73. The Flames of Battle

Fantastic Four Issue Seventy-Three 73

Issue Seventy-Three

We join an adventure already in progress as we hit the very first cross-over story in a Fantastic Four comic.  This issue is the last of a five-part story that started in Daredevil issue thirty-five which were also written by Stan Lee, but illustrated by Gene Colan. Even though the plots are a little ropey, I highly recommend that you hunt them out since Colan’s artwork alone is worth relishing. A brief synopsis of the story in those issues follows.

DAREDEVIL ISSUES 35-38

The first two issues detail a fight between Daredevil and Paste Pot Pete. In issue thirty-five Pete manages to gain the upper hand by planting a couple of the Thinker’s levitation discs on DD. Pressing his advantage, PPP decides to dress up as the incapacitated hero and trick Sue Storm into letting him into the Baxter Building in order to plant a bomb in one of the desks.

Issue thirty-six shows Daredevil, now free of the anti-grav discs, tracks Paste Pot Pete’s trail and finds Sue Storm glued to her own floor. Freeing her, DD tosses the bomb out of the window where it explodes. Pausing to wipe himself off and explain his actions to a concerned Reed Richards, DD is off again and tangles with Pete, only to fall afoul of Doctor Doom.

Issue thirty-seven is a rollicking fight between Doom and Daredevil and ends with Doom tricking Daredevil into his mind-transfer machine. The purpose for this, we are told by Doom, is so that he can have a body powerful enough to defeat Reed Richards. This only makes the smallest amount of sense. For a start, Daredevil isn’t that powerful — he and Doom are pretty equally matched, in fact. Doom mat not know that, and a lot of play in early Daredevil is how much of an unknown quantity he is to his enemies. However, he is certainly no Silver Surfer, who Doom last stole the powers of.  Secondly, Doom places no safeguards on Daredevil. There is nothing to stop him from using Doom’s identity and resources against himself.

Which is exactly what happens in issue thirty-eight. Daredevil first co-opts Doom’s henchmen and send him after the man who is walking (walking, mind) around in Daredevil’s body. When Doom manages to prove to them that he has switched bodies (surely telling them beforehand would have been expedient). Then Daredevil, in Doom’s body still, publicly declares war on all the countries around Latveria, inciting a frantic Doom to return and stop Daredevil before his homeland is destroyed. (That’s a pretty good moment.) DD is waiting for him, naturally, and after another quick trip to the mind-transferrence device Daredevil skips out and heads off to tell the FF that everything is back to normal. Doom however, not missing a trick, calls ahead and using a voice modulator to imitate Daredevil’s voice tells them that he is coming to destroy them. And that’s where we pick up the story in Fantastic Four 73…

Which is interesting because basically the conflict has finished. Doctor Doom doesn’t actually show up in this issue and once everyone realizes that they’ve been tricked into fighting each other, there’s nothing more to do or say. There is a brief discussion about exacting reprisals on Doom, but as the sovereign head of a nation, Reed figures it would be a bad idea to attack him.Fantastic Four Issue seventy-three 73zaskThat said, this issue is quite fun because it really anchors the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Universe, and it’s fun seeing these superheroes bumping into each other, checking up to see how the others are doing, trying to keep in touch and follow up on the conflicts that they’ve been participants of. It gives the Marvel milieu a real sense of cohesion. Also, it’s fun seeing Kirby draw these guys together, especially Daredevil and Spider-man whose titles he was not the regular artist on.Fantastic Four Issue seventy-three 73And Sue’s back! It’s a little unclear where she’s been exactly. We last saw her halfway across the country in the last issue, but in the Daredevil issues she was hanging around the Baxter Building while everything was going down. It also comes as something of a relief when Sue finally does show up and goes around stopping everyone from fighting. It’s been a time since she was the person to resolve the main conflict of the story.

EVALUATION: 8/10

Fantastic Four Issue seventy-three 73 Thing Ben Grimm Thor

Kirby is indulging himself more with full-page ("splash page") shots and this is one of the most exciting. He most often uses it to introduce a villain, but here it heightens the conflict.

 

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