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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #107

This is the one-hundredth and seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

This is a special theme week to coincide with this week’s release of The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer! Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer Urban Legends!!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Fantastic Four were going to wear masks originally.

STATUS: True

As I mentioned in a previous Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment earlier this year, when the Fantastic Four first began, they were intentionally depicted without costumes.

With issue #3, though, Marvel decided to change that, and introduced the Fantastic Four costumes that we all know and love.

But could you believe that the costumes we all know and love were not their ORIGINAL costumes?

Thanks to the excellent research skills of comic historian Greg Theakston in the pages of his Pure Images #2, we can now see the original Fantastic Four costumes, complete with a different chest logo and, of all things, MASKS!!

Check out the original art and the corrected art that was published in Fantastic Four #3!

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FF3BWtwo240.jpg

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FF3BWthree240.jpg

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Pretty fantastic, huh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart came up with an interesting plot to protest his exit from the Fantastic Four.

STATUS: True

As I addressed in an Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed installment awhile back, Steve Englehart was not pleased with his departure from the Fantastic Four, but more importantly, he was not pleased with the editorial decisions of Marvel.

Specifically, he took issue with what he found to be essentially arsticially stripmining the works of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. During Englehart’s run on the Fantastic Four, he tried to move the characters in a different direction than the classic Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, particularly with the roster of the team – having Ms. Marvel and Crystal take the places of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman.

Already, there had been interruptions with his storylines, but when Englehart was told that he basically had to return Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman to the team, Englehart balked, and as I mentioned before, went by the alias “John Harkness” for the remainder of his tenure on his book.

His last storyline, though, was a direct protest to editorial.

The Dreamquest Saga involved an alien who trapped the real Fantastic Four in dream-like stasis while having a fake Fantastic Four go about their business on Earth. This Fantastic Four was essentially the 1961 version of the group. Basically, Englehart’s way of saying, “You want to go back to Lee and Kirby? I’ll give you Lee and Kirby…EXACTLY!”

In Fantastic Four #329 (drawn by Rich Buckler), we see examples of how Englehart decided to handle this.

See Mr. Fantastic here…

FantasticFour_v1_329_p09_edited.jpg

Now check out Mr. Fantastic in 1961′s Fantastic Four #1…

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Cute, eh?

Here’s a couple of others…

FantasticFour_v1_329_p10_edited.jpg

Copy of FF001_18_edited.jpg

FantasticFour_v1_329_p23_edited.jpg

FF001_25_edited.jpg

Meanwhile, while in stasis, the members of the Fantastic Four have dreams of different stories. These stories are, more or less, are condensed versions of the stories that Englehart was planning on telling had he not left the book.

Finally, at the end of the comic, after the Fantastic Four have vanquished their clones (and a bunch of superheroes show up to help out, including, specifically, at the end of the issue – Captain America, Doctor Strange and the West Coast Avengers…hmmm…I wonder what they all have in common?), Franklin Richards takes everyone on a trip to California.

Why?

You’ll see…

Copy of Fantastic Four v1 333 (22)_edited.jpg

You have to leave it to Steve Englehart. He certainly knows how to make an exit (and I’ll definitely be sure to feature another notable Englehart exit in a future installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, so be sure to wait for it!).

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart’s Silver Surfer book was designed as the Surfer exploring outer space.

STATUS: False

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From his debut in the classic Galactus trilogy of Fantastic Four #48-50 until the mid-80s, there were two things that were consistent about the Silver Surfer…

1. He was confined to Earth

and

2. He was written by Stan Lee

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However, the 1987 Silver Surfer ongoing series changed both of those things, as it was written by Steve Englehart and in it, the Silver Surfer finally broke free of the barriers placed on him by Galactus, and was able to travel the universe.

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As you might imagine, the idea of a cosmic character exploring the Marvel universe sure sounds like a good hook to launch a new series on, right?

Alas, that was not the original intent of the Silver Surfer ongoing series.

Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter was willing to bend on the second consistent aspect of the Silver Surfer, and let Steve Englehart write the book, but he was not willing to bend on the first – the Surfer was to remain Earth-bound.

Englehart argued the point, but ultimately sat down and wrote an opening to the series with the Surfer still stuck on Earth.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Shooter changed his mind – the Surfer could now surf free through the cosmos! The problem was, Englehart already had the first issue written otherwise.

