Posts Tagged ‘John Byrne’

Captain America #255

September 8, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
March 1981
****
Byrne decamps for FF and Stern begins his work on Spidey. But first, they cap their run by recounting the supersoldier’s origin. It’s framed nicely by an Oval Office scene, as FDR gives CA the famous shield. Rubenstein deserves special tone, applying inks thick & rough to suggest the Golden Age era.
[last issue: Captain America #254]
[next issue: Captain America #256]

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Captain America #254

September 7, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
February 1981
****
A gothic tale set in England, with a vampire that’s less Marvel’s Dracula than Stoker’s original. This bloodsucker fought Cap & the Invaders back in WW2, & now loses his head w/ a gruesome chop of the supersoldier’s shield! Also notable: a working-class student becomes Cap’s UK analog, Union Jack.
[last issue: Captain America #253]
[next issue: Captain America #255]

Captain America #253

September 6, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
January 1981
****
Stern’n’Byrne pull the mid-’70s Invaderscontinuity into their run—an inevitable inclusion, since they’ve been enriching Cap’s character w/ period details & “man out of his time” theme. The plot’s a horror trope (an odd fit for the supersoldier) as Cap returns to England to hunt a Nazi vampire.
[last issue: Captain America #252]
[next issue: Captain America #254]

Captain America #252

September 5, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
December 1980
****
When one of Thor’s heavies aims a supertanker at NYC, that ol’ French mercenary Batroc teams up w/ Cap to pummel him. You can almost feel the punches land in Byrne’s fight sequences, plus he tosses off one or two A+ layouts. The peppy caper wraps up quickly, so the creators offer some bonus material.
[last issue: Captain America #251]
[next issue: Captain America #253]

Captain America #251

September 4, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
November 1980
****
This throwback to the Lee/Kirby era gets burnished by its creators’ superlative craft. Look at how much time Stern/Byrne devote to Silver Age super-criminals Hyde & Batroc, who hold NYC ransom! Read how revealing the dialogue is, see how smooth & muscular the artwork is. JB draws a perfect Cap.
[last issue: Captain America #250]
[next issue: Captain America #252]

Captain America #250

September 3, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
October 1980
*****
Cap considers a presidential bid on a third-party ticket but declines cuz he’s an idealist, not a pragmatist. A boldly introverted issue for a milestone number, #250 hit the racks for the autumn election, when Watergate still cast a black shadow over the Oval Office & the country seemed rudderless.
[last issue: Captain America #249]
[next issue: Captain America #251]

Captain America #249

September 2, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
September 1980
****
It takes confidence—or chutzpah—to create a villain w/ a great hook & kill him right away, at least when the death has substance. Downloaded into a mainframe, a roboticist lives a bodiless existence. He loathes it, but his programming won’t allow suicide. So he dupes Cap into executing him!
[last issue: Captain America #248]
[next issue: Captain America #250]

Captain America #248

September 1, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
August 1980
***
A sturdy structure (& Byrne’s long, delicate line) propels the action from last ish to next. A megalomaniac designer of robots has targeted Cap, first w/ that Nazi replicant and now w/ a synthetic dragon (a classic Kirby creation). The issue’s charm, however, is seeing Steve hang w/ his neighbors.
[last issue: Captain America #247]
[next issue: Captain America #249]

Captain America #247

August 31, 2012

Roger Stern & John Byrne
July 1980
****
Byrne, at his peak (see UXM), collabs w/ pal Stern on a classic aborted run. So much potential’s already evident in this tight first issue. The duo nix Gerber’s alt-origin for Cap as false memories for undercover work, then threaten an old Nazi w/ extradition to Israel before revealing it’s a robot!
[last issue: Captain America #246]
[next issue: Captain America #248]

The Fantastic Four #294

February 24, 2011

John Byrne & Roger Stern // Jerry Ordway
September 1986
****
Stern steps in. Byrne’s FF run has shone brightest when he indulged his inner nerd. His latest arc—& out of the blue, his last—engages tropes from ’40s & ’50s sci-fi: fear of the A-bomb, relativistic time & post-human evolution, scientific hubris, & even the revision of current events into religion.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #293]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #295]

