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The Oddly Short Avengers Tenure of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman

This is a feature called "Beg Steal or Borrow," which is about when comic book characters are abruptly pulled from one book to another. I'm not talking about when comic book characters simply migrate from one title to another (I spotlight examples of that in my feature, "Looks Like I'm Moving"). I mean examples where a writer has a character taken out of the book against their wishes. It almost always happens in team books, but sometimes it occurs in solo titles, as well.

Today, we look at the bizarrely short Avengers tenure of Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman!

I wrote about the "Abandoned Love" side of this story years ago, but it also fits in perfectly into this new column, so I figure I should feature it here, as well.

In 1987, Steve Englehart took over writing duties on the Fantastic Four. He decided to shake up the roster and have Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman leave the team to spend more time with their son, Franklin. Crystal and the then-new Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura) replaced them on the roster, with the Thing now leading the team for the first time...

Soon, Ms. Marvel was mutated into a She-Thing (and the Thing was mutated into an even more monstrous version of himself) and that was the basic set-up for most of Englehart's run...

Since that meant that Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman were ostensibly "free" now, Walter Simonson asked if he could make them members of the Avengers. Simonson had recently been hired to break apart the Avengers and then have them start fresh in time for Avengers #300. He wanted to shock the readers by having two members of the Fantastic Four join the Avengers. He got that approval and so he wrote Avengers #299-300 (with art by John Buscema and Tom Palmer), which were tie-ins with Inferno, an X-Men crossover of the time that involved New York being invaded by demons from Limbo. A villain known as Nanny (and her servant, the Orphan-Maker) kidnapped Franklin and so Reed and Sue enlist the help of Captain America (who was going by the name The Captain at the time, as he had given up his Captain America name and costume) to get their kid back. At the same time, they run into the Eternal hero known as The Forgotten One. His whole deal is fighting demons, so when Inferno started, he was all about kicking some demon butt. He runs into the other heroes and agrees to help them, since he can also fight demons along the way.

Along the way, they save Franklin, give forgotten One a name (Gilgamesh) and then run into Thor fighting Kang's minion, the Growing Man (Kang is trying to manipulate the Avengers to re-form as part of some typical convoluted Kang plan).

The collected heroes stop the Growing Man and beat up a lot of demons. They then decide to form a new team...

Here's the deal, though. Remember when I told you that Simonson had been approved to add Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman to the Avengers? He had, but that approval was revoked pretty much right away. His NEXT story would have had to write them out of the book because they were now returning to their original team and that title took precedence over the Avengers. Simonson was naturally irked, so he quit the book, with #300 being his last issue.

The replacement fill-in writer, Ralph Macchio, had to then figure out a way out of all of this...

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