Last time, on the Doom Retrospective, in his most brilliant plan to date, Doom switched bodies with Reed Richards in an attempt to destroy the Fantastic Four! Then unfortunate things happened that will not be discussed and Doom was shrunk down into nothingness. Let’s update the scorecard.
Record vs Fantastic Four: 0-3 (Soon, Richards. Soon.)
Times Avoided Capture: 3 (YES!)
Times Screaming about Richards!: Surprisingly, 0
Treacherous Underlings foolishly turning on Doom: 1 (Fuck you, Namor.)
Times Left Adrift in Space/Shrunk into Nothingness: 2
By this point, Lee and Kirby knew they had struck gold with Doctor Doom and were having him show up every six months or so. They were riding the gravy train for all it was worth. So, to the surprise of nobody, after being shrunk out of existence, Doom returns a mere six months later in Fantastic Four #16 (July 1963).
The cover states that the issue will guest star Ant-Man and that we will all be visiting the Micro-world of Doctor Doom. So everyone who has been jonesing for a Mini-Doom fix, this is the issue for you.
Our issue opens with the Human Torch blazing across the sky.
In the space of three panels, he ruins an astonomer’s career, assists obviously quack doctors, who continued to operate in the dark!, to finish butchering their patient, and negligently flies by an armed burglary, only to be bailed out by the fortuitous arrival of New York’s finest. Why is he in a hurry and causing more mayhem than usual? Because nobody is picking up the headset at FF HQ! They must all be dead.
When Johnny arrives, he finds the team shrunk to the size of toys and being sucked into the most aggressive air vent I have ever seen.
I mean, Jesus. Who mounts a high powered vacuum cleaner on the wall? It must have been deemed a necessity when Reed realized there needed to be a quick way to vent Thing’s wretched stench out of the building. Torch melts the air vent instead of, you know, turning it off, and the team is randomly restored to their proper size.
Of course, Reed, super-genius, has no idea how this happened. And then everyone admits it’s happened before, and they thought it was too nutty to talk about. So, wait. By this point in their careers, the team has fought Mole Man, fucking aliens (the Skrull), fought the king of Atlantis (Namor), been launched into space, visited Planet X, and watched Doom get shrunk to nothingness. But shrinking out of nowhere, nah, that’s too fucking crazy. The four then tell the tale of how they were shrunk, inconceivable as it might be. Starting with Johnny.
Poor, poor, Johnny. He’s wrestling with issues more fundamental than he realizes. It gets better, Johnny. Maybe not for you, because you are really dumb, but for others. Thing then tells his story and nobody cares. Sue then tells her story.
That is quite the storytelling pose, Sue. Let me just pull up this divan and lounge on it while I tell you about it. What a fox, though. Forget Namor, Sue. Maybe Doom will have you. I need to remember this for my evening fan fiction sessions.
After Reed finishes his story, he has an actual competent thought and suggests they talk to Hank Pym, the Astonishing Ant-Man, since he shrinks all the time! We then cut to Ant-Man who found out about the FF’s need for help through a daisy chain of talking ants (don’t ask).
Could you be any more expository, Hank? Christ. I’m going to open the door and walk out of here Jan and then casually stroll home to make dinner. And if he is human sized now, what the fuck is that giant grasshopper doing in the background? Do you just have giant insects in your house? I would not be shocked to find out later that Hank has some sort of personality disorder.
So Ant-Man rides his ants over and the Fantastic Four are shocked to see him. They didn’t even call him! So how does Reed treat his guest?
Honestly, I laughed when I saw this panel. Reed is treating Ant-Man like he is legit this disgusting pest in his home.
Reed (trying not to look revolted): We can’t hear you, Ant-Man. Uh, let me put this “Magnifying Amplifier” over you so we can hear you.
Hank: Magnifying Amplifier? I’m a scientist too, Reed, and I know those words mean the same thing. Is that even a machine? You know what, forget it, I can just return to normal human size so we can talk.
Reed: Oh, it’s no bother. Really.
Hank: It will only take a second.
Reed (failing to hide his revulsion): Please, just get in the jar.
So Ant-Man is put inside the “Magnifying Amplifier” and gives Reed a sample of his Pym Particles so that they can return to normal size at any time if it happens again. Ok. Then he flies off.
Reed wonders if that disgusting vermin man could be responsible for their shrinking fits. Sue fantasizes about making love to a man that can literally use his whole body to fill her up, bringing her to levels of ecstasy heretofore undreamt of. You know what, let’s move on.
