Comic Legends: Did Byrne Get Fantastic Four After Leaving X-Men?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventeenth week of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Here's Part 1 of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!


Marvel offered John Byrne the "Fantastic Four" assignment once he quit "Uncanny X-Men."



As many fans are familiar with by now, John Byrne quit working on "Uncanny X-Men," which he had been penciling and co-plotting for a while (with him taking more and more control of the plotting of the book towards the end of his run) with "Uncanny X-Men" #143, due to one too many disagreements with his co-plotter on the book, Chris Claremont, who was also the scripter on the series (and as such, since Claremont's script was added last, he had the most control over changing things, which is ultimately what drove Byrne batty over their working arrangement)...


That book came out in DecemberNovember of 1980.

In March of 1981, Byrne began his acclaimed run as the writer and artist of "Fantastic Four."

Naturally, then, people have long presumed that it was a matter of Byrne quitting "X-Men" and then being offered a gig on "Fantastic Four." Heck, that's what I know I've assumed over the years.

That, though, was not the case.

Byrne, you see, was already going to take over "Fantastic Four" when he quit "X-Men." He had already been hired as the new WRITER on the series, to follow Doug Moench on the book. In fact, then current penciler Bill Sienkiewicz was originally going to stay on the book and draw it while Byrne wrote it. That might come as a surprise to some folks, since up until this point, Byrne had not yet scripted an ongoing comic book series on his own before and this was a pretty big assignment. However, Jim Shooter was familiar with the fact that Byrne had not only been co-plotting "X-Men" for a while at this point, but had taken over even more control of the plotting recently, so it was clear that Byrne knew how to plot a comic book, and I imagine Shooter wasn't too worried about him being able to then come up with dialogue for the characters. Plus, Byrne HAD written a couple of books before that, including a Coca-Cola "Fantastic Four" giveaway that was later reprinted as two issues of "FF."


If any book opened up "Fantastic Four" for Byrne, it was probably "Captain America," as Byrne's run on that book ended a month before his last issue of "Uncanny X-Men" (although even there, I have no idea if he had already taken the "Fantastic Four" gig before his "Captain America" gig ended way too soon).

Once he quit "X-Men," though, Byrne and Shooter discussed the topic and figured that it just made more sense for Byrne to draw the book, as well, as, well, come on, the dude was a superstar artist after all. And he wouldn't have had an art assignment at the time otherwise. Sienkiewicz, for his part, had already begun the newly launched "Moon Knight," where he had a lot more freedom, artistically (he would soon evolve his art style dramatically on "Moon Knight"), so he was open to leaving (he might not have been able to keep up with two ongoing series anyways).


So there ya go, Byrne did not get "Fantastic Four" from quitting "X-Men," but him quitting "X-Men" DID change things dramatically.

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at CBR: Did James Lipton seriously write the awesome theme song to "Thundercats?

Check back Sunday for part 3 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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