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April 09, 2007



Definitely a low point in the series. That blow-out you mentioned was strangely NOT double-sized, and featured the wedding of the Torch and Ben Grimm's girl Alicia. So ridiculously out of character that it had to later be undone in an even stupider manner.

And soon enough, FF would star a Thinged-out Ms. Marvel. A terrible span between Byrne and Simonson.

Mark Engblom

That's right....issue #300 was pretty unimpressive by anniversary issue standards. Wasn't Alicia revealed to be some kind of undercover female Skrull? Yoiks. Well, at least they killed off that ridiculous storyline of Johnny marrying Ben's long-time girl.

As for Simonson's brief run, he included the "She-Thing" in most of his stories, so it would be awhile before sanity returned to the F.F. feature. But I agree...the span between Byrne and Simonson was truly a "Wandering in the Wilderness" phase for the F.F.

Bill S.

I realize that the vapors are somehow aimed directly (?) towards Ben Grimm's nose, but how do they affect the Thing, but not Franklin? And the Wizard is seriously creepy.

Mark Engblom

Yeah, the thought occured to me as well...that a knock-out gas strong enough to take out the Thing would probably dissolve Franklin on contact.

The Wizard and the whole child-abduction things is PLENTY creepy, but the impact is diminished by that horrible, horrible layout. Everything going on in the cab is so poorly communicated by the normally on-the-ball John Buscema, it's not apparent what's happening until you methodically sort everything out.

Ugh! It's a failure on so many levels!


Did one of the guys who drew Brand Ecch! do that cover? That is seriously sucko!


Is it John? I thought it might've been Sal.

Still a better artist than this

Mark Engblom

Yeah, the cover is credited to John Buscema...definitely not one of his best. I guess everyone has an "off day", but this is where a strong editor might have been able to coax a better illustration from Buscema...or at the very least not print the one submitted.

Strange to see such a lousy layout coming from the artist who taught us to "Draw Comics the Marvel Way". Yoiks.


Not to be a contrarian, but: I really hated Simonson's run on FF. Loved his Thor! Hated his FF. To make matters worse, one of my favourite FF runs ever is the Englehart/Buscema/Pollard/Sinnott one that featured that selfsame She-Thing no one here seems to like. As for Byrne, though it took a while for the snowball to...well, snowball, I guess...I think he began drifting subtly downhill in FF #251, a couple of years before he had Johnny and Alicia start seeing each other...which I don't blame him for at all, but yes, that was in fact all Byrne's idea. Like everybody else, I didn't like the idea, but it was adventurous, it shook things up, and I think you have to give Byrne this: that he executed it really very well, and it was interesting, and it wasn't a waste of money.

Now as to this issue with the astoundingly boring cover, I'm no Mark Evanier, but I do believe things were in quite a bit of turmoil on the title at the time this quite lame issue came out, in terms of creative staff...I basically just assume they asked Buscema to bash out a cover in a half-hour, and that he probably wasn't given much information about what the story was going to be, because that still had to be bashed out too. Look at it again and I'm sure you'll agree with me: that must've been some insane rush job. That's basically just a sketch rignt there, isn't it? I mean, from John Buscema? Gotta be.

Boy, I'm crazy about the FF too, I'll tellya.

Dan Coyle

IIRC, Roger Stern (the title's writer at the time) was out of favor with the new regime post-Shooter, and is only credited with plotting the issue.

This was Tom DeFalco's first FF story- he scripted it.

Unfortunately, it would be a long, looooooong way from being his last.

Mark Engblom

Thanks for the additional info, Dan!


I never read the issue, but the issue seems kind of creepy to me since it looks to me how a child kidnapping would look like in real life (giving it kind of a real world horror vibe.) I like the way the cover takes a low-key instead of a dynamic approach

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