Fantastic Four #350-354
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #350, Fantastic Four #351, Fantastic Four #352, Fantastic Four #353, Fantastic Four #354
Issue #350 restores Dr. Doom to the throne of Latveria. It starts with a battle between the "normal" looking Dr. Doom and Kristoff...
...but soon a third Dr. Doom appears.
Note that Dr. Doom has been away for a long time. Quite how long is a matter that has caused more confusion than was probably intended. So we'll take a look at the clues we are given. So far, we see that it's been long enough that Doom seemingly did not know that Kristoff has been activated. But not long enough that he doesn't recognize Kristoff. That might suggest that he's been away since prior to Fantastic Four #278 (when Kristoff was brainwashed into thinking he was Dr. Doom) but not longer than Fantastic Four #246-247 (when Dr. Doom adopted Kristoff after the boy's mother was killed).
Shiny Doom tells the Doom in the classic armor that he is the "greatest of my Doombots". He's still forced to destroy it, but he saves the head for study.
As for Kristoff, he says Ouroboros while casting a spell (?), and it restores the boy to his true self.
And any other Doombots are easily dispatched.
Now here's the key. The real Dr. Doom has been gone for a long time, but he's made occasional sojourns home.
The idea here is that we now have the option to write off nearly any Dr. Doom appearance as a Doombot (the "greatest" one, i assume). Walt Simonson's feeling was probably that there were a lot of Doom appearances where his majesty wasn't properly depicted. But he wasn't going to just go and retcon out a bunch of stories, all of which have their fans. So this gives us the option to create our own head canon for Doom appearances. For the sake of this project i assume that every Doom appearance is a real one, with Doom's reference to having been gone for a long time referring to things from his own perspective, since he could have been traveling in time as well as space. But for fun i've also got an occasional series on the main blog: RU Doombot or Not?.
Ok, our next clue on how long Doom was away, or at least on which past appearances of his are definitely real. He recognizes Sharon Ventura (at least as "the woman") and knows that she had been turned into a Thing. That means that his appearance circa Fantastic Four #309-311 was probably real, or at least that he got a briefing about it during a return visit since then.
But he's shocked to see that the Human Torch has married Alicia Masters and it didn't result in the Thing killing him.
So that would suggest that the flowers sent in Fantastic Four #300 were from a Doombot. And that his FF #309-311 briefing didn't include that information.
And while Simonson may be saying that the FF #309-311 is canon, it's not because he thinks much of it. That "what writer would dare to have drawn the arm of coincidence so casually" sure isn't a compliment of Steve Englehart's idea.
Doom does make an explicit reference to Fantastic Four #39-40 (although there's no footnote), saying that that event, in particular, and the fact that the Thing deemed him not worthy of killing, is what drives his need for revenge.
As Luis in the Comments notes, the fact that Doom says that Kristoff is the only person to have ever seen his face also seems to rule out Thor #182 and Fantastic Four #198 as real Doom appearances.
It's also worth taking a look at Excalibur #37-39, which were published after this issue but which ends with Dr. Doom having wound up in a suit of armor that looks remarkably like the one here while in another dimension. That development almost feels like it was an immediate attempt to reverse course on the idea that Doom had been away for such a long time.
For the moment, Doom is intrigued with Sharon and the fact that she's not happy in her Thing form.
From that, we transition over to Ben Grimm, who is wearing his Thing exo-skeleton in a misguided attempt at solidarity with Sharon. The Invisible Woman gives him a hard time of that, and when Sharon sees it she immediately and hilariously snaps, "Take off that stupid suit, Ben! You look ridiculous!".
The fact that Doom has taken back Latveria is already in the morning paper. The fact that Doom is a brilliant scientist has Sharon thinking, and she asks Mr. Fantastic if he'll ever be able to restore her to human form. Reed promises to try his hardest, but that the changes seem to be impossible to reverse. I wish that the psychological explanation for Reed's failures to cure Ben (that Ben resisted the changes because he thought Alicia only loved him as the Thing) were at least brought up, even if just to dismiss them in this case. Steve Englehart set up a very obvious psychological reason why Sharon would subconsciously want to be a Thing, so that's always the elephant in the room for me when these conversations happen.
Sharon leaves the FF's building and is approached by a limousine. She's invited to see someone at the Plaza Hotel that can help her. When she gets there, it turns out to be Dr. Doom. although he's even odder looking now while out of "costume".
