Fantastic Four annual #2
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #2
Review/plot: Fantastic Four annual #2 had two new stories. The first features Dr. Doom's origin.
Dr. Doom reminisces about his childhood in the eastern European Latveria. Doom's father was a healer who failed to save the wife of the Baron. He died fleeing from the Baron's soldiers, and his dying words are "You must protect...". Everyone assumes he means protect Victor, but a young Boris somehow interprets the words as 'protect the world from von Doom' (which is somewhat bizarre, especially considering Boris ends up devoting his life to helping Doom).
Victor discovers that his mother was a sorceress.
He learns her spells but also devotes himself to technology, and uses the combination to scam the upper classes.
We even see what is possibly his first Doombot.
One day he is approached by a dean of an American university who has heard of his genius. Doom is given a scholarship to State University. He meets Reed Richards but refuses to room with him. Reed ends up rooming with Ben.
Days later Reed stops by Doom's room for a visit. Doom is not present but Reed starts snooping through his notes and finds a plan involving matter transmutation and dimension warps. Reed sees multiple decimal errors in the plan, and tries to warn Doom but he is ignored.
Doom proceeds with the experiment, which blows up his dorm room and damages his face. Doom is expelled from the University and heads for Tibet, where he learns more mystical secrets and creates his weaponized armor.
The bookends establish that Doom is monarch of Latveria (previously he had been operating out of a castle in the Adirondacks in upstate New York).
The bookends also establish a tradition of Doom visiting his mother's tomb. This will later be expanded into an annual battle with the devil for his mother's soul.
In the second story, Dr. Doom meets Rama-Tut on a time traveling expedition...
...and they get stoned together and wonder if they might be the same person at different moments in time. I think Kang-as-future-Doom is a cool idea, but it's not the one they eventually went with.
Then Reed once again uses his hypnotizing powers, this time to make Doom not attack them anymore. Or he's re-programming his Doombot - however you want to look at it.
The story ends with Doom thinking he's defeated Mr. Fantastic, and smugly walking out the door generously sparing the lives of the rest of the FF.
What's interesting here is that at this point the Latverian embassy doesn't acknowledge the existence of Dr. Doom; he's a behind-the-scenes ruler.
In the origin story we saw that Doom had a special ring that unlocks his mask. The second story makes use of that...
...but going forward i think that is also dropped.
What isn't dropped right away is Mr. Fantastic's charming attitude towards women.
The origin story is nicely done and obviously has lasting impact. The second story is a fun adventure (it also gets into some hijinx when the FF are invited to a ball at the Latverian embassy and then Doom has them drugged into thinking they are fighting each other) and is a great example of how the storytelling and especially the art have matured since the earliest issues.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I wanted to put this before Doom's first appearance as a true origin issue, but the origin story is bookended with a contemporary Doom reminiscing, and we are shown newspaper articles describing Doom's attacks on the FF. The second story takes place between Fantastic Four #30-31 and is referenced in Avengers #8.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Fantastic Four annual #7
Inbound References (20): show 1964 / Box 2 / Silver Age
1964 / Box 2 / Silver Age
I never got the "maybe we're the same man" thing. As far as I'm aware they both remember their childhoods, neither one of them has amnesia or anything, why would they think they're the same guy? I mean maybe Dr. Doom is also actually The Thing or Zarko The Tomorrow Man or whoever, it makes as much sense.
Posted by: S | August 3, 2012 12:43 AM
The ring mask-control was mentioned again in FF#200.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 30, 2012 12:00 PM
Just noticed the caption that said Latveria was in the Bavarian Alps. That is much different location than the Balkans where it now is. It implies Latveria is probably like a principality near Switzerland similar to Lichtenstein. It certainly makes much more sense than the Balkans for the period the comics was written.
I wonder when it was "moved" to the Balkans? It was certainly there when I began reading comics in the mid 1980s.
Posted by: Chris | November 30, 2012 8:31 PM
Reed and Ben wonder in FF19 whether Doom could be Rama's ancestor or, in Ben's theory, Doom himself somehow living centuries into the future.
Maybe Stan was just throwing out wild ideas, but I wonder if he might have had a plan: at the time of FF19 we didn't know much about Doom's backstory before he met Reed in college. Maybe Stan thought he could use Rama's backstory as Doom's origin -- Doom would be the bored guy in the future who becomes Rama, then becomes the student who becomes Doom. Not a great idea, and he and/or Jack thinks better of it and they create the Doom origin seen in FF Annual 2 instead. But in a nod to the original plan, they have Doom meet Rama in the second story and Stan scripts that confusing dialogue., maybe as an in-joke.
Stan and maybe Jack still kinda like the the Rama-is-Doom angle, but since Doom now has a separate origin, they create a new "Doom," Kang, for Rama to become, and the Doom angle proper is never mentioned by them again.
(Then Roy riffs on the identity changes to introduce the Scarlet Centurion and Engelhardt makes matters far worse by combining Kang with Immortus.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 1, 2012 7:12 PM
In the excellent fanzine Omniverse #2, an article on Kang's timeline included a footnote suggesting an alternate timeline where Dr. Doom, influenced by his teamup with Sub-Mariner, time travels to pre-cataclysmic Atlantis and becomes Thulsa Doom.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 18, 2014 5:11 PM
I love it when Sue attacks Reed and starts yelling at him (All she says that would indicate she saw him with another woman is "Two-timing friend,") and then Reed correctly guesses what she saw. Either Reed's smarter when it comes to relationships and women then I thought he was or... Sue didn't notice the transparancy of the allusion because it wasn't an allusion. O.O
Posted by: Silverbird | May 30, 2014 8:13 AM
Still a great origin story after all this time.
