Fantastic Four #206-214
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #206, Fantastic Four #207, Fantastic Four #208, Fantastic Four #209, Fantastic Four #210, Fantastic Four #211, Fantastic Four #212, Fantastic Four #213, Fantastic Four #214
Well, this arc meets the "long" part of the qualification for epic, anyway.
The good news is that there's really not a lot going on here, so i don't have to waste too much time summarizing it. It's basically wrapping up the plot from the canceled Nova series.
There's a war between the Skrulls and the Xandarians. The Fantastic Four minus the Human Torch have been captured by the Skrulls and administered an aging-ray.
There's some Skrull politics going on as well. We've got an Emperor Dorrek who according to the MCP is the same Dorrek that I thought was killed during the Kree-Skrull War. His daughter, Princess Anelle, is nowhere to be seen. But he's a got a wife that we haven't seen before, Empress R'Kill. She says that Dorrek is only in power because he killed her father and married her.
Later in this arc R'Kill kills Dorrek and assumes control of the Skrull Empire.
Meanwhile Nova, along with the rejects from his canceled comic (Powerhouse, Condor, Diamondhead, Crimebuster, and Comet) (collectively the New Champions, apparently), along with the Sphinx and Dr. Sun, travel to Xandar, a planet that has been blown up and reconstructed with a series of tubes.
The Sphinx wants to figure out how to kill himself. The others are sort of just along for the ride. Reed, Sue, and Ben escape from the Skrulls and hook up with the New Champions.
Meanwhile, back on earth, the Human Torch gets hypnotized by the Monocle and Spider-Man rescues him and they team-up.
The Monocle was working in alliance with the Enclave, who have captured Medusa.
The Medusa reveal is setting up a plot that won't ever get resolved on panel, leaving Medusa in a state of limbo. It will finally be addressed in Fantastic Four #240.
After dealing with the Monocle, Torch beams himself to Xandar.
The Sphinx accesses the Xandarian Worldmind. The Worldmind is literally a computer with a jar of floating brains. They are the brains of all who ever died on Xandar.
Once he is empowered by the Worldmind, he decides he doesn't need to kill himself after all.
The New Champions decide to stay on Xandar and help fight off the Skrull armada. The Fantastic Four go to find Galactus to ask him to defeat the Sphinx for them.
There's a weird interlude issue where the FF fight off some alien criminals in a Sargasso of Space. Reed Richards builds H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot to act as a mobile computer center. H.E.R.B.I.E. stands for Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-Type, Integrated Electronics.
There's some references to the FF cartoon show, with Johnny saying he was out of town the day contracts needed to be signed, so Reed submitted his robot design as a replacement.
They eventually find Galactus' ship but can't get his attention.
They release all the creatures in Galactus' zoo (what??) to get them to notice him. He agrees to defeat the Sphinx if they release him of his vow to never eat the earth and they go collect a new herald for him. It's a planetary warlord named Tyros.
Tyros has the mutant ability to control earth and stone. The Fantastic Four are able to defeat him and bring him to Galactus, which seems to me to be a real moral problem - sure, he's a dictator, but do the FF have the right to drag the guy off his planet and force him into servitude under Galactus?
Anyway, Galactus imbues Tyros with the power cosmic, turning him into Terrax.
Terrax vows to serve Galactus, but bears a grudge (rightfully so!) against the FF.
Galactus fights the Sphinx...
...and Terrax fights an aging Fantastic Four. The FF defeat Terrax but the strain accelerates their aging. Ben and Sue are put into suspended animation as Reed uses a fake Ultimate Nullifier to drive Galactus away after the defeat of the Sphinx (The Watcher helps by standing nearby, which somehow prevents Galactus from reading Reed's mind and knowing the Nullifier was a fake. The Watcher claims that this doesn't actually count as interfering, because all he was doing was observing the thoughts in Reed's head and blocking Galactus was an aftereffect.). Reed passes out after the fight and Johnny - who was not present when the Skrulls applied the aging ray - puts him in suspended animation as well.
Johnny tries to contact Tony Stark but neither Mrs. Arbogast or Jarvis know where he is. Turns out he's helping SHIELD with some radioactive waste and can't come out play right now. Johnny then gets attacked by Skrull X, a 3 fingered mutant Skrull. Like Super-Skrull, he's got the powers of all of the FF, but he says he can use his powers all at once (something that Kl'rt can sometimes do also, but inconsistently). Turns out Skrull X is a robot. But luckily he's got an aging ray gun. So Johnny wakes up Reed, who is able to reverse-engineer a cure.
It's said the cure works so well that Reed, Ben, and Sue are younger and more powerful than ever. We can use that to explain how they've been alive long enough to have fought in World War II if we want, then.
Overall, i guess this wasn't that bad. Certainly once John Byrne starts drawing (with #209 - the H.E.R.B.I.E. / Sargasso issue), the art gets really good. The Terrax and Galactus/Sphinx battles are very nice. But the characterization is poor, the dialogue is simple, and the plot is meandering. This is Nova Marv Wolfman, not Tomb of Dracula Marv Wolfman.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A Daily Globe article in Amazing Spider-Man #194 references the Spidey/Human Torch fight with the Monocle, so this needs to take place prior to that story. Medusa is missing when the Avengers show up in Attilan in Avengers #188, so this needs to take place before that as well.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
This arc (actually starting with issue 204 with the arrival of the Suzerain of Xandar at the Baxter building) is fondly remembered from my childhood (age 12); I eagerly awaited each issue, even secretly purchasing them when I was "restricted from comics" due to my grades!
Byrne later stated that he did most of the plotting on #214 and Wolfman rewrote some scenes without his knowledge.
Byrne's first Fantastic Four art(the Thing) appeared in FOOM#5(4/74).
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