November 10, 2009

Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne: vol. 6

By John Byrne and Jerry Ordway

Collects Fantastic Four #276-284, Secret Wars II #2, Thing #23.

In these issues Ordway is inking Byrne’s pencils and to me, at least, the change is noticeable. Ordway has a very distinctive style.

In the first two issues a couple of earlier subplots are tied up: Reed, Sue, and Franklin’s stint as a normal family in Connecticut, and Ben’s return. Next, Dr. Doom steals the Baxter Building and the FF head to Microverse.

The whole “normal family” thing was a nice change of pace in between the superheroics and I was almost sorry to see it end. However, it was quite a long running subplot so it just makes sense for Byrne to end it. Also, I was expecting someone to recognize Susan and Franklin because they should be quite famous. The nosy neighbor brought to mind a similar character from the TV-show “Bewitched” and she was quite entertaining.

The second story was Ben coming back from the Beyonder’s planet. He has already decided to dump Alicia and the FF. Yet, when he comes to Alicia’s place and meets the half naked Johnny there, he starts a fight. I guess he thinks that Alicia is his property. I was happy to see She-Hulk stay.

The next issue is pretty much a recap of Doom’s backstory. Of course, when I first read these comics I didn’t know Doom was, so the recap was appreciated. Doom’s young ward Kristoff is made to think that he is Doom and he “starts his career again” by stealing the Baxter Building. Meanwhile Johnny and Alicia are dealing with racial hatred which seems stronger than usual.

Kristoff as Doom floats the BB up to space and blows it up.

Afterwards, the FF have to deal with the fact that their home is gone. Hatred and intolerance is also building up. Meanwhile, Psycho-Man sends a very powerful woman called Malice after the FF. After a pitched battle, Reed manages to trace their enemy to Microverse. So, the FF shrinks themselves and goes after the bad guy.

Kristoff wasn’t really a match for Victor but I guess he wasn’t supposed to be. He was just a way to show us how far reaching and evil Doom’s plans are.

I rather enjoyed Psycho-Man as the villain because his ability to manipulate emotions was used to a very good effect. It seems, though, that he hasn’t been used much outside this adventure.

Malice was an interesting “character”. I liked the aggressive way she used her powers (and lets face it if she had been a male from the start, he would have used the very aggressively from the start) which clearly showed how dangerous she is. I suspect, though, that her fight with the FF was cut some pages short in the Finnish edition.

The Microverse part of this trade is again one of my favorite stories and the first Microverse story I’ve ever read. I loved it how She-Hulk was trying to overcome her fear. I also liked a lot the surreal FF story that Susan experienced under torture.

Still, the stories here aren’t as classic as the Galactus-story in vol. 2 or the aftermath with Tyros in vol. 4.

This marks the milestone where Susan finally becomes the Invisible Woman.

Overall: a decent trade.

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