Classification: Non-humanoid (see comments) extraterrestrial race
Location/Base of Operations: The planet Jhb'Btt, fourth planet from the sun in the Beta Lyrae system of the Milky Way galaxy;
Habitat: Water covers 40% of the planet, and late planetary volcanism has created great mountain ranges
Gravity: 135% Earth's gravity
Atmosphere: 120% Earth's density;
a small group was formerly stationed around Earth's Magnetic North Pole, in the Arctic Circle
Known Members: Primus and his unidentified crew members; unidentified member of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development); unidentified spectator at the Galactic Marathon;
Population: 3.2 billion
Affiliations: Fantastic Four (Invisible Girl (now the Invisible Woman)/Sue Richards, Human Torch/Johnny Storm, Mister Fantastic/Reed Richards, Thing/Ben Grimm)
Enemies: Unidentified enemies
First Appearance: (BTS) Fantastic Four I#220 (July, 1980);
(full appearance) Fantastic Four I#221 (August, 1980);
(identified as the Flb'Dbi)
Powers/Abilities: The Flb'Dbi communicate telepathically, reading the thoughts of others and projecting their own, and they can detect images from the thoughts/memories of others).
They have extended lifespans, lasting many thousands of Earth years.
Their heads have a front to back length that is nearly two-thirds of the length of their more massive body.
They have large, ovoid, solid purple eyes, perhaps covered with some sort of membrane.
They have an opening between and slightly below their eyes that would seem to correspond with an opening to the nasal passages, although they lack an external nasal structure.
Below the apparent nasal structure, they have another ovoid purple structure, similar to but perpendicular in orientation to their eyes. Perhaps it is some sort of semi-permeable membrane and/or perhaps retractible over their oral structures, or perhaps this is a third eye (see comments).
They have a pair of tentacle-like appendages hanging down on either side of this apparently oral structure. These may or may not be prehensile, assisting them in feeding (if the structure they surround is indeed an oral structure).
They have a somewhat elongated neck that extends from their heads to their relatively small/short torso, which possesses apparently three tentacles on either side, with the top one being very small (perhaps vestigial), the middle one being markedly thicker and longer, and the lowest one being slightly larger than the top one.
Their abdomen is wider and thicker than the torso and has four
legs, with the short proximal segment projecting somewhat laterally and
having a shoulder-like joint, from which the next segment extends
vertically toward the an ankle-like structure, with the rest of the
limb being like a long foot, ending in four toes (some images make it
look like three toes).
Some images make the joints less distinct, causing the legs to look more like tentacles, while others are distinctly jointed.
From behind the second/caudal pair of legs to their rear-most point, on the underside of their hind-end, they have thick, hair-like growth. It is unclear whether this is a gastrointestinal structure or a reproductive structure, or perhaps whether it functions as a cushion, in hygiene, locomotion, or something completely different.
They have advanced technology, including interstellar starships (and have for over 500,000 years); hibernation changes that could preserve them for 500,000 years and likely longer; non-mechanical plastoid drones programmed for independent thought to develop non-mechanical technology, such as a crystal to reverse Earth's polarity, and able to change form and present a physical threat sufficient to challenge the Fantastic Four.
Traits: The Flb'Dbi are generally benign beings. Although they have at least explored worlds for colonization, they were mortified by the idea that their actions and technology may have adversely affected the population of a world that had visited.
They have a socialist republic government, and they had a stable culture for hundreds of millions of years.
Although highly-intelligent, the Flb'Dbi sometimes fail to make logical conclusions, such as appreciating how much a society may have developed in 500,000 years, or of adapting their technology to deal with an environmental change rather than trying to reverse an environmental change on an entire planet.
The image of them entering their hibernation chambers shows a symbol that is presumably part of their written language.
Type: Bilaterally symmetric non-humanoid corporeal beings
Eyes: Two (on head; solid purple color seen)
Toes: Four (some may have three)
Skin color: Light brown to tan with reddish-brown hair-like structure on their caudoventrum ("undercarriage") with the appearance of a tail; thicker, strands of tissue projecting out from around their heads like a mane
Average height: 3'8" at the shoulder
(Fantastic Four I#221 (fb) - BTS) - The Flb'Dbi have had stable culture for hundreds of millions of years.
(Fantastic Four I#221 (fb)) - Over a half a million years ago, Primus led an exploratory colonization party, a starship with a crew of at least two others, to Earth, most of which then lacked any significant technology. They established a base by Earth's magnetic North Pole.