Is this one of the first times of adding in history in the Marvel Universe? I don't remember it being mentioned before this that Reed and Ben were college roommates.
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 26, 2014 6:11 PM
They were previously established to be roommates in Fantastic Four 11.
Posted by: Michael | December 26, 2014 6:31 PM
In the origin of Doctor Doom, no references to Dr. Doom's mother are drawn into the story by Kirby, but instead they are all included by Lee in the dialogue. I tend to assume that Lee added her death to avoid potential Comic Code concerns about the abseznce of a mother in portraying Doom as a child, but I don't know that for certain.
Also, in the second story, it is worth noting Sue holds her own in fighting her teammates, in saving Reed from Dr. Doom, and in forcing Dr. Doom to retreat from battle. And she creates several tiny force field spheres to force Doom off balance -- a technique John Byrne also makes good use of in his run on FF.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 5, 2015 4:13 PM
This issue has one of my favorite Doom scenes. He's got the FF fighting amongst themselves and everything's going wonderfully. But then, "masochistically," as Lee puts it, he takes off his mask as shown above and realizes that even if he kills all his enemies, he'll never really be happy. And then he puts his mask back on and gets back to villaining. It's a nice bit of characterization.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 17, 2015 7:48 PM
@Walter: It is here that Doom finds a kindred spirit in Rama-Tut. It's also interesting that there's no further mention of the Ovoids during Lee & Kirby' run. But why emphasise the staggering technique the Ovoids taught Doom if he's not going to make use of it soon again? So with Doom having once again been defeated by Reed Richards does he see Rama-Tut's arrival as the perfect opportunity to travel to the future to regather his thoughts without distraction (and so he can research technology to reverse-engineer in an effort to determine a way to defeat Reed), then going on to share his knowledge of the Ovoid technique with Tut and negotiate a bargain to swap bodies, Tut getting to return to the 20th century and play a part in superhero conflicts as he'd always dreamed of (and as that time period's greatest master criminal – well that's got to be way too tempting for a bored master criminal from the future)? And Victor gets to travel into the future, emerging from Rama-Tut's time travel pod in Tut's body and is forced to conquer that warring period so he can get the peace and quiet he requires to understand the composition of their scientifically advanced weaponry. This would perhaps explain why Tut never had a mask and Kang chose to use one that covered his whole face. Because he's Doom!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 6, 2016 8:06 AM
@Aaron: What do you propose Jack alternatively had in mind? It had to have something to do with his father's earlier comment that issue about the world needing protection from the "son who bears the name of Von Doom"? Just what was so ominous about bearing that surname, especially when his father bore it and this didn't instil the Baron with fear enough to not pursue him for the death of his wife!?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 6, 2016 8:16 AM
The 16th century alchemist, Philip von Hohenheim, known also as Paracelsus, provided a recipe for creating the homunculus in his work, De Natura Rerum. This recipe used a horse as the surrogate mother of the homunculus, and the semen of a man is left inside the animal’s womb to putrefy for forty days, before a little man is born. Rather than using the homunculus to perform magical feats, Paracelsus instructed that the homunculus ought to be “educated with the greatest care and zeal, until it grows up and begins to display intelligence.” Paracelsus also claimed that the procedure for making the homunculus was one of the greatest secrets revealed by God to mortals, perhaps suggesting that the creation of artificial life is divine wisdom that may be used by human beings.
So was Victor's "father" in fact a Gypsy equivalent to Paracelsus (who likewise operated in the Bavarian Alps, the original location of Latveria), and the trunk of potions and artefacts was his and not that of a "mother" (and he inseminated an animal which went on to "give birth" to Victor)?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 12, 2016 7:48 AM
Latveria is first described as being in the Bavarian Alps, but later in this same issue it is said to be in the Balkans, so the confusion was there from the start. Fantastic Four #39 says it's in the Bavarian Alps, but then Avengers #25 says it's in the Balkans, which is where it still is in Fantastic Four #84. After that, it jumps back and forth between the two with no rhyme or reason. The location in the Balkans is given in Captain America #132, Hulk #143, Super-Villain Team-Up #5, Uncanny X-Men #146, Iron Man #150, and Cloak & Dagger v.2 #10. However, the Bavarian Alps locale is given in Astonishing Tales #1, Master of Kung Fu #59, Dazzler #3, Marvel Two-in-One #96, and Fantastic Four #258. Punisher #28 says it shares a border with Austria, so I'd put that in the Bavarian Alps category. However, Punisher #29 then says Latveria is a Baltic state, apparently confusing it with the real-world nation of Latvia. After that point, I have no idea. But clearly, even the publication of the Official Handbooks did not clear up the confusion.
Posted by: Tony Lewis | July 12, 2016 12:29 PM
Hugh, I still own the only two issues of Mark Gruenwald's Omniverse. I remember the article you spoke of. I loved the article where one of the writers made a family tree connecting a few dozen Marvel characters together a la Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Family.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 29, 2016 9:33 PM
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