The end result was to junk that issue, and a new opening arc was made, with a similar enough plot. In fact, it worked out in another way, as while Marshall Rogers was to be the ongoing artist of the series, John Buscema drew the first issue. This way, Rogers could draw the book from the beginning.

However, who the heck wants to junk a comic book drawn by John Buscema featuring one of the characters he was most known for (Buscema drew most of the issues of the Silver Surfer’s first series)?

Not Marvel, so a couple of years later, they published the issue (now out of continuity, as it had been contradicted by various plot points in the Surfer comic) in the pages of Marvel Fanfare…

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Good to see great art not go to waste!!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

57 Comments

The Marvel Fanfare story was reprinted last week in ‘Essential Silver Surfer Volume 2′, for those who want to read it.

Didn’t Ben wear that helmet later when Wolverine took a swipe at his face? It looks familiar.

Yes, he did, joshschr- and when he did, he got it from an exhibit showing what the FF used to look like long ago.

Rohan Williams

June 15, 2007 at 6:45 am

Those were all really interesting, Brian. Too bad the new movie isn’t all that hot, because the FF really deserve to be the stars of a kickass sci-fi/adventure movie (although I did think the first movie was pretty cool).

ok, i give up. what do cap and doc strange and the west coast avengers have in common?

Clyde, they were all characters Englehart had written in the past.

I’m inclined to not be so charitable to Steve Englehart, you know? In my oppinion, almost all of his 1970s work was awesome and classic, just as almost all of his 1980s/1990s work felt lackluster and tired.

His Fantastic Four was atrocious from the beginning, even when Marvel didn’t interfere, at the very start of his run. I believe that what works for the Avengers (the constant change in the roster), doesn’t necessarily work that well for the FF (that really are Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny).

Stories with substitute members in the FF almost never were good. There are exceptions. John Byrne made She-Hulk work pretty well, and I’ve heard that the current line-up with Black Panther and Ororo is interesting too, but…

Crystal and Sharon Ventura/She-Thing? They’re not exactly Marvel’s most interesting characters, and the way Englehart handled them didn’t make it any better. And I still remember Englehart’s long, meandering, boring, travelogue story that involved the Mole Man, the Beyonder, the Cat-People, Dr. Demonicus, Ka-Zar… Jesus! That was painful. While today’s no-continuity policy at Marvel can be bad, it’s even worse when a story seems to have been written ONLY to tie disparate knots of continuity, with no real sense of drama whatsoever.

As someone who has read almost the entire run of the Fantastic Four, I have to say Englehart’s run was one of the very worst. Right there with Tom deFalco’s shock-value-of-the-month-schizo-I’m-retro-I’m-kewl-I-don’t-know-what-to-do run, and Doug Moench’s B-Movie Horror run.

Somebody’s been going to Steve Englehart’s website….

Actually, I went there yesterday myself for the first time, spurred on by my rereading his classic Batman material. What a strange coincidence.

Oh, and Clyde: Cap, Doc and the WCA are all characters that Englehart wrote for extended periods of time.

I loved the real-world reasoning for dropping the masks: namely, there was zero point to them. Sue could turn invisible, Johnny was living flame and Ben was a giant rock monster, which would have meant that Reed was the only one who would consistently be seen in the mask…

Pedro Bouça

June 15, 2007 at 9:29 am

I went with a lot of goodwill to the Englehart FF, after so many years of John Byrne goodness. I’m sorry, that was awful. Remember the arab video creature? I DO!!!

And his “John Harkness” period was even WORSE! How petty of him to take his vengeance on the classic FF #1 (that was the very first time a comic story disgusted me, really!).

Terrible, terrible stuff.

Didn’t like his Silver Surfer either. The idea he used to take the Surfer out of the Earth was atupid (and goes against the dozens of times the Surfer went against Galactus barrier just to be stopped while his surfboard went through…) and Mantis? Is there anyone else besides Englehart who likes Mantis?!?

Even the late, lamented Marshall Rogers did the most uninteresting art of his carrer for that book. Ron Lim was quite an improvement after he left!

And I wouldn’t trust his website too much. Reading it, you may think that Englehart was God’s gift to comics! Man, he might have lots of qualities (his Batman is great!), but modesty is FAR from being one of them.

