Friday, December 24, 2010

Fantastic Four #320

Fantastic Four 320-“Pride Goeth...”
Cover Date Nov 1988 Price $.75
Writer/ Artist-Steve Englehart/ Keith Pollard
Cover Tagline: “The Shadow of Doom!"," The Thing vs. The Hulk"
Number of issues since last box pull: 13

(Editor's Note- Now that I have some free time over break, I'm going to try and get back on the horse. It has been quite some time since I've pulled from "the"box", but I think I'm ready. Let's forget issue 317 ever happened and enjoy the mindless action that is #320!)

What Happened: This issue begins as a continuation of a story from Hulk #349, a comic I admittedly neglected from my pull list (considering how I was 3 years old at the time it came out). A newly intelligent grey skinned (and tuxedoed) Hulk is lunging for Dr. Doom in retaliation for being dragged into the Las Vegas desert.

The jade gray giant is understandably miffed at being pulled away from all the penny slots and goes to fight with the leader of Latveria, only to be zapped by a power beam. The not-so-good doctor explains that the beam is a neural disruptor(tens years before M.I.B.!), and as the Hulk is physically incapacitated, Doom wishes simply to chat. Hulk no am understand.....

Doom explains to a less than interested grey Hulk that he recently took a journey to see the Beyonder, and while he was absent the protocols were enacted to call up his protege to run his kingdom of Latveria.

Doom hopes Hulk will go back to Latveria and help him regain the throne via brute strength (after all, Hulk smash), but the Hulk politely declines. Doom says thats okay, and then tells the Hulk that he didn't know turning gray made him into a scared little girl as well.Before Hulk can offer a rebuttal, Doom tells him he's not offended, because he has another strong man in mind to help carry out his plan. Namely, one Benjamin J. Grimm, a.ka the hero known as The Thing!
Intelligent or not, the Hulk always lets taunts roll off of him with all the class of a WWE wrestler. Rowdy Roddy Hulk tells Doom he can best the Thing six ways from Sunday, and citing the many other comics where the two have clashed. See, the old imbecilic Hulk never would have cited precedence! The stage is now set for the Hulk to attack the Thing, and Dr. Doom could not be more pleased. Come on Doom, we already have one "puppet master" in the FF universe, stop aping his gig!

The scene shifts over to NYC, with the "Fantastic" Four catching up about their latest escapade. It seems that over the past few issues the team had gone to meet with the Beyonder at the Crossroads of Infinity. The team decides it's time for some R&R by going for a ferry ride. Johnny, Alicia, and Ms. Marvel (who still looks like "Mrs. Thing" at this point) invite Ben Grimm along, but as team leader, he feels compelled to hang out at the base. The Thing ponders the role of leadership as he heads to the roof for some sunbathing, or to drop pennies, or to smush birds, or whatever (it's not really clear why he's taking the elevator straight to the roof).
(The editor's note tells us "Reed Richards, the original FF leader." Thanks, I was totally lost!)

Any way it's all good, because as Ben pauses the Hulk totally gets the jump on him. Oh, I see! The Thing headed to the roof so he could do his daily "move the plot along" exercises! As the Hulk gives the thing a nice big "Ba-Wham!", the caption pretty much lets us know the "substance" part of the issue is over--

The rest of the issue is pretty much Superman #75, without Jimmy Olsen or a polybag. Seriously, it's just like 12 pages of The Thing and The Hulk beating on each other.
Pollard and Marvel totally have a case against Dan Jurgens!

The Thing and Hulk duke it out, each noting that the other is stronger than they remembered. The Hulk keeps his newfound intelligence a secret, and the Thing's edgier form gives him what seems to be the inside track to victory. This is all well and good, until the very end of the issue, when a very special guest star shows up to provide an interesting cliffhanger.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your hero.....The Green Hulk!? Hmmm, I honestly didn't see that coming. Also, note the originality of the plot next issue. The She-Hulk (a female version of the Hulk) is going to fight Ms. Marvel (who looks like a female version of the Thing). If you don't know why that sounds familiar, hit "refresh" on your browser and read the review that comes up!

What I Thought: This comic delivers everything it says it will, but given the fact you can the glean the ENTIRE storyline from the cover, that's not saying much. Think Scott Pilgrim+Street Fighter+A Godzilla movie divided by the aforementioned Superman#75 and you've got the average intelligence of this issue. I say that honestly, but since this comic is from 1988, I'll cut it some slack. For an all-out action issue, the art certainly delivers some punishing looking blows. The Thing and Hulk go pound-for-pound, "spok"ing and "krak"ing their way through the city streets. The best sound effect by far was the Thing's knockout blow:"Ramp!" Outside of someone actually speaking the word, have you ever heard anything make that noise?

Will this issue go down in history as a highlight of the FF from the 80's? No. Will it go down as the best Hulk/Thing matchup? No. Does it provide a fun and action filled romp between two heavyweight favorites? Most Definitely. Like the many Wolverine/Sabretooth throwdowns in comic history, this issue provides another chapter in a rivalry that needs to be revisited every now and then. Nothing more, nothing less. So until The Hulk becomes The Million Dollar Hulk and The Thing becomes "Thing-Kind", vive la fantastique!


  1. Bravo, Mr. SuperKello! A new FF review = A welcome X-Mas gift! What, I'm not a hard man to please! See, this sounds like a fun little comic where you can switch the old brain off and just go along for the ride. Every now and then, those are fun!

    My favorite part of the whole review was you pointing out the editor's note telling us all that Ben was thinking about "Reed Richards, the original FF leader" Really?! Were there really people reading that comic who were wondering, "Hmm, who's this 'Reed' guy Ben is thinking about?!?" Oh, and I can never get enough of Doom tricking all of those stupid super-heroes! Vive la DOOM!!!

  2. Thanks for reading X, I'm glad the lack of substance came through in my review. This comic was just pages and pages of dudes beating each other, but it was the perfect palate cleanser after the last 80's "review" I did!

    I too share your disbelief at the inclusion of such an editor's note. The only person who may have benefitted from the note was someone who had NEVER read a comic. I feel bad for that person, because they may have actually thought the team at this point (Thing, Johnny, Ms.Marvel, Crystal) was the real deal. The 80's truly was a different time for America...

  3. This issue must have been a joy for you to review as opposed to some of those other 80's FF books... Man did they cut down on the amount of dialogue in a comic come the late 90's!

    "I feel bad for that person, because they may have actually thought the team at this point (Thing, Johnny, Ms. Marvel, Crystal) was the real deal." HA!!!! That is hilarious because it's SO true! I can see that one bitter FF fan opening each new issue of the FF comic wondering when the "real" FF was going to make their long-awaited return! :D