Fantastic Four #246-247
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #246, Fantastic Four #247
Reed and Ben figure out that their Doombots aren't the real deal, but Sue and Johnny don't until after the bots are defeated.
In any event, the attack was just a distraction so that more Doombots could retrieve Doom's comatose body and restore his brain to it.
The brain was still trapped in the Liddleville puppet since the Puppet Master's betrayal, and a Doombot destroys the Puppet Master's avatar as well.
It's not said what effect that has on the Puppet Master.
Once Doom is restored to his body, he demands that the FF help restore him to the throne of Latveria. He demonstrates that under the rule of Prince Zorba...
...Latveria has become a nightmare country, while when he ruled, none were without employment, food, or safety.
Doom takes the FF to Latveria and compels a villager to explain what has been happening. She confirms Doom's version of events. After she's done telling the tale, however, she is killed by Zorba's robots (actually Doom's classic robots, reprogrammed). Her son, Kristoff, will become Doom's ward.
The FF agree to fight with Doom...
...and eventually Doom reclaims the throne, killing Zorba.
With Doom using an inhibitor ray to prevent the FF from using their powers against him, Reed agrees to leave Latveria, so long as Doom focuses his energies on restoring the country. Doom tells Reed to piss off, because he's in no position to make demands, and that Doom will be showing up at some future date to destroy the FF.
I like this story a lot because it spells out that fact that Doom's methods may be draconian but he is actually well liked by the people of Latveria.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Begins concurrently with or soon after Micronauts #41. Fantastic Four #249-250 has to take place before Uncanny X-Men #167. In order for that to happen, a number of FF arcs have to be pushed backwards in publication time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
For me, this is the highlight of Byrne's great run on the FF. No one, I think, has done a better or more nuanced Doom.
Posted by: Instantiation | August 11, 2014 1:20 PM
Yeah, these are great issues. It brings up the thorny issue of a dictator who is loved by his people, and whether they deserve freedom if they are happy how they are. What makes this more nuanced is the question of how much or little freedom the Latverians have under Doom.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 6, 2015 12:31 PM
Just read these today and love them. Though I kind of wish Doom took three issues to get his throne back since the last few pages felt slightly rushed. It was very 'oh now the King is going crazy and send out Doomsday?' Would have been neater to see him gradually going crazier and crazier with reports of Doom being back in the country. But awesome Doom is very awesome.
Posted by: david banes | January 4, 2016 4:07 AM
As a result of the real-world events of the past decade and a half, I now feel somewhat more kindly towards these issues than I used to. Afghanistan and Iraq have both demonstrated the extreme difficulty in overthrowing an oppressive regime and replacing it with a democratic system when a country has existed for centuries under one form of another of autocratic rule.
Latveria was an absolute monarchy for centuries before Doctor Doom conquered it; he was merely the latest in a long line of dictators. Overthrowing him and establishing a Western-style democracy would inevitably be a herculean task. It makes sense that the country instead experienced extreme instability.
I do feel that Byrne should have made Zorba somewhat more sympathetic, shown him to be well-intentioned but totally in over his head at attempting to carry out the almost-impossible task of modernizing Latveria, rather than write him as completely ineffectual and power-mad. That would have given slightly more moral ambiguity to the FF's decision to re-install Doom as Latveria's ruler.
Nevertheless, despite some flaws, this is a memorable, thought-provoking story.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 18, 2017 11:49 AM
Doom really works better as the temptation to totalitarianism rather than a broadly "evil" (int he comic-book sense) dictator or a version of real-world dictatorships. Through his super-science,he can provide a high standard of living....at the cost of running your life for you, demanding endless and constant praise, and maybe still killing you if you accidentally brush up against his impossibly capricious ego.
More broadly, as Ben Herman suggests, Doom might be viewed favorably by many Latverians for the same reasons that historical figures like the real-life Vlad III (Vlad the Impaler) are beloved despite their atrocities: a figure who, while ruthless, is seen by his people as "their" strongman fighting ruthlessly for their international status against enemies and hated former rulers. The 1970s suggestions that Doom was maintaining Latveria's independence from Soviet domination helped with this characterization as well.
In the real world, we've seen everything from nostalgia for Stalin in the post-Soviet Russian Federation to "Ostalgie" in the former DDR. If the tyrant gets knocked down but the standard of living drops and crime increases int he aftermath, people start to want the old status quo more than the new one. Liberalization doesn't always feel like a beneficial form of modernization in the short term, and when the country goes from being run by a Reed Richards-level intellect to a comapratively ordinary person, these effects would be even more exaggerated.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 19, 2017 8:07 AM
Doesn't the first appearance of Kristoff warrant a mention in significance?
Posted by: AF | July 13, 2017 10:47 AM
I've noted Kristoff. Thanks AF.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2017 3:25 PM
Ever since “discovering” John Byrne as a kid, I had eagerly wanted to see him draw Dr. Doom. I recall how hugely disappointed I was when Doom appeared in X-Men shortly after Byrne’s departure. Byrne’s “Liddleville” story in FF gave only a tantalizing taste of how he’d handle the character. But these two issues were a feast, with multiple Dooms and all the fixin’s: Latveria, stormtrooper robots, worshipful peasants, the embassy...
In this story, Byrne truly delivered everything I had hoped to see (BTW, you should post the awesome splash page to “This Land is Mine!” with Doom raising his fists to heaven). Something I love about his depiction—which I think is original to Byrne—is the hint of a ruined face visible around Doom’s eyes when we see him in closeup. (It reminds me of the glimpse we get of Darth Vader in his life-support capsule in “Empire.”) Byrne’s Dr. Doom would become a fixture in his FF run, but these issues were his first major story involving the character, and they were clearly a labor of love for him.
Posted by: Chris Z | May 10, 2018 6:27 AM
The inhibitor ray gimmick here is similar to Doom hypnotizing the FF into powerlessness in issues #84-87, the ones where Jack Kirby decides to homage The Prisoner.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 10, 2018 6:48 AM
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