Monday, June 11, 2007

FANTASTIC FOUR #243 Marvel Comics, 1982

Look at that. Look at that frickin' cover. The cover alone is worth the price of the comic - such is its awesomeness.

I refer of course to John Byrne's awesome cover to Fantastic Four #243, which is in itself an awesome, awesome comic book.

There, I just used up my annual allotment of the word "awesome" and it's only June. From this point forward I shall not use the word "awesome" in a colloquial way. Actually, from this point forward, because I just said "awesome" in the last sentence. Damn it! No more "@wesome" from now on. Starting now.

What is the comic about? Look at the frickin' cover, it's about a bunch of heroes attacking frickin' Galactus, the Eater of Earths! 'Nuff said, pilgrim!

In the comic, the Fantastic Four and friends do indeed battle Galactus, that giant purple planet eater who wanders the cosmos destroying random planets. John Byrne wrote and drew this intergalactic beat down wherein the FF and select Avengers battle a giant Galactus on the streets of New York City.

Oh, did I mention --?


I'm not even going to explain that, I'm just going to let you trip out.

There's a great fight between a severely weakened Galactus and all the heroes who were stuck in Manhattan when it went spacebound in a big way. Thor damn near takes Galactus's head clean off with a shot from that kooky hammer of his. Behold:

Even when he's not at the top of his game, Galactus is still more than a match for a handful of heroes. When shit goes wrong, sometime you gotta bring in Dr. Strange to fix things. Hey, it works for Brian Bendis! Ba-dum dum! Byrne draws a cool neo-Ditko version of Dr. Strange in this issue.

Anyway, the Sorceror Supreme steps up to bat and just takes Galactus out with a Dio salute:

After Reed and The Thing take out a staggered Galactus with a crazy slingshot move, Dr. Strange smugly explains that he cast a spell that showed Galactus his greatest fear and he lost his shit. What did Dr. Strange show Galactus that freaked him out so much? What is the greatest fear of the Chower of Worlds? The Borg? Sharks? Comets? Mine would be watching the 1993 season of Boy Meets World over and over and over while dingos endlessly eat my innards.

Of course, the heroes prevail over Galactus, but wait. He's sick. Maybe he's got a thorn in his paw or something that's been making him grouchy. Aww, he needs our help...

Save Galactus?!?!! Wha-HUH?!! That's 100% old school Reed Richards right there.
The classic model of Reed Richards (depicted here) is a personality based on relentless curiousity and moral absolutism - something we haven't seen a lot of in some recent appearances of the character like Civil War. Here, Reed sees it as his moral duty is to save Galactus, even if it is inconvenient or inexpedient - and it's a decision that will cost him. That's the Reed Richards I dig.

The great thing about this issue and Byrne's FF run in general is the affection/reverance Byrne has for the real classic Lee/Kirby comics. Plus, the art was tight. Growing up, Byrne's work during this period really defined superhero comics for me - I just ate his stuff up, and I think it holds up remarkably well today.

This comic has the versions of Reed Richards and John Byrne that I most dig - I can pretend that the other stuff doesn't exist as long as I have comics like Fantastic Four #243. Contented sigh.


Woody! said...

Yeah, Byrne was the bee's knees for me growing up. It's kinda sad to see where he is now compared to the boxes and boxes of great comics he produced back in the day.

Jason Langlois said...

Of note, Captain America agrees with Reed's decision - because no matter what kind of threat Galactus is, he's still a living being.

That's a Captain America I can get behind.

(As opposed to the one who gave up because they knocked down a building... )

Austin Gorton said...

Reed saves Galactus because it's the right thing to do, right then. And he'll face the consequences of letting (helping!) him live when the time comes.

A far cry from the Reed of today, who perpetuates morally gray (at best) actions because at some point in the future, maybe, it'll all be worth it.

PS I miss that Byrne...

Dan said...

"He's a living being, so we must save his life." So Captain America is a vegan?

Arkonbey said...

I only have this in the Trial of Galactus TPB, but I still love it. Byrne was always one of the greats.

Have you seen this:

Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed! said...

I'm a huge fan of your blog, and have been for a while, but yous seem to have made a typo. You meant "Dio salute" right?

Anonymous said...

Galactus' greatest fear? Obvious, when you think about it for a moment..."Wait, the Golden Oldie story wasn't a dream?!?"

