Welcome to Part 3 of the Doom Retrospective. When we last left our now caped hero, he was hurtling through space clinging to an asteroid for dear life after the treacherous worm, Namor, had the audacity to seek revenge after Doom tricked him into almost dying. But Doom did not stay gone long. His triumphant return was a mere 4 issues later in Fantastic Four #10 (Jan. 1963).
Two issues into his existence, we have seen some Doom hallmarks, but he has not fully developed into the man I we love. Let’s take a look at our scorecard:
Record vs Fantastic Four: 0-2
Times Avoided Capture: 2 (YES!)
Times Screaming about Richards!: Surprisingly, 0
Treacherous Underlings foolishly turning on Doom: 1 (Fuck you, Namor.)
Times Left Adrift in Space with no hope of returning: 1
We open with Reed taking an x-ray picture of Sue with radioactive film to try and crack the secret of her invisibility powers. First, Stan Lee obviously knew nothing of x-rays and radiation. Second, is it any wonder Doom will eventually have to save one of Sue’s children at childbirth with this nonsense going on? Sit still, honey, I need to shower your uterus with radiation and x-rays to figure out why I can’t see you sometimes. It’s because you’re emotionally unavailable, Reed. God! Those are 40 years in the future spoilers, by the way. We’ll get there. Eventually.
Also, Thing is nowhere to be seen. Probably sitting morosely in the corner wondering why Reed won’t shoot his testicles with uranium in an attempt to cure his miserable condition. No one cares, Thing.
Suddenly, high in the sky is the Fantastic Four emergency flare. They try to leave the building but a door is jammed and won’t open?!? Some genius you are, Reed. I watch a whole page of them trying to open this fucking door. Excelsior!
They reach the street and rush off. And here is where the tale really strains credulity as Thing apparently has a girlfriend. Of course, it is Alicia Masters, and luckily for Thing, she is blind. Although even a blind person should be able to tell that having sex with a grotesque gargoyle that probably smells and feels like slimy moss-infested stone is not a good idea. Give me more realism in my comics, Marvel.
By the way, when they rush off, they cause a general panic. I know Spider-Man is given a hard time by the Daily Bugle, but these people cause more mayhem in one page than Spidey does in an entire issue.
I mean, look at that. Mobs running around, anger, car accidents. Even the cop is like “Yeah, more property damage. What can you do when beings with godlike powers want to fuck up your beautiful city?”
So they barge in on Thing and poor Alicia. It’s no emergency. Thing wants to show his friends Alicia’s beautiful sculptures. Could you be more like a toddler, Thing? We get it. You have a girlfriend and you want to prove she’s real. Nobody cares. Although this scene does give Reed a great opportunity to be a dick.
Yes, Reed. You are surrounded by a man who can burst into flames, a woman who can turn invisible, and the unholy monstrosity that is the Thing, but you’re right, the most amazing thing is that a blind woman can do something. Dick. Props to Alicia, though, Doom looks great. And, of course, Sue wonders why Namor is there with the villains. Namor is no good, Sue! Reed decides it’s time for a heart to heart because now seems like an appropriate time, in front of your friend’s girlfriend, to hash out your relationship problems.
Poor Johnny. He doesn’t know that it is his stupidity, not his age, that allows him to live such a care-free existence. I turn the page and…
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are in their offices working. Ok, I can dig it. Breaking the fourth wall. Very meta. But their creative session is interrupted by DOOM! GASP! He has returned. Lee and Kirby ask the question that is on everyone’s mind. How did you do it, Victor? How did you return from space? Regale us with your epic tale of survival. The advanced technology you created, Professor style, from space coconuts. The new spells you learned. Tell us all of it!
Ah, I see. Well played, Doom. Obviously the details would be too much for our petty minds to process. Only Doom can handle what Doom has seen and done. Our hero then forces Lee and Kirby to call Reed(!) via an ominous threat.
Now, I don’t mean to criticize Doom here. In fact, I wouldn’t dream of it. But this threat left a little to be desired. He might as well have broken a pencil and said “This is you!” Regardless, the call is made and the trap is set. I feel myself getting giddy again. But before we go, there is more nonsense with the boys teasing each other. Thing complains about how ugly he is. Nobody cares.
