has his nose in his books and didn't notice her ... then they reconnect years later. 

Retconning a retcon ... 

Yes, there was but I think that she was older, sixteen at least.

Then there was Byrne's Man of Steel where an adult Luthor filmed a teenaged Lois being strip-searched!

The Baron said:

Wasn't there a similar thing between James and Heather Hudson?

Philip Portelli said:

While Byrne reduced the age difference between Reed and Sue, he sure made it more uncomfortable! It wouldn't have been so bad if he said Reed went to college early (which was a distinct possibility) but Sue fell inlove with when she was TWELVE!

That's younger than Kitty Pryde was when she became infatuated with Colossus!

Heck Byrne even had an adult Superman kiss a thirteen year old Lana Lang in one of his Generations books!

Yeah, but Reed and Sue didn't start having sex with her until she was 13... well into her prime marryin' years in some parts of the country. Seriously, I think you're making too big a deal of this. It's not unusual for a 12 year old girl to have a crush on a teenage boy. (And that's all it was.) I also think there's a bit of a double standard at play here, too. Imagine if the sexes were reversed. No one ever says anything about Anakin Sjywalker and Princess Amidala in The Phantom Menace

Actually, I've seen a number of people squawk about that.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

 No one ever says anything about Anakin Sjywalker and Princess Amidala in The Phantom Menace

And it's not like young Anakin was outright crushing on her and acting all creepy in "Phantom Menace". He waited until "Attack of the Clones" to do that!

Plus it was Natalie Portman so he's gets a pass!

The Baron said:

Actually, I've seen a number of people squawk about that.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

 No one ever says anything about Anakin Sjywalker and Princess Amidala in The Phantom Menace

As an old friend of ours used to say, "Some people will climb the highest mountain and swim the deepest seas just to find something to be offended by."

#293:

"I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope."

-Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) - "Agamemnon"

John Byrne wrote and drew this issue with one foot out the door; it is his last issue. In The Thing #36, the last issue of the series (not included in the omnibus), Thing begins to mutate into an increasingly hideous form. She-Hulk flew to L.A. to locate him, only to learn he has gone missing. She is checking with the West Coast Avengers when they got the word that "Central City Does Not Answer!" That was her next stop anyway, so she flies out with the WCA to investigate. When they arrive, they discover a huge black dome enveloping the entire city, some 70 square miles.

Meanwhile, back at the Avenger Mansion (East Coast, that is), we get our first look at Kristoff since the FF took him into custody in #279. the news is not good. Apparently there's nothing of Kristoff's own mind left; he is entirely Dr. Doom now. Just then, word from She-Hulk comes in, and Reed, Sue, Johnny and Wyatt take the new long range FantastiCar to join her in California.

Just before they arrive, Iron Man attempts to breach the barrier. His torso starts to come out of the wall even before his legs have gone into it. The total elapsed time was about 1/2 a second but, from his point of view, he was lost inside for three weeks. He's in pretty rough shape when he emerges, and WonderMan flies himback to the compound, leaving Tigra and She-Hulk behind to fill in the FF. She-Hulk touches it, but her arm gets hopelessly caught inside. Then the dome starts expanding. Before too long she is completely enveloped.

When the FF arrive, Reed determines that the temporal interface must be pretty thick, otherwise, given the time differential, the lack of blood flow to Jen's arm would have caused gangrene and excruciating pain, which according to Tigra, it didn't. But it's been ten minutes since she disappeared within. At the same rate of time flow Iron Man experienced, that equates to 50 years. By the time they develop a plan, link arms and go in (once again, leaving Tigra behind to advise the Avengers when they return), 150 years total may have passed for She-Hulk.

They emerge into a city that looks like the Goph level of Magnus Robot Fighter's North Am. Making their way up to the top level, they find the entire city apparently deserted. they soon discover what appears to be a replica of their old Baxter Building headquarters and, even more surprising, a much-bigger-then-life-size statue of the original Fantastic Four from early in their careers. 

#294:

"Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

-Genesis, chapter 3, verse 5.

Byrne is gone. This issue is written from his plot, but scripted by Roger Stern, penciled by Jerry Ordway and inked by Al Gordon. As Reed, Sue, Johnny and Wyatt explore, they are attacked by groups of three distinct sub-species of humans, each mimicking a power of the Fantastic Four: the Head Patrol, the Clobber Patrol and the Wing Patrol. The FF (minus Jen, plus Wyatt) are attacked for displaying the "Holy Sign" and referred to as "demons." Suddenly, Livia, the high priestess appears and identifies them as the "True Holy Ones." She tells of the "Great Coordinator," a scientist known by Reed as Harvey Jessup.

