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John Byrne’s Amusing Fantastic Four Homage in Sensational She-Hulk

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
John Byrne’s Amusing Fantastic Four Homage in Sensational She-Hulk

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Launched in 1989, John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk was famous for its irreverent and metafictional humor that Byrne did with the series. The most famous of this, of course, is the fact that Byrne had She-Hulk break the fourth wall. It also made fun of the conventions of comic books.

The first issue shows She-Hulk threatening to tear up people’s X-Men comics if they don’t buy her second series…

The second issue shows She-Hulk mocking her cousin, the Hulk, over some of his lame early villains, even though she was fighting them, as well…

The third issue shows her nod to how books typically have a major guest star in an early issue to help boost sales….

Finally, the fourth issue mentions a Golden Age guest star….

That is an important point, because that ties in with a clever bit that Byrne did with the first few issues of Sensational She-Hulk.

In the second issue, She-Hulk fought against the Toad Men…

In Fantastic Four #2, the Fantastic Four also fought against their own alien threat, the Skrulls!

In the fourth issue of Fantastic Four, Johnny Storm found the Golden Age character, Namor the Sub-Mariner (when the Fantastic Four first began, Martin Goodman first wanted Stan Lee to just use their established characters like Namor and the Human Torch. Stan Lee argued for brand-new characters, but had a compromise by having a new Human Torch character who was different from the original Golden Age android version. However, just three issues later, Lee did bring Namor back, as well)…

Similarly, in Sensational She-Hulk #4, She-Hulk met the Golden Age character, the Blonde Phantom…

Now, you might think, okay, so this is interesting and all, but couldn’t it just be a coincidence? After all, there are no connections between the first issue of Fantastic Four and She-Hulk or the third issue of Fantastic Four and She-Hulk, so couldn’t this just be a fluke?

However, in the end of Sensational She-Hulk #4, Byrne has She-Hulk and Weezi (the Blonde Phantom) actually address the connections between the two titles, making it clear that this was intentional on Byrne’s part…

Sure enough, in the fifth issue of the Fantastic Four, they met their greatest enemy, Doctor Doom.

So how could Byrne match THAT? In the first few issues, the various villains that the She-Hulk runs up against appear to be working for someone else entirely, so there was a way to set this up so that Byrne could tie it into the original Fantastic Four #5 by having it be a villain as awesome as Doctor Doom. Or, of course, Byrne could instead choose to tie in with the whole “Doctor” aspect of Doctor Doom.

Let us see which one Byrne chose…

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