Fantastic Four #293-295
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #293, Fantastic Four #294, Fantastic Four #295
Jerry Ordway inked Byrne for a while during his FF run, and Roger Stern was a good friend of Byrne's (and is a good writer) so they were a good immediate replacement.
But let's let Byrne start us off here.
The issue begins with She-Hulk helping the West Coast Avengers look for the Thing. The thought was that he might have returned to Central City, where the FF lived before getting their powers. But instead they found a dome of black light growing out of the city. She-Hulk contacts Wyatt Wingfoot, who is on monitor duty while the rest of the FF are looking in on the captive Kristoff.
While waiting for the FF to arrive, Iron Man attempts to enter the dome. He immediately returns, but talks like he's been away for three weeks.
Wonder Man takes Iron Man back to headquarters for treatment, leaving with a "you gals" comment that She-Hulk doesn't appreciate, but Tigra reminds her that Wonder Man is a bit old fashioned due to the fact that he had been in suspended animation.
They don't get to debate that any further because the dome starts expanding and She-Hulk gets stuck in it.
Meanwhile, on their trip over, Sue raises the concern that she and Reed haven't been spending enough time with Franklin.
But they don't reach a resolution on that. When they arrive, She-Hulk has been fully pulled into the black light. The FF, and Wyatt, who won't say that he and She-Hulk are officially a couple but who nonetheless is very seriously concerned about her, decide to follow her, leaving unhappily Tigra behind to keep an eye on things.
When they arrive, they find a futuristic city and a religious-seeming statue of themselves.
And that will have to serve as a goodbye from John Byrne.
Some of the art towards the end of issue #293 looks unfinished or possibly redrawn, which might be an indication of how quickly Byrne exited the book.
In the final two issues we learn what's going on. It turns out that a colleague of Reed Richards, Harvey Jessup, decided that there was going to be a nuclear war. So, after hearing a random interview with Richards on television...
...he decided that he would create a dome around Central City that would protect it and slow down time inside so that the rest of the world could rebuild from its nuclear holocaust. But instead of slowing down time, the dome sped it up, so that it's been generations that have passed in the city during the span of hours on the outside. When Iron Man entered the dome, he encountered resistance but it wasn't particularly sophisticated. When She-Hulk entered, she fought a later generation of more specialized forces...
...and she was captured and put into suspended animation. And when the rest of the FF entered, they encountered highly divergent groups of humans, based loosely on the members of the Fantastic Four.
Because during development of the city in the dome, the FF became worshiped as gods.
It also turns out that Jessup is still alive and serving as the Great Coordinator in between periods of suspended animation.
But he actually knows that he made a mistake with his calculations and he has no intention of letting Richards correct things; he likes his position of leadership. So he declares the FF to be false and has them hounded. However, with the help of Jessup's daughter, the FF are able to rescue She-Hulk and stop Jessup.
It turns out - in what is really a big cop-out for this story - that the majority of the original inhabitants of Central City were put into suspended animation right when things began, so when it's all over there isn't suddenly a large population missing from Earth. But Reed sends the city itself as well as its evolved inhabitants into the future where they may fit in better.
It's a good FF story, especially since it seems to trigger a turning point for Mr. Fantastic regarding the Thing (see the References). It's not necessarily a great FF story, but it's a good typical "exploring strange worlds" sort of story that works well with the team. It's largely inconsequential except that it does remove the fictional Central City from the map of the US in the Marvel universe.
The hardest thing to understand is why the FF were worshiped in the "future". Granted it's Central City so they were always probably honored there even in the present day, and granted that Jessup seeing Reed on TV inspired him to build the dome, but that alone is a pretty thin reason for them to be set up as gods. I guess the explanation is that Jessup wanted to control the people of Central City with religion and the FF made for a convenient pantheon, but that's weak and it seems like something was lost in the transition between creative teams.
I said that Ordway's art was a logical choice for a quick successor, but it of course isn't a replacement for Byrne's.
The events of these issue do mean that She-Hulk has technically been alive for some 150 years, while kept in suspended animation, although of course from the perspective of the outside world it was only a couple of hours.
The reason she was put in suspended animation was because the Central City residents found out that she was a replacement for the Thing in the FF, and they couldn't come to accept that. It almost sounds like a commentary on comic fans.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: For the West Coast Avenger characters, this takes place before West Coast Avengers #12-13, when Wonder Man gets a new costume.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showHuman Torch, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Kristoff, Lyja the Lazerfist, Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk, Tigra, Wonder Man, Wyatt Wingfoot
It's interesting that in this issue, Wonder Man doesn't want She-Hulk to know Iron Man's identity. That's in contradiction to how casual they were about Cap's identity in FF 286- maybe Simon doesn't think Ben caught his slipup regarding Tony's identity in WCA 9.
Posted by: Michael | January 3, 2014 11:53 PM
Jessup's dome bears similarity to The World that Weapon Plus would ultilize to create bioweapons. The World is a dome with a flow of time that can be manipulated from an outside control room in order to create accelerated evolution and such, resulting in multiple generations and a social effect similar to what we see here.
I have no idea how long The World has been around, but I like to imagine Weapon Plus were inspired creating something as a more refined and deliberately designed version of what the Jessup dome ended up being.
Posted by: Max_Spider | January 7, 2014 7:41 PM
The Weapon Plus program existed since the early-1940s, I believe. Western scientists interested in eugenics began to work with Nazi Germany scientists, which would eventually turn into Weapon Plus.
