spoilers ahead

Fantastic Four 210

fantastic four 210 cover

If you're reading this and are not familiar with Marvel's cosmic-level tales, then you're about to get the same introduction as I did so many years ago - through the pages of Fantastic Four 210.

This tale was written by Marv Wolfman before his celebrated run in Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths and illustrated by John Byrne and Joe Sinnott. Byrne will be returning to the FF as both writer and artist for an extended and excellent run. But all that is in the future.

That colorful character in the cover is no less than Galactus the World Eater. He's only one of Marvel's many cosmic entities but he is, in my opinion, the best.

We are thrown immediately to the action in this issue, so a brief backgrounder is in order. A super-powered immortal called the Sphinx has tired of his existence and is looking for death. In order to find out how he can perish, the Sphinx has absorbed the knowledge of one of the most advanced computers in existence - the living computers of Xandar. Once the knowledge was his, the Sphinx didn't want to die anymore - he wanted to destroy the Earth itself. Overwhelmed by the power of the Sphinx, the Fantastic Four came in search of someone who can defeat him : Galactus. To complicate the situation, three of the four - Reed Richards, Sue Richards and Ben Grimm- have been subjected to the Skrull Aging Ray and their increasingly accelerated aging gives them only days of survival and weakens them for this mission.

As I said we jump right into the action. The splash page of the comicbook presents us with a meteor storm hitting the hull of the foursome's ship. They borrowed this mile-long ship from the Xandarian hero Nova and his friends (Diamond Head, Powerhouse etc.). The Thing and the Invisible Woman are doing their best to destroy as many meteors as they can right before the ship goes into hyper-space.

baseball Thing style

The art is exquisite. Just look at this two panels.

exquisite art

Reed Richards has made calculations on the coordinates of Galactus' ship. According to Reed if he makes a mistake, they could be off course by a thousand parsecs. One parsec is equivalent to 19.2 million miles - amazing! Reed, as expected, does NOT make a mistake and they are suddenly in front of their destination.

galactus hq

It's ingenious how Byrne and Sinnott use the Human Torch's flying pattern to give us an idea of the vastness of Galactus' ship. Check out the panels below.

big ship

It is a measure of Reed Richards' obsession with science that given the danger to the Earth, and their rapidly aging bodies, he seriously bemoans the fact that he doesn't have the time to study the wonders inside the ship. After a while they happen upon Galactus himself - and the most striking panel in the whole comic. This really took my breath away when I first saw it.


But the Fantastic Four can't simply talk to Galactus; apparently, even super-powered humans are less than gnats to him. Nothing gets his attention. Not Johnny's nova blast or Ben's strength. It is Reed who figures things out yet again as he instructs the others to let go of every creature in Galactus' menagerie. They have his attention now, but the awesome Galactus cares not for Earth until Reed does something that seems very foolish

danger earth

Years ago, during Galactus' first attack on Earth, the Fantastic Four managed to prevent him from consuming our world with the help of Galactus' then-herald the Silver Surfer. Reed used a devastating weapon called the Ultimate Nullifier to extract an oath of protection from Galactus - an oath that would prevent the World Eater from ever victimizing the Earth. An oath that he is rescinding in exchange for Galactus taking a hand on stopping the Sphinx. The question on my mind, and apparently on Sue's, is how will they withstand Galactus a second time?

But Galactus has the upper hand in these negotiations and he knows it. So aside from getting the oath rescinded he also manages to send the four on a mission - a mission which will give him an new herald: the terrible Terrax the Tamer!

Get your copy here .


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Fantastic Four 247

Cover Date : Oct 1982 | Writer and Artist : John Byrne
Letterer : Jim Novak | Colorist : Glynis Wein
Editor : Jim Salicrup | Editor-In-Chief : Jim Shooter

John Byrne's six-year run on the Fantastic Four is celebrated. This is one of the issues from that run.

For those coming into this issue with no knowledge of Doctor Doom and his previous encounters with the Fantastic Four, here's a brief backgrounder: Many years before, Doctor Doom wrested control of a small, Eastern European country called Latveria. Doom built it up into a technological powerhouse. Zorba, the brother of the previous ruler, incited a rebellion, and, with the aid of the Fantastic Four, succeeded in throwing out Doom. Zorba turned out to be despotic, just like Doom. But, unlike Doom, Zorba also turned out to be incompetent. Latveria began to degenerate.

At this point, Doom return's to reclaim kingship of his shattered land.

He's not exactly unwelcome as this panel will show.

a villager hugs dr. doom

I love this next panel, Doom is holding the body of a woman he has promised to protect. One of his robots, now under Zorba's control,  shot the girl right from under him. After reading this panel you just know Doom is going to kick some serious ass.

dr. doom holds a dead villager and warns those who harmed her

And here's the power of Doc Doom on display.

dr. doom blasts a robot

I'm not too crazy about John Byrnes drawing of Reed and Sue (I'm not saying it's bad - John Byrne does not know how to do a bad drawing), but his rendition of the Thing is awesome. Check this out.

the thing pushes the earth while fighting some robots

And this.

the thing punches out some doom bots

This is another great scene between a townsman called Josef and Doom. The people of Latveria are not convinced that Doom has truly returned,  since he was reported as having perished, but, apparently, Doom is validated by how he carries himself. Underneath that mask, Doom is grotesque, but not in this issue. In this issue he's the handsomest man in town.

villagers expresses happiness at dr. doom's return enlarge

Comic books should be simple. If we had a comic called the Fantastic Four we should see each of the four in awesome action against a bunch of baddies. Oh yes!

The Invisible Girl.

invisible woman creates a force sphere inside a doom bot

Mr. Fantastic.

mr. fantastic tosses some doom bots around

The Human Torch.

the human torch blasts some doom bots

The Thing. Look how tough he is.

the thing gets hit by a doom bot blast but is unaffected

Here's another scene that show's the special bond between Doom and his people. Boris is his butler; faithful to Doom even under torture.

dr. doom finds his faithful servant, josef, and carries him out of the dungeons

Notice how the immensity of the castle is rendered magnificently by Byrne.

the fantastic four goes through a hall of doom's castle enlarge

Up in the castle, smoke billowing from the ravaged City. Doom prepares to take out Zorba. I just love the composition of this panel, the mood is spot on.

dr. doom about to throw zorba from the parapet enlarge


This story is tremendously satisfying taken as a single issue. The pacing and the ending is truly wonderful. The personality and history of Doctor Doom is the focus here and it really cements him as a major villain in the Marvel Universe - only a few can stand beside him, Magneto and the Kingpin come to mind. If you are only going to read one issue of the Fantastic Four this should be it.

Get your copy here .

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