Fantastic Four #287-288
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #287, Fantastic Four #288
After Jean Grey's return from the "dead" last issue, Mr. Fantastic is now thinking about Dr. Doom's apparent death and so he's setting up a "Doom Tracer" (the Wasp's words) using a brain-wave pattern of Doom's that Reed "managed to record some years back". In my earliest FF reviews, i used to joke that Dr. Doom was really a Doombot created by Reed, and here's more proof. Why does he have this brain-wave pattern?! When did he get it!? Only one explanation!
More seriously, there's something a bit meta about this plotline. Normally if a villain died and then resurfaced, the heroes would profess some shock but ultimately assume that he hadn't really been dead, or came back to life, etc. It happens all the time. The fact that the Fantastic Four saw Dr. Doom alive during Secret Wars should have pretty much disproved the notion that he was dead. But Mr. Fantastic and the rest of the team are still operating under the assumption that Doom is dead and his appearance in Secret Wars was some sort of fluke. Which, it was, but only because John Byrne had a storyline for Doom that was interrupted by Jim Shooter's Secret Wars. Don't get me wrong: i like the plot that came out of this. In fact, a lot of behind the scenes creator disputes led to some interesting comics: the back and forth between Byrne and Claremont regarding Arcade and Doom and (separately) the trial of Galactus vs. the Shooter-imposed (or "imposed") fate of the Phoenix, for example. It's like with music - great stuff comes out of band members hating each other.
In any event, coincidentally enough, this is the arc where he returns. Reed's device detects Doom as soon as he leaves the room to walk Wasp, Sue, and She-Hulk to the Avengers Mansion lobby. Wasp is taking Sue out for a haircut, something she's apparently been waiting to do since the FF moved in to the Mansion.
The haircut is interrupted by an attack by someone in an Invincible Man costume, leaving Sue with a haircut similar to her brother's recent run-in with a razor, although it looks somewhat better on her.
The "Invincible Man" is attacking the Latverian embassy. He claims that Dr. Doom is still alive and tells a sob story about a kidnapped wife and daughter, and convinces the Invisible Woman, She-Hulk, and the Wasp to break international law and break in to the embassy.
Sorry, but these are some gullible heroes. A guy shows up wearing a costume once used to trick you into thinking your father was a super-villain and convinces you, with no evidence, to break into an embassy? And She-Hulk is a lawyer and the Wasp is the leader of the Avengers.
Anyway, what follows is a fun fight. She-Hulk and the Wasp fight Doom's robot guards...
...while the Invisible Woman faces a Doombot.
And then she fights the "Invincible Man", who is really Dr. Doom. He is much impressed by her recent power increases...
...and she has him on the ropes. But the story of how Dr. Doom survived his last apparent death is that he did a mind transfer with a bystander during the Terrax/Doom/Silver Surfer battle. And then, as Norm McArthur, he returned home and kept his wife Peggy a prisoner while he worked on his Invincible Man suit. And so while the Invisible Woman is realizing who she is dealing with...
...Peggy shows up and bashes her in the back of the head with a vase. And then she learns the truth about her "husband".
Luckily, the remaining members of the FF are alerted to the trouble at the Latverian embassy (although Sue's signal interrupts Johnny's second attempt to propose to "Alicia").
However, Doom is able to easily defeat the entire group, plus the Wasp.
While Doom is fighting the She-Hulk, he says it's his first encounter with her (because of the time loop issue; see below), and admires her "sensuality" and calls her "magnificent" and "beautiful". It's not out of character for Doom to become infatuated; see above for his discussion of Sue's "fires" and recall that one of his Doombots once fell in love with Storm.
The reason Doom needed to get into his embassy (he was locked out because its security system wouldn't acknowledge him in Norm's body) was because he wanted access to a mystical artifact in the basement that holds the Flames of Falroth (the Falroths are the Faltines' older, meaner, cousins).
It turns out, though, that the Flames aren't enough to restore him to his rightful body, so Doom instead summons "the greatest power in the universe", which is of course the Beyonder.
It's awesome that Dr. Doom is able to summon the Beyonder like he's some Type III demon, even if it immediately becomes apparent that Doom has no control over him.