What's interesting though is that Morisson's creation of John Sublime is really very close to the exact same being known as That Which Endures, from Byrne's West Coast Avengers.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 7, 2014 9:25 PM
Hmm... Weapon XII was the earliest known designation to come out of the World, if that gave any clue. But seeing how most Weapon Plus branches are still shrouded in mystery, not to mention at least one of them (Weapon X) pretty much became independant, dates are up for interpreation. Especially when you're dealing with synthetic time...
Though it kinda makes me wonder how many Weapon Plus branches were up and running at any given time. Like... How many numbers did they get up to by Fantastic Four #1? Weapon XIV used DNA samples collected after Uncanny X-Men #281 but who's to say they hadn't started off that project before then or that they even put the samples to use straight away? At the very least though, you can determine their earliest known activities (like Weapon III as Skinless man during the Cold War and Weapon VII producing Nuke during the Vietnam War, long after those points were overcome via floating timeline of course.)
Doesn't really matter yet I guess, but I guess I have an interest in chronology. ;P
Posted by: Max_Spider | January 8, 2014 12:38 PM
I'm not very good with chronology, especially with the sliding time-scales, but I am interested in the history of Weapon Plus.
We can figure some things....like the earliest program was the Super Soldier and that was early 1940s. There was the African-American prototype test subject, followed by Steve Rogers.
The problem with this FF experiment is that there are topical references. It refers to the Cold War and Reed Richards, which are anachronistic now.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 8, 2014 8:14 PM
Having read some of Uncanny X-Force, Fantomex comments that some technology the Celestials use operate similar enough to devices found in the World that he is able to operate them.
This would imply that either technology within the hyper-evolution atmosphere of the world advances into a state that could rival the Celestials or that Celestial technology was used in the World's creation. The principle behind the place IS pretty high-end.
BUT, this might actually somewhat validate the hints seen through the chronology project that Apocalypse had an involvement with Weapon Plus (as per the original writer's intentions), considering that Apocalypse is an agent of sorts to the Celestials. Heck, his successor in Uncanny X-Force even attempts to use the World to further evolution!
Posted by: Max_Spider | September 13, 2014 7:49 PM
I've always found it intriguing that so many creators have nothing but bad things to say about Shooter, Byrne being one of the most vocal about his poor leadership. And yet, nearly all the creators at Marvel at the time, did their best work under Shooter. Miller, Claremont, Simonson, Stern, DeMatteis, to name but a few. Even the creators I'm not a huge fan of, Grunewald (on Squadron and early Cap), Milgrom (on Peter Parker and Avengers) for example, did their most interesting work to me.
Posted by: Nick Yankovec | April 5, 2015 5:02 AM
@ Nick Yankovec -
It reminds me of certain managers or coaches in sports. Pat Riley always worked his players to the bone, but they often played better for him than they ever did for anyone else. It breeds loyalty but also resentment. Some people only see the resentment, no matter what they might accomplish under that leadership. Shooter's reign strikes me like that - you might not like him and might not even want to play for him again, but it brought out the best work.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 26, 2015 5:28 PM
At the time, Byrne being vocal about Shooter got a lot of attention. Now we know Byrne is vocal about everything. :) I don't think Byrne has much good to say about many people, from Claremont to Quesada. I've heard Byrne blame Shooter for a lot of things, including not letting him draw the first few X-Men covers, which Cockrum confirmed was actually due to him, not Shooter. Reading Byrne's comments on Claremont and others, it seems clear Byrne has very clear ideas of the "right" way to do things, and that he got annoyed if Claremont did something Byrne didn't think was right. Byrne will try to fix or retcon things he doesn't like, from the Dr Doom who met Arcade to Vision and Scarlet Witch's marriage. I wonder if Byrne and Shooter were too similar in some ways, butting heads because they saw their views as the "right way". Ultimately artistic types don't like to be told what to do, and 70s Marvel had been a lot more free before Shooter came along, with people being able to edit their own work, and some books were late or incomprehensible. Shooter wanted quality, and it does seem in general his ideas were good, though maybe he lacked people skills. Anyway a lot of the early 70s staff didn't like Shooter because suddenly they didnt have as much freedom. The 80s fanzines did tend to slag Shooter a lot too, because they saw Marvel as an ugly commercial monolith like McDonalds or Disney. Marvel was the "bad guy", and Shooter the figurehead who got blamed for the Kirby artwork etc, though that was above his head, he was just the EIC not the owner. Not sure if any of the editors in chief since Shooter have been that well liked either? (or before him, other than Stan and Archie Goodwin?) I can't speak for most of the other names you mention, but Miller was generally in favour of Shooter, he said Shooter taught him a lot early on.
Posted by: Jonathan | June 26, 2015 7:31 PM
"The 80s fanzines did tend to slag Shooter a lot too, because they saw Marvel as an ugly commercial monolith like McDonalds or Disney." Oh, if they thought Marvel was a commercial monolith under Shooter, they hadn't seen anything yet...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | June 27, 2015 8:20 PM
There's a hot scene from FF # 295, where is Jen is rescued from the "suspended animation tube" and is still preserved young and beautiful. The She-Hulk wakes up, still clad in short shorts (which seem to have shrunk into a bikini bottom) and a tank top, is so glad to see Wyatt that she immediately grabs him in a bearhug. Jen's big, gamma-enhanced biceps cause poor Wyatt a little discomfort!
Posted by: Tony | October 4, 2016 4:07 PM
She-Hulk: "It's grabbed me!"
Posted by: KombatGod | January 13, 2017 5:39 PM
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