Fantastic Four #142-144
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #142, Fantastic Four #143, Fantastic Four #144
Storywise, after some kind of interesting if not always well executed stories delving into the foundational relationship problems between Reed and Sue, Gerry Conway with this arc gets into a really bad Dr. Doom story.
Alicia has been lured away to an Eastern European country with the promise of a cure for her blindness, and the Thing goes to visit her and gets attacked by a demon creature called Darkoth.
The Thing temporarily defeats Darkoth and Alicia's operation can continue.
Ben's relationship with Alicia is also looking shaky. He is of course nervous that if she gets her sight back she won't love him any more. But he even gets suspicious of Alicia because the demon knows things about the FF's recent split-up, and the only person Ben told that to was her. But that's all forgotten when Alicia goes into "surgery", which soon turns out to be a sham. Alicia is kidnapped.
Thing encounters Darkoth again on the trail and eventually gets captured.
Meanwhile, Medusa convinces Reed to go to his college reunion even though Sue has left him. It kind of looks like Conway was setting up a situation where Medusa was moving in on Reed now that Sue was out of the picture.
Reed's reunion turns out to also be a sham. The only other person who shows up is Johny and Wyatt's coach Thorne, revealed in this issue to be a classmate of Reed's. The reunion is hosted by Dr. Doom (compare to here or here).
Doom has already captured the Thing, and he's imprisoned Darkoth as well.
And he's got a Vibration Bomb device that makes people susceptible to mind control.
Meanwhile, the Human Torch has quit the FF due to the fact that Reed 'zapped' Franklin when the child displayed his mutant powers. He and Wyatt wind up in jail for causing property damage, and while Reed and Medusa are negotiating with Darkoth, Doom busts open their jail cell.
The issue ends with Darkoth realizing that he's not actually a demon, he's just one of Doom's former henchmen that Doom transformed into this shape.
He turns on Doom and joins up with the FF (note the Apology about Medusa suddenly appearing in costume).
Doom sends another creature, a robotic Seeker with "nuclear discharger prods" for arms, after the FF.
They defeat it and then bring it back to the Baxter Building. While Reed tinkers with it, the Thing and Darkoth bicker like little children. Very annoying.
Reed then sends the Seeker after Doom, and then Darkoth and the FF attack as well. Doom runs away, calling it a minor set-back..
...but Darkoth pursues him and ends up causing an explosion in Doom's building-shaped escape rocket.
The story ends with the Thing being upset and walking away, because that's what's supposed to happen at the end of an FF story, right?
Doom is losing a little of what makes him special with each subsequent appearance by low quality writers. At least he is still creating super-villains and awesome robots like it's no big deal. But his plot is generic and he's defeated way too easily. As you can see above, Doom is even looking goofy in the art, although not always.
The above image also looks like a possible swipe example.
The art is the least of the problems. This is FF-by-the-numbers, with the in-fighting, the angst, the introspection all overwhelmingly irritating, and the plotting uninteresting, which is worse when the villain is Dr. Doom instead of, say, Annihilus in the previous arc.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: The very beginning of issue #142 actually takes place in the immediate aftermath of issue #141. But then Marvel Team-Up #17 and #18, featuring Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch, respectively, occurs before the rest of issue #142. I've placed this arc after MTU #18.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
"Compressed in a secret ring compartment" refers to DC's Flash.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 20, 2013 6:57 PM
This was a great run by Conway - one of the best comic writers of all time! 'Nuff said!
Posted by: Jack | June 4, 2013 8:51 PM
fnord, thanks for the shout-out! :)
Posted by: Shar | May 13, 2014 1:37 PM
I actually didn't mind Buckler's short run in the FF, even though there were the obvious Hulk swipes in Giant Sized Superstars. Doom looks okay to me here,if not too rounded off in the body armor. I find Reed's face in the above panel ("Good lord, man -- no!") to be melting. Artist or inker? Sinnott inks Buckler nicely except for that Reed face there.
Posted by: Mike | July 12, 2014 12:57 PM
Conway should have created a real love triangle between Reed, Medusa and Sue. Such would have been a spectacular story line!
Posted by: Frightful Four fan | November 19, 2015 1:04 AM
Did you notice that the scene with Doom and Richards attacking him, at the dinner table, is quite the same scene (more after) than Vader at the dinner table attacked by Solo in the Cloud City in the Empire Strikes Back?
Posted by: Vik | February 1, 2016 2:23 AM
The "On another occassion" panel might be based on the "Come no closer, you over-zealous oaf!" one from THOR #182-183 (which fnord included in his review).
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | November 13, 2016 2:18 PM
In the opening scene of Roger Zelazny's 1969 novel, Creatures of Light and Darkness, the protagonist fights a man-monster called Dargoth. I would not be surprised if that creature inspired Darkoth's odd name.
Posted by: Andrew | May 14, 2017 5:12 PM
Rich Buckler died of cancer on May 19, 2017.
Posted by: Robert | May 20, 2017 9:39 PM
I was sad to hear that Buckler had passed away. I realize that some readers were critical of Buckler of emulating Kirby too closely. Admittedly it was not such a good idea to have done so many swipes of Kirby's work. But if you look at Buckler's work on his Deathlok stories, which were done around the same time, you can really see his versatility and inventiveness as an artist on full display.
Posted by: Ben Herman | May 21, 2017 7:52 PM
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