Sorry about the snark, but I grew up reading John Byrne’s Fantastic Four and Stan Lee’s Silver Surfer (they were published not far from each other in Brazil) and Englehart’s runs soured both series to me. Those are REALLY painful memories!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

I never realized that the helmet Ben grimm wore during the DeFalco/Ryan years was actually an unused design by Kirby. Very interesting.

I do like Engleheart’s work a lot, but his FF was hit or miss for me. There were some issues I liked a lot, and others that I found very underwhelming.

One thing about Engeleheart’s run does stick in my mind after all these years: I did like his take on the Black Panther as a pragmatic politician who would actually consider giving asylum to a tyrant like Doctor Doom if it was in the best interests of Wakanda. At the time I was shocked, and it caused me to realize that T’Challa was something other than just another costumed crimefighter.

An Urban Legends that has bothered me for years, and about which there doesn’t seem to be much info out there. (It dates from an era before the net, and there was much less fan press out there.) I’m hopping you can help me run it down:

The X-MEN vs. AVENGERS mini series, what the heck happened at the end? It was a four issue book, and the first three issues by (I think) Tom DeFalco and Marc Silvestri were great— then in the last issue, totally different creative team, and a hard left turn in the plot and direction. It reads like a last-minute Editorial Change-Up, and it’s a train wreck of an unsatisfying, bewildering ending. Does anybody out there know the story behind the scenes on this?

Ah, that was actually ROGER STERN and Marc Silvestri.

DeFalco and Shooter are mutually credited with the (seemingly) rewritten fourth issue, with Keith Pollard on the pencils.

Jeff Albertson

June 15, 2007 at 10:54 am

Englehart tried to follow the spirit of what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did – something different form the norm – instead of imitating the surface aspects. I consider his run a noble failure – good intentions that didn’t quite work out.

Compared to other creators who tried to bring the book back to the basics, and then slavishly copied art styles, or reset character appearances and personalities, it was a breath of fresh air. And honestly, I get more pleasure out of rereading it than the several years that preceded it.

Using the FF 1 dialogue to tell a different story doesn’t strike me as any worse than copying a previous artists style to tell a flashback (or statting in actual panels, or printing it with big dots to show it’s from an old comic), and it seems a lot more clever.

What does the original Fantastic Four symbol look like, I’m having trouble making it out.

Jeff Albertson

June 15, 2007 at 11:03 am

Chris, I believe the original symbol was two overlapping “F”s in the circle.

Thanks

Thanks, Ben!

Roger’s post confirms there was a switch-up, but I’d still really like to know the whys and wherefores. (And the original plot!)

Anybody out there know? Brian?

Wow, I must really be in the minority here: Two of my favorite runs on FF were Englehart’s and DeFalco’s. That’s probably why I could never get that much into the 4 on a consistent basis: I never cared for Reed Richards. Sue never did anything for me either.

Hey, Pedro, I’m Brazilian too, and I completely agree with your take on Englehart’s Fantastic Four. Hideous stuff (sorry, Jeff Albertson). Byrne’s FF is still the best IMO, right there with Lee/Kirby, though I also enjoyed Walt Simonson’s and Mark Waid’s runs.

I also think Englehart’s Mantis obsession borders on the creepy, but I have to admit I liked Mantis when she was first introduced in the Avengers. It’s just how Englehart always brings her back wherever he goes that turned me off the character. I didn’t read much of Englehart’s Silver Surfer though, but I take your word for it.

And yep, Englehart always sounded very arrogant to me, but then again, I think most comic book writers tend to sound arrogant in a “My-Version-Is-The-Only-Good-Way-Of-Doing-This-Character” sort of thing. But I DO enjoy Englehart’s 70s work very much.

You know, one thing that always amuses me is how John Byrne is still very well-regarded here in Brazil, while in the US he is seen by some as the Antichrist of comics. My own pet theory is that us Brazilians, being distanced from the comic industry and the gossip, tend to judge the creators only by their works, and not by their personalities or the fights they have with other creators.

That Byrne is an arrogant prick in real life, with feuds with almost everybody, is something that never factored into the view we have of him here in Brazil (that and the fact that the Silver Age Superman never had many fans here, and most people here were very accepting of Byrne’s more “human” Superman).

