Reviews of Old Comics: Fantastic Four #265

Fantastic Four #265

April 1984

fantfour265-00Sitting on my computer desktop are two pages from an early issue of Sensational She-Hulk. I won’t saw which issue they’re from, since I plan on making that a review very soon. In the set-up for that review, I figured I should go to the moment that I realized her potential, when she joined the Fantastic Four.

SYNOPSIS:

The Trapster parachutes onto the roof of the Baxter Building, in an attempt to prove himself by taking out the Fantastic Four on his own. From his point of view we see the Baxter Building layout as he descends through the levels of the Fantastic Four’s headquarters, oblivious to the fact that the building’s computer defenses are tracking him keeping him from sensitive areas and jamming his paste gun.

As he enters the residential level, he realizes that the Fantastic Four aren’t home and he’s being beaten by an empty building. Spooked by Franklin’s caretaker robot, he trips on one of Franklin’s toys, barely making his way to the elevator to the lobby, where he’s defeated by their android receptionist Roberta, who calls the police to come pick him up.

A very pregnant Susan Richards is staying at Avengers Mansion while the rest of the Fantastic Four and many of the Avengers are missing after investigating a large structure that appeared in Central Park and then vanished. She goes for a walk with her son Franklin and Ben Grimm’s girlfriend Alicia Masters, sharing concerns with Hawkeye’s new wife, Mockingbird. As night starts to fall, Sue sees a similar light to the one that signified the heroes’ vanishing a week before. She turns invisible and investigates, seeing many of the heroes returning across the meadow, before witnessing Reed Richards and the Human Torch appearing with She-Hulk in a modified Fantastic Four costume.

She reunites with her husband as Alicia and Franklin come onto the scene, and just as the Torch is about to give Alicia sad news regarding why the Thing is not with them, a massive burst of hard radiation sends Sue Richards to the ground. The radiation is coming from the baby she’s carrying. Being more resilient to radiation, She-Hulk volunteers to carry her to the hospital as the Torch flies ahead to alert them that they’re coming. As he flies off, the Torch worries since this is nothing like the trouble she had when her son Franklin was born.

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REVIEW:

The first story is very light-hearted and shows how much the Fantastic Four have evolved past the various gimmick-laden villains that use to trouble them. The Trapster comes across as a small-time criminal with delusions of grandeur, and the events of this small story stayed with the character for decades. It’s light, but demonstrates where humor can be placed in a super-hero stories without compromising the integrity of the characters.

The second story is a little darker, serving to show where the Fantastic Four will be taken following the events of Marvel Super-Heroes: Secret Wars. She-Hulk taking Ben Grimm’s place was not explained here, and never truly was if my memory serves, but in the year it took the Secret Wars limited series to be published, she came into her role within the team quite well. In this story, she jumps at the opportunity to rush Sue to the hospital despite barely knowing her, and being on the team for minutes. It’s those two panels that demonstrated that she would work exceptionally well and not be a team-member put on the team for a couple of issues until the core member comes back.

John Byrne does a great job of demonstrating the mundane elements of Susan Richards’ world, and making her every bit as recognizable out of costume as in. His method of drawing her invisible is one of the best of the pre-Photoshop era, surpassed possibly only by how Keith Giffen would depict Invisible Kid partially visible over in Legion of Super-Heroes, but given how poorly that character would be rendered when fully invisible, I’ll take Byrne’s method any day until Photoshop starts being used.

This issue focuses on the Fantastic Four as a family, and everything in it carries that through, all the while firmly ingraining them into the fabric of the Marvel Universe.

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NOTES:

This issue has been collected in the Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Vol. 2 (ISBN 0785185437) and Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne Vol. 4 (ISBN 0785117105). In searching for it in bargain bins, expect to be disappointed, but you’re not facing an impossible task, especially for a reading copy. For a Near Mint copy, be prepared to pay up to ten dollars, but I would recommend not paying more than five bucks for a copy.

FINAL RATING: 8.5 (out of a possible 10)

You can’t go wrong collecting John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four and following it up with his first run on Sensational She-Hulk. It just seems like Byrne was getting into a good place as a comic book creator.