How A Joke Ultimately Led to Alicia Masters Becoming a Skrull

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A joke between a few Marvel Comics editors eventually became an actual Fantastic Four plotline.



Thanks to reader Pierre N. for suggesting this one!

John Byrne was notable a big believer in the idea of pursuing the illusion of change during his classic run on the Fantastic Four. Byrne would do things to disrupt the status quo of the team, but they were all also designed to not change things as much as you might think. For instance, he had the Thing leave the team following Secret Wars, but then the similarly super strong She-Hulk took his place on the team, leaving things very different, but with a fairly similar powers dynamic, at least.

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Along those same lines, Byrne broke up the Thing and the Thing's longtime girlfriend, Alicia Masters, but then had Alicia start a relationship with Johnny Storm, instead, thus keeping her in the book as a love interest of a member of the Fantastic Four, just a DIFFERENT member of the team...

Soon after Byrne's run on Fantastic Four came to an end, Roger Stern took over for a brief run that involved Johnny and Alicia getting married in Fantastic Four #300 (art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott)...

A lot of people were fine enough with the idea of Johnny and Alicia dating (although plenty took issue with Johnny ever dating his best friend's ex-girlfriend), but less were cool with the idea of them getting married. That included other Marvel editors, even. Tom DeFalco recalled talking about the development with his fellow editors, Ralph Macchio and Mark Gruenwald and none of them were particularly enamored with the idea. They began to joke about how to get out of the plot and Macchio joked that maybe Alicia was really a Skrull!

Hilariously enough, five years later, DeFalco had become the new writer on Fantastic Four and he decided to actually USE that joke idea!

In Fantastic Four #357 (by DeFalco, Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi), the Thing tries to attack Alica. The rest of the Fantastic Four try to stop him but fail. That's when he forces Alicia to reveal that she is a Skrull!

In the following issue, "Alicia" (her real name was Lyja) reveals that she had landed on Earth during Secret Wars and when the Thing didn't return, she called an audible and changed her planned mission of spying on the Fantastic Four as the Thing's girlfriend to her spying on the Fantastic Four as Johnny Storm's girlfriend!

Of course, she then actually fell in love with Johnny and Lyja became a recurring character for the rest of DeFalco and Ryan's run.

Oddly enough, Pierre told me this through a (now-dead) link to an interview that DeFalco gave to the website, Fantastic Four Headquarters, but the site appears to be down now.

DeFalco noted that neither Macchio nor Gruenwald remembered the earlier discussion when DeFalco came up with the idea later on (Macchio was DeFalco's editor on the book - Don Daley was the editor when the marriage happened).

Funny how a plot idea can come from some unusual places!

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