It’s revealed that Sue Storm is the femme fatale Malice, slave of the Hate-Monger! Filled with rage and ready to kill her teammates, can Reed defeat his wife without placing her in harm’s way?
The Invisible Girl has been possessed by the evil Malice entity. Susan Storm Richards battles both her husband, Mr. Fantastic, and her brother, the Human Torch. Daredevil does what he can to help the Torch, while She-Hulk is shown still hurting from the beating she took last issue at the hands of the possessed Invisible Girl. Mr. Fantastic uses some basic psychology to goad his wife. Reed tells Susan that she would have been killed outright years ago, if not for the rest of the team carrying her. Then he does something which finally breaks his lovely wife free from the control of Malice. Reed Richards slaps the Invisible Girl brutally across the face. Sue responds briefly by beating her fists against Reed and saying that she hates him, but she is quickly freed from Malice's deadly grip.
Judging from comments by many Marvel fans aross the internet, Mr. Fantastic's harsh slap of his wife may well have cost him some level of popularity with Fantastic Four fans. While it is true that Mr. Fantastic also slapped his wife in Fantastic Four 222, that scene was much smaller in size and did not deliver the same impact to the reader as the John Byrne scene in issue 281. Right or wrong, justified or not, it cannot be denied that Mr. Fantastic's slap of Susan Storm Richards did work and freed Sue from Malice's possession of her.
One highlight of this issue is a very powerful two page layout of New York City burning, with the Hate Monger relishing every minute. Another stunner is when Mr. Fantastic wraps himself around his wife and suddenly his body is transformed into the shape of about fifty spikes. This is a very important issue, as it lays the foundation for issueS 283-284, wherein Psycho-Man tortures the Invisible Girl and this causes Sue to finally change her name from the Invisible Girl to the Invisible Woman. This issue is undeniably one of the most important of the highly praised Byrne run.