Both Doom and the Beyonder talk like they've never met before. For the Beyonder, it's because Doom isn't in his regular body. For Doom, it's because, as we learn here, the Dr. Doom that appeared in Secret Wars was actually plucked from time since "I read in all your minds the image of Doctor Doom, but I could not find him on your temporal plane. So I reached across the continuum to a suitable future point, and brought that Doctor Doom to the world I had created for you."
When Mr. Fantastic explains to the Beyonder who he's dealing with, the Beyonder initially decides he's going to destroy the guy who, after all, summoned him here against his will and earlier (from our perspective) stole his powers.
However, Mr. Fantastic stops the Beyonder from destroying Doom, because he is afraid of the time contradiction implications.
I'd quibble over the metaphysics here; the Beyonder, at least, should be able to survive, even if disrupting the space-time continuum does destroy our universe. But the Beyonder himself is less confident so maybe Reed is right. Instead, the Beyonder recreates Doom's proper body and sends him back in time to participate in Secret Wars, and he also restores Norm McArthur to his rightful body.
The FF then clear out before Doom materializes, because at the end of Secret Wars, the Beyonder banishes Doom "across time and space" which will result in him appearing back here in what Reed says may well be "a self-perpetuating circle in time", and in any event Reed expects Doom to re-materialize soon.
It was clear from the very beginning that Byrne was using the mind-transfer trick to bring Doom back, but i wonder how he would have addressed the fact that Doom's body was destroyed if it wasn't for the Beyonder. Maybe just the Flames of Falroth.
It's also worth noting that with all the effort putting into explaining Doom's presence in the original Secret Wars, the fact that he also appears in Secret Wars II #7 isn't addressed. It was probably too late and Byrne wasn't aware of that. You can attribute that appearance to Mephisto, of course.
But i'd also like to point out that Doom seems to be wearing his body armor under the Invincible Man costume. Unless he just had the faceplate and got the rest of a suit at the embassy. But even though he couldn't access his embassy, he could have had secret labs elsewhere where a spare suit might have been stashed (for the purposes of this theory, i'm assuming that the Invincible Man costume was specifically designed to draw out the Fantastic Four, and any electronics he was shown building for that suit were designed to disguise his power signature from Mr. Fantastic as a contingency). I bring this up to suggest that maybe Doom was active, if mostly under the radar, at other times between his "death" and his return here, in the Norm McArthur body. It's an alternate explanation for Doom's appearances in Marvel 1985 and Secret Wars II #7 that avoids the "Omnipotent entities #2 & #3 did it" (after #1, the Beyonder, in the first Secret Wars) and might also explain his presence in Emperor Doom. It does raise the question of why he had to stay in the McArthur house, but that's a question that needs answering anyway, and i'd say it's just a way for him to stay under the radar and/or a lingering trace of Norm's personality wanting to be near his wife.
Speculation aside, interesting that while the other tie-ins to Secret Wars II #8 (the last issue with tie-ins not counting the epilogue in Avengers #266) were much more integral to the main Secret Wars II story, this one is effectively a continuity clean-up exercise that has almost no bearing on the Beyonder's current story. Tom DeFalco, Roger Stern, and Chris Claremont were actively participating in the event, while John Byrne was just using the tie-in as an opportunity to fix a problem introduced by the first Secret Wars. That said, there's a lot of fun to be had here: nice fights, deadly Doom traps and gadgets, fun metaphysics, and some nice camaraderie between the lady heroes. And while i said above that it's kind of "meta", i do like that for once a villain's resurrection (so to speak) is treated with care, attention, and obvious foresight, instead of just a throwaway "yeah, i jumped away at the last second / the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated".
