Character Search
 
Marvel Comics Chronology
Obsessively putting our comics in chronological order since 1985.
    Marvel Comics Timeline


1985-08-01 00:06:05
Previous:
Daredevil #222
Up:
Main
1985/Box 21/EiC: Jim Shooter
Next:
Secret Wars II #2

Fantastic Four #280-281

Issue(s): Fantastic Four #280, Fantastic Four #281
Published Date: Jul-Aug 85
Title: "Tell them all they love must die..." / "With Malice towards all!"
Credits:
John Byrne - Writer
John Byrne - Penciler
Jerry Ordway - Inker
Michael Higgins - Assistant Editor
Mike Carlin - Editor

Review/plot:
This arc starts with the FF surveying the former site of the Baxter Building. I guess it says something about the growing sophistication of comics that the first time the Baxter Building was launched into space, by the end of the issue it got placed right back where it started and everything was fine, whereas this time the event kicks off some major changes in status quo.

They don't have time to really deal with that problem, however, because the Psycho-Man's scheme, set in motion during the previous arc, reaches fruition.

Mr. Fantastic directs She-Hulk and Wyatt to accept arrest while he and Johnny head back to Avengers Mansion (where it seems they've been staying since the Baxter Building was destroyed).

Sue is charged with getting Alicia back to her apartment.

The entire city is going crazy with riots and protests (the Human Torch notes that there aren't even any mutants currently living at the Avengers Mansion, but he neglects Franklin in that count).

Jarvis hands Mr. Fantastic some hate pamphlets that Captain America had collected "in case there was more to them than there seemed". Reed inspects them and it turns out they are "alien" in origin. The Human Torch's reaction is funny.

Meanwhile, She-Hulk gets busted out of her police wagon only to be attacked by, as she puts it, someone "in the latest ensemble from Frederick's of Hollywood".

Malice does an impressive job of taking out She-Hulk.

Malice is, in fact, Susan Richards, under the influence of the Hate-Monger. Sue uses the name "Malice" while she's under the Hate-Monger's control, but it turns out that this isn't just an alternate nom de guerre. It is, as Wikipedia so simply puts it, "an evil psionic entity that resides in the mind of the Invisible Woman and sometimes possesses her". Surely that wasn't Byrne's intent here, but that's what's been established subsequently. The MCP lists FF #265, which was when Sue's had to be hospitalized due to complications with her second child, as Malice's first appearance.

After defeating She-Hulk, Malice faces off against her husband, Mr. Fantastic, who she's decided that she hates because of the lack of respect he shows her, and women generally.

Malice's complaint is actually really valid if you judge based on the course of the entire FF run to date, but under Byrne's run Reed hasn't been quite so dismissive of Sue and Sue's character has also been getting development as well as a power boost. It's been said in the lettercol, and now in this issue by Reed (prior to facing off against Malice) that the Invisible Girl is actually the most powerful member of the FF, and that seems to be borne out in her one on one fights against She-Hulk and Mr. Fantastic, here.

Daredevil shows up during the fight and notes that his radar sense only detects Malice as an amorphous blob.

Ultimately, Malice reveals that she's Sue, and Reed takes an unusual tack to break her brainwashing (you'll sometimes see that last panel out of context on websites trying to make the point that Reed is sexist).

Even in context, it's a someone questionable resolution to this plotline. Reaching out to Sue and convincing her that she is loved would certainly be a bit cliche. Reaching out to her to convince her that the other members of the team respect her and think of her as an equal would have been a logical and less... belittling. But the idea here is that Reed had to make Sue hate him for real at least for an instant in order to break the Hate-Monger's control. It's certainly an interesting idea. And all of this is leading to some growth for the Invisible Girl, so Byrne's heart was in the right place, in any event. And from a storytelling perspective, Byrne's approach is certainly the most surprising and least cliched.

A little earlier, the Human Torch runs into Alicia, and she lets him know that she and Sue ran into someone who had taken Reed's form. Johnny notes that shapeshifters aren't all that common any more (although i think his examples are odd. Snowbird? And how do the FF even know about Warlock?) but notes that it could be Skrulls. Alicia's reaction is amusing in light of the fact that she will later be retconned to be a Skrull at this point.