(Fantastic Four I#221 (fb)) - After a few thousand years on Earth, a bizarre phenomenon occurred which resulted in the reversing of the magnetic poles on Earth, rendering all of their technology non-functional. They realized they would not be able to leave Earth until the polarity was restored.
They programmed their drones to find a way to accomplish this reversal, while Primus and the others placed themselves into a deep hypno-sleep to avoid boredom.
(Fantastic Four I#220 - BTS / Fantastic Four I#221 (fb) - BTS) - In the modern era, the drones finally succeeded. Unaware of the development of humanity, Primus and his crew had their drones construct a tower to accomplish the polarity reversal, which had untoward effects across the entire planet.
Electronic and computerized equipment began to experience intermittent failures, nearly resulting in several deaths.
(Fantastic Four I#220 - BTS) - Recognizing the phenomenon as a polar disruption, Earth scientist Reed Richards flew with his Fantastic Four teammates to Earth's magnetic North Pole.
(Fantastic Four I#220 - BTS) - The terrestrial heroes witnessed the emergence of the immense crystalline polarity device.
(Fantastic Four I#221 - BTS) - When the Fantastic Four explored, the drones attacked and threatened to overwhelm them.
(Fantastic Four I#221) - Detecting lights below the ice on which they stood, Sue Richards located and entered the Flb'Dbi ship, encountering Primus and his crewmates. Although she was invisible, they sensed her thoughts. Questioning how a being from so primitive a biosphere could be aware of alien life-forms, they initially suspected that this may be some deception mounted by one of their enemies and they surrounded the center of her thought, presumably intending to contain or subdue her.
After Sue declared her peaceful intentions, Primus reviewed his crew's history on Earth. Learning of the development of society on Earth, Primus deactivated their drones, after which Reed Richards was more than happy to help them adapt their technology to allow it to function in Earth's current polarity.
Thanking Richards, Primus and his crew flew their ship off of Earth, presumably returning to their homeworld.
(Fantastic Four I#221 - BTS) - The Thing then shattered the Polarity Tower to prevent future use/abuse, although Reed lamented what he might have learned from study that technology.
(Avengers Spotlight#24/2 (fb) - BTS) - An unidentified Flb'Dbi was part of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Society of Higher Interstellar Education and Logistical Development), interstellar organization dedicated to advanced education.
(Avengers Spotlight#24/2 (fb) - BTS) - The Flb'Dbi was present when S.H.I.E.L.D. captured Firebird (Bonita Juarez) (Bonita Juarez) and examined her to confirm whether she had been harmed by the exposure to the energies of the experimental by-product expunged by base pupil Yoof.
(Avengers Spotlight I#24) - S.H.I.E.L.D. completed its studies, during which time Firebird broke free and demanded an explanation. Prime Technician Chlreee explained what had happened, after which SHIELD returned Firebird to Earth.
(Quasar#58) - An unidentified Flb'Dbi was amongst the spectators present when Makkari of Earth's Eternals won the Galactic Marathon.
Comments: Created by John Byrne and Joe Sinnott.
When Primus was startled by the idea that they were in danger of committing a great crime against humanity, he exclaimed "By the Grid!"
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe identified the Flb'Dbi as "semi-arachnoid." I'm not sure how arachnoid they are...I guess it was just the closest thing they could use to identify them. They are fairly unique in appearance.
Some discussion courtesy of Donald Campbell.
I feel VERY strongly that both Official Handbook images contain a MAJOR error in that they depict the Flb'Dbi as having TWO eyes while Fantastic Four I#221 clearly shows them as having THREE eyes. This was a refreshingly different alien design from John Byrne and I hate the idea that somebody working on the Official Handbook seems to have sabotaged it by making them two-eyed.
The thing that really gets me is that John Byrne actually designed their spaceships to resemble their physical form. Think of it: a main body supported by four thin legs, a command module at one end, and THREE oval observation bubbles/windows spaced around the module in the same relative positions as the eyes on their heads.
It was a brilliant idea that somebody on the OHotMU staff either didn't get or didn't like, and so they changed the design of the Flb'Dbi head.
I also don't consider the being in the stand in Quasar#58 to be an actual Flb'Dbi.
And, my response:
I discussed the possibilities about the facial structures in the Powers/Abilities section.
There is nothing in-story that confirms the lower structure to be an eye, but it could be.
In most images I examined in the original story, including the one you included in your image comparing the Flb'Dbi face to the spacecraft, the three structures you discuss are not symmetric: The lower structure is wider and thinner than the above structures that we would normally assume to be eyes.
