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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Johnny Married Alicia?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today, we examine Johnny Storm’s ersatz marriage to Alicia Masters…


Okay, so the Thing and Alicia Masters were an item for some time, although they ran hot and cold over the years. During Secret Wars, though, the Thing is given an opportunity to stay behind on the alien world that the heroes were drawn to – a world where he could turn back and forth from Ben Grimm to the Thing at will.

So Reed and Johnny return to Earth (Sue was pregnant, so she was left behind) with the She-Hulk agreeing to take the Thing’s place on the team.

In #269, Johnny bumps into Alicia…

The next issue, they spend some more time together…

In #274, Reed sees the couple together…

and the next issue, we learn that the two spent the night together…

From this point on, they are officially a couple and finally, in #300 they get married…

57 issues later, the Puppet Master contacts the Thing…

And things get crazy, as the Thing tears through the FF’s headquarters trying to find Alicia…

The next issue reveals the truth…

The baby was an abandoned plot, as well (but not forsaken! That’s the trick to a lot of these stories. A whole bunch of plots have been abandoned – not so many have specifically been forsaken).

They rescue the real Alicia and she has gone on to be a supporting cast member in a couple of different books (including being Silver Surfer’s girlfriend for awhile).


The ‘baby’, turned out to be some kind of Skrull failsafe weapon.

Lyja gave birth to an ‘egg’ which then hatched into large tenticled monster.

While in the hospital giving ‘birth’ Lyja had to become somewhat liquid, so the ‘baby/egg’ could emerge, and by doing so, she also lost the implant device that gave her the ‘laser-fists’.

SO THIS was the inspiration for SECRET INVASION…it’s funny how cyclical Marvel universes are (and not in a Sheeda way).


I always forget just how good an artist Paul Ryan is. We need a FF visionaries compilation for those De Falco issues. I guess I never like the Jonnny-Alicia are an item plot. Alicia belongs with the Thing.

“General Kalamari, you’ve been chosen to be battered in tempura, deep fried to golden-brown perfection, and dipped in a lemon-caper mayonnaise.”

Chaim Mattis Keller

March 4, 2012 at 3:54 am

This was when I stopped reading Fantastic Four forever – when they couldn’t come up with something better for a 30th anniversary issue than a re-cycled Legion of Super-Heroes plot.

And in months to come, now that it has been ret-conned, Mockingbird and many other Marvel characters would undergo the same type of abduction and replacement.

Skrull politics, where the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing, and yet come up with the same ideas for infiltration and invasion.

I don’t know what the problem was, and why they had to reverse the marriage. I guess character development for Johnny, Alicia and Ben isn’t as important as reverting to the status quo.

This was one the few ideas from the Byrne-Era FF that I never liked. Ben and Alicia’s romance had always been one of the most inspiring in comics. But here they broke them up just to have a romantic triangle subplot? Even if we accept that it wasn’t the real Alicia, the fact remains that Johnny had a relationship with someone he believed to be his best friend’s girlfriend while he was away in another world. And even *slept with her!* Couldn’t he wait until Ben came back, or tried to talk to him first? What an ass!

And let’s not forget the OTHER side of this wacko plot- that Ben himself was also cheating on her (sort of) while on Battleworld with a woman warrior who turned out to be… just an idealized version of Alicia (Battleworld grants your wishes, which is why Ben could change into a human there) and who ceased to exist in the end. That’s what makes him come back to Earth, only to (after dealing with Johnny and ‘Alicia’) go on to hook up with… Sharon Carter, a real woman who JUST HAPPENED to look like his imaginary girlfriend. Sheesh!

Besides, how come a Skrull spy was able to slip into Reed Richard’s family circle? They’ve dealt with them for YEARS, you’d think he would have devices to detect them even in disguise active at all times. (Which is another reason why Secret Invasion made little sense.)

Why is it that people often forget to mention the MC-2 versions of Johnny Storm and Lyja ? :(

So, *so* lame.

A recycled Legion of Superheroes plot complete with a Legion cruiser! How great is that?

Ben was probably going to stay on Battleworld forever. Meanwhile, people move on. Ben was an idiot if he expected Alicia to wait for him and not move on with someone else.

Call me crazy…. but I actually really liked this plot turn. Jonny is more effective as a hothead single guy. The plot of Jonny-Alicia was juicy during the Byrne run, but marrying them off was always a mistake to me. (I don’t know why writers were so quick to marry off young characters without thinking through what their new status quo would be…. you already have Sue/Reed as a married couple, so doing that to Jonny/Alicia starts to cut off some dramatic possibilities of an FF comic… but I digress…)

The Lyja wrinkle was an inspired solution, making the Skrulls a super-threat in replacing someone so close. And I LOVED Lyja as a character, too. Some things are better abandoned an’ forsaken!

