Friday, May 15, 2009

I wanted to call this post 'Doom vs. Doom,' but I might save that one...

Visit Latveria's scenic...swamps, or whatever.
[EDIT: In the comments, Don Julian points out: "Jakob Schiesser (the peasant Kristoff says will die anyway) is a German translation of James Shooter." Thanks, Don! Is it coincidence? A dig at the boss? Maybe Comic Book Legends would know...]

Although I enjoyed his work on other books, like Silver Surfer, Steve Englehart's run on Fantastic Four never quite worked for me. Granted, he was in the tough spot of following John Byrne's still-exemplary tenure, and then I was more excited to hear Walt Simonson would be taking over the book.
Clone Thing=dick.
By that point, since he knew he was going to be out, Englehart started burning off planned plotlines, writing under the pen name John Harkness. In the story, the rogue Watcher Aron has captured the Fantastic and Frightful Fours, put them in suspended animation, and cloned himself a ersatz Fantastic Four to serve as his "action figures." The Fake Four, including female Thing Ms. Marvel and armadillo-style Thing, act out old FF adventures issue-by-issue; and are both true to their earliest characterization and surprisingly dickish.
I have no idea what's going on with the coloring here, but I'm going to write it off as printing error.
Meanwhile, in suspended animation, the real FF have nightmares--the aforementioned scrapped plotlines. Most of them weren't very good. I remember one was Reed's computer, which had been name-dropped several times as the "Turino-XL," turned out to be Ultron XI. Or IX. Whatever. It wasn't even a computer Reed built, he bought it, which didn't sound right either. I have long since lost most of those issues, since I was only reading them since I got a subscription the moment I heard Simonson was coming.

But one issue I saved: the Invisible Woman's nightmare. Fantastic Four #330, "Good Dreams!" Written by "John Harkness," pencils by Rick Buckler, inks by Romeo Tanghal. "Doom vs. Doom" would've been a better title, since that's what we've got in the dream. More after the bump!

Earlier, John Byrne introduced Kristoff, an orphaned Latverian boy that Doom took in under his care. Except the kid was less a ward of the state, than Doom 2.0. A contingency plan: if Doctor Doom was killed, his robots would upload a copy of Doom's personality onto Kristoff and make him the new Doom. Great plan, except Kristoff was activated too soon. Doom returns to find Kristoff in power and completely believing himself to be the real Doom and the other to be a fake. Entrenched in Latveria, Kristoff was actually able to drive off Doom, who was handicapped by not wanting to destroy his country.

So, Byrne introduced Kristoff, I think Englehart set up the Doom vs. Doom situation, and eventually Simonson would bring an elegant solution to the table, but this issue shows a possible answer from Englehart. On a typical Latverian morning, a peasant thanks the land for being the least of their troubles; and of course is overheard by Doom. Kristoff-Doom, who is out for a stroll with his Doombots. Kristoff charitably declines to have the peasant killed, since his source has tipped him to an upcoming attack from the other Doom.
'You promised us brunch first, Doom!'
Doom has recruited some A-list backup for his attack: Dormammu, Kang the Conqueror, the grey Hulk, the Absorbing Man, Attuma, Hobgoblin, the Beetle, and Master Pandemonium. Doom's attack was planned for high noon, but he moves it up to eleven, since he knows the Beetle is Kristoff's source. At Doom's order, the Hulk gladly squashes the Beetle, noting that he's repaying a debt to Doom.
Unless Kristoff traded for two draft picks to be named later and his mom's soul, he kinda got screwed.
The attack begins on Castle Doom, with Hobgoblin dying early, falling to "magick." Doom is able to counter it, taking the fight inside, to Kristoff's own army: the Rhino, Abomination, Sandman, Annihilus, Electro, and Mysterio. Kristoff's soldiers, like Kristoff himself, believe Doom to be nothing more than a rogue robot. Doom got the better draft picks, though; and takes out Annihilus as he strolls to fight Kristoff himself.

Oddly, as Doom is stopped by his own Doombots, one tells him "Surrender, Dorothy!"
An unretouched panel!  Really!
As Doom and Kristoff scuffle, the Hulk decides to level the castle, prompting the Dooms to work together. For a moment. Meanwhile, Doom's team outclasses and outplays Kristoff's, and Kristoff cries "Death-" as he flees to a reinforced safe room. Doom knows immediately what Kristoff is doing, since he would do the same; and has Dormammu shield them from a neutron bomb, which destroys Latveria.

As Doom plans vengeance, other forces are starting to move on Latveria: the Soviet Super-Soldiers, Namor, Thor, the Mole Man, the Eternals, the Deviants, NATO, the Warsaw Pact...even faced with the entire world against him, Doom is less concerned with Kristoff's finger on the button, than wanting everyone to get off his lawn. Kristoff sets off hidden nuclear warheads around the world, destroying it. And the moon, as the Watcher sheds a silent tear.

At least, that's Sue's nightmare. The idea of the Dooms recruiting super-villains is a fun one; although it probably wouldn't have gotten through outside of a dream sequence: the Spider-Man editors probably wouldn't be too keen on losing several bad guys. Presumably, if the real Fantastic Four had gotten involved, it wouldn't have ended in nuclear holocaust. The FF would probably have to lump it, picking a side and getting Doom back on his throne. (Maybe. I'm trying not to spoil Simonson's answer, even for a twenty-year-old comic!)
I don't think you see Doom lay down the five-finger blastdown anymore, which is a bit of a shame.
And Doom's super-villain draft picks worked for me: I particularly liked his selection of the gray Hulk. In fact, I think the first comic I ever read with Dr. Doom was a treasury issue of the Rampaging Hulk. We may have to try to see that one later, but it cemented for me that Doom sees the Hulk not as a foe or an obstacle, but as a potential resource.


CRY HAVOK!!! said...

This is one of maybe five random old FF issues I happen to have, and I've always dug it. Too bad it sounds like the rest of the run isn't as fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi Googum,
Nice site you've got, enjoying it immensely, Especially the Nightcrawler and Deadpool comics.

A little tidbit about this post:

Jakob Schiesser (the peasant Kristoff says will die anyway) is a German translation of
James Shooter.

Wonder what that was all about...

Don Julian

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When I was a child I enjoyed reading comics like this one, that definitely were an important part of my childhood.