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

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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.

Then Reed has to get all science-y.

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

Such a terrific sequence! 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.

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That’s one little dude they meet, above.

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…

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Annihilus comes out, takes Alicia and beats Franklin.

He also 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, so we get to see John draw She Hulk for the first time.

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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).

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.

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Also in this arc, the team buys the Baxter Building and becomes landlords.

Starfox is the newest Avenger, and when the FF and Avengers are done with the drama, there’s a little love…

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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.

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