I always hated the way things progressed after Byrne left. The Johnny / Alicia romance felt very organic, but then to marry them together so quickly (mere issues after Byrne left) felt very forced, and then the skrull reveal… well, it was inevitable TBTB would want to return the status quo, but yuck. What clumsy drama.
Defalco eventually drove me off the FF, which I had loved for years.

I HAAATTEED Defalco’s run on this book. It’s the primary reason why I don’t pick books written by Defalco.

My views are pretty much what Stephane said, that the Johnny-Alicia bit felt more organic than the Skrull reveal. And as others have noted, the story was a pretty blatant swipe of the Colosssal Boy/Shrinking Violet/Yera reveal, which I believe was also planned all along and not a shorehorning thing like Lyja.

I could understand the desire to break them up, but I don’t understand why DeFalco couldn’t have just gone with an ordinary divorce. Especially considering their personalities and how quickly they got together (it couldn’t have been more than a few months of Marvel time).
Even the idea of Franklin mentally pushing them together, as revealed in the Englhart/Harkness dream story, worked much better than this Skrull idea.

In Secret Invasion, they actully state that the skrull has come up with a way of masking themselves, from Reed’s usual way of detecting. The only way to find out if one was a skull at first was killing them or by using the gas, they used in the end.

I am very happy about Johnny and Lyja still being together over on Earth-MC-2 where they lived happily ever after and are in the Fantastic Five. :)

That’s what makes him come back to Earth, only to (after dealing with Johnny and ‘Alicia’) go on to hook up with… Sharon Carter, a real woman who JUST HAPPENED to look like his imaginary girlfriend. Sheesh!

Sharon CARTER is Captain America’s Girlfriend

Sharon VENTURA was the Thing’s – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Ventura

Well, at least they found a way to salvage the baby plot point:
MC2, The Fantastic Five, Torus Storm.

of the entire Alicia and johny winding up being married i hated that it turned out that Alicia was actully a skrull spy named Lyja who later had a baby weapon. espically when it was the puppet master who figured out Alicia was fake first .

Mary, the problem with the Franklin pushing them together idea was that it essentially turned Franklin into the world’s youngest rapist. I can see why they decided that it would damage Franklin’s character permanently.
Stephane, in Byrne’s last issues, Johnny wanted to ask Alicia *something*. I can see why Stern decided it was a marriage proposal.
Andy, the Shrinking Violet reveal probably wasn’t planned all along, since “Violet” defeats one of Darkseid’s creatures, something that would have been very difficult if not impossible for a novice.
Sijo, Reed WAS shown having installed Skrull detecting devices at the wedding. Either they didn’t work or he didn’t think to use them on Johnny and Alicia- yes, that makes Reed look like an idiot.

Ah, Skrulls.

I didn’t read Secret Invasion except for the first issue. I heard people wanted Spider-man to turn to be a Skrull because of the state of his comic. IT’s really hard to see Spider-man in comics then and now and 20 years ago and say that’s the same guy. I guess that’s the way it’s going. People wanted Reed and Tony Stark to turn out to be Skrull’s, too. I guess they did that already in Infinity War (I think). Oh, Captain Mar-Vell came back in Civil War… or did he? Civil War was changing the Marvel Universe, but they really should of pulled back on a few things to make the other things work better in my opinion.

Then they did that thing where they ‘killed’ Wolverine in Astonishing X-Men and it as it turned out HE WAS REPLACED BY A SKRULL and Xavier had to figure out who else a Skrull. That was alright.

THey should really use those disquise plots sparingly.

I don’t mind stuff like the Mar-Vell Skrull since it was planned all along. I actually wish they’d kept him around because a comic series about a Skrull superhero has lots of areas it can go.

What’s interesting to me about this as a fix is What If Vol. 2 #6, “What if the X-Men lost Inferno?” Granted, “What If’s?” are other realities, but in that one we see the very human Alicia giving birth to Johnny Storm’s very human son (with Rachel Summers and Dr. Strange as the delivery people…odd).

Makes me wonder if this fix was just yanking something out of thin air at the last moment.

Billy Bissette

March 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Andy, was Mar-Vell Skrull planned all along? When people found out Marvel was bringing back Captain Mar-Vell, there was *massive* backlash, which was followed by Marvel revealing that the returned Mar-Vell was a Skrull. At the time, it certainly felt like it could have gone either way, that either it had been planned all along or that Marvel went with “He’s a Skrull” because response to bringing back Captain Marvel was universally negative.

As for Lyja, I kind of liked her. I think she went well with Johnny, while I didn’t think Johnny/Alica worked. (The whole Johnny/Alicia/Ben stuff was pretty lousy to me, along with Ben staying on another planet and the Sharon stuff that followed and… Yeah, all pretty bad to me.) Lyja was actually a bit interesting. Until the writers ruined that as well.