Doom says that he can cure Sharon. He tells her that he's in it for the money. If he can cure her, he'll unlock scientific knowledge that can benefit his country. Sharon agrees to accept his help.
Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, Ben is worried about Sharon. Mr. Fantastic tells him that Sharon's disappearance is a lot like what Ben used to do. That's a good line from Simonson, flipping that perspective on Ben.
The scene with Ben also has Mr. Fantastic running an experiment testing Franklin's powers. I wonder if that was setting something up for a future issue, especially now that Power Pack was cancelled, if Simonson had remained on the title. But for now, the important thing is that Ben decides to go a step further than just wearing an exo-skeleteon to support Sharon. He sneaks into Reed's lab and exposes himself to a machine that will turn him back into the Thing. Meanwhile, Gift of the Magi style (that allusion will actually be made in issue #352), Dr. Doom is successful in curing Sharon. The missing ingredient was magic.
Doom mind-probes Sharon, and then sends a robot to the FF to tell them that he has her. It's when the FF get to Doom's castle and start fighting their way past his Doombots that we see that Ben's attempt to turn back into the Thing was successful.
The FF are each sent down a separate corridor, and each find a unique trap waiting for them. The Human Torch winds up in a room full of water, Invisible Woman has to fight a jungle gym's worth of spider-robots, and Mr. Fantastic goes down an ever narrowing corridor (with doors closing behind him) and winds up simply trapped in a crevice. Since Doom wasn't expecting Ben to be the Thing, he makes it through his trap (a giant concrete block dropped on his head) and finds Sharon. Doom confronts him...
...and when Doom brings up FF #39-40 again, the Thing gets the impression that the real Dr. Doom has been away since that story. For reasons noted above, that can't be entirely the case, though.
As the Thing fights Doom, his reverse-cure continues to take effect, and soon he is back to pineapple form, with the increased strength that gives him (Doom is allergic to pineapples).
However, the Thing is knocked out from behind by Sharon and Dr. Doom. But then Mr. Fantastic shows up, claiming that he was able to claw through the wall with his belt buckle. I didn't know that the FF's costumes even had belt buckles, but we'll learn that Mr. Fantastic isn't telling the truth anyway.
Doom challenges Mr. Fantastic to a duel, using "null-time sequencers" that will allow them to jump around in time (by a few seconds with each jump). For the life of his "family", Mr. Fantastic agrees.
However, the next issue blurb informs us that the duel is a story "so titanic, so overwhelming, so difficult to capture on paper (!) that it won't be ready next issue!".
And so we're going to take a step back in time. Len Kaminkski's fill-in returns to the story he did for a back-up in Fantastic Four annual #23, where the Beyonder, now called Kosmos, is being given a tour of the universe by everyone's third favorite sentient cosmic cube, Kubik (the first is the Shaper of Worlds, and the second is obviously Rubik).
And again, that is Kosmos. It's not Nova/Frankie Raye.
The two cosmic beings have turned their attention to Earth, with the purposes of trying to understand "why the multiverse's higher powers have assigned a special destiny to the inhabitants of this world" (i didn't know that they did). Kosmos suggests that it's because the Nexus of All Realities happens to be in the Everglades, but Kubik says he suspects otherwise, and turns the focus to the Fantastic Four. Kubik has "theorized that the cosmic ray storm which gave them their super-human powers was not an accidental occurrence -- but was in fact a manifestation of the same cosmic force from which we ourselves were created".
Kubik has Kosmos extract the "essence of the Fantastic Four".
A quick note on placement. These are cosmic beings doing whatever they want, so i'm not too worried about it. But we see that they are pulling the FF's essence from Four Freedoms Plaza. And Ben Grimm - or at least his essence - is in Thing form. I'm assuming this takes place during Fantastic Four #350, after Ben exposes himself to the machine that turns him back into the Thing, but before they leave for Latveria. There are "three hours and 15 minutes" between Doom's robot inviting them to Latveria and the FF's arrival. That gives enough time for Ben to transform into the Thing and get zapped into space by Kosmos before being returned, possibly instantaneously, after this issue is over. When Ben arrives in Latveria, he's covered with a trenchcoat until he pulls it off, revealing the Thing. He's looking kind of skinny in that trenchcoat, but that is the case until the moment he pulls it off, when he's in full Thing mode. So it's very possible that he was in Thing shape all along. And in any event, Kosmos is pulling the FF's essence, so it might not even really be their physical forms.
