Fantastic Friday: Hark the herald

Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Writer-artist John Byrne’s three-part Galactus epic concludes with a permanent change to one of the supporting characters.

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This one begins with Frankie Raye’s roommate Julie Angel, working out in her apartment while wearing shockingly slutty workout gear. This outfit is so revealing, she might as well be in the buff.  A caption tells us that a week has passed since the fight with Galactus last issue. There’s a knock at the door. It’s Johnny, who says Frankie is gone. He then collapses from exhaustion right in front of her. Julie does what she can to nurse Johnny back to health, and Reed and Sue show up. Reed tells her what happened.

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We then flash back to the end of the last issue, where the FF and various other Marvel heroes gathered around a weakened, comatose Galactus. Reed says Galactus is dying and they must save him. Iron Man argues against this, saying they’ll end up back where they started, while Captain America, Reed, and Thor agree that they can’t just sit by and let a living being die. Reed remembers that Terrax said something about Galactus living off of artificial energies inside his ship, and he forms a plan.

Reed sends Iron Man off to acquire some tech from Tony Stark, not knowing (or not letting on that he knows) that Tony is Iron Man. Only one hour later (!) Reed has constructed a giant machine around the still-unconscious Galactus. Thor powers the device with lightning from his hammer, and Galactus is revived.

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Galactus asks why Reed saved him, and Reed promises an “acceptable end” to their conflict. He leads Galactus back to the Baxter Building, where he promises to find uninhabited planets that Galactus can feed from. This could satisfy Galactus’ hunger without killing anyone. Galactus reads Reed’s mind and deduces that the planets are too far away, and he must devour the Earth now. That’s when Frankie Raye steps in, saying she can help.

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Frankie volunteers to be Galactus’ new herald, finding planets for him. Reed says it’ll only be a matter of time before she leads him to an inhabited planet, and she argues that “a few less bug-eyed monsters” are nothing compared to life among the stars. Galactus says he doesn’t normally choose heralds with noble purposes, but sees something in Frankie. Despite Reed and Johnny’s protests, Galactus imbues Frankie with the Power Cosmic, transforming her into a new, golden form.

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Saying she’s now free, Frankie flies away, up into the sky and out into space — something she tried and failed to do back in issue #238.  Johnny tries to follow, but his flame burns out in the upper atmosphere and he falls back to Earth. At the Baxter Building, Galactus thanks Reed. He swears never to come after the Earth again, and he even calls Reed a friend. He disappears, and the FF take off in search of Johnny. That brings us back to Julie’s apartment. Johnny mopes, saying every woman he’s ever loved gets taken from him. Julie says she’s there for him if he ever needs a shoulder to cry on.

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The issue ends with one prologue (spelled “prolog”) in which Reed and Tony Stark are overseeing rebuilding the Baxter Building.  Collins, the obnoxious landlord, start’s raising a fuss, and Reed shuts him up by handing him a check. “I just bought the Baxter Building,” Reed says. The second prologue has Franklin left alone with a Rubik’s Cube (it’s the ‘80s!) while being babysat. He uses his reemerging powers to solve the cube. He uses them again to make H.E.R.B.I.E.’s head explode. Freakin’ H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot.

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To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed states he sold the Baxter Building to Collins way back in issue #9, during the bankruptcy story. He further explains he wrote in an option to buy the building back as part of that agreement.

Fade out: In the ending segments, Sue takes off because she’s being interviewed on TV by “Barbara Walker.”

Clobberin’ time: Ben has no problem tearing up more of the Baxter Building so Reed and Galactus can speak, figuring that a little bit more damage won’t matter.

Flame on: Johnny accidentally burns Reed when he takes off after Frankie, but Reed isn’t hurt. We’re given a reminder that the FF uniforms are fireproof, just in case something like this happens.

Fantastic fifth wheel: This ends Frankie Raye’s run as an alternate member of the team. Although this is where she transforms into Nova, she’s not actually called Nova in this issue.

Four and a half: The ending makes no attempt to be subtle about Franklin’s powers returning, setting up the next issue. Franklin has a Muppets poster on his bedroom wall.

Commercial break: Read the fine print, kids. You’re not getting a go-kart when you send away for this, just the plans and instructions.

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Trivia time: Frankie/Nova will go on to be Galactus’ herald from this point (1982), to the mid-nineties. After the Silver Surfer, she’s the most well-known herald of Galactus. She eventually becomes a main character in the ‘90s Silver Surfer comic, romances Firelord, and briefly joins the Fearless Defenders. Before that, we’ll be encountering her a few more times during John Byrne’s run.

Fantastic or frightful? If you’ve been following this blog regularly, you can probably tell I’m a big fan of Frankie Raye. On this re-read, it’s interesting to see how her transformation in this issue has been foreshadowed consistently ever since Byrne took over the book. Similarly, this issue seems to exist only to set up future storylines, but there are some nice character moments and the art really shines.

Next week: Hey, Rocky!

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Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.

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About Mac McEntire

Author of CINE HIGH. amazon.com/dp/B00859NDJ8
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