Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Dr. Doom has escaped from Hell, and in issue #508 he’s possessing our heroes’ minds. Only in comics, I guess.
Recap: 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 trapped Doom and himself in a Mobius room – a pocket dimension where Reed could keep an eye on Doom and keep him out of trouble, for all eternity. When Reed’s teammates learned of this, they attempted a rescue, only for Doom to use his rarely-seen possession/mind-swapping powers to put his mind in Sue’s body. Got all that?
This issue begins with a big fight, as Doom-in-Sue’s-body attacks everyone with invisible force fields, arguing the whole time about how Sue’s teammates always took her great power for granted. Doom-in-Sue’s-body manages to outfight Ben and Johnny in such a way that the two destroy the portal machine leading to the Mobius room. Doom-in-Sue’s-body escapes, and the UN troops open fire on the FF, thinking they’re working with Doom. Nick Fury steps in at the last minute and saves the FF, saying he knows there’s no way that’s really Sue.
Doom-in-Sue’s-body escapes from the castle and out into the Latverian streets. He sees Latverians happy to see him, but then realizes they’re happy to see Sue. As Doom-in-Sue’s-body realizes that the FF took over Latveria in his absence, Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Nick catch up to him. More fighting, as Ben and Johnny use their powers to put pressure on the force fields, causing feedback to overwhelm Doom-in-Sue’s-body. Just when it seems Doom is defeated, he then transfers in mind into Johnny’s body. Doom-in-Johnny’s-body flies off, while Reed and Fury have a quick talk. Reed insists that non-lethal ordinance be used against Johnny, adding that without Doom’s body, there’s nowhere for Doom’s soul to go. Fury says that even if they find a way to stop Doom, Reed will still be responsible for causing an international incident in Latveria.
Doom-in-Johnny’s-body returns to the castle, only to find all his weapons, technology and fortune gone. Reed and the others catch up to him again, with Reed saying “You have nothing now!” They fight some more, destroying a painting of Doom’s mother, which Reed says is all that was left. Reed fires a weapon that opens a tiny portal to deep space, creating a vacuum in the room. “I won’t even leave you the air in the room, Victor,” Reed says. Doom-in-Johnny’s-body escapes the vacuum, flies up to Ben, and then Doom transfers his mind from Johnny to Ben. Doom-in-Ben’s-body snaps Johnny over his knee like he’s Bane with Batman. He tells Fury that Fury has to kill him in order to save Johnny. Reed tries desperately to think of another way out of this, but with Sue still weak and the vacuum gun recharging, it seems there is no other way.
For a moment, Ben’s personality reemerges, pleading with the others to kill him rather than let Johnny die and let Doom run amok with Ben’s strength. Reed is the one who fires the shot, blasting a huge hole in Ben’s chest. It looks like Ben is dead, but then he come to, barely hanging on. He says he can feel that Doom is gone and not coming back. He tells Reed, “This ain’t yer fault.” Ben says that even though he and others screwed up Reed’s plan, they won anyway. He asks Reed to give his love to the kids, and says he always thought he’d die on Yancy Street, and not someplace as distant as Latveria. His final words are, “What a revoltin’ development this is.” And then he dies.
Cut to six weeks later, where we revisit the Fantastic Four gift shop seen at the start of this story arc, only now it has an “Out of business” sign on the front doors. A news report states that Latveria just held its first democratic election in many years. Despite this, public opinion has turned against Reed and the FF because of Reed’s actions in Latveria. Sue and Reed have a chat over the phone. It appears they have separated, as Reed says he hopes she and the kids are okay, and that he hasn’t heard from Johnny. He says that he turned all his patents over to the government in exchange for dropping the charges, which is making money tight for the family. Reed then admits his biggest mistake was not letting the FF in on his agenda in Latveria, so he promises no more secrets. Then he admits he’s got a new plan – to bring Ben back from the dead.
Unstable molecule: Reed has put posters around Latveria that are a picture of his face with the words “truth, justice, mercy” below him. He says he was trying to free Latveria, but this looks pretty oppressive.
Fade out: What is this gun that can blow a hole in the Thing’s chest? It’s one of Doom’s last remaining weapons, originally designed to be able to shoot through Sue’s force fields. At the start of the issue, Doom-in-Sue’s-body disables the gun before it can get a shot, so I guess Reed does a quick repair job on it.
Clobberin’ time: At the start of the issue, Ben says it was worth it to let Dr. Doom escape the Mobius room if that meant getting his best friend Reed back. This nicely foreshadows the end of the issue.
Flame on: Although it looks like Doom-in-Ben’s-body is breaking Johnny’s back, the captions state that only Johnny’s collarbone is broken.
Trivia time: She’s not named in this issue, but the winner of Latveria’s first democratic election is Lucia Von Bardas. Her story is later told in the 2004 Secret Wars event. She was revealed to be secretly funded by the Tinkerer, and later became a villainous cyborg.
You’re probably suspecting that Dr. Doom isn’t really dead. You’d be right. He’s going to make a big comeback during the build-up to the controversial Civil War mega-crossover.
Fantastic or frightful? A wild issue, with the FF basically all fighting one another, and in increasingly brutal ways. In terms of this overall plot, this is our transition from act 2 to act 3, and I know things are going to go to some interesting places before it’s all over.
Next: Getting the band back together.
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