Ok so the idea here is that Kubik is identifying each character's dominant character traits and reducing them to the levels of the average human, and then putting them in a Tricks 'n' Traps maze to see how they fare.
I, of course, have some quibbles with what are being identified as the FF's "character traits". First of all, i'd put Mr. Fantastic's intelligence in a separate category. The others seem to be personality traits, whereas this is more of an ability, like saying the Thing is strong. I'd rephrase this as being his innate scientific curiosity or analytical nature or something like that. Compassion for the Invisible Woman doesn't work at all. That's Alicia Master's trait; her compassion or empathy is what saw the inner turmoil of the Thing and what got the Silver Surfer to help humanity against Galactus. I have to say that the Invisible Woman's personality has been pretty weakly defined over the years, but i wouldn't say compassion is her defining characteristic. Loyalty to family might be more accurate, maybe, but i really don't know what i would say for her. The other two are more minor quibbles. I would say that the Thing is more like willpower or perseverance than courage. He stays in the fight and never gives up, even when the Hulk or the Champion are pounding him to death and he knows he's going to lose. Courage is putting yourself in danger, and the Thing definitely does that, but so does every hero. What makes him unique is really stubbornness. But i can see why courage was picked. Same thing with the Human Torch. "Aggressiveness" makes me think more of Wolverine. The Human Torch is more like impetuous. Impulsive. Hot headed. And that has been subdued to a degree since John Byrne had him mature.
Anyway, those are the traits that we are going with. These cosmic beings move in mysterious ways. The point of the exercise is to show that when the FF are missing their primary traits, equally effective secondary traits come into effect. The Thing gets chased by a monster that he would normally fight, but instead he's afraid of it and runs away. And so his compassion comes out and he realizes the monster is really a mother protecting her frightened baby.
Johnny Storm uses his intelligence to get out of a trap. Sue demonstrates determination facing a tunnel full of lasers. Mr. Fantastic also shows determination forcing his way out of a trap that he couldn't think his way out of. (Reed and Sue's secondary traits are basically "generic hero", although with Reed it's identified as aggressiveness and with Sue, courage.)
When they get out of their traps, they are still exhibiting their secondary traits, and Reed wants to fight the cosmic beings.
But the cosmic beings apologize and send them home.
It's said that the FF will at best remember the experience as a dream. No real insightful conclusion, but i guess we should not be privy to their insights.
This made for a good fill-in. A different point of view and some attempts at character insights. I have to surpress my instinctive dislike of what's happened to the Beyonder and i don't really love the cosmic cube walking around either, but from the Fantastic Four perspective it's not bad. Definitely better than if it was just an out of sequence random adventure. But still, let's get back to Walt Simonson already.
The issue that needed a fill-in because it was "so difficult to capture on paper" is indeed really ambitious. The short term time travel duel provides an opportunity to get crazy. Each page is split, with the left side of the page, fully colored, showing the rest of the FF (or other things) and the right side of the page, with a white back ground, shows the fight between Dr. Doom and Mr. Fantastic. Sometimes the scenes interact...
...but for the most part they don't.
You really want to read this issue twice. If you read it straight through, like a normal book, then you are getting it from the perspective of the rest of the FF, i.e. in regular chronological order. But you can also read the book from the perspective of the time duel. To do that, you find the time indicator on the white side of the page and then flip to the page that has that time in the green box on the left. So in the scan above, at the end of that page, Doom and Reed are teleporting to 1:36 am and if you flip to the page that shows 1:36 in green you'll see the continuation of their fight.
Even the cover of the issue is part of the story. You'll see in this sequence...
...that Mr. Fantastic is deflecting some energy that Doom shoots at him to 12:33, the time on the cover, before he and Doom jump to 1:20. 12:33 is actually before the duel started, and that scene on the cover is showing us how Reed really escaped the corridor he was trapped in (i.e. it wasn't really a belt buckle). Yes, it's a paradox, and the Time Variance Authority are very upset about the whole thing (which will be the plot of the final two issues of this arc). But the structure of this story is very clever, and a lot of fun. It also gives Mr. Fantastic's tactical side time to shine as he adjusts to the strange battle and begins to use it to his advantage.