That issue of What If? came out before this story was even conceived.

Meh, the whole Johnny/Alicia relationship was one that never really worked for the characters, so this is one retcon I can get behind of.

Why didn’t Johnny and Alicia get a divorce? Probably for the same reasons Quesada later claimed for Spidey and MJ: it sets a bad example for kids.

I liked the Johnny/Alicia relationship. It was a sign of Johnny maturing and putting his womanizing ways behind him. The reversal annoyed me and I soon quit the FF soon after. I think one way Reed never found out she was a Skrull was it was the period in which Skrulls lost their ability to change form and were stuck in whatever form they were in. At least for most of the dating/marriage storyline. Perhaps once the Skrulls were stuck, the detectors wouldn’t work. Plus, she was sent to infiltrate but did love Johnny and didn’t go along with any Skrull plans.

The issue where Alicia is revealed to be Lyja was my first issue of FF ever. I had no idea what the hell was going on, but I am still a Lyja fan.

The best thing to come out of this story, in my opinion, was the re-forming of the New Fantastic Four. Sure, it was only for a couple of issues and ended up with the original Fantastic Four on the moon, but it was fun to see that dynamic, even if only for a little bit.

I would have suggested this way before, but perhaps I misunderstood ‘abandoned and forsaked’ on some level. Ok, to go way back to my first understanding of comic book ret cons; did anyone do anything on ‘malcom mcbride is carrion? in some way shape or form? I know Gerry Conway did a clone thing, then ret conned the clone thing to a virus thing, then the clone thing was retconned as a side affect of some other ‘clone thing’ that had something to do with Spider-Man (not sure exactly what that was, did Spider-Man have a ‘clone thing?’) Anyway, I was curious.

Also- Long Live Lyja.

I liked the Johnny Storm/Alicia Masters relationship. Under Byrne it felt like a natural outgrowth of their friendship. They both missed Ben and were trying to move on with their lives. After Byrne left everything went to hell in a hand basket. Byrne actually let the characters grow and change only to have it all undone by following writers.

It’s too bad that Hickman has said he doesn’t like Lyja. Even though I hated DeFalco’s clumsy “I Married a Skrull from Outer Space” I thought she made a good auxilliary member.

There should be another dumb development from the DeFalco era FF….Kristoff Vernard is Reed Richards half brother!

As my fellow FF fan Iron Maiden pointed out,.Hickman doesn’t want to use Lyja, so it looks like we’ll have to wait for the next FF writer for developments on that end. DeFalco’s run is hit-and-miss: he brought back Agatha Harkness (only for Sue/Malice to expel her), guested the “new” Fantastic Four, and “killed” off Reed and Doom. Oh well, at least Aguirre-Sacasa made lemonade out of lemons by having Lyja appear in Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four.

I liked the Johnny Storm/Alicia Masters relationship. Under Byrne it felt like a natural outgrowth of their friendship. They both missed Ben and were trying to move on with their lives. After Byrne left everything went to hell in a hand basket. Byrne actually let the characters grow and change only to have it all undone by following writers.

Douglas Hancock

I’m still undecided whether getting Johnny and Alicia together was a good idea or not. It worked with Byrne at the helm. But now, long years later, I know that major superhero characters aren’t allowed lasting changes. Johnny Storm must remain a hotheaded, impulsive bachelor.

But man, it never ceases to amaze me how bad DeFalco was. Unbelieavably so. So frikking bad that it ruined DeFalco for life for me. If anything, having my favorite FF creator ever (Byrne) followed so closely by my least favorite (DeFalco), it taught me a lot about superhero universes.

Namely, that you shouldn’t get too attached to them. And that it’s hard to consider them art. It’s as if Ed Wood were allowed to make a sequel to Citizen Kane, and revealed that Kane wasn’t dead after all, he was really an alien mastermind, and Rosebud was the name of the spaceship he came in.

Dr. Bloodmoney

March 5, 2012 at 4:03 am

I complete agree with Bill Walko. Marvel and DC are to a certain extent cyclical, with the characters rebooting every couple of years to the pure, baseline version of their conception. Sure, I miss Peter David’s intelligent Hulk (and his sinister Joe Fixit gray Hulk), married Spider-Man and, yes, Lyja the Lazerfist from time to time, but I can’t fault today’s creators for wanting to tell stories with the classic Hulk Smash!, nebbish hard-luck single Peter Parker and hothead Johnny Storm. Personally, I think the Lyja reveal is a great, pulpy way of rebooting a book back to the classic set-up without throwing away an entire storyline: reality wasn’t altered, no deals were made with Mephisto, and a complicated, tragic new frenemy was added to the FF mythos. Profit!

