85. Within This Tortured Land

Fantastic Four Issue Eighty-Five 85

Issue Eighty-Five , April 1969

“I told you Doom would never let us leave– alive! Sit tight! Don’t make a move! We’ve got to play it his way — for now!”

Doom pontificates on his genius and tests his marvelously unbeatable robot army while posing for portraits, etc. Meanwhile the Fantastic Four get brainwashed by a restaurantier and Sue goes house shopping.

After such an intriguing set-up in the last issue, this one is rather disappointing. Plot takes a back seat to character in this issue. The storyline with the Fantastic Four’s imprisonment only advances slightly as we find out how they are being robbed of their powers. Doom, master of science and magic, utilizes the all-popular hypnotism plot device, here delivered in audiotape form while the FF sleep as opposed, say, to Mad Maximus’s gigantic cannon format.

What proves ultimately frustrating is that although 10 out of the issue’s 21 pages are dedicated to Doom, almost nothing significant is revealed about his character. He just marches around, barking orders at people and insulting them. It’s nothing that couldn’t have been conveyed adequately in a quarter of the space. The unanswered question that is foremost in the reader’s mind is why Doom has not killed the FF outright. No reason is given for why he merely hypnotizes them, just as no reason is given for why he feels the need to destroy an entire village to test his squadron of implausibly invincible super robots. There are other niggles. The Doombots, for instance, do not act like robots and they are not treated as such by the other characters in the issue — they take an uncharacteristic amount of initiative and Doom even addresses them as fools at one point.

Fantastic Four Issue Eighty-Five 85The only pleasant break in the issue comes from a scene showing Sue Richards, mobile and stylish (when was the last time we saw that?) shopping for houses. This is obviously the start of the thread to the next storyline, and it’s a moody and enticing one.

Overall, it’s an issue that treads water.


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