In the lettercol for issue #278 touting this as an upcoming story, we were promised "very real, very contemporary themes". This was a great story - a nice battle issue pitting the Invisible Girl against the rest of the FF - but i don't think it really dealt at all with racism in any significant way.

Quality Rating: B+

Historical Significance Rating: 3 - first Sue as Malice

Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue starts with the FF at the Baxter Building grounds, but it's not necessary that the FF have traveled directly home from Latveria to return to their former home. Still, it's best to keep FF appearances between this arc and the last to a minimum. Takes place concurrently with Avengers #258. The FF's appearance in Secret Wars II #2 partially takes place concurrently with this arc (the scene where Sue is turned by the Hate-Monger is expanded upon), but also afterward (the FF don't actually deal with the Hate-Monger or the Psycho-Man in this issue and the first act of this plot is actually concluded in SWII #2. The MCP places Daredevil's appearance between Daredevil #221-222.

References:

  • Franklin has a precognitive dream, like the one he had in Fantastic Four #276, at the end of issue #280, predicting the events of issue #281.
  • Fighting the She-Hulk, Sue uses her forcfield to cut-off her air supply, "as it once halted the gamma-spawned power of our cousin". There's a footnote, but it just informs us that She-Hulk is the Hulk's cousin instead of telling us that the air supply attack happened in Fantastic Four #166.
  • The Torch notes that this city-wide disaster is coming right on the heels of the Wraith-War, which was shown in both Fantastic Four #277 and ROM #65
  • The Avengers are unavailable due to the events of Avengers #258. Specifically, Jarvis tells Reed he's been trying to reach the Avengers, Reed says "No doubt they have problems of their own, Jarvis", and a footnote says, "You might say that! See Avengers #258."

Cross-over: N/A

Continuity Implant? N

Reprinted In: N/A

Inbound References (5): show

Characters Appearing: Daredevil, Franklin Richards, Hate-Monger II, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Jarvis, Lyja Lazerfist, Malice (Sue Storm's psionic entity), Mr. Fantastic, Psycho-Man, She-Hulk, Wyatt Wingfoot

Previous:
Daredevil #222
Up:
Main
1985/Box 21/EiC: Jim Shooter
Next:
Secret Wars II #2

Comments

Johnny's line about a shapeshifter "hanging around with the X-Men" didn't necessarily refer to Warlock. He could just as easily mean Wolfsbane. Of course, I don't know if he'd ever met Wolfsbane by ghat point either, but it seems possible that he would at least know about her, if you assume that Professor X and Reed compare notes from time to time (and I mean WITHOUT validating the horrible Illumination retcon).
Now I'm curious. HAVE the FF encountered the New Mutants by this time?

"Sue uses the name "Malice" while she's under the Hate-Monger's control, but it turns out that this isn't just an alternate nom de guerre. It is, as Wikipedia so simply puts it, "an evil psionic entity that resides in the mind of the Invisible Woman and sometimes possesses her". Surely that wasn't Byrne's intent here, but that's what's been established subsequently."


This is why in comics you want to be as explicit as possible in defining what's happened and why in your stories. There's always going to be a Mantlo or a DeFalco or a Nicieza who'll come along and make the worst possible interpretation of your stuff, and make it canon.

And I'm not sure who Johnny meant with the X-Men line. It might have been Wolfsbane but who really thinks of her as a shape shifter? It had to have been her or Warlock, cause Mystique had no friendly relations with the X-Men at that point - but she's what you think of when you say "shape changer". Wolfsbane's a werewolf and Warlock's a robot.

I'll check on whether the FF and the New Mutants had met at this of time - I don't think they had, altho the FF had fought Karma and had passed her along to Xavier, so maybe they knew about them that way (had checked up on her, etc). In general tho I just assume there's a super hero grapevine or maybe a newsletter they all get.

Not to be pedantic (ok, for exactly that reason), but Wolfsbane would be considered a "shape-shifter". That's what a werewolf is, a being shifts its shape from one form (human) to another (wolf-like).
Whether it can take different forms or only one other form is negligible to the term.

