By John Byrne
Collects Fantastic Four #258-267 and Alpha Flight 4, and Thing #10.
These stories deal with the aftermaths of the fight with Galactus in vol. 2. It’s full of many classic moments: Dr. Doom giving the former Terrax cosmic powers and the fight that it leads to, Reed Richards’ trial for saving Galactus, and She-Hulk replacing Ben.
The trade starts with an issue focusing on Doom. During the months that the FF has spent in the Negative Zone, Doom has been busy. He has a young ward Kristoff whom he’s teaching about the rigors of absolute monarchy. Also, he’s trying to find a way to make the Power Cosmic artificially so that he could use it again. In the end, he has to kidnap Tyros, the former Terrax Herald of Galactus, from hospital and use his machine to give Tyros the powers. Then he sends Tyros to destroy the FF. Ben, Susan, and Johnny fight Tyros but can only barely hold their own. Fortunately, the Silver Surfer interferes. Both Tyros and Doom seem to die in the fight.
Afterwards, the FF finds out that a transport beam has taken Reed out of the solar system. Susan decides to contact the Watcher who agrees to take them to Reed. A group of aliens has sentenced Reed to death because he didn’t let Galactus die. However, the FF and the Watcher persuades them to give Reed a trial. The prosecutor is Majestrix Lilandra herself. Many different people and beings speak at the trial.
Then Reed, Ben, and Johnny are whisked away to the Secret Wars while the Baxter Building guards itself against the Trapster. A visibly pregnant Susan is trying to keep busy while waiting for the rest of her family to return. However, the returning members of FF are Reed, Johnny, and the She-Hulk. Susan suffers a radiation attack and is taken to a hospital while Reed wants to consult the foremost expert in radiation: Dr. Otto Octavius also known as Dr. Octopus.
I remember being very impressed with these stories when I first read them in 1988. In the first part, Dr Doom says that he considers Susan to be the most dangerous member of the FF. Of course, practically the only thing that restricts the use of the force fields seems to be the writer’s imagination so I tend to agree with Doom in this.
The trial-part is still entertaining enough but I’m more dubious about it today. I definitely enjoyed how the pregnant Susan didn’t take any crap from the boys who tried to quickly leave her out but instead declared herself the current leader of FF and went right back into action. However, I find the whole idea that the Marvel universe has a “destiny” to be pretty cheesy. It’s also, of course, just a way of saying that the ends (the destiny) justify the means (the suffering of countless beings) which I don’t really care for. I was also baffled by the comments about Lilandra. She wants to relieve the suffering of others and this is now considered… arrogant and evil?
Byrne also put himself into the trial issues as the Chronicler of FF. I found this to be rather cheesy as well. On the other hand, it brought a little comic relief to otherwise rather tense story.
Baxter Building vs. the Trapster is great fun!
I loved She-Hulk in FF! She’s fun and easygoing and broke up the status quo nicely. I also liked her romance with Wyatt a lot.
The last storyline’s end was tragic and poignant in the middle of all the superhero action.
Overall: a great trade!