But Doom is no slouch either.
If i'm being greedy, i'd like to have seen more of an interaction between the rest of the FF's scenes and Reed and Doom's. For the most part they are unrelated. It might be cool to see a battle between the Avengers and Kang with something like this.
After the Thing rescues the Human Torch and the Invisible Woman, the main point of the left-side panels is to get Sharon to adjust to not being a Thing, especially after she had been mind controlled by Doom. She initially can't accept that she's not a Thing anymore, and they're able to snap her out of it by dressing up Ben in her costume and having Sue turn him invisible, making it seem like Sharon's Thing self is going away.
Doom and Reed's battle comes to an end when the time sequencers stop working thanks to the TVA. Reed and Doom continue the battle, but then the TVA's Minute Men show up with Justice Peace and blast Doom, seemingly killing him.
The Fantastic Four are then arrested and brought to the TVA for trial.
In the end it turns out that somewhere along the way, Dr. Doom swapped places with Kristoff, and it was Kristoff that was killed by the TVA (don't worry; no one is dead forever).
I'm not a huge fan of the concept of the TVA, but that's what the final two issues of Simonson's run are about, and they are definitely fun. It's definitely all a little tongue-in-cheek. After all, the bureaucrats running the TVA are all clones of Mark Gruenwald, obsessed with maintaining continuity.
In the lettercol for issue #353, Gruenwald is given a special thanks "for dedication above and beyond the call of duty. I'm no[t] going to explain why but anyone who knows him can figure it out. And he was a pip about the whole thing!".
The mainline Marvel timeline was supposed to have been wiped out (per Simonson's Galactus story), and the fact that the FF were involved in preventing that along with the violations associated with the time-jumping duel are why the FF are on trial. Mr. Fantastic asks why it's them on trial and not the Avengers for their time travel, or Kang, or "the matter of the X-Men and the Days of Future Past". The Gruenwalds agree that Reed's charges are serious, and they put the FF in a cell while they consider things. The rest of the FF want to know why Reed is selling out their friends, but Sue knows that he was really stalling for time.
They manage to get out of their cell by flattering their hosts and asking for a tour of the TVA's facilities. Sharon is no longer a Thing, so she needs something to do, but i think it's a misreading of her character to have her playing the flirt.
As part of the tour, we see where the TVA dispose of continuity that is no longer being used. We see Supergirl (gone after DC's Crisis) and a Kymellian (Power Pack was cancelled) getting dumped.
We also see the TVA's infinite bureaucracy. One thing to note is that, per this story, it's the TVA that decides whether or not time travel should result in the creation of a separate timeline.
Even though this is a jokey story, that's actually a pretty important point. Marvel Two-In-One #50 established that you can't really travel in your own timeline; it just creates an alternate universe. And for a while that seemed to be Marvel's official policy on the matter. But there have been other stories that didn't play by those rules. And those rules are pretty much no longer enforced as we get into the 90s and beyond. The line here explains that. The cases where time travel doesn't result in a new universe were ones where the TVA didn't think it was merited. And at the end of this story we'll see that our timeline gets cut off from the TVA's authority, which could explain why that rule seemingly no longer applied going forward.
To get away from the TVA, the Thing and the Human Torch create a distraction, fighting the TVA's Minute Men...
...while the Invisible Woman turns herself and Mr. Fantastic invisible so that Reed can access one of their computers and make some changes. Justice Peace isn't fooled by the distraction, but Sue is able to hold him off long enough.
Reed creates a virus that causes the TVA's timeline to split over and over again into multiple fragments.
Sharon does get to be more than a pretty face.
The FF get a ride home from some enthusiasts of Earth's trains.
Justice Peace pursues them, and is able to subdue the Thing and the Human Torch.
So the Invisible Woman gets her moment to shine.
Reed's virus also deletes all of the TVA's references to our timeline, cutting us off from the TVA's authority. Once that happens, Justice Peace no longer has a reason to chase the FF, so they drop him off in his own timeline.
When they get to their own timeline (after giving their costumes to the train operator as payment for the ride; he's going to turn them into railroad garments made from genuine Earth cloth; don't tell him that most train conductors didn't wear unstable molecules), they find that the Thing has reverted from pineapple form back to his regular classic self.