She is considered a shapeshifter (ie technically is one), however she isn't someone you would think of as a shapeshifter. She's a werewolf. Shape-shifter tends to connote someone who can change into all kinds of forms - where the changing is the power, rather than the shape. Wolfsbane's power is the werewolf she becomes.

Mystique is the ideal of the shapeshifter, imo.

Pedantry is fine but not when you don't seem to have carefully read the comment you're being pedantic about.

Thanks Chris, but I get what Paul is saying. I guess it's possible to get too loose with the term. Pretty soon you could be calling Colossus and the Hulk shapeshifters too. Thinking about it that way, and looking at the context of Johnny's line (ie: talking about the Skrulls) I'll concede that Byrne probably meant Warlock. "Shapeshifter" here probably means being able to assume multiple forms, not just one.

The Fantastic Four didn't meet the New Mutants until Secret Wars II 9, which takes place after FF 288. Maybe Johnny heard about Warlock through the grapevine?

It sounds from the dialogue as if Johnny hasn't met, but only heard about ("I hear tell"), the shapeshifter in the X-Men's company.

I'd have to check circa FF 400 to sort out the Malice stuff, but from memory the DeFalco Malice was related to the Infinity War doppleganger stuff, and I don't think DeFalco meant that there had always been an independent Malice inhabiting Sue's skull.

I'm not familiar with whatever DeFalco added to the Malice concept later, but I would not be at all surprised if later writers confused Sue's Malice identity with the Malice from UNCANNY X-MEN, who was a disembodied entity that actually did possess people, typically female. This Malice even dressed in similar leather "bad girl" gear after possessing Polaris. This Malice's victims would come under "her" influence upon donning a mystical(?) necklace. I don't know what ultimately became of THAT Malice, but it's not a huge leap to think that writers other than Byrne or Claremont would see a vonnection between the two or try to create one.

DeFalco at least didn't confuse any version of Sue Malice with the Marauder. The "Infinity War" was about the Magus, himself Adam Warlock's evil twin, using a bunch of Cosmic Cubes to create evil twins for every Marvel hero. She's evil twin took on the Malice form and later possessed or merged with Sue. That, if I recall, is what led to her infamous "stripper" costume. Eventually the Malice persona was driven out of Sue and into Psi-Lord, who was a teen Franklin Richards and...I think I'll just stop now. This is the misery that awaits us when Fnord's project reaches 1993. (Though I kinda like DeFalco's FF and Brevoort's Fantastic Force. There clearly something wrong with me.)

"I'm not familiar with whatever DeFalco added to the Malice concept later, but I would not be at all surprised if later writers confused Sue's Malice identity with the Malice from UNCANNY X-MEN, who was a disembodied entity that actually did possess people, typically female. This Malice even dressed in similar leather "bad girl" gear after possessing Polaris. This Malice's victims would come under "her" influence upon donning a mystical(?) necklace. I don't know what ultimately became of THAT Malice, but it's not a huge leap to think that writers other than Byrne or Claremont would see a vonnection between the two or try to create one."

The psionic Marauder Malice (who possessed Dazzler & Polaris and briefly Rogue, Storm & Havok) was eventually recaptured and killed by Sinister in X-Factor 102-105. It looks like she was cloned by Sinister and brought back again (like the rest of the Marauders) after that though.

This issue is interesting because it's usually used as a point for readers who complain about Hank Pym being habitually characterize as simply a "wife-beater" while Mr Fantastic isn't despite both men hitting their wives the same number of times (and yes, let me clarify that it's still one too many times.) That's an argument I might have made too, before reading over some of the entries here on this site. As has been mentioned context is important in comparing the two situations.

And yeah for the longest time, I always thought that the two Malice's were the same and someone somewhere got their wires crossed (Sue's spiked collar even looks a little like the Malice choker). Now I wonder if Claremont "borrowed" the concept from Byrne.

The Torch is good friends with Spider-Man who could of told him about the shape shifter in The New Mutants.

It's not that big of a deal.


 
Post a comment
(Required & displayed)
(Required but not displayed)
(Not required)



Marvel Comics Reading Order
SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home