Dr. Doom is perhaps the greatest comic book villain ever and he was gone for 5 issues, an eternity in comics, particularly comics in the 1960s. However, fear not, Dr. Doom is back for the second consecutive issue! Then again, maybe you should fear. Fear a whole bunch as Dr. Doom is back again for the Fantastic Four no. 17.
The issue picks up right where the previous issue left off. We have the team returning from Micro-World and saying good-bye to their pal Ant-Man – who I assume is off to avenge something. This is one of those small game-changing things early Marvel did. Most comics were one-off stories that didn’t impact what came after this, however, is a direct continuation of the previous issue. Mere moments later.
We also have yet another meta-moment as the team talks about Ant-Man as Thing reads a Marvel comic. I assume it’s an issue of The Avengers? Oh, Tales to Astonish, one of those weird carry over monster comic titles. Marvel nearly went out of business in the 1950s and National (yep DC) actually published their books. It was all to seem not a monopoly and kind of a professional courtesy. Sort of, you aren’t a threat anyway so we’ll throw you a bone. Marvel could only publish a handful of books a month and as superheroes took over they just put the superheroes in those once upon a time monster books.
The issue also gives us a recap of the previous issue. I read this back to back, so it felt redundant, but think of being a kid at the newstand in the 60s. You read the last one, but Tommy Johnson borrowed that issue and took it with him when he moved to Michigan a week later, you need that recap!
The team decides they must search for Dr. Doom! The world is in such great peril with him at large; they all agree he must be brought to justice. They don’t find him, give up, and go home.
Returning home they meet a kindly and suspiciously bearded janitor. The janitor is a fan and has a firm, almost metallic handshake. Hang on a second, it’s Doom! To be fair to the team, they did say Doom would show up sooner or later. They just didn’t realize it was him when he did.
Doom sends floating drone men that don’t really do much, they’re really more of an inconvenience than anything else. Although we’ll later find out they have some other things going on. Doom’s first goal – to embarrass and confuse. Well done Doom, well done.
Doom then kidnaps Alicia, poor Alicia, find some non-superhero friends, girl! Dr. Doom admits that he just doesn’t understand people, in particular, he can’t fathom why Alicia would love The Thing. Spoiler alert / explicit content warning, it’s because he’s NOT AN ASSHOLE.
What does Doom want out of all this? Besides the embarass and confuse people deal that is. A PRESIDENTIAL CABINET POSITION. Being that it’s 2018 (yep, I just checked the calendar) and our president is who our president is and he behaves the way he does. Who would you vote for?
The government with the high ideals of the 1960s declines. It was the Kennedy years after all, where we were sending men to the Moon and Space Force was the stuff of comic books. Doom responds by shutting down all industry, very presidential of him.
Reed works long and hard to come up with a plan to defeat Doom. Kirby kills it with the art in these panels and Lee brings home the power of the moment in the dialogue. A drained Reed gives Ben a serum that will turn him back into a normal man.
Remember last issue? If only I’d done a recap! Damn you Tommy Johnson! Well last issue, Reed turned Ben human, but Ben didn’t want to he human because Alicia didn’t love him as a man, she loved him as a Thing. Well, Ben will put that aside, he’ll take the serum as it’ll make him a normal human, therefore undetectable to Dr. Doom’s fancy sensors.
Ben just barely makes it. He wills himself to stay human just long enough to get in and smashes the crap out of the sensor and allows the rest of the team to join the fight. The fight ends in an awesome one-on-one battle between an ass-kicking Sue and Dr. Doom. She still credits Reed as being the best Judo teacher in history, but still, this is Sue’s moment. Have it girl!
I’ll see you next issue… President Victor Von Doom… a kid can dream, right?
Josiah Golojuh is a writer, who reads lots of comics (find his collection of short stories here), he’s also a YouTube commentator (where, among other things, he does things similar to these Retro Reviews).