Hey, look at that! Another week and another Origin Stories. HAZAH! Another trip into the Silver Age! Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite stories and how we translated it to Vs. The story in question takes place in the first volume of the Fantastic Four, issues 57-60, during the height of the Lee/Kirby run.
READ ME FIRST: The thing you have to remember about comics from the 60’s and especially about comics written in the “Marvel way”, is that they didn’t have story arcs in the way we recognize them today. No part 1 (of 4)’s and stuff like that. The comics ran with one continuous storyline that could go on for years, perhaps decades (okay, maybe not decades). One of the ways they got away with this was by seeding multiple subplots throughout each issue… kind of like the way soap operas are written… not that I would know. Anyway, within the four issues I’ll be reviewing, there are multiple subplots starring such notable heroes and villains as Wyatt Wingfoot, Black Panther, Sandman, The Inhumans, and of course the Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom. Sometimes the different plots intersect. So, if all of a sudden the Inhumans show up in the Doom story, don’t be confused. I’m only showing you part of the story, the part that’s relevant to the Vs. cards that were inspired by this chunk of issues, so bear with me. If you’d like to read the issues without commercial interruptions, then you can find them reprinted in Masterwork or Essential collection form. Alright, on with the show.
PREMISE: Dr. Doom lures the Silver Surfer to his court with the cheesiest of royal invitations. Those panels will also serve as exhibit A in proving a case for the Surfer’s extreme gullibility. Doom greets the Surfer as a “humble servant of my people”. Some of you may recognize that line as it has appeared as Vs. flavor text. Okay, here’s where things turn sour. Like, if a dude invites you to his castle and then starts talking about how power has ever been his god, warning bells should be going off in your head. Seriously, how naïve is the Surfer? Now, I know back in the day, his origins had yet to be fully fleshed out, but this guy is still a full grown man on the planet he’s from, he can’t be this dumb! He just can’t! No one who could understand t he sacrifice it would take to turn an immoral being such as Galactus away from his home planet could be this naïve. Anyway, Lee addresses this later in a little caption box seen here, so I’ll leave off for now.
Next, Doom convinces Surfer to show off a little of that Cosmic Power. Oh Surfer, how wonderfully the good Doctor has played you. With a weapon like that, he could destroy the entire universe! Quick, get it away from him!
“Give it to daddy, son.”- Silver Surfer
In this wonderful full page spread, Jack Kirby just shows the heck off. You go, Jack! Yeah, you figured correctly, Silver dude. Doom is a ruthless, conniving basticth. Don’t trust him. Hey, we know this guy, right? Yeah, we’ll get back to him. Heh, funny. I know this was written in the 60’s, but Doom’s dialogue sounds like it was lifted right out of one of our President’s speeches on “glowbull terrah”. OOP, let’s not get political…
“Ah, to be on the London stage again…” – Dr. Doom
The Doom figure in the second panel is my favorite of this entire issue. He just looks so ridiculous. You kind of almost believe him. Especially the part about the peasants dancing in the streets. But then—
“Not the ultimate punishment!”- Lowly Peasant
I’d really like to know what the “ultimate punishment” is exactly, but unfortunately, we never get to find out. At least not with the Silver Surfer watching. Of course, Doom recovers nicely.
“You had me at hello.” – Silver Surfer
Losing Patience, Doom puts his foul plan into motion. While distracting Surfer with the tranquil images of space, he orders his scientists and robot lackeys to help him get dressed… and then gives it to him from behind. Yeah. He steals his powers.
“I can’t believe you fell for the oldest trick in the book!” – Dr. Doom (or, Dark Helmet)
And what does Doom do with unlimited POOOOOOWWWWEEEEEER?
“WEEEEEEEE!!!” – Dr. Doom
Oh, and scare the locals. And tear up their property. Man, Dr. Doom is a bigger dick than Superman.
Well, it’s one issue later and Doom is still a douchebag.
“I got you so bad!” – Dr. Doom
These next couple of scans are ridiculous. Doom repeatedly visits the Surfer just to taunt him. Jeez, man. Isn’t there a world out there you need to conquer or something?
Finally, he decides it’s high time to enact his ultimate master plan. The name of said plan?
Now, let us turn our attention to Doom’s thrilling battles with the Fantastic Four!
How to take down the Fantastic Four in 4-Easy-Steps:
Predictably, after the defeat of the greatest super team in history, Dr. Doom can’t help but gloat.
STATION BREAK: Enjoy this word from out sponsor… (…I have no idea.)
OUT-OF-CONTEXT: Surf’s up!
Reason #1 why the Silver Surfer is very, very lame.
Reason #2 why the Silver Surfer is very, very lame.
WHAT-THE-RANDOM: Who was asking about the Watcher?
I love the Silver Age. So many “meanwhile, back at the ranch…” moments. This is just an example of one of the many outdated devices used back then. Because the Marvel Universe was touted as a “shared universe”, Stan Lee needed to explain why every time someone like Dr. Doom was about to take over the world, the rest of the heroes of the Marvel Universe didn’t show up in each other’s books and kick his steel-played ass. This time, for some odd reason, he felt it was necessary to explain why the Watcher hadn’t shown up to help the Fantastic Four. Understandable, I guess, since he was introduced in this very comic less than a year earlier. But the reason Lee gives is utterly riddick. Birth of a new species? Get outta here!
Ok, so how does this travesty conclude? Well, Step 1, get Reed Richards to build an Anti-Cosmic Flying Wing. Step 2, program it to annoy Dr. Doom. Finally… oh, who cares? Click here for the wordy explanation.
Wow, that was a long and painful journey, huh? Where did we end up… oh, it’s time to fill more white space with art descriptions!
Dr. Doom, Latverian Monarch
Setting: High above Castle Doom, Latveria
Action: This piece depicts the story wherein Dr. Doom robs the Silver Surfer of his Power Cosmic. There’s a hole in the roof, and through it we can see Doom’s laboratory, a Dr. Frankenstein style workspace. Dr. Doom hovers above the Castle, having just burst through the roof of his lab. His back arched and head tilted toward the sky. Green energy explodes from his gauntlets, producing energy trails and highlighting his armor. We get the feeling that he’s laughing maniacally beneath his steel mask.
Focus: Dr. Doom
Keywords: Frenzied, Ultimate Power
Another less well known “character” was also snatched out of this story and later debuted in the Marvel Legends expansion. That’s right, we saw him earlier. Here’s his art description:
Setting: Latverian Village – DAY
Action: The Pacifier robot stomps through a Latverian Village, firing randomly with his hi-tech head and arm-mounted guns.
Focus: The Pacifier Robot
Keywords: explosions, chaos, hulking armor
This is the part where I tell you about the prototype designs for 8-drop Doom and the Pacifier Robot. Well, not today! Surprisingly, both characters managed to hold onto their initial designs all the way through development. Huh, it just happens sometimes. What can I say? Or, I’m lying. Damn, dude. Scanning and cropping all that art is serious work. I’m tired.
So, like last time, I want to toss out some extra Vs. System art. This time, instead of artist related, I’m going to give you character related and obviously, that character is Dr. Doom. Enjoy.
Whew! That was a doozy of trip to the 60’s. Come back next week and perhaps we’ll talk about the newly released Marvel Universe. As always, feel free to hit me up with all your Vs. System related questions and comments. Speaking of… this Friday marks the end of my weekly preview wrap-up articles over on VsSystem.com. Make sure you check out the final episode as its chock full of answers to all the questions you’ve been asking for the past couple of weeks on VsRealms and TCGplayer.com.
SEE YA’ IN SEVEN!