His story is told like a fable. Jessup's plan had been to erect a great energy dome around Central City where the inhabitants could wait out the great nuclear disaster he was sure was coming. But something went wrong. Time was supposed to pass slower inside the barrier, not faster. Reed needs to see the so-called "Salvation Generator," and Priestess Livia thinks that would be okay under the circumstances. Surprisingly, Jessup is still alive. He is kept in cryogenic suspension and "thawed out" from time-to-time when the natives need advice, and they've never needed advice more than now.

Jessup is disoriented at first, then declares that they need to be subjected to his "Ultimate Adjudicator" helmet, which he describes as a kind of lie detector. What it is, however, is a weapon. It first dissolves their skin, then muscles, then circulatory system and organs. By the last panel, they're nothing more than skeletons!

I'm not going to have time to finish this today. I should have stopped with #292.

Thanks, doc.

The flashback in #286 was done by Chris Claremont and Jackson Guice (who inked his portions). Byrne had done his own version, but Claremont got Shooter to let him change it. The original art of Byrne's pages survives, and Brian Bendis posted a side-by-side comparison here. Link via Supermegamonkey. Byrne discussed the issue on his message board here.

A comment at Supermegamonkey's page on the issue notes the bit about another image in the crystal was added by Claremont, and refers to the end of Uncanny X-Men #201, where Rachel adds a piece of her "essence" to it. DC Indexes says the X-issue came out a week earlier.

"And it's not like young Anakin was outright crushing on her and acting all creepy in 'Phantom Menace'."

Are you suggesting that Sue's behavior was in any way "creepy"? I see it as completely normal and natural and healthy behavior for an adolescent. 

"Plus it was Natalie Portman so he's gets a pass!"

Do you even hear yourself? That's exactly the double standard I was referring to yesterday. But thanks for proving my point.

#295:

John Byrne had nothing to do with the production of this issue, but it's included in the omnibus because it's the conclusion of the story. 

Reed, Sue, Johnny and Wyatt escaped last issue's cliffhanger ending by use of Sue's powers: first by use of a force field to protect them from the "ultimate adjudicator," then by making them "disappear" layer by layer. As the Coordinator is being returned to his chamber, while still invisible, the four are approached by an old woman named Murna who can "see" them because she is gifted with second sight. she is very old and tells them the story of the "green demoness" who appeared in their midst a few generations back (150 years, their time). 

Murna was the former high priestess. She made mental contact with She-Hulk, but when she tried to reveal the truth, she was denounced by the Coordinator. She-Hulk's teammates are encouraged to learn that she was then placed in a sleep chamber. At Sue's suggestion, the team splits up: Johnny, Wyatt and Murna seek She-Hulk while Reed and Sue return to confront Jessup before he is put back to sleep. Johnny and Wyatt are more successful than Reed and Sue in their respective tasks.

Wyatt and Johnny not only find She-Hulk (with Murna's help), but also all of the "Progenitors," the original townsfolk who have been kept in suspended animation this whole time (now up to 10,000 years, all told). Jessup planned to release them all when he deemed it safe to drop the dome. The "exiles" (that is, the "Head," "Clobber" and "Wing" patrols) are descended from some 50 or so technicians Jessup needed to run the show. 

Once the Coordinator is in his chamber (but not yet asleep), he becomes linked to the computer system which controls the entire city. When Wyatt, She-Hulk, Johnny and Murna catch up to Reed and Sue, Murna initiates a mind link between Reed and Jessup (who is revealed to be Murna's father). Jessup dies of a combination of old age and despair, and Reed attempts to shut down the barrier. He succeeds, but the city itself has become "out of synch" with normal time. Reed is able to save the still sleeping Progenitors, but the city won't rejoin reality for another 10,000 years. The citizens of Central City have lost everything; there's just a hole where their city used to be.

With the danger past, Reed turns his attention to the plight of the missing Thing, but that's a story for next issue, the "Silver Anniversary Extravaganza." But first, here's a look at what else in in the second volume of the omnibus. It ends with "The Last Galactus Story" from Epic Illustrated #27-36, What If...? #36, the new pages from Fantastic Four Special Edition that Luke mentioned, the back-up feature from The Thing #7 that I mentioned, stories from What The--?! #2 & 10, plus more than 70 pages of pin-ups, fumetti, covers, articles, spot illustrations, etc

Sorry these posts have devolved to plot summary again. I should be able to rectify that with the next issue.

I see it as completely normal and natural and healthy behavior for an adolescent.

I agree. And she was his babysitter.

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