Tuesday, May 17, 2005
FANTASTIC FOUR #350 Marvel Comics, 1991
I'm slammed with work today and coughing up a lung, so I'll make this a short one:
Fantastic Four #350 is a GIANT-SIZED issue from Walt Simonson's run as writer/artist on the book. The big deal in this issue is that Ben Grimm, who was human again, gets turned back into The Ever Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing once again. Bummer for Ben, but good for readers. Who doesn't love The Thing? North Koreans. Aside from that, nobody.
I love The Thing, but for me the big draw for this issue is the return of the original Dr. Doom. I am going to write a huge love-letter post to Dr. Doom some day, so I'll refrain from a lengthy discussion of why Dr. Doom is The Ultimate Super Villain here and just say "I Heart Doom" and leave it at that.
Because I love Doom so much that I want to marry him, I have been disappointed with many appearances of my favorite villain in FF and other comics. Doom should inspire awe and dread in all who cross his path, and too often he has been plugged into stories as a generic arch-villain for lame superheroes to fight. I can handle the Fantastic Four or The X-Men fighting Doom, but there's no way Dazzler or the fucking Micronauts should be fighting Doom. They would DIE, and quickly. Doom should be a legendary figure, a real-life boogeyman that heroes pray they never run across. He should be used for big event storylines, not throw-away one shot issues. Anything less does not honor Doom.
I think Walt Simonson must feel the same way, because this issue is just a big middle finger to those appearances of Dr. Doom in the Marvel Universe that weren't worthy of him. Basically, in this issue Dr. Doom returns from a lengthy extra-dimensional sojourn to find his country run by his own creations, the Doombots, robot replicas who act and fight just like Doom and even believe they are Doom himself. He quickly disposes of the extra Doombots, puts his ward Kristoff in his place, and takes charge again.
Dr. Doom mentions that he has only occasionally returned over the years to Earth to handles his business, but for most of the time he has let the Doombots run the show. Doom's a big-picture "blue sky thinker" kind of guy; he doesn't get hung up in micro-management.
Here's an exchange that Doom has with The Thing:
Basically, Simonson is saying to the readers: "Have you ever read a lame Dr. Doom story where the Master wasn't getting his props? Don't worry - it was just a robot!" The reader can decide for him/herself whether each appearance of Doom was a robot or not. If you like a particular Doom story - cool, that was the real Doom. But if you just can't stand the way Dr. Doom was portrayed in, say, Dazzler? Just a stupid robot.
I love that. In one fell swoop, Simonson returned Dr. Doom to his true mythic greatness and gave the big finger to all those suckers who have written bad Dr. Doom stories.
Dr. Doom reigns supreme, and so does Walt Simonson.