Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1983 - Fantastic Four #252

Fantastic Four #252
March 1983
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”.


  1. For me this was one of the best comics from Byrne. The story wasn't so great, but he was at the peak of his art, and as you mention, this particular issue had him trying new things, and really, really showing off his art. Thanks for bringing this back to memory!

  2. Hey apm, you're more than welcome, glad you liked the post!

  3. Speaking of innovative, you *are* going to follow this up with #277 where Byrne did the split stories, right? I know he did it again with an issue of the HULK. Has he done that elsewhere?

  4. Hey Lee, thanks for the comment. That's a great idea! I'll add it to my Marvel 1980s to do list! Thanks.

  5. I´ve always loved the Negative Zone trip saga. The stories were surprising, not the classic superheroes story, just sci-fi and fantastic stories. And Byrne did that really really right!! I love Byrne´s artwork!!

  6. Hey Frankie, thanks for the comment. Byrne's art seems ideal for telling sci-fi stories.

  7. Great blog! One note...Cerebus #44 (cover date November 1982) was sideways.



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