Fantastic Four #155-157
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #155, Fantastic Four #156, Fantastic Four #157
The woman in question is a Shalla Bal lookalike...
...that, after a few twists and turns...
...will turn out to be the real Shalla Bal. But no one in the story, knows the truth, not even Doom, and in the end everyone leaves convinced she's just a Latverian peasant who happens to look like her.
Mephisto, watching from his domain...
...reveals to some of his demon lackeys that he brought Shalla Bal to Earth as a way to torment the Surfer in a "the thing you search and search for is right in front of your eyes" type of way. That's definitely the most innovative part of the story.
At three issues, the story is a bit longish, drawn out by the Surfer first attacking the FF on Doom's command...
...and then halting the attack when he realizes he can't bring himself to kill...
...and then attacking them again, and then replaying the scene in the next issue from Doom's point of view.
The Surfer finally resolves the conflict by just knocking the group out and bringing them to Latveria for Doom to deal with.
Doom puts the group in some Adam Westian death-traps...
...that they eventually escape from, but aha! Doom knew they would escape all along but aha! Reed Richards knew that Doom knew they would escape, etc.. Meanwhile Doom puts the Silver Surfer in a chair that allows him to absorb all his angst...
...to power a new Doomsman...
...which the Surfer subsequently destroys.
The conflict ends when Shalla Bal tells everyone that if the fight continues, all of Latveria's priceless historical treasures will be destroyed. So that's a weird stalemate.
The Surfer winds up in Latveria after falling from the sky in the latest failed attempt to get through Galactus' barrier. Actually, it's said that he manages to pierce the barrier this time but "the power of Galactus extended far beyond his now-violated barricade" and the Surfer starts to whither and die.
It's not explicitly said, but this may have been an illusion or similar created by Doom to ensure that when the Surfer fell, he landed in Latveria.
While escaping one of Doom's deathtraps, Reed has to extend his stretching ability quite a bit...
...and the effort taxes him. We'll later learn that this is the first sign that something is going wrong with Reed's powers.
Rich Buckler's art is pretty much the definition of Marvel house style, and it's really great with Sinnott's inks...
...but ever since i learned that, at Marvel's encouragement, Buckler swiped images from Kirby, i can't help looking at all the panels suspiciously. I think some of the Mephisto scenes are based on his first Buscema-drawn appearance in Silver Surfer #3, too. It's interesting to think that there was a whole other path that Marvel (and others) could have taken, where instead of the comics being a vehicle for artists to demonstrate their personal styles, there could have been a strict standardization where characters, poses, layouts etc. had to be on model, similar to a cartoon show or a syndicated newspaper strip or Archie or Disney.
Per Shar's comments, another swipe. Compare to the cover of FF #45.
In any event, this arc is a bit tired - another Dr. Doom as Generic Villain story - but things get a little more innovative when Roy Thomas starts plotting with the next arc.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Giant-Size FF #3 and Giant-Size Man-Thing #2 take place between the last arc and this one. Giant-Size FF #4, Marvel Two-In-One #8-9, and Marvel Team-up #32 take place between this arc and the next one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (9): show
One thing I don't get- this is the first real meeting between Shalla Bal and Doom, right? So how did Doom know that "Heleena" looked so much like Shalla Bal that the Surfer wouldn't be able to tell the difference? Even a missing birthmark would arouse the Surfer's suspicions. Did the Surfer show Doom naked pictures of Shalla Bal or something?
Posted by: Michael | May 3, 2013 9:25 PM
No Prize attempts: Maybe Doom absorbed some of the Sufer's memories when he stole his powers in FF #57-60? Or maybe Mephisto put the knowledge in his head and made sure Doom didn't think about where it came from?
Posted by: fnord12 | May 4, 2013 11:34 AM
More Kirby swipes are in some top panels; specifically shots of the Silver Surfer's face.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 4, 2013 6:12 PM
It's kind of fun to see all the Kirby swipes in these Buckler issues! One very amusing example is in #157, page 10, the panel in the lower left, the group shot of the FF--it's a swipe of the cover of FF #45. Maybe fnord12 can post the panel here.
Posted by: Shar | May 8, 2013 12:33 AM
Traveling at the moment but i'll definitely post that panel when i'm able to. Thanks, Shar.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 8, 2013 12:43 AM
Cool--thanks fnord. In the panel I'm referring to Ben, Reed and Medusa in #157 are positioned very much like Ben, Reed, and Sue are on the cover of #45. The first time I saw that panel in #157 I had a feeling of deja vu. :)
Posted by: Shar | May 8, 2013 1:10 PM
And actually the panel I'm thinking of is on page 6 (not page 10) of the story, panel 4.
Posted by: Shar | May 9, 2013 9:13 PM
I've posted the panel Shar's referring to, along with a link to the cover of FF #45. It's pretty interesting because Buckler obviously could draw. He's not just tracing. But someone at Marvel clearly wanted him evoking Kirby.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 11, 2013 2:20 PM
Peter Gillis has a letter in #155.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 29, 2013 3:38 PM
Doom and both Thing poses on the bottom panels, very abnormal looking, the angles of the limbs, just yuck all the way. I was really missing John B at this time of comic collecting.
Posted by: Mike | July 18, 2014 10:26 AM
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