Tales from the Longbox – Fantastic Four #258 (1983)

Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.

Fantastic Four #258
September 1983
Writer/Penciler/Inker/Cover Artist: John Byrne

This is my third blog post on John Byrne’s Fantastic Four; you can find the two earlier ones, here and here.

With Fantastic Four #258, Byrne was firing on all cylinders with this issue as he walks us through a day in the life of the Fantastic Four’s archenemy, Doctor Doom. In the space of 22 pages, Byrne gets you into Doom’s head and allows you to understand the man behind the mask as the different facets of his life reveal different things about him.

It’s a tightly-written and plotted story, driven by Doom’s character who proves to be a statesman, a noble father-figure, and an obsessed and sly villain. Byrne’s portrait of Doom allows you to fear him and sympathize with him.

“Rivals… No one rivals Doom! NO ONE! Doom is supreme! There is no power on earth, no intellect in all creation to equal Mine! “

I recall picking up this issue from a convenience store for the tidy sum of $0.75 Canadian and that it blew me away. Despite the title on its cover, I didn’t feel cheated in the least that the Fantastic Four didn’t appear in it. Interestingly, it’s the only issue of the Fantastic Four, up until that point, that didn’t have an appearance by any members of the Fantastic Four. There’s only a hint of the Fantastic Four in this issue and that has to do with the latest plan that Doom is setting into motion, and that sub-plot takes over in Fantastic Four #259-260.

What was amazing upon re-reading this wonderful, self-contained issue was how much Byrne crammed into this issue. Well fleshed out secondary characters, multiple plot lines and sub-plots, all in addition to a solid character study.

Jason Shayer has been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.

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