FANTASTIC FOUR #251-256 and AVENGERS #233-234 (1983): Negative Zone


John Byrne knows how to start a story.  A multi-issue arc that moves straight into one of the greatest Galactus stories of all time begins with the above splash page of Thing looking through the new portal to the Negative Zone.

I consider this a tribute to all the times Jack Kirby had Thing falling into holes.

Reed gets all landlord-y, now that the FF own the Baxter Building.

Reed gets all science-y, deciding to GTFO of the building. I don’t blame him. Tenants can be a drag.

Such a terrific sequence!

They depart, but let someone in when they leave.

And that’s going to cause problems for The Avengers. More on that in a minute.

As the team travels through negative space, which twists the very comic book on its side.

So all of #252 is read wide–with the spine of the comic representing the top of each page. Like this:

Their exploration of the negative zone is full of wild, Kirbyish craziness.


That’s one little dude they meet, above. And Thing changes his usual trenchcoat disguise for…A burqa?

It’s kind of a “Star Trek” phase for the team.  Their ride only lasts a few issues, though—I would have loved to see a Byrne maxi-series about the FF’s adventures through the Negative Zone.  There’s so much rich material to dig out of that mine.

Anyway, while the FF is out having fun, it turns out that the door swings in as well as out…


Annihilus comes out, takes Alicia and snatches up Alicia and Franklin. While holding them hostage, Annihilus answers the phone, which is weird.

As part of his invasion of Earth, Annihilus puts a force-field around the Baxter Building, and The Avengers try to break through.

We get to see John draw She Hulk for the first time–beginning a long relationship with the character that would make her relevant and awesome for the first time.

she hulk running

The field is expanding.

She’s not quite so muscular yet—she still has a bit of a generic body—but one thing Byrne always did well with Shulk was the hair. Within the next two years’ worth of issues, She Hulk would replace Thing on the team for a good long stretch.

He also draws Daredevil and a water tower, as DD bounces off the forcefield.

In the end, the FF of course come back and the two teams resolve the conflicts, but Franklin gets hurt as the cliffhanger.

Anyway, The Avengers try to bust through the Annihilus-generated forceshield. Their story takes place over the course of two issues of their own comic. Vision tries to phase through it but the action renders him comatose–and he’ll stay in that state for several issues.

To treat him, they put him in a plastic tube. Because that’s something Marvel loves to do (see tag below).

Avengers #234 deals with him being comatose and is a quiet issue focusing on interludes with each character.

The rest of the Avengers issues are a big flashback trying to organize the chaotic and often contradictory history of Scarlet Witch.

Hawkeye has a broken leg during this story.

Good, but nothing super important. Except that Eros and She-Hulk sleep together.

Let’s get back to the PG-rated action.

Captain Marvel breaks through.

But instead of a big Avengers-vs-Annihilus fight, we see that Reed Richards booby trapped the building and…

Towards the end of this saga, we see that Galactus is hungry again.  And former “flame” of Human Torch, Frankie Raye, sets him up to eat the Skrull homeworld. That’s a preview.


Leave a Comment