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Quote1.png ... You and your fiery ally have seriously underestimated the Fantastic Four! Quote2.png
Reed Richards

Appearing in "Back to the Basics!"

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Synopsis for "Back to the Basics!"

Having laid low for many months, the alchemist known as Diablo begins plotting revenge against his long time foes the Fantastic Four. Working on his most recent potion, Diablo almost exposes himself when Mrs. Mulligan -- the landlady in the boarding house he has rented -- comes banging on his door to make sure her tenant is not cooking in his room. Assuming his guise of the elderly Mr. Olbaid, he assures the old crone that he is not cooking. Once she leaves, Diablo resumes his normal form and completes his potion, setting in motion his latest scheme to destroy the Fantastic Four.

At the Casa Tindolini hair salon, the Sue Richards is getting her hair restyled when suddenly the salon is attacked by a creature comprised of earth. As her hair dresser runs for cover, Sue removes her street clothes as her Fantastic Four costume turns visible, a trick she has been practicing for easier changing in combat situations. Realizing her opponent is too strong, she turns invisible and tires to rush to her purse and her flare-gun. Detecting her presence, Earth unleashes a torrent of dirt upon his prey, surrounding her in hardening grit.

Meanwhile, Ben and Alicia are exiting a Broadway performance of the Elephant Man, which has brought Ben to tears. Suddenly it begins to rain, but the Thing soon realizes that it is only raining around him. Before he can react, Ben suddenly finds himself surrounded in water. Trying to break free to prevent himself from drowning, the Thing tries to smash through the ground, but to no avail. While in Central Park, the Human Torch takes a more subtly approach when it comes to reconnecting with his old flame Frankie Raye. Frankie and Johnny admit their feelings for one another, but before they can discuss her issues with his being a super-hero, he is attacked by a creature comprised of air. While at the Baxter Building headquarters of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards is working in his lab when he is suddenly attacked by a creature made of fire, he initially mistakes for Johnny. When the creature engulfs the upper floors of their headquarters, Reed curls up into a ball and bounces outside, then unfurls like a sail in order to glide to Central Park to seek out the Torch's aid.

There Reed runs into Frankie who tells him that Johnny is in trouble. While Reed tries to smother Air, Fire manages to catch up to them. Reed deduces that the best way to defeat their foes is to switch opponents. Challenging Fire, Johnny flames on and flies off into the sky with his foe not far behind, leaving Reed to tackle Air alone. Meanwhile back at the hair salon, Sue manages to free herself with an invisible force field. Seeking to get the rest of her team, she tries uses her invisibility powers in a new way: like a means of transport, she begins to race across the city with Earth not far behind. Elsewhere, Ben manages to get the better of Water by rushing into a sporting goods store where he is given an oxygen tank to breath with. However Water tries to kill one of the patrons, forcing Ben to let it try and envelope him again. Instead of surrounding the Thing, Water strikes Sue's invisible force field as she arrives on the scene. Sue then contains Water in a force bubble while the Thing smashes Earth to bits. However Earth is far from defeated, as it begins to reform it strikes him with a powerful blow.

Also arriving on the scene is Reed with Wind still trying to battle him. Realizing what is needed to defeat their foes, Reed has Sue free Water and contain Air. Grabbing some jumper cables, Reed destroys Water by exposing it to electricity. He then instructs Ben to destroy Earth by breaking open a water main. Exposed to water, Earth dissolves into harmless mud. Lastly, he has Sue increase the pressure within her force bubble, forcing Air -- a gas-- to assume a liquid form destroying it as well. High above the city, the Torch and Fire battle it out. Realizing how to defeat his foe, Johnny flies as high as possible an unleashes his nova flame, consuming all the oxygen from the immediate vicinity, causing Fire to extinguish. With his powers exhausted, Johnny safely lands in the East River where he is recovered by a tugboat.

Back at the Baxter Building, Reed explains to Ben and Sue that he has determined that their foe is Diablo. When Ben mentions how Diablo likely perished in their last encounter, Reed points out that their foe had cheated death before. Knowing how to catch Diablo, Reed puts in a call for help. Later that night Diablo tries to make his escape from the city, but is quickly nabbed by Reed Richards, who was waiting for him. Surprised his enemy was able to find him, Diablo learns that Reed was able to track him down after hearing that Diablo had stolen a number of mystical artifacts and enlisted the aid of Doctor Strange to help find him. With Diablo subdued, Reed thanks Doctor Strange for his help and takes Diablo off to prison.


Continuity Notes

  • Diablo appears here after his failed attempt of taking control of a NASA solar satellite in Fantastic Four #193194 where he seemingly perished in an explosion. How he survived the blast is not clearly explained. However he cheated death in the past by turning his body into another substance (as revealed in Fantastic Four #194) and that was likely the case here.
  • Sue's expands the skill of her powers, showing more refined skill since her powers were last boosted by the Thunder Horn in Fantastic Four #159.
  • Frankie's fear of Johnny is because at this moment she suffers from pyrophobia as explained in Fantastic Four #238. It stemmed from the fact that her stepfather Phineas Horton -- creator of the original android Human Torch -- accidentally doused her in chemicals that endowed her with flame powers of her own. Horrified by what he had done, Horton used hypnosis to suppress those memories and give her a fear of fire.
  • Doctor Strange makes his cameo appearance here between the flashback on page 8 panel 4 & 5 of Civil War: The Confession #1 where he was seen meeting with his fellow Illuminati. He is next seen in the flashback from Iron Man #159 where it explains Doctor Strange's additional interference with Diablo.
  • Diablo, who appears next in Iron Man #159, is spirited away by Doctor Strange, who uses his magics to convince the alchemist that he is a janitor named Mr. Al Bido, and is sent to work for Stark International. The Fantastic Four also appear next in that same flashback, leaving them to wonder what happened to Diablo when he suddenly disappears from the Fantasti-Car.

Publication Notes

  • This is the first issue for John Byrne as both writer and artist of Fantastic Four. His run consists of "classic feel" storylines reminiscent of the early Stan Lee/Jack Kirby motif on Fantastic Four. However, Byrne also inserts a number of new elements and twists into the title. Like him or not, his run on the title must be considered impactful and considerable. He will remain as the regular writer and artist on the title until Fantastic Four #293 (August 1986) (over five years).
  • Inks are credited to Bjorn Heyn (anagram of John Byrne).
  • This issue does not contain a letters page.


  • The artwork on the splash page (page one) closely resembles the cover of this issue.

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