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The Fantastic Four - with Darkoth The Death Demon temporarily standing in for the Human Torch - journey through the basement of Doom's secret fortress, where they meet a creature called 'The Seeker' who has 'been - sent - to - make - you - die!' This is another new character designed by Rich Buckler, to go with Darkoth, and... well, he's not exactly Steve Ditko is he? Both characters look a bit 'Grim'n'Gritty Nineties' to me, with lots of pointless fiddly bits, extra weaponry, and even a spiky garter for the Seeker. Was Rich Buckler just ahead of his time?
The FF beat The Seeker easily, and then we see Doom beating up some staff members who were supposed to be keeping an eye on proceedings. Once again, we're a long way from the Doctor Doom who abhorred violence and didn't wish to sully his hands with it. This is a paranoid, self-centred figure who cares nothing for anybody else, only assured of his own genius. Coach Thorne goes even further, calling him insane. Doom's reply is basically 'I know you are but what am I?' but Thorne has a point - Doom is clearly a Mad Scientist happy to kill to prove his point.
We then return to the Torch-free FF, for some more of the PE Teacher-baiting that we spoke of last time. Like many people who grew up reading comics, I am no fan of PE Teachers, but this does stick out as an obvious dig at somebody in particular. Gerry Conway was only about 20 years old when he wrote this, so can't have been long out of school. Was there maybe a teacher who especially irked him, or perhaps someone his own age who was taking it up as a career?
The janitor is cleaning up at the Baxter Building, where the FF have returned to examine The Seeker. While they're doing that Doctor Doom launches his Vibrator Bomb into the atmosphere. Our heroes, fed up with waiting, have a punch-up, and then the bomb goes off. Doom, and his men, are delighted. However, unbeknownst to them, the Seeker has returned, using its security access to the fortress to get inside and free the Human Torch. It turns out that the Seeker was actually a robot, which Reed Richards scooped the insides out of so that Darkoth could wear it as a costume. Doom runs away to his central control room where he plans to launch himself into space and activate the full force of the Vibro-Bomb. The control room looks very familiar, as Buckler pays tribute to a classic bit of Kirby design. That said, it's hard not to compare the two, and find Buckler wanting here.
There's another nod to the past as the story concludes, with Doom launching the entire building into space, just as he did with the Baxter Building way back in Fantastic Four #6. Then, much as in that issue, an ally turns on him, with Darkoth taking the place of Namor The Submariner. This time the building explodes, and once again Doom seems to have been lost in space. SPOILERS: I think he'll probably be OK.
So ends a trilogy of issues which saw Doom very much returned to the status of a madman intent on glory only for its own sake, working at the edges of sanity. It looks like it'll be a while before that changes again, because next week we launch what I'm calling 'Minor Appearance Week' - a whole five days of cameos and single panale pictures! See you then!
link to information about this issue
posted 27/3/2019 by Mark Hibbett
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