Reed goes to the offices alone and the trap is sprung! Doom knocks Reed out!
Doom leaves them his card and teleports(!) out of there. Truly, Doom’s genius is unparalleled. On a side note, I wonder what that card would look like. Just a fax number and his face on it? Someone with photoshop skills send me Doom’s business card.
Back in his lair, Doom finally tells us how he managed to get home.
I like how Doom’s first thought is to destroy them. And then his second is to steal all their shit. Truly, Doom is the greatest villain. The Ovoids teach Doom their secret to immortality, mentally switching bodies, and send him back to Earth, because no strange Earthman who is dressed like the fucking grim reaper could ever use that power for nefarious purposes, right? So Doom makes the switch…
Are we sure Reed is the smartest man on Earth? “I’m still thinking Reed thoughts but I am in the body of Doctor Doom! Even though I look evil, I am still having Reed thoughts. WTF?!?!” He then tells Doom that even though he has no idea how this happened, he can’t win. Doom already told you how it happened, Richards! Christ, Reed. Pick up a book.
So, Doom, in his greatest plan to date, is now posing as Mr. Fantastic. I am getting tingly. At last, the final triumph is at hand. They fight a little and Reed, not used to being in the superior body, is roughed up by Doom with stretchy powers. This is sort of confusing. The other three members show up and see Doom and Reed fighting. Reed tries to convince the team of the switch, but Doom outfoxes him, as usual. I’m really enjoying this.
I think Reed is getting a little too into his role as Doom. “I’m not beaten yet! My turn will come! And when it does…” Geez, Reed, a little adversity and your true colors start shining through. And then the special needs twins talk about all the things they will do to Doom. As if those childish machinations would be any hindrance to the true Victor von Doom! Doom orders Reed to be thrown into a special prison. He assures the team there is enough air in there for him, but there isn’t! Oh, Doom. The moment is here.
Look at Doom. So confident. So happy. He is dancing and jazz-handing his way up the tunnel while Richards writhes in impotent anger! How delightful.
We flash to some point in the not-too-distant future and Doom has settled in leading the Fantastic Four. He even has started doing experiments. The team sees little animals running around and ask Doom what gives. Doom explains that it is his new invention, a reducing ray.
First, look at that face. What a baller face, Victor. Second, why is Doom not bolded there? “Doom will seal your own DOOM!” The sun joke from last time set the bar really high, so maybe he knows he can’t top it. The reducing ray is meant to boost the powers of the team. How you may ask? How indeed.
Nobody questions Doom because when someone offers to turn you into a dinosaur astronaut, you fucking say yes. Doom bullshits his way through some explanation admitting that Reed would have seen through it, but not these dopes. They fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
Meanwhile, Reed escapes his cell and wanders out, only to be brained with a flower pot by Invisible Girl. Alicia is there and says she senses an “aura of nobility” around Doom’s body, somehow. If only Reed were conscious to flip out about all the things a blind person can do. The team is confused. They think something must be up. So they return to Reed to straighten things out.
Back in the lab, Doom decides now is the time to destroy the other three while everyone is confused. Sue is ready to be hit by the ray, but Reed tries to save them.
Now, the team thinks Reed is not speaking like Reed usually speaks. But didn’t we just see him be callous to “shut-ins,” and be amazed that a blind person can do anything? Is calling someone a fool so un-Reed like? Torch does some ridiculous Silver age tomfoolery where he makes a heat mirage of a stick of dynamite appear on the floor. Who really cares how at this point? Let’s gauge the reactions.
Doom does the heroic thing and runs off to get help. Reed decides to finally end it all and commit suicide. Who is the real hero here? Reed is too cowardly to continue living, let alone lead a super team. The team figures it out and the “shock” forces the two to body switch back into their real bodies. Sigh. So close. SO CLOSE. Curse you, Fantastic Four. So they fight, and Reed points the reducing ray at Doom.
Who’s the hero, here? Reed has no problem trying to straight up murder Doom and callously watching as he shrinks to nothingness. Doom at least gave you an hour’s worth of air in your little cell, cretin! Doom gave you a chance to escape! Curse you, Richards. Curse you.
I’m counting this as an escape. Fuck you, Fantastic Four. You’ll never capture Doom. He made it back from space, I’m sure he can make it back from nothingness. I hope.
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