Fantastic Four #285
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #285
The story is about a kid, Tommy Hanson, who loves super-heroes, and especially the Human Torch.
A really obsessive type.
Why, this kid is such a loser, i imagine if he had lived, he would have went on to create a website devoted to reviewing all his comic books.
And of course, he burns himself.
Johnny Storm is able to talk to him in the hospital before he dies, and hears why Tommy did it, and has to face Tommy's parents.
Stricken with guilt, Johnny burns out his flame.
That's when the Beyonder shows up...
...and walks Johnny through Tommy's life, and explains how Tommy's love of the Torch is what gave his otherwise lonely life meaning.
Byrne does a fantastic job showing Tommy dealing with bullies at school and then coming home to an empty house. It's a sad, sad story, but very moving.
Cameo by some of the Avengers, when Tommy calls trying to talk to the Torch (and he seems to have gotten through just fine).
Progress on the Fantastic Four's new headquarters continues apace.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Mr. Fantastic says of the Beyonder that "it almost seems as if his purpose here, now, is to aid humanity -- and the whole universe as well!". This really implies that this issue takes place after Secret Wars II #6; prior to that, Mr. Fantastic wouldn't have anything to base that statement on. Based on that, and the development of the Beyonder generally, the MPC have chosen to ignore a footnote in Fantastic Four annual #19 that refers to this issue. The other option is to place this issue prior to Fantastic Four annual #19 and assume it takes place during Secret Wars II #3, after the Beyonder relinquishes control of the world and before he shows up at Avengers Mansion. It requires a glossing of the Beyonder's character development (his appearance definitely works better after SWII #6) but it has the benefit of not disregarding a footnote. Ignoring a footnote (and the meaning of Alicia's conversation with Johnny) really bothers me, and after a lot of back-and-forth i'm going with the option of placing this during SWII #3. It's ugly, though.
Cross-over: Secret Wars II
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (3): show
Beyonder, Hercules, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Jarvis, Lyja Lazerfist, Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk, Wasp
This issue is often cited as one of the major problems with DeFalco's Lyja retcon. DeFalco implied Lyja couldn't sculpt humans but "Alicia" has no problem sculpting Jen in this issue.
Alicia isn't actually shown sculpting; i've added the scan. Did Lyja have some other way of producing statues during this time period?
Not that DeFalco mentioned.
Byrne has mentioned this issue as particular reason he disliked Jim Shooter's editorial mandates. This was originally not a SW2 tie-in, but Shooter mandated that the Beyonder be included. Byrne said he begged Shooter to delay the SW2 tie-in, and he'd create an all Beyonder issue, but Shooter had already pre-determined the FF had to have a tie-in for #285, and Byrne had already written the issue. It all sounds very weird, but clearly there was a major disagreement.
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