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.
Posted by David Campbell at 6:44 AM
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I think it was Amazing Spider-Man 350 where Doom dropped in. I want to say Erik Larsen was the artist, Something about an old jewel thief.
I thought Doom was done pretty well there, the whole time Spidey is scared pretty shitless of Doom, but he still doesn't give up.
I actually really liked that issue! Yes, it was Larsen. I thought it was okay because Spidey was hopelessly outclassed by Doom and just kind of got beat up the whole issue...
Dr. Doom is such a genius, he built a robot that can cry. (See the 9/11 issue of Spider-Man.)
"Dr. Doom is such a genius, he built a robot that can cry."
Worst appearance ever.
OK, Dazzler I can see your point, but surely you can't be saying that Cloak and Dagger couldn't defeat Dr. Doom...
First off, love the Blog. My new favorite review site. Nice work.
Second, I second your love for the Doom. Still, even I must admit that 75% of Doom's appearances in the Marvel universe would argue against his mythic status. I mean, Moon Knight? Luke Cage? Sheesh. I'll gladly take the Doombot Theorem.
I will, however, keep my favorite Doom appearance, in an issue of Astonishing Tales. In that story, Doom decides to vacation in the French Riviera after squashing some rebellion back in Latveria. He flies down there on a jet pack and strolls around the beach looking at all the bathers with utter contempt. Later I think he even rips up a roulette table because he loses. That's just awesome.
As a long-time FF fan (I've been collecting the FF mostly continuously since 1975, minus a couple of several month intervals where the "World's Greatest Comic Magazine" descended into horrific suckitude), I love Doom as a villain as much as you do.
I was actually rather surprised at the last story arc that featured him several months back, in which Franklin was sent to hell. Too much sorcery and a rather exploitative "child in jeopardy" subplot. Doom stories tend to be better when the mysticism is kept to a minimum and it's just Doom versus Reed Richards in a battle of scientific and tactical wits. That was what saved the story arc, Reed's decision to destroy Doom's home base and how he started to become more and more like Doom as he took over Doom's country. Then they had to go and ruin it by "killing" Ben, leading to a rather questionable storyline in which the FF go to heaven.
In the Dr. Doom solo issue of Byrne's run on FF (#258), there's a scene where he looks at a doombot and notices where Arcade struck a match on its armor during the Doom/Arcade storyline in Uncanny X-Men, thus retroactively making it a robot- he then destroyed it IIRC.
Jim Shooter said in an interview saying that this incensed Claremont and he had to keep Byrne and Claremont from sniping at each other.
I was not aware of this Simonson issue. What a great idea!
It's "Crisis on Infinite Dooms"!
"Who doesn't love the Thing? North Koreans." I just thought I should mention that whenever my wife and I like something, the only people who don't like it are "Commies." Yet another example of great minds thinking alike.
But when Squirrel Girl("I don't need luck, I eat nuts.") beat him, it was the real Doom, right?
I like to think that the story of Dr. Dooms revenge against Squirrel Girl is one of the great untold tales of the Marvel Universe. I can only hope it's a 12 part cross-over written by John Byrne and illustrated by Rob Liefeld. With multiple foil covers. I'm putting in my preorder in today on the hope this comic will soon be made. Monkey Joe forever!
Wow. Squirrel Girl. That has to be one of the more obscure references made on this blog. Good job Layne!
Squirrel Girl. That is arcane, Layne.
Orac, I'm with you on Waid's recent Dr. Doom storyline - a little too much voodoo for my tastes, and I didn't like his Leatherface armor.
Belcher, you must tell me what issue that is!
Greg: I too often call people commies. There's a great line in the brilliant Tim Robbins' mockumentary Bob Roberts where he asks an interviewer: "Are you a communist?" I use that line whenever possible; it goes over well in work meetings.
Dan Coyle, you are five times the geek I am. FIVE TIMES!
I liked the recent Doom story because of all the voodoo- it gave us a new twist on Doom (that we all know won't last), made him a credible threat after years of crappy stories, and showed the FF profoundly affected by his attack (at least until they went to heaven). Like most Waid FF stories, "Unthinkable" was flawed but compelling.
First Thor, now FF. If your blog turns into the "Walt Simonson Kicks Ass Tribute Page," word.
David, it's been reprinted in the Essential Super Villian Team-Up - I'll get the issue number for ya' when I get home.
Orac, I dug that storyline actually - it was neat take on Doom and gave him some much needed oomph in the villainy dept. My biggest complaint was that Doom has used magic off and on through out the years, particularly to win his mother's freedom from Hell (that Doom/Dr. Strange OGN (by Stern/Mignola?) was one of the best Doom stories ever IMO), so his decision to pursue magic instead of science kind felt a little out of left field for me. And that bit where Ben goes to heaven really wasn't well executed to my tastes.
Squirrel Girl references aren't THAT arcane these days, as her dashing debut is in the Marvel Visionaries: Steve Ditko HC, and her running around (after breast implants, apparently) in GLA
Dave: You have no IDEA how far my geekiness can go...
You know, I was just about to review Fantastic Four 352 and you go and wax eloquent about the awesomeness of Doom on me.
I hate you, David Campbell.
Ha ha ha! I have foiled beaucoupkevin's plans once more! Campbell reigns supreme!
"Something about an old jewel thief."
The Silver Fox. Which will be more obscure than Squirrel Girl for quite awhile. At least until the name's revived in Amazing Fantasy or Ultimate Spider-Man for use by a belly button baring teenage superheroine.
And I really liked that Amazing Spidey 350 when I read it. I was a kid, of course, and it will always have the advantage of being part of the first Spider-Man run I ever followed.
I have this issue. What I loved was the line where Doom says, recapping what has happened while he's been gone,[paraphrase] "These have been events even the worst writer would be embarassed to put to paper."
Simonson slapping down the odious John Byrne! Loved it!!!
The other beauty of this issue is that it effectively undoes nearly all the really stupid/ crappy/ pointless changes that Byrne had made in his run in one fell swoop.
Nobody's mentioned it yet, but mad kudos to Simonson's redesign of Doom.
No one followed up on it, but it fucking rocked.
Simonson actually had a long, detailed list of which Dooms were real and which were Doombots.
That dedication is either admirable or scary.
For real? He made a list of Doombot vs Real Doom Appearances? I would love to see that, how awesome!
Yup, definitely. Doom is so badly misused, it's ridiculous.
I have *so* many "Doom is a badass" story ideas floating about...
As I recall, Simonson is loathe to release that list, simply because he WANTS to leave it up to the reader which are real and which are not.
and he doesn't want to influence that.
Simonson has actually said (Amongst other places, in Comics Creators On the Fantastic Four) that he never had a list.
The Black Fox, not the Silver.
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Dave, a quick thanks to you for this site.
Walt does rock the big kitty - I can actually see Doom's pair shining through his suit!
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