Fantastic Four #278-279
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #278, Fantastic Four #279
Well, i get my wish here, because Dr. Doom launches the Baxter Building into space again.
Well, it's not exactly Dr. Doom. With Doom presumed dead, his young ward Kristoff is brought to a secret area of Doom's castle...
...where we get some insight into the Doombots (it turns out that they are programmed to act and even believe that they are the real Doom, except in the presence of the actual Doom or another Doombot)...
...and then Kristoff gets his brain implanted with Dr. Doom's memories.
This results in a detailed origin of Dr. Doom, more than we've seen before.
One aspect of the origin that i find a little controversial is that we see Victor Von Doom's face after the accident at "State U" (The finest house of learning in the land, perhaps the world, apparently).
Despite the relatively minor initial scarring, we see that Doom's face was without question further damaged during the creation of his first suit of armor.
Gruesome and weird!
I also like how Dr. Doom's origin parallels Dr. Strange's, except that Doom actually becomes the leader of this reclusive cult and they obey his orders without question. Do we ever see these guys again? "Against Dr. Doom's Wizard Cult" would make for a good storyline.
In any event, Kristoff-Doom cuts off the memory transfer once they get to the time that Doom launched the Baxter Building into space. His downfall that time was partnering with the Sub-Mariner, so this time he's going to act on his own. And so... lift-off.
But the Fantastic Four has grown since the original Baxter Launch. Most relevent is that fact that the Invisible Girl now has the ability to create forcefields, and she's able to hold the group and a supply of oxygen inside a force-bubble (note that the probe the FF are playing possum for is the same type that freed the Venom symbiote in Fantastic Four #274).
But Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch's power levels have increased as well, allowing them to help Sue safely pilot the bubble back into the Earth's atmosphere.
She-Hulk is left out of the immediate action, but luckily Mr. Fantastic has Sue land the team in Latveria instead of back in New York, so the whole team gets to smash their way through Dr. Doom's regular robots...
...and his Doombots...
...before discovering what's been done to poor Kristoff.
Wyatt Wingfoot gets Franklin to safety in the meantime.
The FF have an easy time with the Doombots due to the fact that Kristoff has inherited so much of Dr. Doom's confidence that he can't even bring himself to believe that the team survived his initial attack, so he doesn't issue any orders.
It's nice how stories like this and Fantastic Four #268 manage to keep the spirit of the Fantastic Four's #1 foe alive even while the character is officially dead. These issues could be considered something of a re-hash of the original Lee/Kirby story, but the point here is really to show how much the FF have developed since then.
And regardless of the fact that the Fantastic Four survive, their home, including all their equipment, ships, and other possessions, have been destroyed. So it's a pretty significant event.
In addition to the main plot, there's build-up for a Psycho-Man/Hate-Monger storyline. Issue #278 shows the Psycho-Man in a silhouette panel that might lead someone to think it's really Kristoff-Doom or a bot, or even possibly Annihilus.
But in the same scene we see a poster defaced with a word that i'm a little shocked to see in a CCA approved comic book.
A note in the lettcol says:
You've probably already noticed that there is some fairly controversial subject matter being examined in the current Fantastic Four storyline. This issue and our next issue deal directly with some very real, very contemporary themes.
It won't actually be until the next arc that we really get into that plot, but issue #279 does further the sub-plot.
As usual with these stories, we see that we're not dealing just with anti-black racism, as the new Hate-Monger also manages to stir up trouble among the "Sons of Zion" and "Black Women's Defense League" as well.
Not as bad as revealing that the Sons of the Serpent are secretly being led by a black guy, but i've never loved the "everybody does it" cop-out and i'm not sure how accurate it is to say that a hate-generating super-villain counts as a real, contemporary theme. But we'll look more at that in the next arc.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A narration panel places "Three weeks" between Kristoff's initiation and the launching of the Baxter Building. Based on the footnote referencing Kristoff's probes, that actually means that the initial Kristoff scenes took place prior to Fantastic Four #274, although those scenes are not identified as a prologue.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
The monks show up in Lobdell's Fantastic Four 3-5. Unfortunately, they're mostly killed by the Enclave just so that they can design the Crucible armor for them.
"Squeee!" is probably a reference to the Silver Age "Magnus--Robot Fighter" comic published by Gold Key; that was the sound the robots made when they got destroyed.
They left it ambiguous whether the potentially offensive real, contemporary thing was the racial slur or Johnny Storm's hideous new haircut. I think they received more letters about the latter. It was certainly an example of evil as it manifested in the world in the mid-1980s.
On a serious note re: the slur. Another source suggests its use here in a CCA book (as opposed to something like the X-MEN graphic novel, with Kitty's angry question to Stevie) was a Marvel first, but I'm not sure. It's been ages, but I also recall a CAPTAIN AMERICA in which Cap has a series of hallucinations or dreams, one of which is of Sam Wilson shining shoes, being knocked down by a white man, and referring to himself as the same word or close enough. It was pretty startling at the time (the story wasn't good, though).
A keyword search ("Falcon shoe shine") suggests this may have been #264, Dec 1981, by DeMatteis.
I don't own a physical copy (and it doesn't seem like a priority) but i skimmed the PDF and for what's it worth, Sam's phrase is "Us niggruh's is gotta be what we's gotta be--"
It's a weird issue.
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