Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Story and Art: John Byrne | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: At the Baxter Building, Reed analyzes the Thing while Alicia Masters observes. Soon, the Latverian ambassador calls Reed to discuss arrangements for the transportation of Doctor Doom’s body to the embassy. Meanwhile, at Doom’s castle upstate, within Liddleville, the miniature robot containing his brain argues with the Puppet Master. Another full-size Doom arrives and crushes the Puppet Master robot, then departs with mini-Doom.

The FF arrive at the Latverian embassy with Doom’s body but are immediately pulled into four separate traps where they each find themselves fighting Doctor Doom. The four Dooms are defeated, but at the same time, the four-segmented trap holding the FF is pulled aboard a skyship which then leaves New York. Aboard the craft, four more Dooms oversee the restoration of mini-Doom’s mind into his full-size body.

The Fantastic Four are reunited and Doctor Doom soon joins them in their cell. He reveals that the craft has arrived in Latveria, and he needs the quartet’s help to reclaim the country from its current ruler, King Zorba. The FF refuse, but Doom then shows them Latveria’s capital, Doomstadt, which has fallen into ruin since Doom was deposed.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Reed recaps Ben’s recent transformations. He is studying the Thing’s condition only to keep up appearances, now that he knows Ben’s subconscious will not allow him to return to normal as long as he is with Alicia.

We're reminded that the FF have had possession of Doctor Doom’s body since issue 236. The team uses their new Fantasticar, provided by Tony Stark to replace the one destroyed in Terrax's attack, to travel to the embassy.

When the scene shifts to Liddleville, we see a tiny ship carrying the Micronauts away from Doom’s castle and an adventure they had there in MICRONAUTS #41.

When Latverian ambassador Leopold questions whether Doom’s plan might fail, the Doombot to whom he's speaking angrily kills him for the suggestion. In one of his few moments of praise for his former partner Chris Claremont, Byrne has expressed his admiration for Claremont’s ability to make a reader care about even the most insignificant characters before killing them off. Byrne tries his own hand at that here, letting us know Leopold’s final thoughts are of his wife and daughter.

As he battles his Doombot, Johnny realizes he's become too dependent on his flame powers, and is of little effectiveness without them.

The Thing recalls that the last time Doom was a physical match for him was when he stole the Silver Surfer’s powers, though we receive no footnote to the classic Lee/Kirby FANTASTIC FOUR 57 – 60.

Doom recalls that the Fantastic Four once sought his aid in issue 116.

Is It Clobberin' Time? Nope.

The Quotable Doom: “When Victor von Doom ruled here, Latveria was the richest, most prosperous nation in all Europe. No man or woman was without employment . No child went to bed hungry. Until Zorba’s followers stirred up discontent in factions of the populace, there was no crime, no civil strife. Look upon my native country now, outlanders! Look, and tell me what you see!”

My Thoughts: I think I said it before, but it bears repeating (and I'll probably repeat it a few more times before all is said and done): pretty much nobody writes Doctor Doom as well as John Byrne. Byrne may well have a better grasp of Doom than of any of the FF members. It's not just his speech and mannerisms, though -- it's also his tactical mind; the way he comes up with a separate trap for each member of the team, but is well aware they will escape those traps. He wants them to escape because he needs their help, but he also wants them to fear for their lives before he reveals that fact.

And of course he has a plan for every contingency. When his Doombots restore him to normal, he wants to know which plan got the job done. (It's good old Plan Epsilon, by the way.) And Byrne, perhaps more than anyone else, is quick to remind us, as quoted above, that Doom is a benevolent tyrant. A tyrant, yes, but one who cares for his people and is pained to see them suffer. He's an amazingly complex character, and -- of the various Doom appearances I've read over the years -- few have done more to delve into that complexity than Byrne.

(Or perhaps I should rephrase, since I'm sure plenty of writers think they've explored Doom’s complexity: Few have done more to delve into that complexity correctly than Byrne.)


  1. The FF arrive at the Latverian embassy with Doom’s body but are immediately pulled into four separate traps

    It maybe happens every so often, but I find it hard to think that when exactly the same thing happens in Castle Doom in Simonson's FF #350, it didn't take the cue from this particular bit here. Which quite hilariously discredits a bit the allegation that that's the real Doom who would've been missing since the early days of FF.

    The Doombots actually comment on the Plan Epsilon that "even now the Fantastic Four are prisoners", suggesting that the Plan Epsilon actually pretty much goes in lines of "(pull off various shenanigans as needed and) have the FF at my mercy by ingenious application of separate built-to-specific-superpowers traps!"

    The panel with the infra-red on Sue somehow is more iconic that any singular in-middle-of-story panel has any right to be.

    On Doom's portrayal, and freshly on the heels of the records-shattering premiere of the Deadpool movie and with vivid memory of the horridness that is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I can't help noting that the idiots at Fox will have their FF films tank time and time again courtesy of insisting on making their Doctor Doom anything other than we see here on the Byrne run.

    1. I've never read Simonson's FANTASTIC FOUR. Someday I should really check it out.

      I can't understand how Fox continually gets Doom so wrong. He's not that hard to figure out. Who's the best villain in movie history? Darth Vader. Doctor Doom basically IS Darth Vader. Why would you not play him that way?? It writes itself because George Lucas already did it!!

    2. I must beg to differ from that... Darth Vader is Darth Vader, but Doom won't be found taking orders from any old gown dude or have a son up to shenanigans, no matter what Ann Nocenti tries to tell you. He's a scientifically brilliant mind to oppose Reed Richards, in a battle armor not too much short of challenging Iron Man, wrapped up in sorcerer's gown to give Dr. Strange (and Mephisto) a run for his money and rules over his nation the way that doesn't shame next to Black Bolt.

    3. Don't get too bogged down in details.

      Doom is Darth Vader in that both wear armor as a result of their hubris & pride, and are, generally, grandiose and theatrical villains.

      More importantly, filmmakers seemed scared to feature a fully-masked Doom for very long, even though Darth Vader spent three frickin' movies in a mask and he's considered one of the great movie villains of all time. So clearly, it can be done.

    4. Don't the poor bastards have Hugo Weaving's phone number?

    5. Teebore beat me to it in explaining my reason for comparing Doom and Vader. It's not the specifics of their characters, but the general archetype of the merciless armored and masked (and caped!) villain that I'm talking about.

      Hugo Weaving would make a pretty good Doom, Teemu! Though I believe he was pretty dismissive of his turn as the Red Skull, so I'm wondering if he'd even be interested.

    6. Oh, I do recognize the merits of your (both of you) case, not least because I'm a huge fan of hubris and pride blowing on someone's face. It's really more that I wanted to argue against this comparison, because 1) Doom obviously predates Vader and is fully-realized character who needs not take cues from any movie villain but is perfectly cromulent in pure Marvel Universe context and especially as 2) that upstart Claremont has been presenting that upstart Vader (and specifically around this era of the Byrne-Claremont relations) as the epitome of sublime in UXM #155, but, my friends, the fact stands that No one rivals Doom! NO ONE!

      Hugo Weaving was my initial pick first and foremostly because of his all-too-rare-in-business proven capability of keeping the mask on for the whole movie, but it starts to feel good upon tasting it otherwise too.

      The disturbing bit is that I would be quite happy with Hayden Christensen as the young Doom for any flashback scenes.