Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: (FF#275-277) John Byrne, (TT#23) Mike Carlin
Penciler: (FF#275-277) John Byrne
Breakdowns: (TT#23) Ron Wilson
Finishes: (TT#23) Bob Layton
Inking / embellishing: (FF#275) Al Gordon, (FF#276-277) Jerry Ordway
Colorist: (FF#275-277) Glynis Wein, Bob Sharen (TT#23)
Letterer: (FF#275) Jim Novak, (FF#276-277) John Workman, (TT#23) John Morelli
Editor: (FF#275-277) Mike Carlin, (TT#23) Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief: Jim Shooter

Four issues that are firmly entrenched in the non-linear storytelling style of the day.

First up, the first 20 pages of Fantastic Four #275 are a comedy about She-Hulk getting sneakily photographed while sunbathing topless, and the attempts of her lawyer alter ego Jennifer Walters to prevent the pics' forthcoming publication.

She fails!

Next is the monochrome-covered Fantastic Four #276, which forms the first two-thirds of Reed, Sue and Franklin Richards' encounter with first Elspeth Cromwell, and then Mephisto. During this struggle, Mr Fantastic - the stretchy one - breaks his arm. Yes it's impossible, and this understandably upsets him quite a bit. Mephisto really needs to go back in time and do something about Franklin.

The final third of this tale guest-stars the always entertainingly named Dr. Strange, and runs along the bottom half of Fantastic Four #277. Yes, just the bottom half. The top half of the same comic - all 22 half-pages of it - features a simultaneous episode that runs on from The Thing #22.

This tells the unrelated story of ol' rock-face's return to New York from the planet of the Secret Wars, and his dealings with Alicia, her new boyfriend the Human Torch, and She-Hulk. Along the way, the events of Rom #65 briefly overlap too, but they're really not worth going into. At the end, the Thing announces that he won't be rejoining the Fantastic Four.

Then comes The Thing #23, which in the introverted way that we've come to expect of this title, twists the knife of that character's broken heart even further.

When Reed Richards returns with his broken arm and reveals a nugget of information that would have prevented the Thing from recently killing his own human persona, well, it ain't pretty. After lots of yelling, our rocky hero thunders out of the FF for good, or at least for the next two years, as it turned out.

Finally, in order to continue chronologically, we have to rewind a couple of issues and go back to the final two-page epilog of FF#275, headed "Three Weeks Later". With Reed's arm still in a sling, the magazine showing She-Hulk topless is finally published. Now however it turns out that the oblivious printing technicians, thinking that the green in the images was an error, have colour-corrected her skin-tone to pink!

The punchline that consequently no-one can recognise who the pictures are of is a clever resolution, but it is tough to swallow that none of the images were captioned. Surely She-Hulk's celebrity was the mag's big selling point? Oh well, who cares.

It's a fantastic four issues of Fantastic Four.

And fun too.

With thanks to Herschel.


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