Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Vol. 3 issue #28 finds us still in the “Reed pretending to be Dr. Doom” plot, just in time for Dr. Doom’s followers to start World War III. Great timing.
Following some cosmic craziness, Reed’s body is now trapped in Dr. Doom’s armor. Further, Dr. Doom has a warship and a group of superhuman generals and a fleet of troops parked just outside NYC. Reed has chosen to impersonate Doom to keep the generals pacified while looking for a way out of this situation. He married (remarried?) Sue, naming her the Baroness Von Doom. This issue begins with Reed-as-Doom launching a full-scale attack on strategic targets all over the world, fighting the world’s armies as well as the Avengers and the X-Men. In seven days’ time, he successfully conquers every nation in the planet.
Turn the page and we see that this is merely a simulation being run by the Pentagon and the Avengers. Reed-as-Doom and Doom’s generals are running a similar simulation. The general Technarx says he can anticipate and out-think any opposition they come across. Reed fears a war is inevitable, but Sue says she believes Reed can think of a way out of it. Ben is more pragmatic, saying it’s a classic standoff between Doom’s forces versus Earth’s forces. Johnny asks why Reed can’t just order the generals to stand down, and Reed says Doom promised the generals they would have a world to rule.
Elsewhere, Dorma, another of Doom’s generals, addresses Doom’s troops, saying that Sue must not survive the upcoming so that Dorma can become Doom’s bride instead. General Shak’ti criticizes Dorma for proceeding with battle plans without Doom’s orders, but Dorma argues that the battle plan has already been made. Technarx then says that without Shak’ti’s magical support, victory is less likely.
Events escalate quickly. Inside the ship, Sue, Ben and Johnny fight with some of the generals, while others are outside the ship Doom’s soldiers launch a sneak attack on Dorma’s orders. The Avengers are first to get word of the attack, and they jump into action. There’s several pages of fighting as the Avengers fight their way around the ship’s defenses. Captain America makes it up to a platform where Reed-as-Doom and Lancer are standing.
Inside the ship, Sue and Johnny combine their powers to short out Technarx, and then Johnny’s flame dehydrates Dorma (who is an Atlantean). Back outside, Reed-as-Doom breaks up the Dorma vs. Captain America fight, and then he is confronted by the Avengers. Captain America says Doom’s battleship and his troops are a clear and present danger. Reed-as-Doom offers a compromise.
Reed then has a heart-to-heart chat with Lancer, who reveals she knows he’s not the real Dr. Doom. Reed wants Lancer to return to the alternate timeline she came from, find Doom, and bring him back. Iron Man, meanwhile, also suspects that this might not be the real Dr. Doom. Reed-as-Doom reprimands the rest of the generals, turning them over to the Avengers to be put into custody.
Lancer flies Doom’s battleship into the other universe and away from Earth. The people of New York celebrate not being blown up. Reed says they shouldn’t join the celebration because, as far as the outside world knows, they’re now the bad guys. Instead, he suggests a second honeymoon for him and Sue.
Unstable molecule: Again, Reed’s reasons for pretending to be Dr. Doom remain unclear. He keeps saying it’s to avoid trouble with Doom’s generals, but here’s this issue where the generals cause havoc anyway. He’s going to continue acting the part for a few more issues.
Fade out: OK, get this. Sue and Johnny defeat Technarx by having him ignite his all-powerful nova flame inside a sphere of one of her force fields. This creates a singularity, like at the center of a black hole (!) and this is what takes out Technarx. This seems like a real world-ending superpower, and I wonder if it’ll ever come up again.
Clobberin’ time: Ben is shown walking around inside Doom’s ship wearing a bunch of sci-fi gadgets, with no explanation of what they are. One device kind of looks like a camera. Are we meant to think that Ben is the one projecting the hologram simulation?
Flame on: Johnny seems to speak on the readers’ behalf about concerns of Reed’s disguise as Doom. He says, “Reed takes on this idiot masquerade to save the world. Only now, because of the masquerade, he can’t!”
Commercial break: This is part of another “the Cap’n is missing” promotion for Cap’n Crunch. Or was that all one big promotion. Seems like that went on for years.
Trivia time: The mutant nation of Genosha is included among Doom’s strategic targets, now led by Magneto. Magneto took command of Genosha in the recent Magneto War crossover event.
Fantastic or frightful? Again, they’re packing a ton of story into one issue, trying to do a major global conflict and a huge battle between three groups of superheroes. It’s a multi-issue arc crammed into one issue.
Next: Masquerade ball.
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