Wow, the FF with masks look a lot like the Incredibles.

And there was a Silver Surfer one-shot in 1982 (predating the ’87 Englehart series) that was plotted by John Byrne and scripted by Stan, so although Stan was technically writing the story, you could make the argument that the “only Stan creates a Surfer title” edict was being eroded at least slightly before that.

It’s too bad Marvel didn’t just let Englehart write the book the way he wanted. That would have made for some great stories.

Flush it all away

June 15, 2007 at 5:01 pm

This one thinks Mantis sucks.

That era of the West Coast Avengers featuring her, the Zodiac, Doctor Druid, etc., were awful.

Was that supposed to be Englehart’s real hair, or is it some kind of dig at Stan’s toupe? The coloring of the beard and the hair are incompatible and it looks really phony — or did Steve just have a bad combover at that point?

If I’m recalling correctly, while not in his own title there were several instances of other writers than Stan writing the Surfer prior to SS v2.

Checking the Grand Comics Database, first up would be Roy Thomas in Sub-Mariner 34-35 in late 1970. Then it looks like Steve Englehart was the second such while the Surfer was appearing in Defenders 2-11 circa 1973. Then in 1975, Len Wein and Roy Thomas wrote him in Fantastic Four. And Marv Wolfman wrote him in ’76 in Tomb of Dracula #50.

It’s commonly accepted fanboy knowledge that J’onn J’onzz is the only “permanent” member of the JLA – he’s the heart of the team, the guy that’s been there for all of it. However, is that true? I remember reading or hearing that Batman, Mr. Lone Wolf himself, has actually had more to do with the JLA over the years than J’onn…

This one thinks Mantis rules, even though Steve Englehart should’ve given her a break once in a while.

From what I recall the ‘edict’ was that no one but Stan could write Silver Surfer as a regular character; the occasional guest appearance was OK.

Love the say you’ve phrased that –

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Englehart came up with an interesting plot…

Rohan Williams

June 16, 2007 at 5:24 am

At least it turned out to be true, Nick!

Rene–I can’t speak for anyone else here in the States, on CBR or otherwise, but I still have tremendous respect for Byrne’s output up thru 92 or so. His Superman and FF stories are still great, and he WAS one of the defining talents of the 80s. However, even without his arrogance and insistence on poking online hornets’ nests, I honestly think that his work over the last 10-12 years has ranged from “rotten” to “ok”; THE ALL-NEW ATOM is my favorite book being published right now, but his art on the first few issues was just poor.

It’s funny; that issue of FF where Engleheart pops up at the end was one of my favorite comics as a kid. I had no idea what the bit with him at the end was about at the time, I just enjoyed the FF vs. FF fight. I’m going to read the whole thing when my complete FF DVD comes in the mail. Sounds interesting.

LOVED the Englehart FF…except where they started re-writing him. Double or triple that for his Silver Surfer.

Dave Sikula — I believe that’s an ostentatiously bad toupee Englehart is wearing in the last panel, as he pretends to be John Harkness and claims it’d take a better writer than him to make sense of the mess Marvel editorial made! Also, Rich Buckler, King of the Swipes (although I personally am a big fan of Buckler’s), illustrates the Clone FF issues.

Ha!

It’s worth re-reading even if you hate Englehart FF, just to see how many vicious digs per square inch he managed to cram in there. Amazing stuff. Really structured. It’s like the Watchmen of “take this job and shove it.”

And I liked Moench’s run.

It’s too late for this installment, of course… but I just stumbled across a recent FF question I had.

I remember reading the “FF: Death in the Family” one-shot that came out before Civil War in 2006, and hearing a lot of talk at the comic book store that Invisible Woman was going to die either before or during CW. Of course, Death in the Family turned out to be a boring one-off story that really didn’t accomplish anything regarding its solicitation, and Reed saved Sue during CW #7.

Was there really ever a plan in place to kill the Invisible Woman?

