FANTASTIC FOUR #204-206, 208-213 (1979): 1st Terrax; Skrull/Xandarian War

Continued from the final issue of Nova, a huge story spanning nine issues.

Reed is still a shitty husband and a worse father who doesn’t listen to Sue or care about his kid. But he’s legit busy.


He figures out that a computer signal is scanning Earth. And so begins a year-plus saga featuring Nova, Skrulls, Galactus…Just about everyone.  Thing isn’t impressed, having “seen better in Forbidden Planet.”

Queen Adora of Xandar (you don’t know her, she’s new here) is chased by a skrull to Earth.  

Her planet was destroyed, but The Watcher saved little bits of it in bubbles. Because his vow of noninterference is complete horseshit.

Reed uses a gun to protect her.

They help her, which means tracking that computer.

Johnny Storm is back in college, so hen stays behind.  I’m pretty sure this was done to make the team look more like the TV version, in which a guy-on-fire was replaced by a stupid robot, because the cartoon’s producers didn’t have the rights to the Human Torch character.  None of that is Marv Wolfman’s fault, but his run on FF just keeps getting worse. Issue #207, which tells Human Torch’s tale, is covered separately.

Then signal leads them to a dude who made a computer out of the brains of her dead civilization, and that’s kinda weird in a “should have been in Superman” kind of way.


And now they’re in the middle of a skrull/xandarian war.

After a bunch of action, the F4 are taken to the Skrull High Court in issue #206 and put on trial for “treason against the Skrull empire.”  (How can you be treasonous to a government you never belonged to?)  This is a precursor to John Byrne’s absolutely brilliant “Reed Richards on Trial” issue, which comes in about 50 issues.  Byrne wasn’t even on the series yet, but he’s coming soon. In fact, he picks up the art chores at the end of this arc.

In the meantime, we get a kitchen sink of cosmic characters.

As part of the Skrull/Xandarian conflict, the F4 are shot with a gun that makes them age faster. 

Also, from the pages of Nova, Sphinx! And Nova! 


And Galactus!

And the debut of Terrax!

In order to defeat Sphinx, the team has to recruit Galactus. G-man says he’ll help but only if Reed Richards agrees to let Galactus take back his promise never to eat Earth.  Reed agrees, because Galactus didn’t call no-backsies on that trade in the first place—and also agrees to find Galactus a new herald. 


Sphinx and Galactus go at it.


And The Watcher, yet again, protects Earth.


So much packed in here. And yet it’s all mediocre. Except for this…

h.e.r.b.i.e. the robot

Issue #209 brings us two legends: John Byrne’s first issue on art, and the first appearance of HERBIE the robot.  This closes the loop on the story, which started with Franklin being ignored and ends with him getting his very own robot buddy.

Of course, we all know the truth, which was that Marvel was threatened with an infringement suit if they used Human Torch (no, it wasn’t that a parents’ organization objected to a fiery dude—that’s all comic book legend).

This is a truly chaotic and crammed story, but it gets better towards the end.

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