Today, we head back 60 years to see the first time that Doctor Doom faced off against the Fantastic Four (plus a whole lot of other notable Marvel firsts)!
This is “Look Back,” where every four weeks of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue (often in terms of a larger scale, like the series overall, etc.). Each spotlight will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first spotlight of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we look at weeks broadly, so if a month has either five Sundays or five Saturdays, it counts as having a fifth week) looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years ago.
This month had a fifth week, so today, we go to April 1962 for the introduction of Doctor Doom in “Prisoners of Doctor Doom” in Fantastic Four # 5 by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott!
WHY DOES DOCTOR DOOM WANT THE FANTASTIC FOUR?
First off, this issue is interesting if only because it is the first time that the most iconic Fantastic Four creative team, Kirby, Lee and Sinnott, all worked together on an issue, although obviously Sinnott was just doing this as a fill-in, so he did not get to really commit to the series and thus there is not as much of that classic Sinnott flavor to these pages (he does a fine job still, it’s just not like it was when Sinnott became the regular inker and really felt free to do what he felt necessary with Kirby’s pencils later on).
Okay, let me just spotlight how awesome this splash page is …
Doom has a freaking VULTURE, because, well, why NOT? Why SHOULDN’T Doom just be chilling there with a pet vulture? Has Doom’s vulture ever fought the Pet Avengers? It must have, right? That sounds like something someone would have done. If not, someone needs to get on that, but I bet someone has done that already, it’s just too perfect. And the dude just has a book about demons just hanging out while he plays with his Fantastic Four dol … I mean, ACTION FIGURES. Doom definitely only plays with action figures.
After a quick interlude where we see Johnny Storm reading an issue of the Hulk (perhaps the VERY first crossover of the Marvel Age if you want to count it like that), the Fantastic Four’s home is suddenly surrounded by a giant net and as soon as the dude starts talking, Reed automatically knows who it is and we get, in just a PAGE (LESS than a page, really), one of the great origins of the Silver Age. Some guy comes to college, decides to summon demons, gets expelled, goes to the Himalayas to seek out knowledge and comes back as a supervillain. Just awesome stuff. I especially love how Reed instantly knows how much of a tough spot they are all in …
Okay, Sue is a walking hostage, so of course she becomes the hostage of Doom to force the other three to get Doom Blackbead’s treasure chest. But HOW?
How, you ask? Because Doom has a freakin ‘TIME MACHINE, PEOPLE!
That’s the first appearance of one of the major devices of the Marvel Universe. This also has one of my all-time favorite piece of Stan Lee attempts to explain something he thinks Kirby did not explain properly. Kirby obviously just figures that these pirates had some clothes and the Fantastic Four would show up and take them. Lee, instead, adds dialogue to explain that these pirates had just stolen these clothes, which is why they had a big bundle of pirate clothes. It’s so darn goofy. I love it.
HOW DO THE FANTASTIC FOUR DEFEAT DOCTOR DOOM?
Okay, so the Thing know BECOMES Blackbeard and they acquire the treasure chest (with some STUNNING action pages by Kirby and Sinnott), but then the Thing decides he’d rather just remain in the past as Blackbeard, as at least here the puny humans leave him alone (or whatever), but of course, that is not meant to be …
The twister wrecks everything and Ben agrees to come back with them to the present, where Reed cleverly presents the CHEST of Blackbeard, which is what they promised that they would bring back. Doom is all happy, since the chest had these magical rubies in it, but then Reed reveals that the rubies are now in the ocean, and they did not say they’d bring the RUBIES back, just the chest! Doom is all, “Ah, you got me!” and then we see the first of many Doom robots!
Doom them traps them in a room to suffocate to death (okay, I guess he wasn’t as magnanimous as I was giving him credit for), but then Sue actually SAVES THE DAY!
Sue does VERY little in the early issue of The Fantastic Fourbut one of the few things she does is save them all from Doctor Doom, which is super badass, right?
Doom escapes, of course, and the Fantastic Four now had their greatest enemy. What a great introduction issue.
If you folks have any suggestions for May (or any other later months) 2012, 1997, 1972 and 1947 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we’re discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.
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