The Fantastic Four #293

February 23, 2011

John Byrne
August 1986
****
Solid sci-fi with an air of adventure & enigma. A black dome sprouts up around a mid-sized American city; inside, time passes more speedily. W/ the WC Avengers playing back-up, our heroes storm inside—to find a clean, futuristic civ that worships the Four! Gordon’s inks are meshing nicely w/ Byrne.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #292]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #294]

The Fantastic Four #292

February 22, 2011

John Byrne
July 1986
***
A letdown capper to a dashing arc. Nick Fury guns Hitler down w/ a nasty quickdraw. But the whole jaunt to 1936 is the “dream” of a comatose mutant who warps reality. Five years into his run, however, Byrne’s art is cool as ever, & he continues to apply the FF’s powers in fantastic new ways.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #291]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #293]

The Fantastic Four #291

February 21, 2011

John Byrne
June 1986
****
A puzzling predicament: the F3 & Nick Fury are unstuck in time, slipping btw modern NYC & 1936! With Reed MIA (presumed dead), how can they sort it out—esp. now that the WW2 vet has run off to kill Hitler while he’s got the chance!? Zippy plot & metaphysical quandary add meat to fun superheroism.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #290]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #292]

The Fantastic Four #290

February 20, 2011

John Byrne
May 1986
****
W/ the FF in the crossfire, Kirby Conquerors from the antimatter universe grapple to lead an invasion armada. Mr F may have bought the farm, while the rest of the team (& Nick Fury) has been shunted to 1936! Hugger-mugger space opera, great momentum, & a more subtle focus on Sue’s emotional state.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #289]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #291]

The Fantastic Four #289

February 19, 2011

John Byrne
April 1986
***
The first chapter to what so far is a conventional space adventure. The FF charge thru a transdimensional hole in space to find the usual Kirby tyrants cackling over schemes of invasion. In recent months, Byrne’s been approaching layouts even more traditionally than before: 2×3 & 3×3 panels per page.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #288]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #290]

The Fantastic Four #288

February 18, 2011

John Byrne
March 1986
****
That Doom/Secret Wars snafu gets resolved via time loop. That is, the Beyonder pops in from SW2 to reconstitute the Doc & send him to Battleworld, May ’84. If you ask me, it’s a solution to a non-problem, but I’m less OCD about continuity gaffes than some fans. Anyhow, Sinnott’s inks are glorious.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #287]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #289]

The Fantastic Four #287

February 17, 2011

John Byrne
February 1986
****
Doom, “dead” since #260 (despite Secret Wars, I guess?) makes a rousing return in this fast-paced, action-packed issue. After a choppy ’85 & the Phoenix Resurrection, Byrne’s FF is getting back on track. Inking his own art helps—it adds a Curt Swan cleanliness that other inkers don’t capture.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #286]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #288]

The Fantastic Four #286

February 16, 2011

John Byrne
January 1986
*****
The most audacious & tendentious retcon in comics: Reed & co. open a cocoon holding the live body of Jean Grey! Byrne (or Shooter?) (or Stern? Kurt Busiek?) plays fair by serial rules, inserting a scene in the gutters btw. X-Men #100 & #101. Byrne’s art is more classical in layout than usual. But he also validates a massive revision of his & Claremont’s Dark Phoenix Saga that undercuts its tragedy.
[continued from The Avengers #263]
[continued in X-Factor #1]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #285]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #287]

The Fantastic Four #285

February 14, 2011

John Byrne
December 1985
**
Vamping for time, Byrne folds FF into Secret Wars II once again. It’s a tacky bit of sentiment about a latchkey kid who immolates himself to emulate the Torch. His sacrifice inspires Johnny to remain a hero. Blech. The story might play out in a comic-book world but it has no real-world relevance.
[continued from The Fantastic Four Annual #19]
[continued in The Avengers #263]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #284]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #286]

The Fantastic Four Annual #19

February 13, 2011

John Byrne
December 1985
****
A two-chapter annual with an ebullient late Silver Age tone. It may be a little more like Thomas-era Avengers than Kirby-era FF, but that style is underscored by Joe Sinnott providing retro inking to Byrne’s art. Pt. 1 sees our heroes pop into space to foil a faction of Skrulls—after the Galactus Event, they’ve collapsed into civil war. Pt. 2 crosses into The Av‘s annual (rather confusingly).
[continued from The Fantastic Four #284]
[continued in The Avengers Annual #14]
[continued in The Fantastic Four #285]
[last issue:  The Fantastic Four Annual #18]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #20]

