Fantastic Four #220-221 (1980): John Byrne Begins


The first issues where Byrne is credited for providing both “words and pictures” are a self-contained jumble of a story with no real significance.  However, they are interesting from an historical perspective.

They begin with each team member doing a “street level” job.  Ben saves some people from a falling crane.  Sue saves some window washers whose platform breaks underneath them.  Torch stops a plan from crashing.  Reed…Doesn’t do squat.  He’s too busy lecturing Sue about the scientific causes of the Northern Lights.

But this is really the first time that the FF rescue common-folk from every day threats.  The team was always a “family,” but this is the beginning of them being truly “human.”  They’re not bullying landlords or making fun of muggers, they’re doing good in the world.

The main tale involves the team investigating aliens in space, and while they’re in the rocket, Byrne gives us a one-page recap of their origin, as Ben recalls the first time they all rocketed out together.

t’s a nice moment, and very well done.  It reminded a little of Grant Morrison’s brilliant one-page origin of Superman in All-Star Superman.

Also, because Byrne is trying to gin up support for his Alpha Flight book, which is coming soon, he has Vindicator make a brief cameo.  For those of you who don’t know, or forgot, John Byrne was the man who made Alpha Flight a fan- and cult-favorite team.

Unfortunately, it will be a year before John Byrne returns for his extensive run, beginning with #232.  Not that I’m throwing shade on Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz’s run—it wasn’t terrible.  But there are few runs that can come close to Byrne’s on Fantastic Four.

Not an “important” story, but a perfectly nice one that is, of course, extraordinarily well illustrated.

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