Fantastic Four annual #21
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #21
The twist of this issue is that the Inhumans' resistance is led by Quicksilver, even though he apparently lost his powers facing off against Maria Trovaya in West Coast Avengers #36. He claims that his recent bad behavior was due to Maximus' mind control, and the Inhumans not only believe him but force Crystal to return home to be his wife again.
I guess before we get into all of that, though, you'll want to see some bathing scenes.
Crystal's thoughts above are a great example of how not to work exposition into your character's thought bubbles.
And here's some passive-aggressive commentary from Luna's nanny, Maya.
Ok, now here come the Inhumans to take Crystal away. Note that Englehart is ignoring John Byrne's revelation that Lockjaw is an actual Inhuman, not a pet (we're still a while away from Peter David's retcon of that).
While the Inhumans and the FF are fighting on Earth, the High Evolutionary arrives on the moon with his Eliminators, Purifiers, and Gatherers. The Watcher shows up to check out what's going on, but he comically reiterates that he's not going to get involved.
Oh my god, you guys. Is that the Chief Examiner in the background?
While the Watcher helpfully recaps the first half of the Evolutionary War for us, the Evolutionary's army attacks...
...and Quicksilver does indeed lead the resistance.
His "old militia" still seem to be the most human looking of the Inhumans, as we saw in their first appearance in Vision and the Scarlet Witch #10.
Once the FF and the Inhumans stop fighting and go to the moon together, the Eliminators are mopped up pretty quickly...
...and the High Evolutionary is forced to withdraw.
Since the Watcher doesn't appear in the rest of The Evolutionary War, might we surmise that this was a pivotal moment and if the High Evolutionary had managed to claim the Terrigen Mists it might have been a significant changing point for the Marvel universe, moreso than the High Evolutionary's attempts in other chapters?
Or maybe we should just assume that Englehart likes the Watcher and is setting up future storylines. After the fight, we find out that the shadow from earlier isn't really the Chief Examiner, it's another Watcher.
But Uatu won't let him talk.
When they leave, Black Bolt takes Crystal outside the atmosphere of the Blue Area so that he can use his voice to command her to stay.
And he finally convinces her when she realizes that staying will hurt the "family" of the Fantastic Four, specifically Johnny and Alicia's relationship.
The FF say their goodbyes to Crystal and the Inhumans and then go home. We continue with an examination of Crystal and Quicksilver in a back-up feature.
The back-up is credited to "Edward L. Norton", but the UHBMCC says that's a pseudonym for Steve Englehart (it doesn't provide a source for that and i can't find any confirmation of it). I do see that an Edward L. Norton has three credits as a Letterer on issues of G.I. Joe, and, on a page that we're probably not supposed to see, the Marvel Wiki has a script that changes any instances of the text "Edward L. Norton" to Jim Shooter.
If it is Englehart, this may be the beginning of various pseudonyms he uses to protest editorial interference on the Fantastic Four title (S. F. X. Englehart and then John Harkness). If so, in this case it's probably because it's in this story that he acknowledges the story from X-Factor annual #2 where it was revealed that all of Quicksilver's actions in the various Englehart-written stories were due to mind control by Maximus the Mad.
Crystal obviously isn't convinced, to the point where she's repelled by the idea of Quicksilver picking up Luna.
Maya, on the other hand, is pleased.
And Crystal is told not only that she has to accept Quicksilver back as her husband, but she has to like it.
Again, if this is Englehart writing, he probably was able to draw on his own feelings about being forced to write what the editor (not necessarily Macchio?) wanted. Personally, i'm happy to have Quicksilver's period written off as madness and/or mind control, just because it was so poorly done and over the top, but obviously (or at least, i hope!) we're meant to sympathize with Crystal here, and Englehart keeps us suspicious of Quicksilver by having him reach out to Dr. Doom.
Artwise, i think Guice drew this back-up with his opposite hand for the challenge. It looks nothing like his usual art and is, frankly, terrible.
Also in this issue are some Pin-Ups, including some that have commentary on the recent "Kill Sue" letters in the lettercols.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue begins with the Fantastic Four returning from their long journey in Fantastic Four #313-317 (see the Considerations on Nick Fury vs. SHIELD regarding a possible complication about that, but i am sticking with this placement for now). This is part six of The Evolutionary War; Uncanny X-Men annual #12 is next. A minor note is that the Saga of the High Evolutionary back-ups (which i cover in a separate entry) flip the order between this issue and the previous Amazing Spider-Man annual; this story says that Amazing Spider-Man annual #22 is next and then the Saga story there says the X-Men annual is next. But in the main story here, the events of the Amazing Spider-Man annual are referenced.
Crossover: The Evolutionary War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
In a letter to Amazing Heroes, Englehart describes the changes made to the back-up story in Fantastic Four Annual 21 and makes it sound like he was the author:
Posted by: Michael | July 11, 2014 6:43 PM
"Edward L. Norton" refers to the Honeymooners character. I doubt that Shooter had any involvement with Marvel after 1987.
The Prime Mover went back to Latveria? When did that happen?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 12, 2014 11:10 AM
Englehart is obviously under the impression that sales were rising even now. On his website he clearly states that he was brought in to revive the title and that by #321 sales had regained all the lost readership:
Not sure what the Statement of Ownership says sales were like around this time.
It is strange however. If sales were collapsing, why did Marvel allow Englehart write another 15 issues or so? For that matter, I never understood why Marvel continued to allow Mantlo to write Alpha Flight after sales had fallen so far to go Direct Market only. Maybe if Tom DeFaclo had spent less time writing titles and more time being EiC, he could have made quicker creative changes to save some of these titles.
Posted by: Chris | July 13, 2014 12:56 PM
The statement of ownership for 1987, in issue #302 before Englehart's run began, had the Average of Past 12 months = 251,083. In 1988, issue #313, it was 216,108.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 13, 2014 1:18 PM
The later statement of ownership figures were as follows:
Posted by: Michael | July 13, 2014 1:24 PM
The behaviour of the Inhuman royal family is absolutely appalling here. They intend to drag Crystal back against her will, by force, to a man who has tried to murder her! This is her own family doing this to her!
Even with the reveal that Pietro wasn't under outside influence at the time, it still doesn't mean that Crystal should be physically forced to go back to him before she's ready.
Posted by: Dermie | July 21, 2014 12:36 AM
Englehart confirms here that when he wrote that story he wanted Quicksilver to be Evil Evil:
Posted by: Michael | June 12, 2015 5:42 PM
Edward L.Norton has to be a pseudonym for Ralf.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | November 11, 2015 10:58 PM
Englehart's website is full of crackpot claims and delusions, he genuinely sounds insane most the time.
Posted by: AF | February 2, 2018 7:16 AM
The sad fact is writers are paid to sit in a room and talk to themselves all day, and eventually most of them end up sounding just like someone who just sits in a room and talks to himself all day...
Posted by: Andrew | February 2, 2018 10:27 AM
That's not the Steve Englehart I know! Sane as a fox, he is!
Posted by: ChrisW | February 2, 2018 8:55 PM
Quicksilver's claim that he's ratting out the FF to Doom in order for Doom to gain power enough to fight Kristoff is dubious at best and doesn't sit right with me (among the many other things that don't sit right with me about that back-up story). I think it's more likely he's doing this to get revenge on the Torch, at least subconsciously, as that look he gives Johnny and Crystal during the battle is pretty telling.
Posted by: TCP | March 19, 2018 1:01 PM
"Now you're all mine again".
Anything further I write will just be another repetitive rant.
Posted by: KevinA | June 14, 2018 11:26 AM
Comments are now closed.
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