The Fantastic Four #284

February 11, 2011

John Byrne
November 1985
****
A notable moment in comic-book feminism: Sue changes her codename from “Girl” to “Woman”. It tops off a five-month arc that had her mind-raped by an emo-manipulator—a climax undercut as she works violent vengeance in turn. But the feudal microverse is a kick & so’s She-Hulk’s shaggy feminist subplot.
[continued in The Fantastic Four Annual #19]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #283]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #285]

The Fantastic Four #283

February 10, 2011

John Byrne
October 1985
***
The arc’s four issues & counting, but a lack of momentum turns it into a trad super-adventure. The heroes—well, Mr F as usual—make their escape from a torturesome baddie. That the FF face a villain whose Kirby roots are gloriously self-evident only undermines the story’s old-fashioned tone.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #282]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #284]

The Fantastic Four #282

February 9, 2011

John Byrne
September 1985
***
The plot hiccups, even if you’ve followed it thru Secret Wars II. The Four zoom into a pocket ‘verse to face an old Kirby baddie… but when did they learn he was their foe? Sue’s belligerent & hysterical cuz of the arc’s mind-rape. But the Microverse & Franklin’s prophetic dreams both look snazzy.
[continued from Secret Wars II #2 of 9]
[see also Secret Wars II #3 of 9]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #281]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #283]

The Fantastic Four #281

February 8, 2011

John Byrne
August 1985
***
A wooden script & Ordway’s scratchy inking sabotage the breakneck pacing. Reed breaks the spell on Sue by playing the chauvanist—which stimulates love thru hatred? Byrne aims to undermine sexism thru irony but he only entangles himself. This mag has been less fantastic since Sue’s stillbirth.
[continued in Secret Wars II #2 of 9]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #280]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #282]

The Fantastic Four #280

February 7, 2011

John Byrne
July 1985
****
Byrne lifts a couple pages from Chris Claremont’s playbook. First up, he addresses bigotry as NYC turns into a lynch mob, courtesy of a new, shapeshifting Hate-Monger. The baddie also abruptly flips Sue from good to evil, a Dark Phoenix redux complete w/ fetish gear! Exposition will be forthcoming…
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #279]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #281]

The Fantastic Four #279

February 6, 2011

John Byrne
June 1985
****
In an incredible setpiece, the Four return to Earth from low orbit—without a ship! Instead, they apply their powers w/ cunning & bravery, then make quick work of the ersatz Doom. Next question is, now that their HQ’s destroyed, where will they live? A shockingly vulgar scene of bigotry caps the issue.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #278]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #280]

The Fantastic Four #278

February 5, 2011

John Byrne
May 1985
****
Jerry Ordway comes on as inker, subduing Byrne’s slimline beauty. JB, for his part, shows us the face of Doom—audacious but disappointingly conventional. More interestingly, Doombots brainwash a kid w/ the Doc’s personality. The new Doom lifts his old plan from FF #6 to launch the HQ into space.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #277]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #279]

The Fantastic Four #277

February 4, 2011

John Byrne
April 1985
****
Rather than splitting #277 into an A- & B-plot, Byrne runs them concurrently as a vertical diptych. It’s clever but fails to deliver a visual or narrative wallop. In the soapy upper plot, the Thing returns to find his gal Alicia in Johnny’s arms; in the bombastic lower, the Richards fight the Devil.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #276]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #278]

The Fantastic Four #276

February 3, 2011

John Byrne
March 1985
***
Mistaking the suburban Richards for sorcerers, an exorcist attacks their CT home. But the necromancer’s out of her league when they page Dr. Strange! A stronger storyteller would make this plot into a metaphor for Sue’s unattainable dream of normalcy, but so far Byrne simply goes for ghoulish action.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #275]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #277]

The Fantastic Four #275

February 2, 2011

John Byrne
February 1985
****
Byrne finally takes an ish to find She-Hulk’s voice. She’s been on the team for nearly a year, so it’s about time! A sleazy publisher snaps a paparazzi pic of the lady as she sunbathes topless. The combo of sexiness & comedy foreshadows Byrne’s take on his character-defining runs in five years.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #274]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #276]

