Fantastic Four #9
We left off last time with the shocking—but oh so rich—tableau of the Invisible Woman cloaking Dr. Doom’s armor, mask, and costume and laying him bare to the universe during a global and interstellar live video feed! We won’t go into the whole story again, but you can read about it here. Rejoining our story, when Doom tries to cover his face, Sue doubles down and cloaks his hands and forearms, leaving the Monarch of Evil no choice but to order Victorious to get him out of there! While Doom flees, the FF ingeniously break themselves out of his fiendishly sadistic traps (the way the Torch escapes from the tube of breathable water shows us how well Dan Slott knows all of Johnny’s powers) and set out to save Earth from the power surges of the captive Galactus.
Meanwhile, Wyatt Wingfoot tracks Franklin down to Wendy’s house and carries the lad bodily out. When Franklin protests, Wendy loses her temper—and unleashes her Friends! Remember “Wendy’s Friends” from John Byrne’s Fantastic Four #239? Well, as a little girl in a movie about Poltergeists might say, “They’re baaack…” Wyatt, with Franklin in his arms, suddenly finds himself fleeing from a horde of black creatures that look like Mogwais that have been fed after midnight. (No, I’m not going to explain that; go and look up the movie Gremlins by Steven Spielberg.)
While Reed is busy hacking Doom’s technology, Doom is in his video room watching the reactions from around the world and around the galaxy to Sue’s unveiling of him. They range from horror to pity to mockery to contempt—none of which makes Doom any happier, and he sends Victorious after the FF. By this time Reed has figured out how Victorious’s dangerous charge of artificial Power Cosmic works and possibly how to save her from it—starting by having Sue and the Thing swipe Victorious’s lance when she attacks them. Sue and Ben succeed, and in the process the lance is revealed as being not a weapon but a control rod! Ah-ha!
Reed has Victorious lashed to the “Big Bang Cannons” which Doom used two issues ago to bring down Galactus, then reconfigures the cannons to revive the planet-slayer, who rises out of Mount Doom, reducing it to a gigantic pit enclosed in plateaux of rubble. Remember, this is the mountain where Werner Von Doom lost his life saving Victor, which is yet another reason for Doom to despise the FF! Doom’s grievances against our heroes are really piling up. The recovering Galactus summons back all the power that Doom siphoned off from him, destroying the cosmic energy pipeline that Doom was going to use to change the world after his own vision and build an interstellar empire. This makes a wreck of Latveria’s infrastructure. Add one more reason for Doom to want our heroes dead. However, being connected to the “Cannons” while they were operating in reverse has somehow re-set the function of Victorious’s powers so that they will no longer accumulate to a dangerous level that threatens to blow her up, and she presumably doesn’t need to use the control rod any more. Meaning, of course, keep your eye on that subplot between her and the Torch.
Galactus leaves Earth, renewing his oath not to try to eat us and leaving Doom’s plans in a state of complete ruin, for which he promises the most excruciating deaths for the Fantastic Four—especially Sue. And he might actually succeed this time—except that back in Arizona, Valeria has switched on the teleport system that she rigged up from Uncle Jake’s truck, and Franklin has juiced it up with his powers. Before Doom can recapture and wipe out the FF, a space warp opens up, and out of it pours the horde of Wendy’s Friends that were chasing Franklin and Wyatt! As Doom finds himself hip-deep in the Friend creatures (which was Valeria’s test of the teleport system), Valeria teleports the FF back to Arizona, thoroughly thwarting all the ambitions of Earth’s greatest villain.
Once more the Fantastic Four are triumphant over Dr. Doom. But this time they have trounced and humiliated him completely in the eyes of the entire universe and left his country and his land in a complete shambles! That means the greatest arch-villain of all time is now also the angriest arch-villain of all time. And in the months to come, that is sure to mean nothing good for the greatest heroes of all time!
In his endless battle with the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom has taken some truly devastating defeats from which a lesser man might not have come back. There was the time the Thing tore into him, smashed his chest plate, and crushed his hands (Fantastic Four #40), which you may remember looked like this.
And there was the time Reed ripped off Doom’s mask in a room full of solar mirrors, surrounding Doom with glowing reflections of his face and sending him into a complete mental collapse (Fantastic Four #200), which as you may recall looked like this.
But this defeat may actually cut deeper than those other ones. Doom’s vanity and his deep revulsion at his disfigurement have always been at the core of his evil psyche. Of all his secrets, this is the one that he most assiduously hid from the world—until Sue Richards exposed him. What Sue has done has truly been to hit Doom right where he lives. This one has really got to hurt. This one has really got to gnaw away at him. Sue dragged him out of his hiding place. (And you can bet people on Marvel Earth are going to have it stored in their computers and all over their Facebooks and YouTube channels!) You know how a wounded animal goes off to some remote, dark part of the forest to hide, so that none of the other creatures in the forest can see how vulnerable he is? That’s what the mask of Dr. Doom has always represented. The Invisible Woman robbed him of that. And worse, Doom is not just wounded—he is colossally proud. Sue has struck at his pride in a way that even the Thing and Reed never did. She has both exposed and psychologically deepened his wound. I’m telling you, watch this guy. He is going to be looking for major payback. Dan Slott set out to make Dr. Doom deadlier than ever for the revived FF series, and he’s on the right track.
The one flaw in what is otherwise the best Fantastic Four story since Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo is the use of Galactus. It is never made clear exactly how it is that Galactus became so sick and vulnerable that Doom, through Victorious, was able to lure him to Latveria and prey upon him. We’re left to assume that after he was changed into a “life-bringer” instead of a cosmic predator in that Ultimates story, the universe abhorred the vacuum in the forces of nature that the change left behind, and Galactus’s true nature reasserted itself, but Galactus changed back in a weak and vulnerable state. Exactly what happened to him is never spelled out, which detracts from the story somewhat. Without this unexplained weakness and vulnerability, it’s unlikely that Doom and Victorious could have done what they did to him, no matter how they manipulated the Power Cosmic to lure him to Earth. And anyway, it isn’t the Power Cosmic that Galactus feeds on; it’s the energies of life-supporting planets, which isn’t the same thing. This conceptual flaw doesn’t ruin the story completely because there’s way too much other good stuff going on here that will play into stories for years to come. But the whole “how” and “why” of the state that Galactus is in is sorely lacking. Let’s hope that in future Galactus stories—and there will always be another Galactus story—the Devourer of Worlds returns to his station as the implacable, unreachable power-beyond-all-powers who is the most feared creature in existence.
Artistically, we have another “gang-drawn” issue like the last one, and like last issue, this one gets high marks for the way the styles of the artists fit together without being a jarring distraction. And the thing I’ve been saying since the beginning of the FF revival still holds. Reed has got to lose that damn beard. He looks like some 18th Century fur trapper with his face like that. Give the man a shave!
In all of comics there is no greater enmity than that of the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom and no more entertaining story than watching Marvel’s greatest heroes and greatest villain come to blows. For all of Marvel’s history, the most bitter enemies have been Doom and Mr. Fantastic—but now, with this new twist, Doom’s wrath and vengeance will fall on Reed’s wife as much as on Reed himself. Up to this point, Doom’s attitude towards Sue has been, “Beautiful, but married to my mortal enemy and must be destroyed.” Now the Invisible Woman is as much Doom’s bitter foe as her husband is, and that could get us into some very interesting situations in tales yet to come.
Fantastic Four #9: Dr. Doom and the Ultimate Wardrobe Malfunction
- Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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