In “Meta-Messages,” I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.”
Today, we look at how Chris Claremont guest-starring the Fantastic Four in “Uncanny X-Men” led to the trial of Reed Richards!
It all began in “Fantastic Four” #243 (by John Byrne) when Galactus came to Earth seemingly to die, but Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four decided that the heroes had to SAVE Galactus!
He explained it further in the next issue…
So the heroes then save Galactus and off he goes.
Chris Claremont, though, read those issues and had a problem with it. It seems as though he was mostly irked at the idea that he had to kill off Jean Grey because she had destroyed a planet as Dark Phoenix but now a dude whose WHOLE PURPOSE was to destroy planets was being saved like it was no big deal.
So in “Uncanny X-Men” #167 (by Chris Claremont, Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek), Lilandra finds out what happened and calls out the Fantastic Four over it…
Byrne sees this and he’s super pissed. No one asked him if it was okay for the Fantastic Four to appear in “Uncanny X-Men” (this was back in the days when you typically had to seek permission to use characters from other books. Which is still probably roughly still something that you have to do, but it was a bigger deal back then when there were less crossover of characters) and not only that, but they had his characters essentially told that there was something wrong with his previous plot! He complained to Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter who told Byrne just to do a response if he wanted to.
There was the “Assistant Editors Month” mini-event coming up (where titles were encouraged to do slightly different ideas for that month), so Byrne decided to use the sort of “anything goes” approach of that event to address this issue by writing “The Trial of Reed Richards,” where all of the aliens capture Reed and put him on trial and then Galactus shows up and Eternity does, as well, to tell everyone that what Reed did was right…
What’s interesting is that as a reader years later, it all seemed like it was coordinated between the books, but it really wasn’t! It was just two dudes basically trolling each other.
If anyone else has a suggestion for a future Meta-Message, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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