The next day, Reed tells Thing that he is working on a cure for his condition. He force feeds Ben the formula, and…
Oh, Thing. It’s supposed to feel like you drank poison. That means it’s working. Yes, drink it up. Oh, and don’t get crushed by that piano you were holding. That would be…unfortunate. Fuck you, Reed. You probably could have easily put chocolate in it. Dick. Alicia shows that she has issues far beyond what I had suspected as she admits to being sexually attracted to a walking pile of hardened cow patties. It’s what you deserve, Thing.
So with Thing cured (nobody cares), though still hideous, we see Johnny burning things for the amusement of teenagers and Sue playing with perfume and frolicking with puppies. I wish I had made that up. Their days are interrupted by a disembodied voice stating “Flee for your life! Beware of Doctor Doom!” Also, Thing is back to being a grotesque monstrosity again. Nice cure, Reed. You can’t even poison him right.
Reed surmises that somehow, someway, Doom must still be alive. Genius at work. So Reed gives out the Pym Particles and they shrink to go looking for Doctor Doom. Makes sense. So they shrink and shrink and shrink. And land right smack in the middle of Doctor Doom’s throne room. What are the chances? 100%, you fools. Do not question the machinations of Doom!
Doom lives large even in the micro-world, no pun intended. He’s lounging on his throne, confident as always. Even when you try to kill him, it’s just another opportunity to show how badass he is. Thing, unthinking pile of bricks, leaps at Doom, who pushes a button on his throne that shrinks the FF even further. Now they are mini even to mini-Doom. Genius! Victor then decides to tell the story of how he came to rule.
Doom channels his inner Grinch. Peace? Harmony? Screw all of you. Not on my watch! I love you, Doctor Doom. Doom basically invents gadgets and insults his way to the throne. He recreates his shrinking ray, shrinks down the king and princess and takes over. Then he builds a device that allows his to project his voice and his ray to the larger world to manipulate the Fantastic Four. Who is the real genius here, Reed? You can’t even poison your friends right!
Doom then sets his guards on the team, and shockingly, these nameless mooks get worked by the mini-Fantastic Four. This is the first time we see a tried and true Doom trope.
Even though that is not taken from this comic, it sums up Doom’s problems perfectly. You’ll be seeing that scan again, I promise. So Doom has to take matters into his own hands, putting Invisible Girl in a jar, how do you like that fucking turnaround, Reed? And then gasses the others.
Doom getting real up in here. You’re inferior, Reed. Dumbass. Hail Doom! I’m getting that sweet tingling feeling of imminent Doom victory. Once the team is subdued, one of Doom’s underlings, surely not Doom himself, makes the questionable decision of throwing the team into the same dungeon that holds the deposed king and princess. That tingly feeling is rapidly subsiding, damnit.
Their cell is submerged in a sea of acid. Surely escape is impossible. Even the oversight of putting your enemies in the same room together cannot save you. Johnny, still wrestling with his internal urges, awkwardly hits on the princess, who really wants none of it. The princess tells the team about his plans. He doesn’t want to kill the Fantastic Four, he wants to sell them into slavery on an alien world. No humiliation is too great for Richards and his band of miscreants.
Oh, how delicious. Such humiliation. They will even be forced to wear their costumes. And look at Sue, all wet and submissive for her lizard overlords. Desperate. Willing to do whatever it takes to ameliorate her pitiful condition. What would you do for better treatment, Sue? Let’s move on.
That meddling Ant-man pieces together that the four must have shrunk and so he follows. Luckily, Doom’s lackeys subdue him. Whew. Meanwhile in the cell, Sue(!) gives the team an idea about escaping. Reed must have soiled his pants at a woman having ideas. The escape plan is actually not bad for a 1960’s comic. Ugh. I see where this is going.
So the four are loose. Doom doesn’t know. They find Doom’s ray and enlarge themselves and the deposed monarch back into regular mini-sizes. Thing uses a tower as a bat and hits the incoming alien slave trading ship like a baseball, sending it back from whence it came.
Eat a dick, Thing. It’s all unraveling. As usual. God damn it. Doom sees that the jig is up and bolts for it, enlarging himself back into the real world. HAHA! Another escape. Screw you, Reed. The issue ends with Thing swearing to get Doom. The team says good-bye to the mini-world and enlarges back to the real world.
BOO. Another escape at least. And I am sure Doom will give them a righteous thrashing next issue.
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