Going along with what Dave Sikula said about Englehart’s hair- is there a governmental conspiracy about geeky people wearing those horrible shop-teacher eyeglass frames?!? If you work in comics, or for NASA or MicroSoft are you roused from bed in the dead of night by men in black saying, “Good evening, Mr. Anderson. We believe that it would be in your best interest to wear THESE FRAMES!!” What is it? Do they allow you to see aliens like in the movie “They Live?” What?!? *GASP!* *CHOKE!*

Hi Rene & Pedro! Sorry to post-off topic, but since you’re both Brazilian can you confirm / deny that the musical group Information Society is immensely popular in Brazil? They’re a personal fav. You can email me @ sevenzark_7@yahoo.com so as not to distract from the forum. Thanks!!

I always thought it was just, like, a given that Information Society was big in Brazil?

Pedro Bouça

June 22, 2007 at 4:21 am

Don’t know ANYTHING about music, sorry.

Comics are my music! ;-)

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Pedro Bouça

June 22, 2007 at 4:24 am

I remember reading the “FF: Death in the Family” one-shot that came out before Civil War in 2006, and hearing a lot of talk at the comic book store that Invisible Woman was going to die either before or during CW. Of course, Death in the Family turned out to be a boring one-off story that really didn’t accomplish anything regarding its solicitation, and Reed saved Sue during CW #7.

————-

I thought it was a fairly clever story, although not the best FF Karl Kesel has done.

And characters like the original FF members won’t EVER die permanently. The most that can happen is for one of them to get offed so that he won’t be on the book for an extended period of time (like Reed Richards in the 90s), but they are too important characters to die!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Brian,

This is my first comment here, so let me start by saying how much I love your column.

I’m not sure if this would qualify as an urban legend or not, but I’ve been trying to satsify my curiosity about this for a while without much luck.

At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #180, penned by Len Wein, there’s a teaser for the next issue promising the return of the Rocket Racer. Instead, in #181 we get a recap of Spidey’s origin and career so far written by Bill Mantlo. Issue #182 delivered the Rocket Racer as promised, but it also began Marv Wolfman’s run on the book.

According to the Len Wein article on Wikipedia, he had some kind of dispute with Marvel and left to work at DC. My questions are, did this dispute really occur, what was it about & was it the reason for his abrupt departure from ASM. Hopefully the answers to these questions aren’t complete common knowledge; so far my web searching hasn’t turned up anything.

Thanks.

I wouldn’t say that byrne’s was the best ff since stan and jack. does anyone remember the horrible dark phoenix ripp off he did with sue (still not as bad as byrne’s scralet witch in a west coast avengers arc that is also a dark phoenix ripp off, byrne just loved ripping off a colaboration he did with claremont). but without a doubt most of engleharts run was bad. the only exception i can think of was when there was a crossover with peter david’s original run of the hulk and that was only good because the main focus was a fight between the hulk and the thing. as for the silver surfer run he did i actually liked it. sure not as good as stan’s but pretty good.

but they are too important characters to die!

I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason is that everybody has their favorite characters and if they get the chance to write that book, or one associated with it, they’ll resurrect whomever they have to.

It’s not like they let the lower-tier characters rest in peace or anything.

Well, of the 30 or so lower-tier supervillians Scourge offed on its short career, only half-dozen or so have come back (or were replaced by newer versions) since. So, yeah, lots of lower-tier characters DO stay dead!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“I never realized that the helmet Ben grimm wore during the DeFalco/Ryan years was actually an unused design by Kirby.”

Minor nitpick, but the helmet wasn’t entirely unused–the color version of the panel (the one sans masks for Reed & Sue) did appear in FF#3, and Ben wears the helmet in a few more panels before getting rid of it.

So, to paraphrase Miracle Max, it was mostly unused.

While we’re on the subject of Ben’s costume: Almost immediately after tossing aside the helmet, he tears off the top part of his uniform leaving only pants and boots (not unlike the live action movies). In the next issue, he wears shorts and boots, and in FF#5 he finally switches to the shorts-only look we all know and love.

I didn’t know the abandonded Englehart/JBuscema Silver Surfer/Mantis/Mangog issue of Marvel Fanfare was the original first issue of the Silver Surfer on-going. I guess this explains why JBuscema drew Mantis for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition (as it was being published roughly the same time as the Silver Surfer on-going).

It wasn’t until that issue of Marvel Fanfare came out that I saw the splash page with Mantis — in an almost identical pose — and put two-and-two together.

