Rereading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The last two issues have piled on the cliffhangers, and in issue #259, we start dealing with them. To recap: Dr. Doom gave Tyros (formerly Terrax) the power cosmic and sent him a quest to kill the FF. But what Tyros doesn’t know is that the power cosmic is killing him. Further, what no one yet knows is that Reed disappeared without a trace while visiting Avengers mansion. Got all that?
We begin with Sue in disguise as her new secret identity, “Susan Benjamin,” looking at a home in Belle Port, Conn., as possible home for her and Reed to raise Franklin in a normal setting. We get four whole pages of her walking through the house with two neighbors, kindly old Martha Winslow and would-be teen babysitter Katie Dwyer. Although it’s never actually said, it’s clear from the dialogue that this is going to be Reed and Sue’s new home. (Reed has apparently left all home-buying decisions entirely up to Sue.
Cut to New York City, where Ben is returning from various adventures in his Thing solo series. He’s in an NYC taxi cab when Tyros attacks. Fighting! Tryos uses his Earthbender-style powers to throw rocks and dirt at Ben, while riding on a wave of rubble. Ben counters by tossing cars at Tyros and wrapping him up in chunks of metal, but Tyros escapes. The fight takes them to a supermarket, where Ben is concerned about civilians being hurt. Tyros has no such concerns, and throws Ben into the store. (This supermarket is supposed to be in New York City, but it’s drawn like we’re still in the suburbs.
In another part of the city, Johnny is hanging out in his new loft apartment, using his fire powers to kill cockroaches. He gets a visit from Sharon Shelleck, his girlfriend Julie’s roommate. After some small talk, Sharon makes her move, planting a kiss on Johnny. In a case of perfect timing, Johnny sees the “4” emergency flare in the sky. He flies away from Sharon, and toward the action.
Then it’s back to Sue, returning to New York in the Fantasticar. A huge spaceship emerges from behind a cloud and swallows the Fantasticar whole. Inside, Sue immediately recognizes this as Dr. Doom’s technology. Doom shows up and actually punches Sue in the face. (Dang!) Knowing this is against Doom’s personal code, Sue figures this is Doombot and she destroys it with her force fields. The real Dr. Doom then speaks to Sue via some sort of floating globe, and shows her Tyros beating the crap out of Ben and Johnny. Doom gives Sue a choice — either stay there and fight him, or go help her teammates. She says “Curse you, Doom!” and leaps out of the ship to save Ben and Johnny.
Then, in Earth’s orbit, we see the Silver Surfer hanging out on an asteroid. He spots a “matter transferal beam” from space striking New York City, so he sets out to investigate. To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Not only does Reed not appear in this issue, but his abduction isn’t even mentioned. If someone hadn’t read issue #257, they’d have no idea anything was amiss.
Fade out: Like any good superhero, Sue wears her FF uniform under her regular clothes. Instead of changing, she merely turns the outer layers of her clothes invisible until all we see is the uniform. This issue also drops several reminders that Sue is pregnant.
Clobberin’ time: The reason why Ben is returning to New York is because he had just been in the southern U. S. in The Thing #3, dealing with Lucas, a creepy mutant child. Lockjaw teleported Lucas to the moon, leaving Ben on Earth and forcing him to fly commercial.
Flame on: Johnny at first rejects Sharon’s advance, calling her a “nice kid.” She responds by saying he doesn’t know Julie as well as he thinks. So much drama!
Commercial break: Unscramble the fun!
Trivia time: Reed and Sue’s new house is allegedly based on the house writer-artist John Byrne was living in at the time.
Byrne later re-used this cover design for the first issue of DC’s Legends crossover in 1986.
Look closely — one of the items on sale at the supermarket is “Fisk Potato Chips.” I really hope that’s a reference to the Kingpin, and some secret scheme of his.
Fantastic or frightful? Again, I feel that this is the best arc of John Byrne’s legendary run on the comic. The action is terrific, as you get a sense that Ben and Tyros are evenly matched. The dialogue is even better, with Sue proving herself as the ultimate badass when she doesn’t put up with any of Dr. Doom’s crap.
Next week: Death from above.
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