Getting In Touch With “The Doomside” of Mr. Fantastic

Journey Into Marvel – Part 66

Stan and Jack cower at the face of Dr. Doom.

Stan and Jack cower at the face of Dr. Doom.

Extremites, since his first appearance, where he was upstaged by pirates, Doom has never felt like a decent threat to the Fantastic Four. Although in later years he became that way, Doom began as just another comic villain. However, it’s clear that Dr. Doom and Reed Richards have a special conflict that transcends  personality clash. They personify the battle between magic and science.

After being marooned on an asteroid, in the last encounter, Doom was rescued by a group of large headed aliens named Ovoids. These Ovoids possess some pretty great skills the most important of which is immortality. They achieve this immortality because they have the power to move consciousness from one body to the next. When an Ovoid grows old he can transfer his mind from his dying body into a new shell. Think Star Trek III but with egg shaped aliens. This power enthrals Doom and he learns it to utilize against Reed Richards. Doom dupes Reed, through a meeting with local comic creatives Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, into switching bodies and Reed is stuck behind the mask while Doom leads the Fantastic Four. This is quite the nutty predicament. It is also one that relies on mysticism which is an area Reed discredits and Doom embraces in their conflicts together.

Reed is logical and at times this logic can be his downfall. He expects that the laws of the universe, as a human understands them, are absolute. Doom takes advantage of this belief and for a time leaves Reed trapped by his own limitations.

Doom  goes too far in his relentless pursuit of the mystic unknown. Rather then using Reed’s body to destroy the other three members, which would be easy, he hijacks the Four’s vast laboratories to experiment on a shrinking serum that then back fires on him. He could have spent all this energy on destroying the Four. He comes very close.

Dr. Doom, the obsessed mystic, and Reed Richards, the closed off logician, both have character flaws in their belief systems. They are perfect opposites of each other. Reed is a good looking, affable, practical scientist, whereas Dr. Doom is a deformed, unfriendly, magician. Reed relies on cold hard facts and Dr. Doom can exist on faith. This is a great opposition.

The ingenious plot!

The ingenious plot!

Even though the conflict is strong in this one and there’s some great development of Reed Richards, the story it self is very weak. The whole first act revolves around a cameo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Dr. Doom holds both of them hostage to coax Reed into his presence. This episode smacks of vanity which I have read is very common in Stan Lee’s Silver Age writing. Stan needed to create a whimsical environment at Marvel, which by all accounts was the stuff of Lee’s imagination . It’s very telling that in this little event all the plum lines, and indeed, most of the dialogue is given to the Stan Lee character. Jack is second string. This kind of arrogance really grated on Jack Kirby and in later years would lead to a real life Dr. Doom and Reed Richards like rift between these two. Maybe that’s why Reed and Doom feel so authentic.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:The Return of Doctor Doom!” (Fantastic Four #10 Jan 1963)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros: Doom’s backstory is convincing and wild, the whole idea of a body switcher-oo leads to some pretty crazy predicaments, Jack Kirby’s subtle rendering in the difference between body language when consciousness switches is skilled.

Cons: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s cameo, the other members of the Four are useless, Ovoids are lazily drawn and look laughable.

Next Review:The Vengeance of the Scarlet Beetle!” (Tales to Astonish #39 Jan. 1963)

Last Review:The Human Torch Meets Paste-Pot Pete!” (Strange Tales #104 Jan 1963)

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About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on February 12, 2015, in Comics, Dr.Doom, Marvel, The Fantastic Four and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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