Fantastic Four #117-118
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #117, Fantastic Four #118
The Human Torch heads to Attilan to visit Crystal and gets attacked by the Inhumans, who are currently under control of Maximus.
The Human Torch defeats them and interrogates them about Crystal, but they say she never arrived after leaving the FF in #105. He rushes back to Whispering Hill, half a world away, and arrives just as he loses his flame.
Agatha Harkness locates Crystal using her crystal ball.
It turns out that Crystal and Lockjaw were hijacked by Diablo, who was trapped in the Earth's far future by Dr. Doom.
Diablo returns to the past with Crystal to get his revenge on Doom, in a plot that involves Crystal brainwashed into believing she is an ancient Mayan goddess named Ixchel.
Diablo intends to use Crystal to rally the people of Terra Verde to overthrow their corrupt dictator and put him in charge instead. Diablo: "I need this country! As a source of rare chemicals -- and to give me a power base in the world equal to Dr Doom's!". It's a worthy and ambitious goal.
Johnny rushes off with the rest of the FF and arrives in time to stop the dictator's airforce from bombing a group of peasants following Crystal. Crytal is appreciative but clearly isn't herself.
Johnny battles Diablo...
...and eventually the rest of the FF shows up as well. Diablo and Terra Verde's dictator are both seemingly killed in an explosion. I assume Terra Verde descends into anarchy.
When Crystal is rescued by the FF, she hears about the fact that Maximus has taken over the Great Refuge and decides she needs to return home to help the Royal Family regain control.
By my placement (see below) these issues are actually taking place concurrently with the Kree-Skrull War and Black Bolt is back on the throne by now, but Crystal and Johnny don't necessarily know that. I assume they find out as soon as they discuss it with the rest of the group; it may explain why next issue doesn't feature all of the FF rushing to the Great Refuge to try to help their friends.
The Thing and Lockjaw should also have been caught in the explosion that killed Diablo and the dictator, but a back-up story shows that Lockjaw teleported the Thing to a dimension full of Reed Richard bots.
The dimension turns out to be one where Reed Richards turned into the Thing, while Ben Grimm got the powers of the rest of the FF and married Sue.
This revives the sort-of forgotten thread that Grimm was also in love with Sue Storm in the earliest FF issues (remember, even the appeal of Alicia was that she had a remarkable resemblance to Sue), so when Ben gets back to our dimension, he keeps things to himself. Because bringing that up could be awkward.
These "Earth A" characters will appear again in a future FF storyline.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after the Human Torch's appearances in Marvel Team-Up #2 and Sub-Mariner #44-46.
The opening scene, with the Inhumans, takes place during the Kree-Skrull War, before Avengers #95 when Maximus lost control of the Refuge. The rest of the issue takes place later; according to a narration panel, "a day, two"; possibly even longer, after Johnny flies halfway across the world to Whisper Hill.
Note that of the Inhumans working for Maximus, one is almost certainly Stallior even though he seems to be referred to as "Chiron" here (the centaur in the top scan; if he had a beard he'd be the other Inhuman centaur, Centarius). The MCP also lists "Yeti", the Inhuman that appeared in Lost Generation, as appearing here; presumably he's the one referred to as "Kaliban". Both are a little suspect but i'm listing both as Characters Appearing.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Seeing Buscema's pencils without Tom Palmer's inkstand is always a shock to the system. But then, even the pencils in this issue aren't pure Buscema. He's clearly trying to maintain a visual connection to Kirby here.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 29, 2013 9:15 PM
The Yeti/Kaliban conflation apparently was started by the *Official* FF Index written by Olshevsky, who credited them as the same character.
The later "Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters" (whew) lists them as brothers.
Posted by: Dan H. | December 26, 2014 11:25 PM
The end of #117 is rather odd; it's a splash panel, but the dialogue doesn't really set up a cliffhanger, and then issue #118 continues form it more in the manner of an ongoing scene than anything else. I wonder if this was plotted as one longer story -- probably not an Annual, since those are solid reprints now -- and then cut into two at some point during the development process.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 3, 2015 3:06 PM
A few stories that had the dec 71/jan 72 cover date were planned as 33 page stories for the new oversized 25 cent format that had debuted the month before. When Marvel reverted to the regular sized issues, presumably a number of extra length stories had to be split up (often awkwardly, as you note) over two issues, with (in this case) a short filler story taking up the remaining pages of the second issue.
Posted by: Haydn | November 26, 2015 4:13 PM
I'm guessing this Buscema art is partly what Byrne's talking about when he talks about the "Fozzie Bear" Thing-style. The Thing is hard to draw right, even for good artists.
I don't think Buscema was trying very hard here; he did much better on the stuff he liked better, like Conan, IMO, and sometimes on the Avengers. He seems to put no heart in the sci-fi style backgrounds, like he's just rushing through them. Likewise with the Romita issues. Kirby loved the cosmic background stuff but these guys don't seem to have their hearts in it.
In later years Joe Sinnott adopted a popular inking style which mimicked his earlier style which he developed working on Kirby's FF, but he doesn't seem to be using that style here on Buscema's FF pencils.
Posted by: Holt | December 14, 2017 8:45 PM
I totally forgot the country where this story takes place was named Terra Verde. Any chance Tierra Verde from Wolverine #17-23 was meant to be the same country? Archie Goodwin also wrote these issues, so he may have recycled an old idea.
Posted by: Nate Wolf | December 15, 2017 3:36 AM
@Holt - I suppose you *could* make the argument that Rich Buckler on Fantastic Four was an improvement over John Buscema, because even though he was throwing in a lot of Kirby swipes Buckler was really enthusiastic about penciling FF, whereas for Buscema it was just another job.
I do agree that Joe Sinnott's inking was *very* important to the finished look of both pencilers on FF. Probably a great deal of the consistency, as well as quality, on FF artwork over the years was due to Sinnott's efforts.
Posted by: Ben Herman | December 15, 2017 12:57 PM
Don't know. Both names literally mean "Green Earth." Terra is Italian and Tierra is Spanish if I'm not mistaken. There are places named Tierra Verde in both Florida and Texas. Terra verde (or French "terre verte") is also the name of a dark olive-colored paint pigment.
Posted by: Holt | December 15, 2017 1:10 PM
@Ben - Yes but I wouldn't make that argument. :) I don't mean to knock any of these artists and I like Buckler's work too. Enthusiasm does count for something though. Keith Giffen's early Kirby swipes were part of what got me looking at Marvel again after a long dry spell in the 70s... although I don't think Giffen ever worked on FF... he's still one of my favorite swipe artists lol. Joe Sinnott is probably my favorite inker on Kirby pencils, but I can still appreciate his work on other levels, and with or without the Kirby influence.
Posted by: Holt | December 15, 2017 1:23 PM
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