Thursday, July 14, 2011
International Comic Con Week Presents: Master Plan of Doctor Doom!
There's always a sub-plot cooking in these classic Fantastic Four stories made by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In #23, from cover date Feb., 1964, opens with a squabble evoked by a five foot tall reptile bopping in from prehistoric times, courtesy of the time machine they've confiscated from Dr. Doom. The argument surrounding the runaway dinosaur (who's quickly dispatched again to his time) brings up the question of why it is that Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, is the leader of the team and not The Thing (Ben Grimm), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) or the Invisible Girl (Sue Storm).
Well, in a group where one member's code name contains the honorific "Mister" (he's really a Ph.D , you know, if Dr. Fantastic isn't too egomaniacal for you!) and the lady in question goes by "Girl", it's probably not going to be equality of the sexes---that's things fifty years ago for ya! "The Thing" doesn't sound like your likely group leader, either (though Steve Englehart tried just that almost three hundred issues later)!
Still, when the trio without Reed put it to a vote, each has voted for his or her self! At least Sue made the point "it's time we tried a woman around here!" but there's not really a serious discussion that makes you think the status quo will change. If anything, Reed does have the maturity to apologize to Sue for lumping her in with his frustration towards "you primadonnas" though in a later era she would've stood up for better treatment herself.
Basically, while this fued's been brewing, Reed's been watching for signs of Doom's peculiar technology; it's his dedication as well as his ideas that have driving the Fantastic Four.
The point about dedication is particularly the one that makes him the leader: he's the one who's obsessed with improving their technology for emergencies and exploration, the one who puts the thought into what their arch enemy might be doing at the time. The implication that he is the most serious one and the most logical thinker. Even still, there's more to leadership, yet---the ability to delegate, the ability to communicate, the ability to foresee consequences. Still, as you'll find in these pages, nobody can do it alone---even Reed's humbled by Doom here.
At this point Reed and Ben are portrayed as fifteen or so years older than Sue and her teenage brother, so while that's a factor, of those two Reed's the one portrayed with the temperament: the writer's chosen mouth piece for a majority of the ideas and precautions. The whole point at the time was to move adventures along, preferably with character reflecting an array of reactions and motivations with which readers could identify.
Meanwhile, Doctor Doom's busy recruiting three criminals with peculiar talents, to manuever the four, the counter to Sue, Ben and Johnny's powers in particular. Do you want to know or am I wise not to spoiler these until you've read them yourself? The psychology of the team is on Von Doom's mind, too. This time, rather than producing very powerful super criminals to match the Four's strength, he enhances his minions just enough for his purposes, and uses his grasp of the team to do the rest. Handsome Harry can hear Sue when she walks; Bull has a bit of superhuman strength; Yogi Dakor is fireproof.
I will say this: the special ionic dust that's used, when activated by a passing "solar wave," to begin transferring matter in our dimension into some frightening other, is part of a FF trap I'll never forget! I first read these as plots in the old Marvel Indexes, and later, as a story in the black and white Fantastic Four Essentials collections. It's nice to wrap my imagination around the timeless energy of these stories---it's the sheer inspiration one should take along!
Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason (and Aimee!) have done. In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at
Cecil L. Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25.
Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $5.00 for shipping & handling.
You can do the same over PayPal, at firstname.lastname@example.org !!!
AND!! You can use the button provided; the $15 will cover your postage.