As with the last issue, before we are even in the comic, we know were in for some awesome. The cover reads, “Meet Doctor Doom.” On the cover, this Doom fella is dominating the entire team.
To begin, Doom is playing with FF action figures. Is he an evil me? Things continue to be meta at Marvel as Johnny reads a Hulk comic book. Johnny observes that Hulk reminds him of The Thing. Was the Marvel Universe not yet connected? It’s wonderfully confusing. Torch then burns his own comic, asham, it would be worth thousands today. Reed and Sue have to break-up the fight, being the spoil sports / mom and dad of the team that they are.
Marvel’s first family bickers and the villain promised on the cover overtakes the skyscraper. Literally covering it in a net. Doom speaks, Reed knows the voice from his past (and not shoehorned into the team’s origin like the movies). It’s unclear how Doom got ugly, but he went to Tibet to buy a metal mask I assume (maybe he was looking for Dr. Strange, but found a good mask salesman).
Doom wants Sue and then immediately captures the rest of the team. Doom has the most wonderfully convoluted goal in mind. Send the boys back in time, holding Sue hostage as insurance to make sure they successfully bring him, wait for it, BLACK BEARD’S TREASURE CHEST (being that specific will be important later). He believes the gems inside will give him the ability to rule the earth because clearly, Black Beard had already ruled the Earth (he did right?). Geography aside, this is the stuff of comic book gold. It’s what makes the medium unique and special and wonderfully absurd. Go Stan and Jack.
In the past, the guys have a drink and pass out, drunk or drugged? Jack Kirby shines here with a few panels of Thing coming to as Part 4 begins, it’s a truly great page! Perfect Kirby. The best of all time at his best (and he’ll get even better with this endlessly epic run… well not endless, but it lasted a while).
Thing recovers and trashes the ship because that’s what Ben Grimm does, damn it. We basically have the FF being the FF in pirate times. Sort of Stan and Jack tossing out ideas and having fun with it, while also being just a bit profound (stay tuned).
Reed knows the treasure must have some great and mysterious power, otherwise Doom wouldn’t want it, and certainly wouldn’t go to the trouble of this plan. So he does a swap with chains in the chest. Reed isn’t lying because they said they’d bring back the chest, they didn’t say what would be in it. They are about to head back. The Thing doesn’t want to go! Here he’s somebody, here HE IS BLACK BEARD!
A hurricane comes at that exact moment. Broken Ben is ever more broken on the beach. This is the best of Kirby in the art and the best of Lee in the writing. The result, the ever-angry Thing is too sad and broken to be angry (for a little at least).
The boys return to the present (well the past for you and me). The gems belonged to Merlin and had some still unclear magical power. There’s a nice callback here as Johnny fears Namor will find the real gems.
Thing allows himself to get angry again and smashes Doom. Doom is always one step ahead and it’s actually a robot. Sue short circuits something and causes an explosion. Reed and Thing use their powers in a cool team-up to bust out.
Torch goes atomic, turning water into glass so they can walk safely away. However, Doom is Doom and Doom escapes.
The team now has two legit bad guys, therefore they dedicate themselves to stopping them. They are now truly the Fantastic Four and a truly great comic book has begun to hit its stride.
Josiah Golojuh is a writer who writes jokes here at the end, but not today (find his collection of short stories here), he’s also a frequent YouTube commentator (not commenting ON YouTube, but commenting on YouTube).