RETRO REVIEW: Fantastic Four #275 (February 1985)
Or – “What’s Big And Green And Has A Staple In Her Navel?”
Remember the time that a sleazy skin-mag tried to put one over on the cousin of the Incredible Hulk? Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!
80s Byrne art!
She-Hulk is wonderfully written.
A lot of setup for little payoff.
Racial slurs and sexual politics haven’t aged well.
FANTASTIC FOUR #274
Writer: John Byrne
Artist: John Byrne
Inker(s): Al Gordon/Dan Adkins
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Diana Albers
Editor: Michael Carlin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 60 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Previously in Fantastic Four: Reed Richards and his best friend tested an experimental rocket-ship, accompanied by his tagalong girlfriend and her little brother, imbuing each of them with phenomenal cosmic powers. When a nigh-all-powerful alien known as the Beyonder transported them (along with many of Earth’s other heroes) to an alien Battleworld, the team went through a week-long ordeal, at the end of which founding member The Thing decided to stay behind. To fill the power gap, Reed recruited the Avengers emerald-hued powerhouse, the savage She-Hulk. Since joining the team, She-Hulk (aka attorney Jennifer Walters) has moved to the FF’s Baxter building headquarters, even taking advantage of their rooftop to sunbathe, which is where our story picks up…
First of all, I’m loving the old-school designer jean shorts. Secondly, I’m uncertain why She-Hulk would be sunning herself, as generally I though that sunbathing was to tan the skin darker. I suppose she COULD want to move from emerald to hunter green, but regardless, she didn’t expect to be peeped topless by an unscrupulous photographer…
Miraculously, the sudden and off-balance addition of 700 pounds of muscle DOESN’T send the chopper crashing to the streets of Manhattan below, but the pilot does manage (after a few false starts) to scrape She-Hulk off his boat by slamming her through a building. Luckily, Jen’s main squeeze Wyatt Wingfoot witnessed her hasty exit, and scoops up his lady-friend, having borrowed a sky-cycle from the FF’s fleet. Unfortunately, the copter slips away in the confusion, leaving an angry and embarrassed She-Hulk…
It’s lovely to see Jennifer falling back on her background as a lawyer to try to figure out the mystery before them, but I’m a little bit confused about some of the finer points of this issue (more on that later.) She-Hulk tracks the bird to an airfield in New Jersey, and makes the scene in her inimitable style…
She-Hulk’s term with the FF is an interesting run of issues, contrasting her fun-loving personality and enjoyment of her powers with The Thing’s general misery, made doubly-obvious by her taking his slot as team powerhouse. Case in point: rather than resort to a flat-out confrontation with gamma-irradiated muscles, Jennifer Walters powers down and follows the leads to a sleazy boobie magazine called “The Naked Truth” using the power… of ATTORNEY!
This is where things start to come off the rails for me, with the racial slurs aimed at Wyatt Wingfoot exacerbating the discomfort of the public nude-photos plotline, and the over-the-top skeeviness of The Naked Truth. When Ms. Walters requests that they turn over all the negatives, she is told that she’s a public figure and thus they have the right to run the photos…
With all legal recourse having failed her, Jen falls back on her secondary talent: Swift and blinding violence…
Byrne really impresses me with the layouts this issue, especially in that sequence there, proving that the art, at least, has aged gracefully. As for the story, I clearly remember reading this in my teens and finding the next part of the issue to be hilarious…
But, for some reason, it’s not so much funny anymore, just kind of unsavory and a little bit dated. Notwithstanding that she could have accidentally killed the helicopter pilot and photographer at the beginning of the issue, I’m a little disturbed at the idea that destructive actions by a 7-foot super-strong woman are really a karmic balance for the invasion of her privacy. The last page of the issue gives us the punchline…
…which only raises MORE questions. This issue is designed to be a cute little story, which it sort of achieves, but the idea of someone taking pictures of a woman against her will and basically getting away with it isn’t as funny as it was to me in 1985. Even so, Fantastic Four #275 has Byrne’s art going for it, and some lovely character work for our lead, which helps to smooth out some of the rough spots of the story vis-a-vis its utter creep-factor, earning it 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Still no real justification for the racial slurs, though…