Friday, February 19, 2010

29: Fantastic Four #10

Fantastic Four #10
October 9, 1962

  • It's the FF's tenth issue, and - Doom's back! (Okay, it's only been four months.) When last we saw him, Doctor Doom had betrayed Namor, the Sub-Mariner, in an attempt to get rid of both Subby and the FF, and had been sent flying off into the dark reaches of outer space for his reward. There, we discover, he was rescued by a race of peaceful egg-headed aliens called the Ovoids, who happily took him in and taught him a number of their mental feats - such as that of mental transference. Once back on Earth, he lures Mr. Fantastic into a trap and then uses this trick to switch bodies with Reed!

    I don't know what I love more - the bizarre, egg-headed aliens,
    or Doctor Doom flying through space on that rock.


  • As a result, Reed Richards is then caught in the unenviable position of being stuck looking like his archenemy, and trying in vain to convince his teammates that he's not who he appears to be. Since they only see him as Doctor Doom, they naturally believe the villain is trying to pull one over on them yet again - a notion strongly encouraged by "Reed", of course. Cleverly, this notion of being trapped in one's body is foreshadowed earlier in the comic when Doom  removes his mask in the comic book studio of Lee & Kirby (yes, really):

    Strangely, the comic studio setting doesn't detract from the
    pathos of the scene above.  It really should, but it doesn't.


  • What's most interesting, then, is thinking of the culmination of Doom's plan and what it implies. Having left Reed (in Doom's body) to perish back at his castle, and set into motion a scheme to shrink the other three members of the FF down into nothingness, Doom would then be left with his own mind in Reed's body, and the world none the wiser. This is especially fascinating because it so perfectly fits the traits often seen in an archnemesis: the obsession with his enemy, often to the point of fanaticism, yet with undeniable hints of jealousy as well. Were Doom's plan to succeed, he would have not only defeated his opposite number - he would in fact have become him! Clearly, Jungians could have a field day here.

    Note how deftly Lee & Kirby remind us of the subplot of Sue's attraction to Namor,
    needing only two panels of the issue to do so.


  • Amusingly, Stan Lee shows that it's not just his brother Larry Lieber who can excel at jaw-dropping, reality-busting Goofy Silver Age Writing. For instance, Doom's plan to get Sue, Johnny and Ben under his shrink ray is to explain to them that the dinosaurs died out because their bodies kept growing while their brains stayed small; if their bodies had been more relatively matched to the size of their brains, they might have remained the dominant life on Earth. (Um. Why?) Taking this "reasoning" further, he then explains that if the team spends some time shrunk down, when he returns them to their normal size they will find their powers have increased. (Um. What?) Fortunately, we can at least dismiss this by rationalizing that Doom was telling an incredible whopper that only Reed is smart enough to see through. (Well, him and the readers.) The same can't be said of the climax, when the Torch uses his powers to cause a reflection of dynamite to appear in the room. Dynamite located some thirty-odd stories down on the street below, and through numerous walls and floors. Times like these, it's just best to politely look the other way....

    Tiny animals.  On top of everything else in this comic, we get tiny animals!
    This really is what makes these comics such a treat.