That, and the reason given for it, hammer home something about this arc that i think Steve Englehart would be quick to point out. There are a lot of changes in this arc, giving it a momentous feeling. But all of those changes are restoring things to their tradition (pre-Englehart) status quo. Dr. Doom is back in power. Sharon is no longer a Thing. Ben is. I'm biased because i prefer things this way anyway, but even if i didn't, i don't think this is a bad thing. Marvel is able to maintain an illusion of change by doing exactly this sort of thing; establishing a new status quo and then reverting it back. With the exception of the Thing's final transformation, nothing here seems forced; it all develops as part of a natural and very entertaining set of stories. Steven Englehart has complained that Marvel halted all forward progression when Marvel's Editor-in-Chief position changed hands from Shooter to Defalco, and i see his point. But Walt Simonson's run shows that you can still have amazing stories even if they are stuck in a certain status quo.
Of course, we don't know how Simonson's run might have progressed if he had remained on it. What we did get is a short run of some truly memorable stories, from the Celestial/Galactus story to the Replacement Fantastic Four, to the two Dr. Doom stories in this arc. And beyond that, some stories of the FF doing exactly the sort of things they ought to be doing, namely having fun adventures in other timelines and strange dimensions. And, as always, it's even more important how the stories are executed. Simonson's writing is full of both humor and character insights, and his art is perfect for illustrating those moments as well as big actions scenes and strange sci-fi elements. The last great FF run at least for a very long time, so store up the positive energy from this because you're going to need it for what comes next.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 187,008. Single issue closest to filing date = 199,800.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The armor that Dr. Doom wears in this arc seems to come from The Prometheum Exchange in Excalibur #37-39, so i am placing that arc prior to this. Ben Grimm is transformed back into the Thing at this point, and vice versa for Sharon Ventura. So any appearances of Ben as a human have to take place prior to this (appearances of him as the Thing can be ruled as him using the exo-skeleton, if necessary). Dr. Doom is restored to the throne of Latveria. See above regarding my placement of issue #351; i'm saying it occurs during issue #350, before the FF head to Latveria.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (17): show
I thought using the cover of 352 as part of the time battle was a unique idea. And reading it both ways - page-by-page and in sequential order - was a fun experience.
Also - Kubik mentoring Kosmos was "Kewl".
Posted by: clyde | September 17, 2015 4:35 PM
This is the only time I've ever seen Doom call Mr. Fantasic "Reed" instead of "Richards." Are there others?
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 17, 2015 4:53 PM
I absolutely love these issues. 352 and the time duel is a work of genius.
It's such a shame Simonson jumped ship so soon. I think he would have surpassed Byrne for No. 2 to Lee/Kirby. But quality writers driven off was SOP for Marvel in 1991.
Simonson gave Marvel a golden opportunity with his Doom fix, not just ending the Kristoff mess, but providing the means to write off all of the out-of-character Doom appearances (being beaten by the Punisher, for instance). He really restored the character to his majesty.
But the coming years will see him damaged again, as he's put threw a fake death when Reed dies, and then sent off to Heroes Reborn after Onslaught.
I think this was the last truly great FF run. there've been a few good ones since (Waid, Hickman), and mostly horrible (Claremont, DeFalco, Millar). Simonson was the last writer to truly get them.
Posted by: Bob | September 17, 2015 5:58 PM
Thanos6 - Don't have the issues in front of me, but I believe Doom called him "Reed" during Waid's run, when his deal with the demons goes sour and he's pulled into hell and is screaming for help.
Posted by: Bob | September 17, 2015 6:00 PM
Oh, and while we're kind of on the subject, I'm convinced that was a Doombot who loses to Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet as part of Warlock's cannon fodder squad.
Posted by: Bob | September 17, 2015 6:01 PM
Although that bit with Doom and Kristoff mind-probing Sharon gets brushed by rather quickly, I think it retroactively becomes important in justifying DeFalco's portrayal of Sharon later on. I think during his mind probe Doom tampered with Sharon's memories and/or implanted some post-hypnotic suggestions which influenced her behaviour in DeFalco's run (its a much kinder explanation than just assuming that DeFalco screwed up her character...)
Posted by: Dermie | September 17, 2015 6:23 PM
The line about no one else besides Kristoff having seen his face implies that this shiny Doom is not the one who met Donald Blake in 1971's Thor #182 (listed in the 1972 page), and probably not the one from 1978's FF #196-200 either.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 17, 2015 9:50 PM
Simonson later complained that he didn't understand why readers thought he was saying that Doom had been a Doombot since issue 40. Of course, it's because of that scene with the Thing concluding that Doom had been a Doombot since issue 40, and Doom not correcting him.