Chronological Placement Considerations: The Wasp's appearance here takes place during Avengers #265. I've placed this before Uncanny X-Men #203 since i like the Beyonder going directly from that issue to Secret Wars II #9; otherwise this issue is a weird tangent path for him, thematically. The idea is that after crushing the Avengers in #265 and heading off to destroy the universe, Dr. Doom summons him here, and when that's over the Beyonder returns to his task of destroying the universe through the Phoenix until she's able to turn the tables on him and get him thinking about becoming mortal again, which segues directly into Secret Wars II #9.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBeyonder, Dr. Doom, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Lyja the Lazerfist, Mr. Fantastic, Norm McArthur, She-Hulk, Wasp
The problem with using the "maybe Doom had a spare suit of armor lying around" excuse for Emperor Doom is (1)Wasp makes it clear she hasn't seen Doom since Secret Wars (that's a problem for any placement of Emperor Doom before FF 287) and (2)Doom was clearly unable to enter the Latverian embassy in Macarthur's body. He was is in control of the whole world, including Latveria, in Emperor Doom, so presumably he adjusted everything to react to his new body.
Posted by: Michael | November 14, 2013 8:45 PM
You know seeing that Doom was looped through time to take part in the first Secret Wars, I'd like to think his encounter with Shulkie here ultimately lead to Titania.
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 15, 2013 8:28 AM
@Michael, not that i'm committed to this theory, but to extend my No Prize claim and respond to your points:
1 - as you say, it's a problem with any placement of Emperor Doom before #287 and that would be true even if the Wasp didn't appear in this story. I speculated in that entry that the story must have ended with some (at least temporary) memory suppression.
2 - i'd argue that Doom didn't bother trying to get his body back when the Purple Man opportunity presented itself, so he never tried to unlock or recode the embassy. Once that scheme got started he found himself overwhelmed with administrative tasks and never got to try to get into the embassy basement to access the Flames of Falroth, and once that scheme ended he found himself locked out.
3 - The Beyonder was in his "sit on a rock and think" phase when Doom attacked him as part of the large crowd of villains and the Beyonder may have just ignored them all. It actually makes more sense that Doom was in McArthur's body because if the Beyonder had recognized Doom he should have gone ballistic as we saw him do this issue.
@Ataru, in that case, Skeeter is lucky the Beyonder didn't supply green body paint amongst all the other equipment he left on the Battleplanet for the villains to find.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 15, 2013 1:49 PM
It sort of really makes sense (well outside the green paint) regarding the mutuality of it:
-Skeeter's origin showed she did have this desire for power and did follow in the exploits of hero before being skirted to Battleplanet.
-Meanwhile, Doom has just encountered Shulkie personally for the first time and is actually impressed by her performance and probably in that someone like her could exist. (she was probably just making her name for herself with the Avengers about the time he was "killed off" last)
-Thus when Doom is sent back in time and discovers the equipment and sees Skeeter's own desire for power, he's able to create someone who easily was able to manage if not overpower Shulkie during Secret Wars.
Weird how continuity ultimately works out in those sorts of ways.
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 15, 2013 3:12 PM
John Byrne's run on FF was awesome but MAN does this issue demonstrate his hypocrisy. You're right about the heroes falling for the Invincible Man's story, and why did he have to specifically use the Invincible Man identity, anyway? Just because a few (VERY few) fans will recognize this incredibly obscure character and pat themselves on the back for doing so? If this had been written by another writer Byrne himself would have roasted it. "Fanwank" is a term he likes to use in cases like this. He would also grouchily point out what a dumb, obvious lie Doom was perpetrating and how incredibly stupid The Wasp, Invisible Woman, and She- Hulk looked by falling for it. Then he'd probably cap it off by calling the writer "sexist", because every character who fell for it was female.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | November 16, 2013 5:16 AM
So...why doesn't the Beyonder just kill Doom once the time loop is fulfilled?
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 26, 2015 8:48 PM
These issues creates a major problem for Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run and his Secret Wars...
(WARNING! SPOILERS FOR THOSE COMICS WILL FOLLOW!)
In those comics the bad guys are the Beyonders, and the Beyonder in the original Secret Wars is said to be a child member of their race. However, it's also revealed that the Beyonders can only exist in time in a linear way, and that they have no time travel capabilities. (This limitation is required for the plot to work, because the plan Doom and Molecule Man launch against them depends on time travel, and if the Beyonders could do that too, the plan would fail.) But here we have a supposed child Beyonder who has no such limitations, so how come the adults have them?
