Steve Englehart, the FF and WCA

I posted this earlier at CBR’s Comic Book Urban Legends #107, but left out a couple of things – they will be added after the initial comments.

Steve created two of the best series in the Ultraverse – The Night Man and The Strangers. Night Man got bastardized by Black September; The Strangers are in limbo with three unpublished issues.

His West Coast Avengers was excellent, I was a latecomer to the series, but the charm it held touched my heart. The Lost-In-Space-Time arc continues to be the best time-travel story ever done. It added to Roger Stern’s Doctor Strange adventure with the FF without interfering a whit. The Phantom Rider/Mockingbird story made for some spooky business; the Zodiac issues made way for the all-LMD replacements and explained the Zodiac Key and Jacob Fury. The return of the Phantom Rider was equally as frightening, and the trip to Eastern Europe gave us Kristoff Doom having some measure of vengeance against Pietro Maximoff, Henry Pym’s victory against his teammates and over the Voice of Doom, and the rescue of Maria Trovaya.

Now, all of that having been said…I had never read the issue of the FF where Quicksilver and Kristoff were at odds, until recently. That was FF #305, and though it was barely a full page, you knew that things were going to a head if they ever met under different circumstances.

Fasaud was an easily forgettable adversary – I think even Steve will agree with that assessment.

Then came FF #310. Oh, dear.

I thought that #319 was less about trashing the Beyonder and more about repairing the incomplete repair job done to Doctor Doom; at any rate, one can’t dislike a comic that has RALF! as a sound effect!

I only wish that Ron Lim had come one issue early, so that #320 could have looked as good as #321.

The Inferno issues actually were the best of any of the Inferno stories.

Then came the editorial edict – Reed and Sue must return. Well, considering he knew that the end was near, he did a creditable job in finishing out his storylines. Most impressive were #330 and #332. FF #330 showed what could’ve occurred with two Dooms running rampant – one Doom is more than enough. FF #332 slyly inferred that, unless Franklin actively interfered in Ben and Alicia’s relationship that the Johnny/Alicia marriage never should have occurred, something that Tom DeFalco took to the next level, and sowed the seeds for Secret Invasion.

FF #333 finished off things nicely and cleared the way for Walt to do his magic. I must say, though, that "John Harkness" must have a penchant for running around with Tribbles glued to his head, because that thing cannot be any growth of human hair, by any means.

Actually, if you re-read FF #305, you’ll bear witness to a talk between Franklin, Sue and Reed, where Franklin simply thinks that, if Alicia is now with Johnny, why can’t Ben have Crystal to love? I thought that was really thought-provoking…and maybe Franklin did have something to do with what happened at the end of FF #245.

I forgot to mention #24, where the Avengers actually defeat Dominus, the Quist artificial intelligence behind the various Lucifers and their attempts to take over the Earth, with the help of Marc Spector, Moon Knight, and his various personalities. Moon Knight also proved to be the better of Cornelius Van Lunt, who was Taurus of the original human Zodiac. I also didn’t mention his contributions to the Valiant Universe, notably Shadowman.

I think his collaboration on Detective Comics with Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin go without saying; they may be some of the finest books crafted with Batman in mind; Silver St. Cloud, Hugo Strange, the Joker – if you haven’t read these books, you’ve done yourself a disservice. Get the originals, or or you can avail yourself of the reprints, which will also get you some good analysis by Steve.

Still – Walt has a line in FF #350 regarding the arbitrariness of Sharon Ventura’s transformation into the She-Thing, and I am mostly in agreement with it.; but all in all, I believe that Englehart’s FF made for an interesting chapter in the lives of Reed Sue, Johnny and Ben, and that their adventures are richer for his contributions.

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About Vin the Comics Guy

My Name is Vin, and I have a personal collection of over 17,000 comic books. My earliest book is a copy of Garrison’s Gorrilas, from 1939.
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