Posted by: Michael | September 17, 2015 9:58 PM
This was the last truly fun era of the FF to date.
Posted by: Bill | September 17, 2015 10:21 PM
Why did Simonson leave the title? Was it voluntary or involuntary?
I suspect that a certain Silver Age fetishist and EIC wanted to do the 30th anniversary issue of the book that started it all. But then I'm completely biased, for Simonson and against He Who Must Not Be Named.
Posted by: Matt | September 18, 2015 12:07 AM
@Bob: I think it has to be the real Doom, because in the Dr. Strange crossover issues, Strange has to fight the dark side of Doom's soul, IIRC.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 18, 2015 6:19 AM
@Matt: I'm not positive but I seem to remember hearing that Walt was finding Marvel a bit less fun at the time due to Louise being shoved off the mutant books.
Posted by: jonathan | September 18, 2015 7:21 AM
See the quote from Sean Howe's book that i left in the comments of Fantastic Four #347-349.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 18, 2015 7:28 AM
It's sad, really. I mean, look, Weezie's work on New Mutants was never great, and Claremont was clearly past his prime with the X-Men. But even so, they were so much better as writers than any of the "Image" crowd!
And to lose Walt as a result of pushing them out.... Just sad. Walt's run on Thor is my favorite comic book run ever, and his FF work gives it a run for its money.
Marvel really messed itself up in the early 90's.
Posted by: Matt | September 18, 2015 4:01 PM
"That might suggest that he's been away since prior to Fantastic Four #278 (when Kristoff was brainwashed into thinking he was Dr. Doom) but not longer than Fantastic Four #246-247 (when Dr. Doom adopted Kristoff after the boy's mother was killed)."
The problem with that is that we know where Doom was around #278 - he was living in another body after being "killed" in #260 and wouldn't regain his regular body until #287-288, whereupon he's tossed back in time to take part in the Secret Wars before returning at the end of #288. And you and the MCP both have Emperor Doom taking place somewhere in there (I'm not sure if before or after #278, though). But unless you're saying the Doom that was "killed" in the Surfer-Tyros battle and took part in the first Secret War was a Doombot, then the REAL Doom must have been around until #288 at least.
Honestly, given that I have a hard time believing that Doom didn't know about Kristoff's activation during that time (it was probably even explicitly referenced but I haven't read the issues in a while), I think maybe the best workaround is that Doom's memories got a little scrambled in between getting back to "his" body and then getting shipped off to the Secret War, where he went through living dissection by the Beyonder in #10 before turning the tables on him, gaining the Beyonder's power and then losing it again. It would make some sense that if there were some memory loss, it would be more recent events that hadn't had time to get "baked in" to his brain. So he simply lost the memory of Kristoff being activated somewhere along the line. Who knows - it might have been the combined shock of all that transferring of consciousness and gaining and being stripped of Beyonder-level power that caused him to take his extended vacation in the first place.
Posted by: Dan H. | September 18, 2015 6:14 PM
Agree with all the comments here on the fun ride it's been with Uncle Walt, and the dreck that came afterwards.
1991 is definitely a year when rot in many of the titles became noticeable. Many of the stalwart titles just became unreadable. This was the year I began reducing the # of titles I collected substantially. There were still multiple titles I bought in 1992, but by 1993. I was down to just Peter David's Hulk out of all the Marvel titles. By that time, I had branched off to buy some Dark House books, and even- egads - DC. Hulk was literally the only Marvel title I bought until Heroes Return by which time so much damage had happened to the beloved Marvel Universe I had loved under Shooter.
Posted by: Chris | September 18, 2015 10:03 PM
Ah, yes, FF #350! I know that this issue caused a great deal of consternation among readers. But the best way to look at it is that Walter Simonson deliberately left a great deal of what Doctor Doom said open to interpretation. Simonson wanted individual readers to be able to decide for themselves which past appearances by Doom were the genuine article and which were Doombots. That is a far more elegant, respectful solution than what John Byrne did several years earlier in response to Chris Claremont's use of Doom in Uncanny X-Men.