The Fantastic Four #274

February 1, 2011

John Byrne
January 1985
****
Al Gordon’s inks reveal Byrne’s stylistic debt to Neal Adams’ realism. Subplots proceed apace on Earth (in a surprise, Spidey’s black costume escapes the Baxter Building!). The issue’s core joins The Thing, already in progress, as he frees Universal Horrror monsters from a Battleworld circus.
[continued from The Thing #19]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #273]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #275]

The Fantastic Four #273

January 31, 2011

John Byrne
December 1983
****
The FF liberate an alternate Earth from a sci-fi tyrant: the young wife of Reed’s long-missing dad! Drawn with typically sleek, cool vigor, the tale offers no real surprises except its location’s history, a patchwork of pulp fiction, from Zane Grey to HG Wells to generic sci-fi. It folds into FF #19!
[continued in The Thing #19]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #272]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #274]

The Fantastic Four #272

January 30, 2011

John Byrne
November 1984
***
The FF travel to an alternate timeline where cowboys still roam the California coast—but they’ve got raygun pistols & robot horses! #272 is mostly straightforward action (She-Hulk topples a titanic ‘bot), except how is Reed’s father Nathaniel involved? Narrative conundra hint @ time travel.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #271]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #273]

The Fantastic Four #271

January 29, 2011

John Byrne
October 1984
*****
Missing memories on Reed’s 40th b’day send the FF on a visit to his family estate in Cali—where they find a time platform in the basement! But first, the celebration inspires a flashback to pre-issue #1 days: an Atlas-era sci-fi monster tale, drawn in passable imitation of King Kirby’s style.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #270]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #272]

The Fantastic Four #270

January 28, 2011

John Byrne
September 1984
****
Half of #270 sees Mr F cast an alien into the Earth’s core w/ sci-fi wizardry. The other, better half peeks in on introverted moments w/ the Storm siblings. Invisible Girl, post-stillbirth, resents equating her sense of powerlessness w/ femininity. Good stuff, tho’ nothing’s left to subtext.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #269]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #271]

The Fantastic Four #269

January 26, 2011

John Byrne
August 1984
***
Assisted by Larry Niven, Byrne lays the science on thick. First, Stretcho conducts another cockamamie experiment (he implodes a tennis ball). Then a Kirby-esque cosmic titan inscribes its name across the US. The small moments are hammy: Johnny crushes on the Thing’s blind GF & Sue throws a tantrum.
[continued from The Fantastic Four Annual #18]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #268]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #270]

The Fantastic Four Annual #18

January 24, 2011

John Byrne & Mark Gruenwald // Mark Bright & John Byrne
July 1984
***
Weddings in the Marvel U never go without a hitch. This annual sees the long-awaited marriage in the Inhuman royal family interrupted by a mano a mano combat meant to decide the eternally simmering Kree-Skrull War. Both Gruenwald & Bright are uncharacteristically wooden, but that’s par for an annual. And who knows why Byrne sets the prologue at the outskirts of his epic Dark Phoenix finale?
[continued from The Fantastic Four #268]
[continued in The Fantastic Four #269]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #17]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #19]

The Fantastic Four #268

January 23, 2011

John Byrne
July 1984
****
Byrne doesn’t take much time to mourn the awful events of last issue. That’s a real shame.  Instead, he delivers a surreal, faintly ridiculous dust-up w/ Dr. Doom’s mask, controlled remotely. Would’ve been nice to see new teammate She-Hulk solve the problem, but as usual, it’s Reed to the rescue.
[continued in The Fantastic Four Annual #18]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #267]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #269]

The Fantastic Four #267

January 22, 2011

John Byrne
June 1984
*****
W/ his wife undergoing a fraught & ultimately stillborn labor, Reed seeks a specialist in radiation: Dr. Octopus! The liberal optimism of his trust in a supervillain plus the dramatic focus on Reed & the stress on family distinguish this issue as the peak of Byrne’s FF run as well as its midpoint.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #266]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #268]

The Fantastic Four #266

January 21, 2011

John Byrne // Kerry Gammill
May 1984
***
A fill-in delays the fraught delivery of Sue & Reed’s second child. Flash back several months, when a villainess uses super-cosmetics to pit the Thing against Invisible Girl. Tho’ inked by Byrne, Gammill’s art is noticeably less vivid. And the plot misses the opportunity that its subtext presents.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #265]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #267]

