Friday, July 09, 2010

Fantastic Four Fridays: Ant-Man and Doom

Another mediocre cover. Yes, the general image of Doom holding the FF in his hand is pretty dramatic, but the details are boring. The Thing is shaking his fist at Doom and that's about the most interesting reaction. Sue's doing the "hands in the air" surprise thing, and Johnny, having forgotten, he can fly is climbing up Doom's index and middle finger. Reed just looks askance at the Metal Monarch. And who's conveniently holding that magnifying glass so we can see Ant-Man?

As the story opens, Johnny is startled to find his teammates much diminished:

So he welds the duct closed and the other members of the FF regain their normal size. It turns out that all of them had experienced the same thing briefly a day or so before, but were worried that the other members would think them nutty if they revealed their experience. Because, you know, it's too fantastic even for the Fantastic Four.

Reed brainstorms and comes to the conclusion that maybe Ant-Man could help them. But how do they get in touch with him? Well, little do they know that ants in the room send out a message that Hank Pym receives and responds to:

He gives them a reducing liquid and an enlarging liquid to use to discover who's changing their sizes. Reid even wonders for a moment:

Of course, we have the benefit of having seen the cover, and those who had been around for FF #10 remember how it ended with Dr. Doom apparently shrinking away to nothingness.

But the story meanders on for another couple of pages. Reed tries another formula to change the Thing back into Ben Grimm, Johnny shows the kids how he can sear a hot dog with his flame-balls, Sue tries some perfume to deaden the scent of dogs (who are apparently the only things that can sense her presence). Then a voice warns them all to flee because Dr. Doom is on the loose again. So they take the shrinking solution, and descend down into the miniature world:

Well, it's certainly convenient that the FF happened to end up that close to Doom. But when they try to attack him, he shrinks them further. Then follows the madman recap of how he came to the micro world, gained the trust of the King and his daughter, then shrank them down and took control. And now he's going to turn the FF over to the Tok people from another world. The Toks will press the FF into service in their army. Well, all except one of them:

That's a pretty harsh assessment of Sue's value as a member of a fighting force; surely they could show her slipping past guards and opening the gates to a major invasion?

Anyway, the FF are imprisoned along with the King and his daughter, whom Johnny has his eye on. The prison is under an acidic sea, so they can't just bust out. But Sue (!) has an idea:

So they construct a small pod out of the material used to construct the walls, then bust loose. Meanwhile, Ant-Man has shrunk down to join them, but is also imprisoned by Doom. Sue once again comes through:

Doom, realizing that the FF free endangers him, flees back to the normal world. Johnny has a tender parting with the princess:

That plot thread was never picked up in the Silver Age, although Pearla did return much later.

And we learn that this story (although reasonably self-contained) will be continued in the next issue.

Comments: Although the story takes a long time to get going, and although there are no real battle scenes with Doom, I do like the sudden emergence of Sue as a valuable member of the team; perhaps the bit about making her a scullery maid lit a fire under her. The coloring is somewhat inconsistent; Pearla's hair is gold and brown earlier, and then green at the end.


Michael Jones said...

It was always one of my favourite episodes of the '69 cartoon as well.
The Micro World of Dr Doom

Jonathan L. Miller said...

I'm kind of partial to the mid-70s radio version (which is close to being word-for-word from the comic) with young Billy Murray as Johnny Storm. Silly, but a lot of fun.