Fantastic Four annual #20
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #20
Doom does give the FF a chance to surrender Franklin peacefully, in which case he offers an oath that he would sacrifice himself before allowing the boy to come to harm. But the FF refuse, so Doom attacks the FF's new building with "swarmbots" and takes Franklin anyway. But now the oath doesn't apply.
Doom convinces Franklin to voluntarily help him. He says that Franklin's parents have treated him like a bogey man that can only be repelled with turnips, and convinces Franklin that he just wants to rescue his mother from someone that Franklin already knows to be a bad man (one that, when killed, "always comes back, like winter").
Dr. Doom may not be at his most honorable killing children, but the FF aren't much better. In order to get past Latveria's automated defenses, they let Kristoff out of his cell. And when Kristoff inevitably heads back to Latveria and gets through the defenses due to having Doom's personality imprinted in his head, the FF sneak in behind him.
Now it turns out the Dr. Doom doesn't really want Franklin to fight Mephisto again. He just wants to trade souls, Franklin's for Doom's mother.
As usual, i'm confused about how this works. Doom's mom is in Hell because she was a practitioner of dark magic. Franklin is an innocent boy; it doesn't seem right that Mephisto can just take his soul or that Doom can offer it up just because he has Franklin's physical body. There's also the fact that according to Mephisto vs.... #2, Mephisto said he wasn't actually interested in Franklin. As i've said before, he's the Lord of Lies, sure, but if he's lying all the time he's a hard character to be interested in.
Doom's schemes are in any event interrupted by Kristoff, who has gotten himself back in his body armor and convinced at least some of the Doombots that he's the real deal.
The FF also arrive and add to the chaos. The irony is that Franklin could have simply defeated Mephisto again for Doom.
And the rest of the Doombots are convinced that Kristoff is the real Doom when Doom admits that he failed to rescue his mother.
The FF, meanwhile, don't seem to have any problem leaving an 8 year old boy that thinks he is Dr. Doom to fight a civil war against the real thing.
During this issue, Englehart continues the themes he's developing in the regular series. Doom's kidnapping of Franklin reinforce the idea that Reed and Sue need to retire...
...and Reed even snaps and blames the Thing for not filling out the new team roster quickly enough.
Meanwhile, the Torch continues to be uncomfortable with Crystal's presence...
...and Crystal realizes it.
As always, Englehart makes all the right connections and i like how he uses previous stories to "build a case" for the plot here. But while if you look at the whole of Dr. Doom's appearances he's certainly been villainous enough in the past, "my" Dr. Doom... well, he might kidnap children, but i don't think he'd betray them to Mephisto. That said, this war between Kristoff and Dr. Doom will be a backdrop for Englehart's FF run, and then it'll be ended by Walt Simonson, who will give us the option of saying that this (and indeed any Dr. Doom appearance we don't like) is actually a Doombot. For the purposes of character listings, i'm keeping him as the real deal, however.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues directly from Fantastic Four #305. A footnote in this issue lies to us and tells us that this story takes place before the Mephisto vs.... mini-series. That's impossible since Alicia was Johnny's "fiancee" in Mephisto vs.... #1, and they are clearly married at this point. I'm willing to entertain the possibility that this takes place before the end of the Mephisto series but since Mephisto's interest in Franklin between the two series is seemingly contradictory regardless of where we put it, it doesn't seem to matter, and we'll have to let the circumstances of other books (e.g. Fantastic Four vs. X-Men) dictate placement.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
I'm not buying Doom admitting to an error, even when saving his mother. The fact that the Doombots point out how out of character it is doesn't help.
Posted by: Michael | March 14, 2014 9:46 PM
I think this is a huge early misstep in Englehart's FF run, but it's one that he obviously meant to be important: having the real Doom fight the Kristoff Doom.
Kristoff Doom made an enjoyable story in Byrne's era, but he's superfluous now that the real Doom is back. Theoretically a Doom vs Doom war is interesting, but it lasts way too long and isn't executed properly.
Posted by: Chris | March 14, 2014 10:47 PM
X-Factor Annual 4 had a backup story featuring Doom and Magneto. In the story, Doom was still king of Latveria and the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men series are references. So the Avengers vs. X-Men series has to take place before this issue, and if you're placing Avengers vs. X-Men after Mephisto vs. 4, that has to take place before this issue.
Posted by: Michael | March 18, 2014 7:51 PM
Thanks, Michael. I'll wait till i get there to do an entry for that back-up, but i'll adjust placement in anticipation. This does mean ignoring the reference in this annual which says it takes place before the Mephisto vs... series; i was trying to at least partially honor that by having it take place before the end of the series.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 18, 2014 9:07 PM
There's also the problem of Kristoff knowing everything the present-day Doom knows, when the plot of Byrne's earlier story was that Kristoff *stopped* the mind transfer when he was "caught up" to FF v.1 #6.
Interestingly, Engelhart tends to write Kristoff as the more honorable, "acknowledge my greatness and don't get in my way and I won't do anything to you" version of Doom, while he writes the original as a scheming murderer. Kritiff-Doom doesn't seem to spend much time trying to kill Reed or conquer the world, either. It's almost the exact reverse of what Byrne was doing, since he used Kristoff to represent the Silver Age comic-opera villain version of Doom. (Of course, Byrne's version of Doom is willing to lie and kill innocents as well when he gets desperate enough, as seen in FF v.1 #260 and FF v.1 #287-288.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 21, 2016 6:39 AM
I love this whole set-up; Doom uses every trick in the book (including his technically-precise-as-long-as-you-do-what-I-want word of "honor") to try and attain the one goal he truly wants…and it all blows up in his face, anyhow. And Doom v. Doom had so much potential.
Until Simonson pisses all over it with the "let's forget that story, and anything else we don't like! They're ALL Doom-bots, okay?" retcon. Which is so ridiculous that Gruenwald has to "edit" it out of continuity in a backup less than 6 months later, anyhow. Ugh. Thanks for nothing, Walt.
Posted by: Dan Spector | January 30, 2018 3:54 AM
On what was the final page of this book, the sixth scan from the top, bringing up the rear is Johnny and Crystal holding hands. That didn't take long! :-D
Posted by: KevinA | May 31, 2018 2:04 PM
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