The Fantastic Four #265

January 20, 2011

John Byrne
April 1984
A-story: *****
B-story: ****
A deftly executed pair of tales. The bravura A-story takes the POV of Paste-Pot Pete as he breaks into an empty Baxter Building. The stillness & absence of people creates a unique tension. The B-plot skips to the end of Secret Wars, giving nothing away ‘cept She-Hulk now subs for an MIA Thing.
[continued in Secret Wars #1]
[continued from Secret Wars #12]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #264]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #266]

The Fantastic Four #264

January 19, 2011

John Byrne
March 1984
****
The mag’s at a peak not reached since the heights of Lee & Kirby. Byrne’s art has a classical balance, w/ layouts that the eye glides over. And even a minor arc like this one (pt. 2, in which the Thing & the Torch team up w/ the Mole Man) offers little twists, tensions, & a touch of melancholy.
[last issue:  The Fantastic Four #263]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #265]

The Fantastic Four #263

January 18, 2011

John Byrne
February 1984
****
After last issue’s heights, #263 offers simpler pleasures. The first half stages the Richards’ suburban cosiness, w/ Reed commuting to work & Sue feathering the nest. The back half is gee-whiz superheroics as Ben rescues a kidnapped Johnny from a crackpot who wants to heat up the Earth’s core.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #262]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #264]

The Fantastic Four #262

January 17, 2011

John Byrne
January 1984
*****
The trial of Mr Fantastic is actually an allegory on entropy. The most powerful beings in the Lee/Kirby/Ditko universe—the Watcher, Galactus, Odin, Eternity—justify Big G’s necessity. It’s science fiction as primitive philosophy, justifying not through reasoning but an act of creative cosmology.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #261]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #263]

The Fantastic Four #261

January 16, 2011

John Byrne
December 1983
*****
The trail of missing Mr F leads thru a Ditko Dimension in the Watcher’s lunar home & out into deep space, where a fleet of alien refugees means to execute Reed for showing Galactus mercy. The brilliant conceit of trying Reed for his mercy ranks w/ Lee/Kirby in its staging of liberalism.
[continued from Alpha Flight #4]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #260]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #262]

The Fantastic Four #260

January 15, 2011

John Byrne
November 1983
****
Action mavens will enjoy this issue, a work of pure, streamlined comics pleasure. It’s rare to read a superhero fight w/ so much vibrancy, clarity & pacing. With Mr F MIA, the Fantastic 3 & Doc Doom are outclassed by a cosmic tyrant, till salvation arrives via a blazing cavalry: the Silver Surfer.
[continued in Alpha Flight #4]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #259]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #261]

The Fantastic Four #259

January 13, 2011

John Byrne
October 1983
****
It’s probably smart to bench Mr F for a few issues, since he tends to lead the plot in Byrne’s stories. Instead, Sue takes center stage, first as she goes househunting & then as she rallies the F3 against Dr. Doom & his ally, a former Herald of Galactus. I’m skeptical about the move to the burbs.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #258]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #260]

The Fantastic Four #258

January 12, 2011

John Byrne
September 1983
*****
The mag’s title is a misnomer: the FF don’t appear in this issue! Instead, we check in on Doom. Having rebuilt his Balkan state, Dr. D initiates on his latest scheme: to re-empower a former Herald of Galactus (temporarily). No surprise insights, #257 simply lets us revel in Doom’s company for 22 pages.
[continued from The Fantastic Four Annual #17]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #257]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #259]

The Fantastic Four Annual #17

January 11, 2011

John Byrne
August 1983
****
A minor character stumbles into a dairy town infected w/ Skrull DNA—thanks to those cows back in issue #2! It’s Byrne executing yet another of his clever one-offs, fusing an homage to Lee/Kirby FF with a weird sci-fi tale of alien infiltration. “Skrull Kill Krew” would revisit these very ideas 12 years later, w/ G. Morrison adding a dash of relevance w/ an early critique of food additives.
[continued from The Fantastic Four #257]
[continued in The Fantastic Four #258]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #16]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four Annual #18]

The Fantastic Four #257

January 10, 2011

John Byrne
August 1983
*****
Both halves of this diptych are prologues w/ portent. The first part sees Galactus consume the Skrull’s capital planet. Under purple prose, it conveys a sense of awe at cosmic events. Back on Earth, the team moves into safer digs: a Soho loft for Johnny & a suburban manse for pregnant Mrs. Richards.
[continued in The Fantastic Four Annual #17]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #256]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #258]