Another one of those unsung heroes of the Marvel Universe and a victim of editorial meddling, Leroy Collins Jr. was forgotten as the Marvel editorial was simply not ready for the experimental approach John Byrne wanted to take on for this issue, Fantastic Four #234.
To add some (probably unnecessary) context:
- Byrne was god amongst comic creators after his Uncanny X-Men run, which was cut short due to some disagreements with Chris Claremont (co-plotter of the series)
- He wanted to write and draw on his own
- He took over the Fantastic Four (he had drawn a few issues a bit before, but this was his big shot at the first family)
- This was his third issue
So after 2 issues, Mr. Byrne feels the desire to flex his creative muscles and he gives us the story of a man with the capability to do anything he wishes, except he doesn’t know about it. The real star of the show, though, is his son Junior, in his one and only appearance ever:
I haven’t been able to take that scene off of my mind since the first time I read it. There was always something bugging me. It’s probably the captions in the last panel:
And so “Skip” departs, knowing that the next time he sees his son nothing will have changed.
Perhaps because he does not wish to exert too strong a control over his children:
Or, perhaps it is that even the greatest power must have limits.
Seeing what the guy can pull off through the issue, it doesn’t make any sense that he couldn’t change his son’s behavior, so I am going to go with the possibility that a page was lost. A page that John Byrne created for the issue but that was repalced by the editors by a page with lots of buildings (John Byrne’s T&A during the 80’s), as they considered it too pessimistic. Here’s that page, deemed too experimental by the editorial team:
The thing they apparently didn’t like was that the son was going to kill the father on the last day of their imprisonment. Byrne was then going to follow the story of Junior for a few issues as he went to prison and tried to rebuild his life while writing letters to Ben Grimm. Another lost opportunity? Good editorial job? We will never know …
If you have not read it the original story (or the whole wonderful run), what are you waiting for? If you have cash, get this (second omnibus I have ever purchased … the first one had to be Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (v. 1), of course: half-kirby, half-ditko, all win). If you think that’s too expensive (and if you know the run, then you would disagree), try Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne, Vol. 1.