Aunt May, Herald of Galactus. Better than Civil War any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Lol, go waynas!! Dio salute all the way \-/

David Campbell said...

Wanyas, I will change it immediately. Thank you.

Andres Salazar said...

reei bought a bunbch of Brynes FF just a while ago at a dollar bin.

I love these books!!

Unknown said...

OMG! Last weekend, I visited my parents who are kindly storing the numerous boxes of comics my tiny apartment won't hold (and *ahem* my girlfriend don't particularly want taking up space). But I did take back with me several of my favorites that I hadn't read in a while

Last night, I just re-read FF #251-#256 - Byrne's terrific Negative Zone story where:

1) You get four fabulous throwback self-contained sci-fi stories better than just about anything ST:TNG ever produced

2) Reed gets his brain sucked out of his body, then totally pwns teh creature who did it.

3) Annihilus traps the FF in the Zone, tries to destroy both universes, and nearly kills Alicia and Franklin stringing them up from the rafters of the Baxter Building (whose image totally haunted me as a kid)

4) Byrne redesigns the FF's classic costumes in an incredibly clever way

Simply awesome - love to see you do a "Byrne week" sometime.

Nik said...

This comic utterly blew my mind at age 11 and continues to be one of the best I've read in my mind... Awesome stuff.

Anonymous said...

This was a good story, but I was a little disappointed with the follow-up. Byrne sets up a thorny moral dilemma here: Is it right to save Galactus, when you KNOW he's just going to turn around and kill a few billion people the next time he's got the munchies? But instead of playing that idea out, he has Eternity show up and explain that Galactus has to exist in order for the universe to keep functioning (or something like that). Basically side-stepping the moral issue and letting Reed off the hook. It felt like kind of a cop-out.

Evan Hanson said...

I love the next issue where Thor give Galactus a jump start with his hammer. Now that's a comic book. Isn't that the same issue he made Frankie Raye his new herald?

Derek said...

I like Boy Meets World...I even have it on DVD.

Vaklam said...

Agreed! #243 is in my top 3 favorite FF issues and my top 10 of any comic.

Much love for the cover.

Siskoid said...

I used to Byrne with a fever too! FF, Alpha Flight, She-Hulk, his Superman revamp, Next Men...

A combination of us both getting older killed the relationship though. Wonder Woman was the "it's not me, it's you" conversation, if I remember correctly.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this piece of @wesomeness?

Click me I'm an @wesome toy!

Anonymous said...

Galactus greatest fear?

Obviously, being turned into a giant storm cloud. What else would a god fear?

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I'm the lone dissenter here.

I found the Byrne FFs to be incredibly uneven. Some were awesome -- like the first one with Diablo, or the one right after that with the Torch solo. But some... just sucked.

There were stories where nothing happened, early examples of decompression before anyone knew it had a name.

There were stories where Byrne messed with the characters for no good reason. Like having Alicia hook up with Johnny... that just made no damn sense.

There were the stories that crossed the line from "homage" to "ripoff". Remember 'The Minds of Mandragora'? That was a Dr. Who story. He just replaced the Doctor with Reed Richards. Even kept chunks of dialogue. Then said it was a homage. Um... unclear on the concept, Uncle John.

Then he'd turn around and give us a crackler of a story like the Reed vs. Dr. Octopus issue. That was great, right down to the black-bordered final panel.

But then he'd turn around and deliver some utterly forgettable junk story that sprawled over two or three issues without... well, anything.

There's a broad consensus that Byrne used to be ****ing brilliant, but became pretty worthless over time. I agree with that consensus; and further, I think his FF run shows both the briliance and the beginning of the rot.

For goodness' sake: he gave Sue Storm a mullet. You know something wasn't right there.

Doug M.

JonHendry said...

Today's Reed Richards would propose to use Galactus' body the way the Brood use those giant space whales.

"Call Wolverine. We need someone to carve out living quarters and a command center. Johnny, I'm putting you in Galactus' spleen."

Anonymous said...

Ah, heroes acting like the good guys, and a Ditkoesque Doc Strange making Galactus scream like a girl. Those were the days...

Anonymous said...

That scene where Galactus puts Manhattan in space remind anybody of the 1960s Spidey cartoon (the eerie season where he fought those surreal villains) and that evil Magneto-lookin' guy who took over some nuke plant and used its energy to float Manhattan in the atmosphere?