Friday, July 11, 2014

When Heralds Clash!

Since Doctor Doom regained his kingdom of Latveria from Zorba, who took over leadership when Doom was toppled from power, he didn't take long to make good on his threat to renew his goal of destroying the Fantastic Four. To that end, he empowered Tyros, the former herald of Galactus known as Terrax, with a portion of the "power cosmic" and convinced him to carry out that attack. In Part Two of the story, we saw Tyros engage both the Thing and the Human Torch, with the Invisible Girl racing to join the battle after discovering that Doom was the catalyst for it.

Unknown to Tyros, his time is limited to carry out the FF's destruction, since the rampant artificial energies that Doom has charged him with are quickly consuming him. But Tyros has been wasting neither his time nor his power, attacking the FF with a vengeance and forcing them to battle for their lives. Yet the cover to this issue implies that the cost of this battle will go beyond the Fantastic Four, and that the goal of vengeance may well circle back to consume this affair's instigator.

As with many of writer/artist John Byrne's Fantastic Four stories, this one takes the opportunity to lay some groundwork for other developments involving the FF, even when such opportunity isn't necessarily available. For while you'd think that a battle in progress between Tyros and the FF (albeit half of them, at this stage) wouldn't keep, we nevertheless begin the issue with, of all people, the Sub-Mariner, who prepares to investigate a mystery in the ocean's depths:

We won't linger on Namor, since his mission isn't relevant to the situation with Tyros; in fact, his appearance is mainly a way to direct readers to its resolution in the pages of Alpha Flight. On a personal note, though, it does serve to remind me that I'm not really partial to Byrne's depiction of Namor--though to be fair, I never read Byrne's Namor, the Sub-Mariner title which hit the racks seven years later, where his style for the character may well have evolved.

But let's return our attention to the matter at hand, and Tyros's use of his hand to not only hold the FF at bay but to batter them mercilessly. Still, the Thing knows a *ahem* thing or two about battering, himself:

As we can see, the efforts of the Torch and the Thing are delaying Tyros--but it's become apparent that the advantage is his. The Thing's strikes are causing no real injury to Tyros, just as the alien's power seems to make him immune to the Torch's flame. The good news is that, for once, a hose doesn't take Johnny out of action--though it's no thanks to any evasive efforts he's again failed to consider, but instead due to the timely arrival of his big sister:

Unfortunately we can't even call this struggle a stalemate, since the FF continue to fight what amounts to a delaying action. And so Sue acts to provide Tyros with a more united front:

While, monitoring the battle, Doom reacts with satisfaction, since he wants Richards present to experience his friends' downfall before his own defeat and death. But Doom is forced to revise his plans when the unexpected occurs:

Few can part the waters like Doctor Doom, obviously. But, come on, that kid with the "boom box"--jeez, is this fight boring him? I'm not sure I'd be focused on rocking to my music while a battle of this magnitude is playing out before my eyes. Doom, for his part, is about to provide a little "boom" of his own, when his instructions to his lackey are refused:

The cat's now out of the bag, as far as Doom's involvement in this scheme. But perhaps Doom has acted too rashly in attempting to rein in Tyros, given the level of rage which Tyros is feeling--as well as the fact that there's nothing about Doom's armor that makes it any less vulnerable to even a fraction of the cosmic power which Tyros possesses:

We already know from the last issue what character was on his way to the general area of the battle site, so the only person left to be surprised by his arrival (other than the FF, who are probably relieved) is Tyros. Suffice to say that, with the FF ineffectual and with Doom out of the picture, this fight is now between two former heralds of Galactus:

As for Doom--even as a virtual armored statue, the man is nothing if not resourceful. Making use of a technique we've only occasionally seen, he manages to extricate himself from this state. Though when the time is right, we'll learn of the cost:

And that cost is coming swiftly, as Tyros reaches the point where his power literally begins to burn him out:

And in the true spirit of "what goes around, comes around," the cosmic fireball that's engulfed both Tyros and the Surfer just happens to zero in on a certain immobile armored figure, who's helpless to escape.

The aftermath of the battle reveals the end of Tyros's threat. But, in surveying the site, the FF find almost irrefutable proof that the same fate has also been met by their oldest, deadliest enemy:

Or has it? For some perspective, we have to return to the point where Doom attempts to salvage--well, himself from his damaged armor. What happens next is unclear, but we might find a clue amongst the bystanders who continue to mill about the scene of battle:

And, brother, if Aunt May's rudeness senses are cooking on all cylinders, you know something evil has passed this way.

Fantastic Four #260

Script, Pencils and Inks: John Byrne
Letterer: Jim Novak


Anonymous said...

The cover is a real spoiler !!

Anonymous said...

OK, half a spoiler because it doesn't reveal the twist ending. I'm now going to google Dr. Doom and find out what happened to him after this !

Comicsfan said...

Colin, I think I can help you out with that, guy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, CF !

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