Furthermore, Michael is right that the Englehart story ruins Franklin as a character, and would seriously make the case for locking him up in the Vault or the Negative Zone. Finally, who gives a crap about the Legion of Super-Heroes and their gazillion characters, endless reboots and nigh-impenetrable continuity: by now, everything’s probably been done in the LoS! There’s never anything new under the sun, all storytelling tropes are about execution and not novelty anyway.

Chaim Mattis Keller

March 5, 2012 at 4:49 am

It didn’t bother me so much that the plot was used before – as you said, it’s hard to come up with something that’s never been done in comics history – as the fact that this was the 30th anniversary issue, and I expected something more original and better for that.

IT’s really hard to see Spider-man in comics then and now and 20 years ago and say that’s the same guy.

Well Spider-Man 20 years ago was the David Michelinie era, easily the worst Spider-Man writer ever for me and the first one to ever drive me away from Amazing Spider-Man. So saying Spider-Man today is nothing like he was 20 years ago is a compliment. If I was a Spider-Man writer I’d strive to hear that from fans.

Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet should’ve sued this storyline for copyright infringment.

It’s like anything else.

Kids who read this stuff at the time were pretty into it and have fond memories of it. Like Scott Lang and Kristoff as FF members.

Billy: I recall reading somewhere that Mar-Vell as Skrull was planned all along but can’t say where. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because Secret Invasion hints were planted years before the Civil War issues. Even without the reveal it was a relatively harmless return though, since the cover story was that Mar-Vell had travelled through time, so the death was never negated to begin with.

In terms of it hard to come up with something that had never been done before, well there’s that but this one hit too many of the exact same beats; it was hard to believe it wasn’t a swipe.

“Namely, that you shouldn’t get too attached to them. And that it’s hard to consider them art. It’s as if Ed Wood were allowed to make a sequel to Citizen Kane, and revealed that Kane wasn’t dead after all, he was really an alien mastermind, and Rosebud was the name of the spaceship he came in.”

I would camp out in line for that move.

Also, isn’t that basically Scientology?

I apparently don’t know how to spell “movie”.

Put me in the liking Lyja character too. One interesting thing from those panels. We never get any Alicia thought bubbles in them. Was that part of the style back then to have the thoughts of only the main characters?

And here I was worried I was going to be the only one who remembered the Legion plotline. It was done SO so much better there. Right down to the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” send-up when Gim and Yera visit Mom (AKA President Of The Earth)

In my heart, I suspect the whole Skrull thing was added on later in a desperate attempt to bring thing back to the norm. It wouldn’t be the first time – heck, just look up the list.

This is one retcon I was glad for.

@Morten: I am aware of the Secret Invasion thing, but it just felt like an asspull- why cannot Reed’s technology detect the Skrulls now? Because we say they invented some way! By that same token you have to ask, why doesn’t Reed make sure his safeguards stay up to date, the man makes experiments in space for a hobby and there’s an entire alien empire (the Kree) that must dedicate a lot of constant research on Skrull detection. In fact most alien civilzations probably do.

@Philip Ayres: Yeah, got my Sharons confused. Point still valid though.

What killed me with this is how quickly everyone adapted to the situation. Johnny and Alicia should be uncomfortable around eachother now. There interaction would never be the same…now you’d never know the two were once legally married (yes I know it wasn’t really Alicia..).

Heck most fans wouldn’t even guess Johnny was married period.

There’s a lot of that in comics- writers having characters’ relationships going back to normal when they really shouldn’t have. Don’t get me started on Scott and Alex after Inferno.

Re: the ‘copying’ of the LSH plot – Tom DeFalco is now writing for Yera in Legion Lost. I wonder if there’ll be any call backs to the similarity of Yera and Lyja’s introductions.

Given their powers, it makes perfect sense for Skrulls to try infiltrating as a tactic.

“There should be another dumb development from the DeFalco era FF….Kristoff Vernard is Reed Richards half brother! IIRC, Reed’s dad floated that idea, but as he admitted at the time, he’s such a complete lair you can never trust anything he said. But if they did confirm it and I forgot, feel free to correct me.

I enjoyed a lot of DeFalco’s run (but I hated Byrne’s so YMMV). And I’m one of those glad to see Lyja and Johnny together in the M2 Fantastic Five/.

[…] post is about Johnny Storm (aka the Human Torch) and his marriage to Alicia Masters (actually the Skrull Lyja posing as Masters).  Ken wrote in to ask “Was […]

I hate all of this. Johnny and Alicia are creeps if they get it on before she has broken up with Ben. Byrne is even implying Ben & Alicia’s whole relationship has been unhealthy and codependent. And then if you tell me she was a Skrull, then Johnny was raped… multiple times. He never gave consent to have sex with an alien, whether she liked him or not. None of it fits the tone of the Fantastic Four.

I’m a huge fan of Byrne’s FF run but not the last couple of years, the art and writing all went bad and he never recovered. His personality stinks too, speaking as somebody who left his board.

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