One thing to keep in mind with everything that Doctor Doom tells Kristoff and Ben Grimm in this issue... Doom might very well be lying through his teeth! He is an egomaniac who is absolutely obsessed with how others perceive him.
It could very well be that Doom discovered the answer to defeating Kristoff only five minutes before this issue started, at which point he dispatched his so-called "greatest of my Doombots" to attack Kristoff and fight to a draw, at which point Doom himself made his spectacular entrance and does his oh-so-convenient routine of "Oh, Kristoff has been activated? Well that's a simple enough thing to deal with. There, problem solved. Honestly, I cannot believe that anyone thought this upstart kid would give me any sort of trouble. All those attempts to regain control of Latveria the past several months were actually by those silly Doombots of mine while I was, um, elsewhere busy with some, uh, stuff. Yeah, that's it... I mean, Doom is supreme!"
In any case, yes, these are great issues. It is a genuine shame that Simonson was upset at Marvel's treatment of his wife and Claremont and so decided to quit the book. I mean, I do not blame Simonson at all for doing so. But a longer run by him would have been, well, fantastic.
I am one of those who actually liked the Tom DeFalco & Paul Ryan era of Fantastic Four. But, yes, given a choice, more FF by Simonson would have been my preference.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 22, 2015 1:19 PM
"i think it's a misreading of her character to have her playing the flirt"
Given how Simonson draws her there, maybe he forgot and thought it was Lorelei?
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 16, 2015 6:59 AM
No one's pointed it out yet, but during Fantastic Four #352, we see Walt Simonson subtly tweek the Thing's "pineapple" form. It's subtle, but you can see the Thing's head change in the middle of Fnord's first scan from #352. Also, Simonson removes most of the all body spikes for more tile like scales. It's a shame he went to the trouble to have to revert back to the traditional Kirby design on his last Fantastic Four page.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | June 14, 2016 2:55 AM
You refer to Sharon Ventura as "Sharon Carter" in the placement section.
350 and its "any story the writer doesn't like can be a DoomBot story! Screw continuity!" is such lazy garbage. Just because Byrne had Yet Another Pissing Contest with Claremont ("Doom would NEVER let Arcade strike a match! Fuck you, Chris!") is no cause for Simonson to validate JB's tantrum so broadly.
And if "only you have ever seen my face, Kristoff!" WAS true…then what did Don Blake see in Thor 182? Do DoomBots come with plastic skin? So advanced that it can fool 616's greatest surgeon…who happens to be a god and might not be fooled by some latex, I'm just saying?
This all-purpose retcon is a far greater insult than the one coming up, IMO.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 22, 2016 6:32 AM
Corrected Sharon "Carter". Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 22, 2016 8:34 AM
@Dan Spector - As I mentioned in my comment above, pretty much everything Doctor Doom tells Kristoff in FF #350 should be taken with a grain of salt. He's a lying liar who lies.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 22, 2016 4:52 PM
"And while Simonson may be saying that the FF #309-311 is canon, it's not because he thinks much of it. That "what writer would dare to have drawn the arm of coincidence so casually" sure isn't a compliment of Steve Englehart's idea."
It's equally possible, and, IMO, much more likely, that Doom's dialog about Alicia's and Johnny's marriage, and allusions about Englehart's writing decisions, were edited in by DeFalco, or by Macchio. It's always an editor's prerogative and job description to edit things like that.
With what we now know about the future direction of the book, DeFalco seems the most likely of the 3 possible writers to have written this stuff. It reads like DeFalco's writing too.
It's also very interesting that Macchio and DeFalco are credited as "editing" and "editing in chief" as opposed to "editor" and "editor in chief" on this story, and, more interestingly, on all of Simonson's FF stories. Simonson is the only writer I've ever seen to have his writing credited in this way.
I've looked through all of Simonson's Thor, Avengers, and FF runs, and the credits always read like this, except, notably, for the fill-in writers, and the writers who preceded or succeeded him on the books. This odd convention for credits started in Thor #369, when Jim Shooter was still chief editor. I've never seen any other writer whose credits had this distinction. It might be taken to suggest that they were more actively "editing" Simonson's writing. Who knows?
Posted by: Holt | November 27, 2017 12:40 AM
I'm still lost as to where the hell this Doom came from. Best not to think too hard about such things going into the early '90's stories?
Posted by: KevinA | July 12, 2018 10:26 AM
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