87. The Power and the Pride

Issue eighty-seven, June 1969

“What are a few vulnerable lives — compared to the immortal art that might be destroyed??”

The now five members of the Fantastic Four are united and find very few obstacles between them and Doctor Doom. Entering the castle, the women become separated form the men and so in two groups they fight their way towards Doom. Meanwhile, Hauptmann, Doom’s lieutenant, accosts Doom’s portrait painter who is revealed to be a SHIELD spy. Arming himself with a flamethrower, Hauptmann is about to attack the artist when, in order to save his priceless art collection kills him with a hyper-sonic piano chord. Then he allows the FF to leave and they do so.

Samuel Johnson once said of a fellow writer’s work “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.” That pretty much sums up this issue and the last three. The promising premise, although pinched from another source, has been pretty much bungled. To lead with a positive however, it is nice that the actual state (city-state?) of Latveria is getting so much exposure, and really we’ve seen more different aspects of its character than any actual person in the story.

It’s also nice to see Sue and Crystal break off and kick a little bit of Doombot butt. It would be nice to also see them engage in some way with Doom when they finally get to confront him (ahead of the boys) but instead they seem to be cowed into inaction by being intensely wigged out. Which actually does because the entire plot has collapsed by this point.

Perhaps most supervillains are manic-depressives. Doom has gone from capturing the FF to meticulously keeping them imprisoned using hypnosis, to trying to brutally murder them with robots to, now, just letting them go, apparently having lost his taste for combat after painfully killing one of his subordinates. He went from murderous monomaniac to erudite tortured autocrat in between one issue. As yet, he’s still not a full character yet — he’s a pastiche.

More unforgivable still is how the Fantastic Four react. They finally get to Doom, they witness a murder — and then just skip out when Doom opens a door. None of them are incapacitated or in need of medical aid, there’s nowhere they have to get to — they don’t even have transportation. Why just leave?!


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