Marvel; February 1982
Cover by John Byrne

Title: “Wendy’s Friends”
When people in a small Arizona town start dying of fright, the Thing’s Aunt Petunia seeks help from the Fantastic Four.

Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: Byrne

Review: A longtime A-list artist, John Byrne was still honing his craft as a writer on these early Fantastic Four issues. Story wise, this issue is a bit of a mixed bag. On the downside, Byrne continues to deliver character details to new readers via conversation, leading to some awkward and occasionally jarring dialogue. His reach also exceeds his grasp, a bit, as his attempt at a powerful child abuse tale is undermined by a muddled conclusion. But strong character moments abound, and his exposition can border on poetic. The surprising introduction of the previously mentioned but never seen Aunt Petunia makes this issue a must read.

Grade: B+

Cool factor: The introduction of Aunt Petunia. Well played, Mr. Byrne.

Character quotable: “Wait a minute! This is your Aunt Petunia!” – The Human Torch, dumbfounded

A word from the writer-artist: “I wanted to do something that was weird and mystical, that was out of the established milieu of the Fantastic Four, just to show that there is no established milieu for the Fantastic Four … .” – John Byrne, talking about Fantastic Four #239, in Comics Interview #25, 1985

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