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The Alien, The Ally, And... Armageddon!

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Doom hasn't been seen in The Fantastic Four for over two years, apart from the brief appearance of an android duplicate in Fantastic Four #100, but here he finally returns to his home title, after much wandering across the Marvel Universe, for a story which brings the full range of his character developments into sharp focus.

Reed Richards has been kidnapped and mind-controlled by a being called The Overmind, last of the Eternals. The Thing and The Human Torch set out to find him, eventually discovering Reed fighting back against his kidnapper. The pair try to help but get thoroughly beaten, leaving The Invisible Girl to turn up and discover, to her horror, that her husband is completely in thrall to the alien villain. She heads off to look for help from other superheroes, only to find that they're all otherwise engaged or out of contact. Apart from showcasing the breadth of the Marvel storyworld, and suggesting that interested readers can find out exactly what the other heroes are up to by buying their associated books, this also answers the constant question asked by fans: why don't superheroes ask each other for help when they face a bigger than usual threat? Turns out they do, but everybody's always busy!

Wracked with despair, Sue pauses her hoverbike on a rocky shore, where she sees a vision of Agatha Harkness, Spooky Nanny to her son Franklin, who suggests another candidate via the medium of Spooky Vision. Doctor Doom! Sue thinks about it for a moment and decides to give it a go, heading off to the Latverian Embassy (where Doom always seems to be at home, when not in his own stories). On arrival two goons refuse to let her in, so she jumps through the window to find Doctor Doom... vaping? She asks him to help them fight the Overmind but he refuses, saying his only regret is that someone else is destroying the Fantastic Four. Sue then says something that cuts Doom to the quick and, perhaps, speaks to any readers who've been following his development over recent years. Could this be a recognition, in the text itself, of how Doom's character has changed, especially when appearing as guests in other character's series? We've seen hints of his complex, tortured character when he's been in the lead role of his own stories, but otherwise he has very much put aside the honour and nobility shown in his origin story, in favour of posturing and pettiness.

As ever, Doom's pride gets the better of him, and he agrees to help, setting off with Sue to discover Ben and Johnny lying unconscious, utterly defeated. When they wake up to see Doom standing over them they spring into action, and are shocked when Sue tells them what's really going on. They reluctantly agree to fight alongside him, and return to battle. Doom works out a strategy which the others follow and, rather brilliantly, it totally works, until the possessed Reed Richards returns and takes Sue out of action. This leaves Doom to fight alone, unprotected by her force field, refusing to give in. We've seen a lot of Doom ranting and raving lately as opponents fly off without finishing a fight, but here he's clearly behaving heroically, sacrificing himself to stop a major threat.

At this point The Stranger, another cosmic being, arrives, tells The Overmind that he's too great a threat to the universe, and sends him into exile into a subatomic void before leaving as quickly as he'd arrived. It makes the efforts of Doom and the FF seem utterly pointless, as the Human Torch himself complains. The whole team wake up, with Reed himself again. Sue looks over to check on "poor Doctor Doom" who is absolutely fine, thank you very much. The story ends with The Watcher turning up to tell them that, actually, it wasn't as pointless as it seemed. The Stranger only knew The Overmind had returned because he'd been forced to exert his full power during the battle, alerting The Stranger to what was going on. Basically, they were hopelessly outclassed but the fact that they - or rather, Doctor Doom - tried really hard made someone much more capable notice.

It's an unsatisfactory ending to a story which has shone some very interesting light on the changes Doom has gone through, and the fact that other characters have noticed. Will this be reflected in his future development? Tune in next time to find out!

link to information about this issue

posted 13/12/2018 by Mark Hibbett

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DOOMBOT FILTER: an animal that says 'oink' (3)

(e.g. for an animal that says 'cluck' type 'hen')

A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett