Writer/Artist: John Byrne
I wanted to follow up on Byrne’s classic run by taking a look at an issue two years after his debut.
At first glance, you’ll notice that Fantastic Four #252 is a “widescreen” or “sideways” issue. As the title’s caption states, this issue was “the World’s most innovative comic magazine” and indeed it is as this was the first ever sideways issue and there have only been a handful done since.
Fantastic Four #252 kicked off the team’s adventures in the Negative Zone. It’s a great hybrid of the science fiction and superhero genres and reminded us of the role of the Fantastic Four as explorers in the Marvel Universe.
Despite finding the pages a bit awkward to flip, the format allowed Byrne to try a lot of great things, including vividly capturing the alien cityscapes,and playing with the panel assortment and sizes, in particular, the long stretched ones and the wider ones. Interestingly, the widescreen format for this issue makes it perfect for reading on a laptop screen!
The story was a solid, entertaining cautionary tale for our explorers and set the tone for this 4-part adventure into the Negative Zone. It’s also surprising how much Byrne managed to jam into this 22-page comic (two pages of which were an Annihilus sub-plot!).
A fun side note is that the “Free Lakeside Skin Tattooz” was often taken from this issue and placed into the far more expensive Amazing Spider-Man #238 (first appearance of the Hobgoblin) in case that issue was missing the “Tattooz”.