Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Marvels: Fantastic Four #23

"The Master Plan of Doctor Doom!" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & George Roussos
(February 1964)

The last time we saw Doom, he was fleeing from a harbor warehouse after a fight with Spider-Man. Usually, when Doom appears in Fantastic Four, we get to see how he cheated death at the end of his previous appearance, but since he's just been biding his time, Stan & Jack instead start this issue with Doom building a team of thugs to help him capture the FF.

Marvel Wiki identifies these characters as the Terrible Trio, so I assume they'll be back again. Here they are:

Doom is able to increase their natural abilities with his XZ-12 Device. He makes Bull strong enough to fight the Thing, Handsome Harry able to hear Invisible Girl when she's invisible, and makes Yogi Dakor fireproof enough to withstand the Human Torch. The Terrible Trio use these abilities to capture the three teammates and deliver them to Doom. (I think Bull cheats a bit, though; he can't lick the Thing with brute force, so he uses a cosmic-beam gum to momentarily turn the Thing human again and knocks him out.)

Doom repays the Terrible Trio for their work by trapping them inside another dimension until he needs them again. Doom's employee benefit plan really sucks, but it's probably better than Walmart's.

Doom traps Reed with a robot version of the Thing, and he's got them all locked in a warehouse. It's been four months since we last saw Doom, and he's still skulking around the warehouses. But there's a reason for this! After a spectacular fight scene where Doom uses tricks like a flying belt and a refrigeration device in his armor which freezes Reed--and I do love that he never reveals these things until he has to use them, always surprising the FF--it's revealed that the warehouse is in the path of a solar wave!

"I should have guessed!" Sell it to someone who's buying, big brain.

According to Reed, when a solar wave interacts with a particular ionic particle dust, it opens some sort of rift in the cosmos, or something. I don't know, they never really explain it, they just kind of pretend to before focusing on the confusing-but-genuine suspense of the floor opening up into outer space while the FF race against time.

Sue quickly extends her force field to pin Doctor Doom to the outer wall, so that he'll go along with them. Doom, protesting "The world must not lose a magnificent brain like mine!", tries to stop it from happening, but trips into the void as the Fantastic Four use his entry hatch to escape and avoid the solar wave.

I'm genuinely interested to hear how Doom survives this one. Also, I love Jack Kirby's cosmic art. I know everyone does, but I still had to say it.

Stray notes:

:: Because there's more time without Doctor Doom explaining his getaway, there's a whole subplot where Ben, Sue and Johnny decide it's time for new leadership after Reed gets a little too bossy. Of course, they all vote for themselves and start fighting, which Reed takes the time to gloat over.

Eh, can't blame him, even though he was getting a little sharp with the orders.

:: There's some great business, too, with Reed accidentally pulling a dinosaur out of the past.

It's a neat couple of pages for this dinosaur lover. Reed's been testing Doctor Doom's old time machine and seems pleased to find it working perfectly after moving it to the Baxter Building after they previously used it to go back in time to Ancient Egypt.

:: Sue and Reed have a little spat, and she says "Oh, go polish a test tube or something!" Double entendre, or unintended?

She also wishes "THAT MAN" understood women better. Does she mean Reed or Stan Lee?

:: Johnny is captured by the lure of a new, tricked out roadster with lots of gadgets and a bubble dome. Never change, Johnny.

:: The eternal dilemma...

Also in the Special Announcements section, Stan talks up Dick Ayers' pencils and inks in the upcoming issue of Tales to Astonish. It's nice that he pushes the artists as well as the mags themselves.

I have to say, I don't find the Terrible Trio all that interesting yet, but I love it when Doctor Doom appears. It's always pretty special, and I hope we don't have to go too terribly long until we see him again. Fun issue!

Next time: Thor faces the Tomorrow Man. Again!


randm said...

This has always been one of my favorites FF stories, probably because it was one of the first Doc Doom stories I'd read. It was included in a giant size treasury along with the return of the Sub Mariner story and "This Man This Monster". I especially like Kirby's art during this period of his career.

Enjoying your reviews. I sold my comics long ago, these take me back to stories I used to love reading and re-reading.

SamuraiFrog said...

Thanks! I'm glad to see people enjoy these. It's a lot of fun rediscovering these comics, and especially sharing them with my wife, who hasn't read any of these old comics.

Nathan said...

Seems like circuses in the Marvel Universe are, like, 75% deranged criminals.

SamuraiFrog said...

The days before regulations.