Following on from the introduction of Namor in the last issue, we move on to the introduction of the villain most commonly associated with the Fantastic Four, Dr Doom.
The issue opens with an ominous looking Dr Doom moving figures of the Fantastic Four around a board like chess pieces. Doom is scheming and decides it is time to show the world that only he can stop the Fantastic Four.
Back in New York, we see office workers heading home for the evening, but the lights are still on at the Fantastic Four’s HQ. Inside, Johnny is reading a Hulk comic and claims that the monster reminds him of the Thing. The pair squabble before they are subdued by Sue and Reed. At the moment, the lights go out and we see that the helicopter that Dr Doom boarded on page 1 is now hovering over the HQ and has dropped a web over the entire building.
Doom tells the Fantastic Four to heed his words. The team do not know who Dr Doom is, but Reed recognises the voice. We then get a flashback to Reed’s college days, where a student called Victor von Doom was a brilliant student but obsessed with forbidden experiments. One of these experiments caused an explosion, leaving Victor’s face badly disfigured. Victor soon left for Tibet to find the secrets of black magic and sorcery, and was never heard of again, until now…
Doom claims the team as his prisoners, and lists his conditions for their release. Firstly, Sue is to be sent to him as a hostage to ensure their compliance. Ben chooses to let his fists do the talking and grabs the web, but receives an electric shock and has to let go. Sue then convinces the rest of the team that their only choice is for her to go up to Doom.
Doom then tells the team to board his plane and to agree not to attack him. The team agree and go up to the rooftop, where a strange plunger like device descends down and sucks them up. Doom then takes them to his castle and explains what he wants from the team. He tells them that he has invented a time travel device and that he wants the team to travel back in time and steal the legendary treasure chest of Blackbeard!
The team agree to go and at the push of a button, are transported to the past. The team only have 48 hours to complete their mission, so start to act fast. They first get some clothes so as to blend in, with Ben adorning a fake beard, eye patch and hat. Ben feels instantly comfortable in his new disguise. The team find a bar nearby and are soon offered some drinks. They do not realise that the drinks are spiked. They soon pass out, and a group of pirates take them on board a ship and set sail.
The awaken when the pirates try to get the to start work on the ship. Ben makes short work of them, and the rest of the crew quickly fall behind him. Not long after, however, the ship is under attack by another pirate ship. Johnny turns into the Human Torch and flies over to attack the ship, followed by Reed who stretches to create a bridge for the crew to board the attacking ship.
They soon take over the other ship and find what they were looking for, Blackbeard’s treasure. But what of Blackbeard himself? It is then that the rest of the crew turn to Ben to salute him, “Hail Black-Beard!” The team agree to take the treasure chest back to Doom, but not with the treasure inside, as they never actually agreed to that. Instead, they divide the treasure with the men, and refill the chest with worthless chains. At that moment, Ben has a moment of realisation, and decides that he prefers it in the past.
Ben then decides that he does not want Johnny and Reed to try and force him back, so orders his men to restrain them. Just then, they notice a twister coming towards the ship. The gale tears the ship apart, and the three find themselves washed up on a desert island. Ben realises what a fool he was to want to stay behind, and then a flashing light appears above them and they are transported back to Doom’s castle, in the present day.
They hand over the chest to Doom, and he explains that the treasure inside once belonged to Merlin and that they have magical powers. Johnny remembers that the treasure is now at the bottom of the sea, and worries what would happen if Namor was to find them. Doom then moves to open the chest and finds the treasure is not there. Ben then attacks Doom, only to find out that he was a robot all along. Doom is in fact in a hidden room above the team, and intends to kill them by eliminating the oxygen from their room. But he has forgotten about Sue, who turns invisible and is able to alter the controls.
The team manage to escape the castle but find they are surrounded by water. Johnny announces to the rest of the team that he is keen to try out a new power. He reaches atomic heat level, boiling the water away and fusing the ground, turning it into a glass like substance. The team are then able to make their away across the water. Johnny then encircles the castle in flame to imprison Doom, but his flame burns out and Doom is able to escape. Reed praises Johnny for the attempt, but Ben is not impressed and says he will do things his way next time.
So unlike the much maligned Fantastic Four movie, Doom’s introduction comes five issues into the series. This issue also sees for perhaps the first time, the team really functioning as a unit and each using their own unique powers to the team’s benefit. There is still the undercurrent of discontent between Ben and then rest of the team, none more so when Ben is dressed as Blackbeard. This also throws up a nice time-travel paradox issue of Ben being Blackbeard.
Apart from all this, we also see the first Doom-bot and a new power for Johnny. All in all, an action-packed issue.
Writer – Stan Lee
Artist – Jack Kirby
Cover date – July 1962
Financials and further reading
Cover price – 12c
At the time of posting, the most expensive listing for this issue on eBay is £4,999.99.
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