Too bad it didn’t go in that direction (creatively); I would’ve loved to have seen JBuscema on that run… but only if Jack Abel WASN’T inking him!

(BTW Englehart brought freaking Mantis into the Fantastic Four, too. How could he not? That’d be like Jim Starlin doing four issues of Power Pack and NOT having them fight Thanos!)

ParanoidObsessive

November 20, 2008 at 12:56 pm

>>> I loved the real-world reasoning for dropping the masks: namely, there was zero point to them. Sue could turn invisible, Johnny was living flame and Ben was a giant rock monster, which would have meant that Reed was the only one who would consistently be seen in the mask…

Worse than that, if you look at the original art, they’re still calling Reed “Reed” while he’s wearing his mask, so it’s not as if the masks are helping with the whole “secret identity” angle. And, of course, the Thing is somewhat obvious as the Thing, helmet or no!

>>> and Mantis? Is there anyone else besides Englehart who likes Mantis?!?

I actually liked her a great deal on the Silver Surfer run… not so much in the stories that followed. Or the stories that came before, for that matter.

DeFalco’s was by far the worst run on FF, Englehart’a was not a lot better.

i agree JMY that DeFalco’s run was awful on FF. The scipting/plots were terrible and the art by Paul Ryan was lumpy & mushy and off putting. i was horrified when Ryan went to the Flash [my fav at the time] and suffered through about a year or so of him with Waid. Truly awful experience!

Actually, I think I may have preferred (slightly) the Defalco run on the FF to either the Englehart run, or to Chris Claremont’s run on the book.

For the worst, look at the FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED quarterly series that ran alongside DeFalco’s run. That was pretty painful (watching Herb Trimpe, who at least had previously shown a distinctive drawing style, try to be a Rob Liefeld clone? Oww….).

I agree that Englehart’s work when he returned actively to comics in the 1980′s didn’t seem to live up to what he’d done before. It always seemed to me to be a problem in the voice he gave his characters – it usually felt like the characters spent time telling us how they felt, instead of saying things and acting in ways that showed us how they felt. This wasn’t true (or at least didn’t seem true to me, even on later readings) of his 70′s work.

Oh, and, personally, I like Paul Ryan’s artwork. He is (or was, don’t think I’ve seen anything recent by him) a solid storyteller – you don’t wind up wondering what’s happening on the page (like, for instance, with Chris Bachalo) or wondering why everyone is standing around in contorted pin-ups poses (like many of the Image clones popular at the time).

Hilariously enough, the helmet tossed onto poor Ben Grimm’s head there was later recycled for use in the early 1990s when Ben was horribly ‘scarred’ in a fight against Wolverine during the same era. I really don’t know WHY the mask was necessary (he didn’t look that bad), but I now see that it’s an awesome continuity nod… despite still being needlessly silly.

I don’t know what’s wrong with everyone here. I think the Englehart FF is one of the best ever, particularly the rapidly meandering storyline from the Mole Man’s realm through Master Pandemonium-Cat People-Fortisquians-Beyonder. (Don’t know who that Doctor Demonicus was that Rene mentioned. I can’t recall him in the story.) I really think he deserves a lot of credit for coming up with a decent end to the Secret Wars. (Although I’ve heard other people have since brought the Beyonder back, which I think ruins everything.) I do agree that changing Sharon Ventura into the She-Thing was a dumb idea, and I did hate the horrific Arab stereotype that was Fasaud. And the Mantis storyline was pretty weak, but I’ve always attributed that to it being rushed. He had to transfer the stories he had planned for West Coast Avengers into the Fantastic Four AND deal with the Inferno that got forced on all Marvel New York titles at the same time.
I also think his West Coast Avengers was great (much better than what Byrne did immediately afterward), and the Silver Surfer was even better.

And Mantis is one of the greatest characters ever created!!!!!

ParanoidObsessive

September 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

To be fair, Secret Wars already HAD a decent ending. It brought things full circle, tied off all the loose ends, and gave the Beyonder closure. Whether you liked the story or not, it DID end.

