86. The Victims

Fantastic Four Issue Eighty-Six 86

Issue Eighty-Six, June 1969

“Get off the streets! Take shelter! Hide! Hide!! The robot army of Doctor Doom is on the march!”

The third installment in this storyline. The Fantastic Four battle Doctor Doom’s army of ‘multi-purpose’ destroyer robots. Rallying the citizens of Latveria and finding a hidden control box, the FF are able to exploit the robots’ weakness to defeat them. Doom sets plans into action to destroy the village, it’s citizenry, and the FF but Sue Richards arrives in time to shield everyone from the explosion.

This is another less than satisfying issue. In its favour, there is a good amount of action, which remedies the last issue’s ills. However, what remains outside of that is mind-numbingly facile. Doom announces several times (to no one in particular, it seems) that the killer robots have got a secret achilles heel which only he knows about, and which he wishes the FF will not find and exploit. After the third time he says this, is there really any doubt about how the story will resolve?

More inexplicable than this, however, is Reed finding a hidden control box hidden in the roof of a bell tower. (“Its operation is simplicity itself!” he exclaims.) This Deus In Machinaallows him to open up neutralization chambers in the street, fire stasis bolts from the ground, and even launch the robots into the air. Oddly, however, this isn’t the achilles heel that Doom has been harping on about. Their actual achilles heel is water, which they are too heavy to swim out of. But why they can’t walk or otherwise climb out of it is not commented on.

Fantastic Four Issue Eighty-Six 86

How convenient

Only two things take this issue out of the doldrums, and that is Kirby’s excellent artistic realization of Latveria/the Prisoner village, and the arrival of Sue (a dea ex machina this time). Just as Doom detonates enormous barrels of nitoglycerine (helpfully imaged as two giant sticks of dynamite under the scale model of the town), Sue manages to erect a powerful forcefield to save its inhabitants. It’s a great re-entrance, and this is the most powerful that we’ve seen Sue use her abilities to date.


Fantastic Four Issue Eighty-Six 86

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