Posted by: Tuomas | September 6, 2016 6:01 AM
Tuomas, I haven't got the issue but in the panel above child beyonder surmises that even he is a captive of time. What precisely in this issue contradicts Hickman's story?
Posted by: Grom | September 6, 2016 6:51 AM
(MORE SPOILERS FOR HICKMAN'S AVENGERS AND SECRET WARS!)
In Hickman's story Doom says that the Beyonders are inherently limited to linear time: they simply cannot extend their power back or forward in time to the past or to the future. In this story, the Beyonder clearly can do it, because it's said that he scoured the future for Doom's consciousness, and he sends Doom back to the past. Also, in this story the Beyonder chooses no to change the past by killing Doom, it's never said he actually can't do it. Reed simply convinces him not to kill Doom, because doing that would cause a paradox that might destroy the universe, or even the multiverse; but as Fnord points out, this shouldn't destroy the Beyonder, and he himself seems to be unsure whether this would happen.
In Hickman's story, on the other hand, such risks wouldn't even matter to the Beyonders, because we learn they exist outside the multiverse, and their actual goal is to destroy it. So it seems Hickman's adult Beyonders somehow lack capabilities that the child Beyonder in this story is shown to have.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 6, 2016 7:38 AM
It's interesting to see that Doom outright lies here in order to recruit the Invisible Woman, the Wasp, and She-Hulk in the raid on the embassy.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 21, 2016 6:41 AM
This was an excellent clean-up on Byrne's part. I couldn't understand for the life of my why was Byrne writing his characters talk about Dooms's death if he was OBVIOUSLY alive in SW, and they still refer to his death, which of course occurred before SW... but with this two issues, we finally learn that Doom did indeed die, his body at least, and the the beyonder-ex-machina served to tie it all up in a nice little knot. Kudos, Byrne!
Posted by: will | September 20, 2017 3:02 PM
As per my sketchy, imperfect recollections, Byrne stated in at least one 1980s-era fanzine interview that he had strongly opposed the use of Doom in the 1st Secret Wars crossover, because he felt it FUBARed his carefully planned multiple issue FF storyline regarding Doom's death. He blamed it all on Shooter, saying that when he (Byrne) took over the FF title, he had been promised that he could do anything he wanted with the FF, sales of which, he said, were flatlining at the time he took the job.
Shooter, purportedly, felt that Dr. Doom was not part of the package deal, and was determined to use Doom in his 1st SW crossover, which aspired to include every important hero and villain in the Marvel universe at that time. According to Byrne this was one of the key events, if not the key event, which led to the end of his fierce loyalty to Marvel and his eventual resignation from the company.
In this "Invincible Man" storyline, he had been asked once again to interrupt and disrupt FF continuity for the sake of the 2nd SW crossover event, he said. He had already become jaded about Marvel, he said, but was motivated to fix the continuity as well as he could. He said.
Byrne at byrnerobotics.com might now give a different recollection, but that was his version at the time, and that was the context in which I originally read this story. I agree that editorially-imposed yearly x-over events tend to be very disruptive towards any kind of long drawn-out continuity. So it goes.
Posted by: James Holt | September 21, 2017 8:18 PM
From an artistic point of view, it is hard to argue with Byrne. It would have been best for Doom to not make any appearance until after he brought him back.
However, from any business perspective, including Doom in Secret Wars was a no brainer. He was Marvel's most recognizable villain, and his absence would be noticeably felt. While the toy line ultimately had little impact, this could not be known at the time. And if Marvel wanted to build strong relations with Mattel for later opportunities, it would be hard to justify not including him. So while Byrne's disappointment is understandable, it's not like Shooter inserted Doom into Secret Wars for little or no reason. This was a big event driven by business considerations. While it was possible to substitute another villain in Doom's role in the story (Kang is the most obvious), his relative lack of fame would have made him a harder sell to Mattel and possibly fans.
Byrne's complants on SW2 crossovers have much more validity.
