Fantastic Four #7
FANTASTIC FOUR #7 is also FANTASTIC FOUR #700, which means we're ABSOLUTELY going huge. It's an over-sized spectacular as the Fantastic Four reach their new home - not knowing that a mysterious threat has made it there first! As their knowledge of LANGUAGE ITSELF begins to melt from their minds, the Four are in disarray as their existence hangs in the balance...
...and the greatest villain of all time finally seals their DOOM.
Writer Ryan North spent the first few issues of Fantastic Four getting the band back together. He had to put the team–the family–through some soul searching first. But everything turned out okay. Unfortunately, one family member didn’t get the feel-good memo. North unleashes a very angry Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #7–one that’s going to set right what Reed did wrong.
All is well as the team finally arrives at Ben’s Aunt Petunia’s house in Fantastic Four #7. In exchange for a little home repair, the team can put their feet up and stay off the radar for as long as they want. On her way out the door for the night, Petunia warns the team that the house is haunted. After a good night’s sleep, the team eats a big breakfast, starts their housework, and discovers that their language skills are deteriorating. They’re forgetting the alphabet one letter at a time and losing all the associated words along the way. It’s not a ghost causing this, though, but the incomparable Victor von Doom. Doom (who takes a moment to toss Reed around like a rag doll) is furious that his goddaughter Valeria remains trapped outside time with the rest of the city block that Reed haphazardly sent to the future in the battle with Annihilus. Despite Reed’s admonition against the danger of further time travel, Doom is determined to do what Reed couldn’t: go back in time and save the day. With that Doom jumps into the past (over and over and over again).
Fantastic Four #7 tells a fascinating Doom story by weaving together two complicated, potentially conflicting themes. The first is Doom’s connection to family. North leaned heavily into the idea of family in the series’ first four issues as he introduced readers to the team’s new status quo before flashing back to show us what precipitated their breakup. So it’s appropriate that the first issue in North’s run that features Doom returns to that theme. He has no ambitions beyond saving Valeria. Doom placing a high value on family, while often a complicated and sometimes convoluted character trait, is nothing new. It works especially well here because of how North uses it to feed Doom’s rivalry with and loathing for Reed. Reed made a mistake and it temporarily cost Doom someone special. But once Doom embarks on his quest to undo Reed’s error, the story starts to shift.
Doom’s attempts to save Valeria start simply enough: beat Annihilus before Reed activates the time device. When that doesn’t work, he tries to stop Reed from using the device. Then stops the rest of the team. Then stops the device being built. Then kills the Fantastic Four outright. Then tries to rescue Valeria before the device can be activated. On and on it goes. And before long Doom’s quest to save Valeria has turned into a struggle not to worsen his own fate. North has folded Doom’s original family-centric motivation into his larger ego and megalomania, creating a kind of feedback loop. It’s a fascinating sequence, and we spend all of it in Doom’s head, along for the ride as he narrates every failure and the outcomes become progressively darker.
Explaining what Doom experiences and why he’s having problems in the first place would ruin the end of a very good character arc. North employs a not uncommon time travel trope in Fantastic Four #7’s resolution. The issue’s end is rather anticlimactic from a Doom vs FF plot point-of-view, but as another family-themed character exploration, it is quite effective.
Fantastic Four #7 delivers the series’ first truly intense action sequences. The first and most important is the brief fight between Doom and the team at Aunt Petunia’s before he goes back in time. Doom lays the team out with almost comical ease, and at first there doesn’t seem to be very much difference between this encounter and so many that have come before. But Coello shifts the mood considerably in the panels where Doom goes for Reed. A slight blur effect on Doom’s fist or arms or legs reinforces Doom’s speed and power. Blood flying from Reed’s mouth as his neck twists around after Doom lands a punch shows off the devastating force behind every blow Doom lands. North’s dialogue explains Doom’s motives and plan very well, but Coello establishes just how personal this is and how furious Doom has become. For a few pages, Doom is scarier than he’s been in a long time.
The fight sequences in the rest of the issue aren’t as intimate, but the variety and scope of Doom’s efforts lets Coello draw everything from close in melee scrums to Doom-versus-all slaughterfests.
Aburtov’s bright color choices frequently command attention. The fake ghost glows a bright blue and white. Doom’s energy blasts are a vibrant green (the one where he seems to disintegrate Reed’s head is particularly fun). The vague energy surrounding Galactus is a rich violet. Fantastic Four #7 is a particularly vivid issue in what is consistently a very colorfully expressive series.
Caramagna’s lettering has been largely conservative and restrained to this point in the series. The effect of which is to make his work here stand out all the more, practically exploding off the page. The very brief fight between Doom and Reed that Coello made so personal is made all the better for Reed’s “dialogue” as Doom hits him. With blood flying, the font for Reed’s line grows in size until it’s no longer in the bubble but merely thick black letters surrounded by a white outline. The sound effect when Reed is blasted out the side of the house is bigger than the wall itself.
As oversize anniversary issues go, this is one deserving of the extra couple bucks. North’s use of Doom in Fantastic Four #7 is pitch perfect. The character is complex, operating on multiple levels, and his presence fits in with the themes North has been weaving through the series to this point. He also doesn’t overstay his welcome. He’s here for a specific purpose and leaves once that is resolved, leaving open the possibility for more encounters in the future.
Fantastic Four #7: Can Doom Fix What Reed Broke?
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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