Fantastic Four #8
If anyone is rooting for our Fantastic Four right now, it’s the National Grid and the oil companies. Dr. Doom has physically incorporated the once-great Galactus into that same mountain where young Victor Von Doom’s father died protecting the boy from the soldiers of the old Latverian aristocracy. With Galactus thus merged with the very land that Doom rules, Doom has harnessed the space giant into the most powerful source of clean energy in the universe. Doom’s goal is to use Galactus and the Power Cosmic to eliminate war, disease, poverty, famine, and all other human suffering on Earth, then establish his own galactic empire. You’ve gotta love the Monarch of Evil; he never thinks small. But first there is the matter of publicly executing the Fantastic Four, having manipulated them into entering Latveria to stop Galactus and knocked them out and arrested them for illegally crossing his borders. Doom’s reward for this? True Believers, you’ll have to see it—or not see it—to believe it.
Doom’s confinements for the captured FF show the twisted and sadistic side to his genius. Reed is trapped in a device that stretches his body to its limit under near-absolute-zero temperatures. The slightest stress on his body will thus shatter Mr. Fantastic’s organs. The Thing is in super-shackles that will cause the restraints on the rest of the FF to kill them instantly if gentle Ben breaks free. The Torch is suspended in an unbreakable tube of breathable water. And the Invisible Woman is in a cage that emits sonic impulses that deaden the part of her brain that switches on her force fields, leaving her with only her invisibility powers, which are useless to her now. (Hold that thought, heh-heh-heh…)
Meanwhile, Victorious visits the Torch in his liquid tube and tells him that in spite of the way he saved her last issue, he deserves to perish. For a gal who seems to hate Johnny Storm just for being her master Doom’s enemy, Victorious spends a lot of time thinking about him—doesn’t she?
Back home, Franklin is having nightmares about all the beings he created in all those other universes, and how The Griever destroyed them. In his dreams, The Griever taunts Franklin while those billions of beings curse him for creating them only to be destroyed. Unable to bear it, Franklin storms out of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Jake’s house—openly defying Alicia—and into the unsettlingly quiet and empty streets of Benson, Arizona, where he doesn’t suspect that something is watching him. Here he encounters someone that all longtime FF fans should remember: Wendy from FF #239, who is about the same age as Franklin and has been one of the Fantastic Four’s biggest fans since she was a little girl and shared their adventure in that ish. Wendy invites Franklin over to the home of her foster family (evidently her abusive father from FF #239 lost custody of her) to watch Dr. Doom’s big global broadcast about his plans for Galactus and his defeat of Franklin’s family. Meanwhile, something we’ve seen before is climbing all over the walls, watching the two kids.
Franklin fumes at the sight of his parents, uncle, and godfather in Doom’s latest death traps. He thinks he should be with them. Hold on, Franklin, and remember: your family is still the Fantastic Four. Just watch what happens…
When Doom permits Reed to say his last words before the confinements of the FF are flooded with raw cosmic energy and they are painfully disintegrated with the whole world tuned in, Reed says that the power surges from Galactus are building to the point of annihilating Latveria and knocking the Earth itself out of orbit. Just look at Victorious for verification of that—which Doom doesn’t because he’s too busy being furious at Reed for calling his plans into question during a live broadcast that Doom is beaming out to Earth and other planets! But when Doom goes to flip the switch that will destroy the Fantastic Four at last, that’s when Reed lowers the boom on him and calls for Sue to use the power that Doom considered ineffectual. Remember, the Invisible Woman can project invisibility. At Reed’s signal, Sue first cloaks the fateful switch—and then does the same to EVERYTHING THAT DR. DOOM IS WEARING! With the whole world and the entire civilized universe watching, Doom’s scarred and ravaged face and body are laid bare, totally exposing him and sending him virally all over Earth and beyond!
When fans talk about great Fantastic Four cliffhangers in the future, this is among the ones they’ll mention first.
In a nutshell, I have not been this pleased with an issue of The Fantastic Four since the tenure of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. That’s how good this story is, and it has the art to back it up. On taking over as writer of this book, one of Dan Slott’s immediate goals was about making Dr. Doom even deadlier now than he’s been in the past. I wondered how he was going to do that. How do you take the character that Sue Richards once called “the greatest evil the world has ever faced” (Fantastic Four #260) and make him even more dangerous? We now have the answer. This is exactly the way to do it. What Sue did to Doom at the end of this issue is going to be a game-changer for the classic enmity of the world’s greatest heroes and the world’s greatest villain. From here I can only imagine the ongoing clash between the FF and Doom to get even nastier, meaner, and uglier. Not only that, but now that the world and the universe have seen the one thing that Doom has never wanted to be seen about himself—let’s just say everyone had better watch out!
The things that super-heroes—and their villains—wear are symbolic. Dr. Doom’s mask was originally there to hide the horrors of his face (for which Doom himself was really responsible, though he always blamed Reed—see FF #278). Originally, his mask and armor together were symbolic of his self-imposed isolation from a humanity that he held responsible for the deaths of his parents and considered a world of unwashed, belligerent, ignorant rabble that needed his iron rule. The armor was in place to stop that world ever laying its filthy, ignorant hands on him.
After the last Secret Wars, when Reed restored Doom’s face, the motivation for all that evil was gone, and Doom set out to be a hero, albeit a hero in his own style, capable of being just as ruthless and power-hungry as he was as a villain. (And justifying his power lust by maintaining that it was for the good of everyone—remember the most recent Marvel 2-in-One?) When Doom’s attempts to be a hero left him wounded and scarred all over again, he retreated from the sight of the world once more until Zora Vukovic (Victorious) drew him out and motivated him to take back his kingdom. Now comes this. Reed’s wife has let every sentient eye in the known cosmos see what’s under that armor and behind that mask. If you thought Dr. Doom hated the Fantastic Four before, if you thought he had a vendetta against the Richards family in the past, if you thought he was bent on bringing down the rest of the world up to this point—now that he has suffered the most crushing humiliation of his life, just wait. I look forward to the greatest arch-villain of all time showing everyone what evil really is.
A note on the art for this issue: After two great-looking issues of the art of Aaron Kuder got this storyline rolling along, we come to an issue drawn by a team of artists including Kuder. When a comic book is “gang-drawn,” so to speak, the result may be a couple of dozen pages of jarring changes in art style as it shifts between pencilers, leading to a visual inconsistency that makes things less than satisfying. Thankfully, the team of artists for this issue meshes together not seamlessly, but not jarringly either. It’s a smoother visual experience than it could have been. Though in issues going forward I’d rather see one penciler for the whole piece (preferably just Kuder), the team was well selected and they all turned in a fine job.
With this issue and the next, Dan Slott will have completed his re-set of The Fantastic Four. He has the team back together and up and running, in a new home, with the kids older and Ben and Alicia married. He has restored Dr. Doom to his place at the top of the super-villain food chain (and then some). Once we get past the War of the Realms crossover episode scheduled for FF #10, I have a feeling (assuming the art remains consistent) that things are going to start looking really “fantastic”.
Fantastic Four #8: Like the Whole World’s Watching…
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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