There is a whole bunch going on with this cover. First, it seems Dr. Doom is a good guy and Reed is a bad guy, I’m sure that’s true and that there will be no shenanigans. And as I promised in my review of issue 9, things are going to get meta! The cover promises we’ll meet Stan and Jack – once again, shenanigans.
The opening image shows the pure brilliance of Jack Kirby. I’ve shared before that I believe Reed and Ben are both self-portraits by Jack Kirby, this image certainly makes the case for Reed. Jack has said that Ben is him as he is quoted in Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics (I highly recommend Mark’s book, who I actually studied under in grad school at USC), “If you’ll notice the way the Thing talks and acts, you’ll find that the Thing is really Jack Kirby. He has my manners, he has my manner of speech, and he thinks the way I do. He’s excitable, and you’ll find that he’s very, very active among people, and can muscle his way through a crowd. I find I’m that sort of person.”
We see Johnny utilize a heatless flame, which begs the question, just how powerful is the Human Torch? Gathering at the sight of a 4 flare, the team is hounded by fans (remember they are movie stars now, *last ish – Ed.). They are greeted by Alicia’s intricate and beautiful sculptures.
Sue is an emotional mess, lamenting about who she loves. Get it together girl! Also, Reed! He’s a bit lame, but lame is way better than psychotic-sea-monarch. Anyway, Dr. Doom visits Stan and Jack in a somewhat confusing meta scene. He reveals his hideous face, Stan and Jack say something about never imagining something that horrific. Okay, so I think they tell REAL stories of the FF in the comics that exist within the Marvel Universe or are they the comics in our world? My brain is hurting. It needs an ice cream.
Doom forces Stan to call Reed to pitch a comic story… so they make the stories up? Just when I thought they were adaptations of actual adventures… still no ice cream.
Thing is mad, but with good reason – Jack Kirby draws him uglier than he actually is. There’s also a cool gimmick in the comic where we never see Stan and Jack’s faces (particularly with the whole never seeing Doom’s ugly mug thing).
Eventually, Reed shows up for his meeting with Jack and Stan and is immediately gassed by Doom. We get a bit of backstory as Doom, in typical Bond villain fashion, explains his evil plan, or at least how he learned body switching from eggheaded aliens.
Jack Kirby shines depicting the switch expertly in his art. We see Doom (actually Reed) with clear, rational eyes, the eyes of not just a good man, but a hero. In Reed (actually Doom) we see the eyes of a sociopath, a genius bent on world domination. Does he have a Twitter account?
Doom (actually Reed) attempts to explain things to the team, of course, they don’t believe him. In fact, they kind of get a bit wacky with ideas on how to punish Doom (actually Reed). For example, Thing wants to crush him with a rock. Reed (actually Doom) is doing very Doom-like things, and the team is suspicious.
Note the Space-Dinos! Be sure to enjoy the panel for a moment and then I’ll be back.
The Space-Dinos are basically just a cool way to show us how Reed (actually Doom) plans to use his reducing ray. It’s a convoluted plan where the ray somehow makes all dreams come true. Even dreams of crushing Doom (actually Doom) with a rock? Anyway, what it does do is buys him time.
Using Doom’s mask, Doom (actually Reed)… should I just say, “using HIS mask,” there? Not sure who’s who anymore. So the captured Doom (actually Reed, I think) uses the mask (the actual mask) to crack the glass and then bombs? Canisters? Something to explode the glass. Reed escapes.
Doom (actually Reed, I doubled checked to be sure, it’s him) goes to see Alicia and gets thumped by a hiding Sue. Why would Sue be hiding there? If Doom was Doom and not Reed, what incentive would he have to go to Alicia, who he has never even met? I don’t have an answer to that question, but Alicia does sense the good in him.
The rest of the team busts in, however, Thing can’t finish Doom (actually REED!) off, because like Alicia, he senses the good in him. Doom loses concentration and the dudes flip back. So he was concentrating with that much focus for that long? Dang, good job Doom.
Then Doom accidentally gets shrunk or reduced. The end.
A slightly disappointing, thoroughly confusing end to wrap-up the first ten issues of the Fantastic Four.
Also, be sure to check out my video review of the first 10 issues on my YouTube channel. Where I cover Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four Vol. 1 – later this week! Subscribe to my channel to be notified when it’s posted.
This Friday I’ll be doing a special series of Retro Reviews, a trilogy (of sorts) of Marvel movies from the late 80s and early 90s, The Punisher (1989), Captain America (1990), and The Fantastic Four (1994).
Next week I’ll be taking a break from reviewing the Fantastic Four and will review my all-time favorite X-Men story – Days of Future Past. Two short, but powerful issues. After, which we’ll be back in the glorious work of Kirby and Lee. Check out the video below for more info on my upcoming Retro Reviews.
Josiah Golojuh is a writer, who is currently tired, his daughter is sick (find his collection of short stories here), he’s also a YouTube commentator (which you can probably tell, because directly above this tag is a YouTube video).