Further, the idea of three eyes based on the ship appearance falls
apart when you examine that image and see that there is only one mostly
round oval observation bubble at the top right of the panel as we view
it, perhaps the 12 to 3 o'clock position if you are basing things on a
The top left of the ship's front as we view it, does not have an observation bubble at all, but rather some more solid structures. Maybe it's an eyepatch? ;)
The lowest structure, from perhaps 4 to 8 o'clock is clearly a much wider oval/
While we see a character in the top right image that makes us think they can see through it, we don't have any such silhouette in the bottom structure...or anything to support the idea that it is an observation bubble.
If we look at the two pictures you present side-by-side and imagine that there are two observation bubbles at the top, does it resemble the face of the Flb'Dbi? Sure.
Is it a match and/or is there anything to explain the discrepancy and/or confirm a reason beyond coincidence? Not that I saw.
Certainly the OHotMU appearances differ in terms of the appearance of the lower structure. My consideration that it may be a semi-permeable membrane and/or retractible membrane over an oral-structure nicely explains the difference in appearance, although it is, of course, speculative on my part.
Consultation with creator John Byrne at the time of the original profile would have provided the answer.
Did that happen? Maybe, maybe not. Sadly, Mark Gruenwald has long-since passed away, and I've never had contact with John Byrne.
Lastly, I would assume your objection to the character in Quasar I#58
that is -- in my opinion -- clearly intended to be a Flb'Dbi
presumably relates to its mouthparts resembling those from the OHotMU
as opposed to the horizontal oval structure from the original story.
To me, it is further evidence that the bottom structure is an oral structure over which they may close a membrane or leave it open.
It is also possible that the Flb'Dbi seen in Fantastic Four I#221, who
were in stasis for 500,000 years, may differ somewhat in structure
somewhat from those who evolved somewhat over time on their
homeworld...or perhaps Flb'Dbi colonizing other worlds adapted to those
If the bottom structure was an eye 500,000 years ago, perhaps it proved vestigial and was lost, leaving just an opening.
If the bottom structure was a mouth 500,000 years ago, perhaps the membrane faded over time, leaving the mouth open.
Maybe some future story will clarify the matter...unlikely, but possible...
Thanks to Jacob Rougemont and Donald Campbell for providing the OHotMU images.
According to Chris Matterface:
name of the alien race "Flb-Dbi" seems to be a reference to the
"flobba-dobby" catchphrase of 50s British kids TV characters
"Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men", whose show John Byrne would have
seen during his early childhood in the UK
(although Canadian, he was actually born in Walsall, England).
Here's some further info [about the show]: http://www.nostalgiacentral.com/tv/kids/billandben.htm
and reference to Byrne being born in Walsall: http://www.lambiek.net/byrne_john.htm
Profile by Snood.
The Flb'Dbi should be distinguished from:
images: (without ads)
Fantastic Four I#221, pg. 10, panel 1 (Primus and crew, faces);
panel 2 (faces);
pg. 12, panel 5 (in profile);
pg. 13, panel 4 (hibernation chamber and language/symbol);
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#3: Appendix to Alien Races: Flb'Dbi entry
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition: Appendix to Alien Races: Flb'Dbi entry
Avengers Spotlight#24/2, pg. 7, panel 3 (with other SHIELD members)
Quasar I#58, pg. 16, panel 2 (Galactic Marathon spectators)
Fantastic Four I#220-221 (July-August, 1980) - John Byrne (writer/penciler), Joe Sinnott (inker), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#3 (March, 1983) - Mark Gruenwald (editor/head writer/designer), David Cody Weiss, Peter Sanderson, Roger Stern, Bob Simpson, Bob Harras, Joanne Harras (research), Paty Cockrum & Al Milgrom (Flb'Dbi art), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Michael Carlin (associate editor/designer)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe II (Deluxe Edition) #15 (March, 1987) - Mark Gruenwald (writer/producer), Peter Sanderson (writer/researcher), Kyle Baker (Flb'Dbi art), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Howard Mackie (assistant editor), Marc Siry, David Wohl, Marc McLaurin (editorial assistants), Gregory Wright (assistant editor)
Avengers Spotlight#24/2 (November, 1988) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Gavin Curtis (penciler), Steve Buccellato (inker), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Quasar#58 (May, 1994) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Peter Sanderson (co-plot), John Heebink (pencils), Aaron McClellan (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
First posted: 02/18/2023
Last updated: 02/18/2023
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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