Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #58 is titled “The Dismal Dregs of Defeat.” How come no one uses the word “dregs” anymore? Anyway, our heroes are in big trouble this time around, as they confront Dr. Doom, who has just stolen the Silver Surfer’s cosmic powers.
The issue begins with the Baxter Building in the midst of a freak rainstorm. Our heroes think they see a familiar image in the storm, but then it dissipates, leaving them to wonder what happened. The storm was of course caused by Dr. Doom, who did it just to mess with our heroes, and keep them off balance. Back at Doom’s castle, he speechifies about all he’ll do with his new powers, taking out the FF first and then… the world! Also, we see the Silver Surfer is still at the castle, in a comatose state.
Back at headquarters, there’s some comedy where Ben is reading a book of ghost stories, and is scared when Reed walks up behind him. He argues that he wasn’t really scared, but when alone he admits he’s got a premonition of something bad about to happen.
On cue, Doom shows up, flying around outside on the Surfer’s silver surfboard. He blasts Ben out of the building, and into a nearby electric billboard. Although outmatched, Ben fights back, separating Doom from the board and pummeling him. Doom isn’t helpless without the board, though. He zaps Ben with “vibration rays,” rendering Ben completely motionless, like a statue. Doom leaves Ben in Central Park, where passersby think he’s an abstract work of art.
We cut to a page of Johnny and his pal Wyatt, who are still traveling around the world (and beyond) with the Inhumans’ giant teleporting dog Lockjaw, looking for some way to free the Inhumans from their imprisoned city. Lockjaw has teleported them back to New York, and Wyatt believes the big dog senses danger there.
Here we cut to a private cottage in Southampton, where Sue and Reed are staying for some reason. Sue once once again chides Reed for tinkering with his inventions instead of spending time with her. She says, “Don’t you remember? We were going to stay home tonight and have a weenie roast.” (Let’s all go ahead and assume this is a euphemism for something exhaustingly naughty.)
Doom attacks, using his powers to wrap Reed up in adhesive cables, and then he traps Sue in a “cosmic cone.” Reed escapes and puts up a good fight, but Doom can use his cosmic powers to summon all kinds of weapons from the matter around him, which he uses to beat down Reed.
Johnny finds Ben, and has Wyatt run to the Baxter Building in search of a “metabolism accelerator” that can heal Ben. Johnny then miraculously deduces that Reed and Sue are in Southampton, so he flies there. Once there, it’s time for Johnny to fight Doom, and it’s the same type of fight, where Johnny gets in a few good hits, but is still unmatched by Doom’s new powers. Johnny’s flames go out of control, causing the cabin to explode. Reed and Sue get out just in time.
Back at the park, Wyatt locates Ben and uses the metabolism device to free him. They take the jet cycle to rendezvous with the rest of the FF just as Doom and Johnny continue to fight. Wyatt has brought with him Reed’s anti-grav disrupter. Reed warns Wyatt not to use the it because it’s too dangerous, but Wyatt pulls the trigger anyway, creating a massive sinkhole where Doom once stood. Doom rises from it, though, unharmed.
The FF back down, knowing that no amount of brute force will be able to stop Doom. Doom then gives a killer speech about how instead of killing the FF, he’ll let them live, because it’s an even greater punishment for them to live the rest of their lives knowing he could snuff them out at any time, whenever he feels like it. “You are not even important enough for me to destroy,” he says. Doom flies off, and Reed swears he’ll find some way of stopping him.
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: There are a lot of Reed’s inventions mentioned in this one. In addition to the ones mentioned above, we also get the “heat induction unit” and the “conduction-inverter.” I have no idea what that last one does.
Fade out: Sue is sadly demoted to “doting wife” status in this one, not using her powers once. Then there’s the whole “weenie roast” thing.
Clobberin’ time: At one point, Sue suggests than Ben call Alicia for a night on the town, and he responds, “Yeah! I’m gonna do just that!” Is that sarcasm or not? Are they still a couple, or are they broken up after their little spat in issue #55? This issue doesn’t really tell us.
Flame on: When fighting Doom, Johnny threatens to use his super-nova flame, but doesn’t for fear that it will destroy the entire state (!).
Trivia time: Doom’s first step is to take out Ben, this was hinted at a few issues ago, when Doom revealed that he was still angry about Ben mangling Doom’s hands the last time they fought.
Fantastic or frightful? This is another “all they do is fight” issue, but that’s OK, because it’s awesome Kirby action. It’s also exciting in that although our heroes are way outclassed, they still find ways to fight back.
Next week: Breaking free.
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