Friday, January 08, 2010

Fantastic Four Fridays: Mind Meld

The story opens with a bit where the Thing has summoned the rest of the FF to Alicia's apartment with a 4 flare. They have some trouble however, as the "nuclear lock" has jammed. Eventually they make their way to the scene, where they learn it's not an emergency:

Now that you mention it, yes, Reed it's a little amazing that a blind girl can create such accurate statues. Sue does a little moping over the fact that the Sub-Mariner is included, apparently forgetting that he tried to kill Reed and Johnny last issue.

The scene switches to the offices of "Kirby and Lee" where the creators are debating whom to have battle the FF next. Too bad that Dr Doom was lost in space in #6, eh. And then he enters the room:

This breaking of the fourth wall is pretty unusual for Marvel; I can't think of another example, although DC did it several times. Doom has Lee summon Mr Fantastic to his office. From the context, we can see that the FF has licensed Marvel to publish their adventures. When Reed arrives, Doom kayos him with a sleeping gas and they vanish together.

Dr Doom explains his survival to Reed awhile later in his laboratory. He was rescued from the meteor by some aliens in a ship. He stole their technology, including this:

And Doom switches bodies with Reed. The concept of body-switching dates back at least to the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs; it's a major plot point in Mastermind of Mars.

The rest of the FF arrives (summoned by Lee and Kirby) and quickly subdues Doom (really Reed as we know). He tries explaining what's happened, but Reed (really Doom) reminds them of what a tricky character he is. They put him in an airtight chamber (Reed assures them he will have enough air to survive, but he's lying).

Later, Reed (Doom) tells the FF of his latest experiments. He plans to reduce them in size, while they retain their full powers. Then, when he enlarges them again, their powers will have grown tremendously. Johnny will be able to flame on for longer, while Ben will be able to change back and forth into the Thing.

We learn that his real plan is to shrink them out of existence. Meanwhile, Doom (Reed) has escaped from the airtight chamber and heads to Alicia's apartment. He pleads with her, not knowing that Sue is sneaking up behind him to bash him on the head. Johnny and Ben arrive and the three of them take Doom back to Reed's lab. Frantic, Reed (Doom) tries to get them in front of his reducing ray, but:

Johnny and Ben smell a rat, and the Torch causes a mirage of a stick of dynamite to appear in the room. This reveals the true characters of the two men:

In the shock of being revealed, Doom releases his mental control, and Reed and he switch back to their normal bodies. He tries to shoot them with the atomic blast gun in his finger, but all he does is turn the reducing ray on himself:

And he vanishes into nothingness.

Commments: Excellent story, one of the strongest so far in the FF series. Doom has clearly become the FF's greatest enemy by this time.


Anonymous said...

John Byrne sometimes put himself and other members of the Marvel "bullpen" into his Fantastic Four stories. (He carried this even further during his run of SHE-HULK.) Evidently he was building on a precedent established way back in FF #10.

A solid story, I agree -- but I call shenanigans on Johnny's mirage-casting. Did he ever do anything like that again?

How about posting that "gorgeous pin-up" of the Invisible Girl?

-- Jim

Blaze said...

I had no idea that the whole concept of the FF licensing their tales to Kirby and Lee extended back to the earliest days of Marvel. I thought it original to #176 in the mid-seventies!

I always quietly assumed that Alicia went to the same "Radar Sense School" as Daredevil. Between her sculptures and assorted amazing moments, it seemed the only explanation. Which is okey-dokey with me.