The “conclusion” in FF felt like it was a forced and unnecessary epilogue tacked on solely to take yet another shot at Shooter, which to this day is one of the reasons why I think a LOT of the complaints from various artists and writers about his time as EoC is more sour grapes by bitter prima donnas than valid issues. To me, the shots taken by people like Englehart and Byrne don’t make Shooter look bad – they make Englehart and Byrne look like petty jerks. And it’s hard to take complaints from people as being an accurate representation of what happened when those people reveal themselves to be just as bad (if not worse) than the person they’re bashing.

I think Shooter took a lot of crap for things that weren’t necessarily his fault, as well as for some decisions he made that were ABSOLUTELY the right call to make in a given situation (but which hurt the feelings of oversensitive “artists”). I find it telling that what I consider to be Marvel’s greatest period of creative output took place under his watch, and that the product suffered under his successors.

Englehart’s ending to FF took place two years *after* Shooter left, during deFalco’s tenure.

Steve created two of the best series in the Ultraverse – The Night Man and The Strangers.Night Man got bastardized by Black September; The Strangers are in limbo with three unpublished issues.

His West Coast Avengers was excellent, I was a latecomer to the series, but the charm it held touched my heart. The Lost-In-Space-Time arc continues to be the best time-travel story ever done. It added to Roger Stern’s Doctor Strange adventure with the FF without interfering a whit. The Phantom Rider/Mockingbird story made for some spooky business; the Zodiac issues made way for the all-LMD replacements and explained the Zodiac Key and Jacob Fury. The return of the Phantom Rider was equally as frightening, and the trip to Eastern Europe gave us Kristoff Doom having some measure of vengeance against Pietro Maximoff, Henry Pym’s victory against his teammates and over the Voice of Doom, and the rescue of Maria Trovaya.

Now, all of that having been said…I had never read the issue of the FF where Quicksilver and Kristoff were at odds, until recently. That was FF #305, and though it was barely a full page, you knew that things were going to a head if they ever met under different circumstances.

Fasaud was an easily forgettable adversary – I think even Steve will agree with that assessment.

Then came FF #310. Oh, dear.

I thought that #319 was less about trashing the Beyonder and more about repairing the incomplete repair job done to Doctor Doom; at any rate, one can’t dislike a comic that has RALF! as a sound effect!

I only wish that Ron Lim had come one issue early, so that #320 could have looked as good as #321.

The Inferno issues actually were the best of any of the Inferno stories.

Then came the editorial edict – Reed and Sue must return. Well, considering he knew that the end was near, he did a creditable job in finishing out his storylines. Most impressive were #330 and #332. FF #330 showed what could’ve occurred with two Dooms running rampant – one Doom is more than enough. FF #332 slyly inferred that, unless Franklin actively interfered in Ben and Alicia’s relationship that the Johnny/Alicia marriage never should have occurred, something that Tom DeFalco took to the next level, and sowed the seeds for Secret Invasion.

FF #333 finished off things nicely and cleared the way for Walt to do his magic. I must say, though, that “John Harkness” must have a penchant for running around with Tribbles glued to his head, because that thing cannot be any growth of human hair, by any means.

Actually, if you re-read FF #305, you’ll bear witness to a talk between Franklin, Sue and Reed, where Franklin simply thinks that, if Alicia is now with Johnny, why can’t Ben have Crystal to love? I thought that was really thought-provoking…and maybe Franklin did have something to do with what happened at the end of FF #245.

Side note::
As many FF fans will no doubt recall, The Thing went back to wearing that helmet for a while during the 90s, when he was scarred by Wolverine.

Anthony Durrant

August 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

That happened in a Captain Battle story in the Golden Age as well: it was printed in the first issue of the CAPTAIN BATTLE comic and depicts the good Captain as having a secret identity even though he never wore a mask in any of his appearances. Even a good friend he rescues in the story doesn’t recognize him, which is strange, because he should have done so. He even has a silly excuse to hide his other identity – he says he has fallen asleep during the showing of a movie! This was straightforward at the time, and yet:

1. As mentioned above, Captain Battle didn’t wear a mask.

2. He was very distinctive in appearance, being a tall muscular man with dark hair and a patch over one eye; evidently he was based on the aviator Wally Post, who had died some years earlier.

3. He is shown NOT using a secret identity in every other Captain Battle story I could find.

4. He is referred to as Captain Battle in both identities.

Would you please tell me what you think of all this? Could the Captain Battle story, which was the second in the issue, have been intended for another hero?

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