Friday, November 20, 2009

Fantastic Four Fridays: Von Doom

What do Dr Doom and the Green Goblin have in common? Answer at the end of the post.

As the story begins, Johnny is acting like a normal teenager:

As you can probably guess, Johnny makes a wisecrack about how the Hulk looks something like the Thing, and this precipitates the usual fight between the various members of the FF. But while they struggle, the lights go out as Dr Doom has already struck:

He calls out to the FF via a loudspeaker in his helicopter, and Reed recognizes the voice. It's Victor Von Doom, a former college classmate of Reed's who was into black magic. Reed tells the story of how Von Doom's experiments went awry, disfiguring the latter's face.

Back in the present, Doom demands that the FF surrender Sue as a hostage. They initially resist, but it becomes obvious that the villain has all the cards, and Sue submits to his control. Doom demands that the other three members of the FF go back into the past and retrieve Blackbeard's legendary treasure. They agree, but only after he promises to free Sue if they do not return.

They quickly obtain some costumes and are shanghaied:

I suppose we're not supposed to notice that teen-aged Johnny swills his grog just like Reed and Ben. They awake aboard a pirate ship. But with the Thing taking some initiative, it's not long before they're running things. And after their first battle:

Yep, the famed pirate Blackbeard turns out to have been none other than bashful Benjamin all along. And since they have have control of the treasure, it seems like there's nothing left to do but bring it back to Doom. But lawyer Reed Richards remembers carefully the task they were assigned:

Oh, did you say, "treasure chest", instead of "treasure"? Reasoning correctly that there must be something powerful within the chest, Reed distributes the treasure to the men, while filling the chest with worthless chains. But there's one slight hitch; Ben has discovered his true calling as a leader of pirates and doesn't want to go back to the future. But when he sets Reed and Johnny in a lifeboat and sails into a hurricane, the three of them end up on a deserted island with the treasure chest. And so Doom calls them back to their own time.

But when he learns that they have only brought back chains, they have a mini-fight, in which Dr Doom is revealed to have only been a robot duplicate. Things look pretty grim:

Hence the cover image. But Sue manages to cause a short circuit, and then locates the switch to open the door to the airtight chamber in time to free the rest of the FF. But Doom escapes and in the end:

Comments: Everything works well in this issue, although for the most part the Marvel heroes eschewed time travel stories, a marked distinction between them and the DC lineup. Coming up next: the first super-villain team-up of the Marvel era!

Answer: Doom and Gobby both start out determined to defeat their respective superhero enemies. Most other villains start out as simple crooks and only when defeated by a superhero decide to exact revenge.