Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Doctor Doom - Clutches Of Doom!


In what is perhaps Marvel's first continued tale, Fantastic Four #17 has the Fab 4 face off against Doctor Doom yet again. In the past Stan and Jack had allowed a few issues to pass before pitting the team against the same foe (sometimes years as in the case of the Mole Man) but Doctor Doom is different, he's the one who has become their main opponent and that's settled once and for all with this issue by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers.


The team has just returned from Micro-World and bid farewell to Ant-Man who assisted them there. After a few pages of reprise we find the FF pursuing their lives when Doctor Doom unleashes his lighter-than-air "Followers" to locate each member and cause distraction. The Followers seem to be more an annoyance than a true threat but that's only the first part of Doom's scheme. He captures Alicia Masters and taunts the team from his airship hidden in a cloud over the city. In fact Doom attempts to blackmail the United States itself and proves his mettle by disrupting electricity all across the country. The FF are conscripted to confront him and they do. Reed locates Doom and realizes that the Followers had been more than a mere annoyance, rather they had recorded the FF's atomic structures and those details made a deadly force field around Doom's aircraft deadly to the team specifically. To counter this Reed uses a formula to change the Thing to Ben Grimm who penetrates the field and allows the rest of the team to enter. They battle many traps set by Doom but in the end are able to save Alicia and defeat the villain and send him sailing out of the craft, seemingly falling to his doom. But the FF know better.


There's a really high level of inventiveness in this issue. The Followers at first seem rather silly and are played for laughs but their threat is all too deadly by the story's end. Doom is bristling with equipment and despite his defeats seems eager to confront his deadly enemies again. By this time Doom's larger motivations are becoming a question and the need is developing to learn more about him but that will not happen immediately.


More to come.

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4 comments:

  1. It's amazing how often Stan & Jack seemed to use that little ploy in order to bypass some threat. The Thing changing to Ben, Thor changing to Don Blake, and I'm sure there must be further examples of it in other mags. Or am I thinking it happened more often than it did simply because I've read these particular tales dozens of times over the years?

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    1. I'm struck by how often he changed, almost every other issue it seemed. In later days when I showed up to the dance it was not uncommon but still something of an event.

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  2. Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics was one mouthful of a comic book title. Not that Marvel’s Greatest Comics (the rename) was all that great (or humble) either…Still – 25 cents for all those wonderful stories is tough to even imagine 50+ years on…

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    1. MCIC was indeed a clunky title, but was specific about the target audience. The simpler "Marvel Tales" got to the spirit of it all.

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