Posted by: Chris | September 22, 2017 1:20 AM
It's interesting how over the years Doctor Doom and Galactus have gradually overtaken the Fantastic Four in terms of character popularity and perceived sales potential. Nowadays it seems like many if not most of the best and most frequently used Marvel villains started out as characters who were originally introduced by Lee and Kirby during the 1st 100 issues of the FF.
Posted by: James Holt | September 22, 2017 10:29 AM
Hell, look at Black Panther, who as a movie character has outperformed every single solo superhero movie, ever, let alone the Fantastic Four.
Posted by: rabartlett | May 17, 2018 12:17 AM
Hearing Byrne's complaints that Secret Wars disrupted his story, I've often wondered how Byrne would have restored Doom back to his own body without the Beyonder. Doom is a master of both magic & science, so I know there are many options, but some would take more suspension of disbelief than others. For instance, if Doom put his mind back into a cloned body, then you'd have to make it so the cloned body's face damaged in the same way as the original's. So the simple Deus ex machina of the Beyonder works well here, perhaps better than whatever Byrne originally had intended.
We also learn here that (according to Peggy McArthur) her husband starts speaking like Schwarzenegger when Doom is inhabiting his body. I never adjust for the character's accents in my head when I am reading a comic (which kind of threw me when Colossus appeared in the Deadpool film, I mean he must have an accent but in the comics he's never portrayed as having one, unlike Rogue & Gambit) but from now on I'm going to read every "Richards!" rant in the voice of Schwarzenegger.
The FF leave with Norm McArthur still wearing Dr Doom's armour. Presumably Reed confiscates it, but I like to imagine they let him keep the armour and Norm just lives in the suburbs walking around in full Dr Doom armour. Maybe one day some local teens vandalize his car and he uses the boulder gun on them to teach them a lesson.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | May 17, 2018 5:05 AM
Chris makes a good point. And Dr. Doom's inclusion in Secret Wars is a no-brainer not only from any business perspective; it's almost the entire point of the story itself. Unlike most people here at Super Mega Monkey Chronocomic, I don't consider Doom to be a premier badass, by a very long longshot. But he is the dominant personality in SW, the only one who drives the plot as much as the Beyonder himself. Without him it'd be heroes and villains slugging it out and getting their wishes granted. The heroes would probably win, there'd be harmony in the Universe, mutants and humans would get along, and the Marvel Universe'd become perfect and boring. It's Dr. Doom's finest hour, and none but he would be insane enough to challenge the Beyonder himself, or goal-oriented enough to win. TO DEFEAT OMNIPOTENCE. Kang? He's capable of falling in love, he's not single-minded enough. Ambitious, yes, but the line "I am Dr. Doom, I cannot rest as long as there are beings superior to me!" cannot be adapted for another villain. Not well enough to merit the plausibility of some loony terran defeating a god.
And indeed, the turning point for the heroes vis-a-vis Doom the God is that despite his claim of having risen above all human aspirations, the first thing he did when he took over the Beyonder's power was heal the scars of his own face. You can't Kang this stuff away.
So, Byrne, just deal with it. Oh, you have, good for you. So stop whining.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 17, 2018 5:40 AM
Wow! The Beyonder! Dr. Doom returns! But guess what I'm going to comment on? Some more maudlin Johnny and Alicia moments from #287. Byrne loves "darling" as everyone's term of endearment of choice. Johnny is clearly about to propose and here Alicia pretty much lays out what many readers may have guessed is a major reason for the beginning of their whirlwind romance.
Translation: "The sex is great, Johnny!"
Posted by: kevinA | May 18, 2018 11:07 AM
In retrospect, I wonder if the easiest solution would have been to reveal the Doom of Secret Wars was a time traveler from either the future or past, and Beyonder plucked that one. Hell, time travelling Doom could have chosen to return to the "present" precisely in order to be abducted by the Beyonder. Or simply state that Doom was taken from past of present - Kang was obviously taken from the future, so why couldn't Doom have been taken in the past or future relative to this time? Either solution would have worked, and Shooter could have worked out with Byrne some key scenes or dialogue which would have illustrated this. Byrne could determine where in continuity it could happen (in the FF's past or future) and incorporated it into whatever story he wanted to tell.
Posted by: Chris | May 18, 2018 9:29 PM
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