Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. To defeat someone as dark as rotten as Dr. Doom, must you become as dark and rotten as he is? That’s the dilemma facing Reed Richards in issue #507.
After the big battle between Reed and Dr. Doom in issue #500, Doom was sent to Hell and Reed’s face was irreparably scarred. Reed then took over Latveria in hopes of dismantling everything Doom had once built. Both neighboring nations and U.S. troops led by Nick Fury threatened to march on Latveria to stop Reed. For the final phase of Reed’s plan, he drove his family away with some awful behavior and left what looked like a suicide note behind. We begin this issue with a tense standoff, where Sue turns her and her teammates invisible in front of Nick Fury and the U.S. troops. Meanwhile, Reed stands alone in Doom’s lab, flashing back to happier times with the family. He presses a button, activating a machine that makes him disappear. Then a self-destruct countdown starts.
Cut to Hell (yes, the Hell) where Dr. Doom is held prisoner by two demons trying to get a reaction out of him. He fades away from Hell and enter a domed room with images of his past all around him. Reed is there, and he tells Doom, “You only thought you were in Hell.” Reed explains that they are in a “Mobius dimension” of Reed’s invention. Any door Doom exits leads him back to the center of the room. There is no exit for either of them. Reed says he’s trapped Doom to keep him where Reed can see him.
Nick Fury leads the troops through the Latverian streets, insisting that the castle is their target, and they must hit it with everything they got. In the Mobius room, Reed and Doom argue for a bit. Doom tries the trick where he takes over Reed’s mind, but it would not get him anywhere. Doom says there must be a way out, because Reed would not abandon his family. Reed says leaving his family behind is why he has done this. Reed says the room is Doom’s jail, and Reed is his jailer – for the rest of eternity. Reed says Doom has succeeded in separating Reed from everyone he loves, leaving him only with hate.
Reed and Doom banter some more, referencing Doom’s origin, and how Reed tried to warn him about the experiment that mangled Doom’s face. Doom then turns on Reed, saying that he’s the real jailer, and this room is punishment for Reed’s sins. Reed says it doesn’t matter either way, because there is no way out for either of them. Then, as if on cue, Sue, Ben, and Johnny come smashing through the wall. Reed tells them to get out before Doom escapes.
In Latveria, we’re reunited with Nadja, the female Latverian soldier from the start of this arc. She’s a civilian now, following Reed’s orders that the army stand down to avoid bloodshed. She jumps out in front of Fury and the U.S. troops. Fury tells her he has no choice but to invade because Reed violated international law. She calls him a hypocrite. She says Doom’s crimes over the years were far worse, but the U.N. always granted him diplomatic immunity. Other Latverians march into the street voicing similar sentiments, hoping that Reed will fight Doom if Doom returns.
The U.N. troops march on anyway, breaching the castle and finding all four of the FF unconscious in Doom’s not-destroyed lab. The FF wake up, and the troops say they’re under arrest. Then Sue cuts loose with a force field, murdering three of the soldiers. Turns out this isn’t Sue, Doom did the switch-consciousness trick on her. Doom-in-Sue’s-body says, “I always said Susan was more powerful than the three of you put together…”
To be continued!
Unstable molecule: Reed has programmed/designed the Mobius room to show images from Dr. Doom’s past all over the walls. I’m assuming this is part of Reed’s talk about showing Doom his “sins.”
Fade out: If the Mobius dimension is impenetrable, complete with a self-destruct, how did Sue, Ben, and Johnny get inside it so quickly? Sue says, “We saw you vanish!” and “Thank heaven we figured out how to follow you.” This suggests an accelerated timeline for the comic, that Sue and company arrived from their meeting with Nick just before the self-destruct went off.
Clobberin’ time: Ben tries to reason with Fury by calling him “Nick,” hinting at their shared past as soldiers. Fury is all business, addressing Ben as “Mister Grimm.”
Flame on: Johnny does very little this issue other than provide backup to Sue and Ben. When the military goons announce the FF is under arrest for international terrorism, Johnny quips, “For a second, I thought we were in trouble.”
Trivia time: Reminder that Dr. Doom learned his mind-swapping/body-swapping trick from the alien Ovoids, way back in issue #10, and he used the power again to escape death at the hands of Terrax the Tamer in issue #260.
The Marvel Wiki insists that the demons tormenting Dr. Doom are the Hazareth Three, the same ones he dealt with to get his jacked-up sorcery powers at the start of this storyline. This would appear to be their final appearance. The Hazarath Three also name-drop Mephisto, so add this issue to the debates about whether Mephisto is the actual devil, or a devil-like cosmic being.
Fantastic or frightful? This is some truly dark stuff, with Reed creating a nightmare situation to put himself in. Part of me wonders why they don’t stay in the Mobius room longer and really lean into the drama of it all, but then maybe it’s better to only get a hint of it and leave the rest to our imaginations.
Next: One last Thing.
* * * *
Want more? Check out my new book, MOM, I’M BULLETPROOF, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app. It’s a comedic/dramatic/romantic superhero epic!