Prisoners of Doctor Doom!
This is the first appearance of a guy named Doctor Doom. Not only is his name a bit silly, but the very first thing we ever see him doing is playing with giant Fantastic Four dolls. They’re supposed to look like chess pieces, but they’re definitely dolls. Just based on those two things, I feel like there’s no way we’ll see a lot of this guy in the comics. Anyway, he thinks that for all the humans on earth, only he has the power to defeat the Fantastic Four.
We then go to Johnny Storm reading the first issue of The Incredible Hulk. Yes, the Hulk is a comic book character in this universe, meaning that either 1) he can’t exist in the universe, or 2) someone is already making money on his likeness. I don’t know the copyright laws of the 60’s, but if I was the Hulk, I would be pissed! Johnny talks some shit to Thing, and they end up fighting, because why write characters evolving? Let’s just keep doing the same panel-filling shit over and over again. Want to guess what happens next? That’s right! A big hug from Mr. Fantastic Hugger!
That’s when the lights go out, and surprisingly, Reed and Ben don’t start making out. Instead, a giant net swoops down over the building from a helicopter floating above. Johnny tries to set it on fire, but “it must be asbestos!” I hope people were investing in asbestos back then. Doctor Doom introduces himself from the helicopter, and Reed instantly recognizes the voice, but Reed “thought he was dead!” Flashback time! A man by the name of Victor Von Doom (you’re really supposed to believe someone exists with that name) was fascinated by sorcery and black magic! But he was also a brilliant scientist, interested only in forbidden experiments! Probably like testing gamma radiation effects on people’s brains. There’s then a large explosion from Victor Von Doom’s laboratory that badly disfigures his face! That explains why he wears his mask. What a crazy story. I hope that if this guy sticks around that the story never changes. Victor is expelled from the school, and the last thing Reed ever heard was that “he was prowling the wastelands of Tibet, still seeking forbidden secrets of black magic and sorcery!” Wait… if that’s the last thing he heard of, then why did he think he was dead?
Doctor Doom then demands they send Sue to be his hostage. Because everyone else has powers capable of defeating him, but there’s no way a girl that turns invisible could ever thwart his plot. Ben, of course, wants to just destroy stuff, but when he grabs the net, it shocks the shit out of him. Remember that the net was just set up to be made from asbestos. Asbestos is an insulator. It doesn’t conduct electricity. Probably some kind of black magic, I guess. Sue decides, for the good of the group, she’ll go. For some reason, everyone but Ben is scared of what could happen, although Doom just has a net around their building and has not threatened any harm to them whatsoever. At any rate, Reed gladly lets her go, most likely due to her inability to say “no” to Namor’s proposal.
Doctor Doom opens up a part of the net for her to get through, and nobody else uses that moment to jump through the hole. They just let her go and keep hanging out inside. She climbs up the net, and once Doom has her in his clutches, he orders the guys to do the same, but they gotta promise not to attack him. Everyone agrees to be civil with the super villain and then boards, and they go back to Doom’s house, which is a super cool castle. Then Doom is sitting on his throne next to a tiger and Sue Storm. About 5 feet away is the rest of the Fantastic Four. They’re not in a net or anything. They’re just standing there. 5 feet away. For once in his life, Thing is spot on and tells them to bum rush the fucker, but Johnny reminds him that they swore not to attack him. It makes sense that they would value their word and honor over the likes of Sue Storm’s life. Plus, Doom reminds them he’s got a tiger, and tigers are fast. I’m guessing it could single-pawedly defeat the super strong Thing, elastic Mr. Fantastic, and flying Human Torch, because why else would Doom threaten them with something so fucking ridiculous?
Instead of just lighting a mother fucker on fire, they decide to hear him out. He tells them his plan: they have to travel back in time to obtain the treasure chest of the legendary Blackbeard! He’s brilliant enough to build a time machine but not to build any other machine that could possibly make him any money. This was the only way. Also, he can’t go, because he has to operate the machine. This was his plan. He didn’t offer to pay some bum (maybe because he was worried it would be Namor). He didn’t offer to pay just about anyone. No. He decided to go through this elaborate plan to trick the Fantastic Four into stealing the treasure for him. The brilliant scientists in the Marvel universe are astoundingly not brilliant.
Reed’s totally for the idea. Ben is skeptical, because what if Doom doesn’t bring them back. Doom says he will, and Reed vouches for his character. If there’s one constant in this relationship, it’s that they don’t lie to each other. He then sends them back in time, but they realize they’re still dressed up in their silly clothes. Neither brilliant scientist thought of this before the trip. They peer around a corner to see two guys fighting over who gets to keep the giant bag of clothes they just stole. How fortuitous! Ben appears, and they just run away. All of the clothes fit the team perfectly. Pirates are better at sizing than men’s clothing stores. Thing still looks like a nightmare come to life, but the clothes they stole from the thieves also came with a wig, fake beard, and mustache, which helps to hide his hideousness a bit, but it seems like people would still notice a giant, scaley-faced, orange person.
The guys go into a pub where some other guys buy them drinks. One drink a piece puts them out. That’s how much of a lightweight they all are. One drink. Passed out. The rapists then carry the dudes to their ship. They don’t have any problems carrying Thing. Pirates are probably very strong. Then the guys wake up in the “musty hold of a pirate ship” where Ben breaks through the ceiling and begins beating the bejeezus out of the pirates. They actually aren’t that strong at all. Reed punches one guy, and Johnny melts a sword. The pirates realize they’re outclassed and consider the Fantastic Guys as their new masters, but then the ship gets attacked! Reed looks through a telescope and says “She’s loaded with treasure! It could be Blackbeard!” The pirate ship just keeps its treasure out for all to see.
Johnny, the guy whose power is the largest weakness for a giant, wooden ship, flies over to the enemy pirate ship and does exactly what you would expect! He flies around one person and then dives into the water in order to create steam! Those pirates’ pores are going to be feeling great, but not their hair! Reed uses that moment to create a bridge from his ship to their ship, where his crew runs across him to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Sure would be nice to have a guy whose body can turn into fire. The “good” pirates win, and they proclaim Ben Grimm their new leader, and they call him Blackbeard. That’s right! The Thing is actually Blackbeard! What a twist! And here I thought Blackbeard was Edward Teach, but apparently he was Ben Grimm all along. Really, it all makes sense when you consider some of the horrible things Blackbeard did, it’s right in line with Ben’s murderous personality: he likes destroying things; he likes hurting people; he likes treasure…. this is all coming together…
The guys divvy up the treasure amongst the crew then fill the chest with chains, because Doctor Doom only requested Blackbeard’s chest, not the treasure. That’s so clever. Not as clever as just rescuing your female member when you had the opportunity, but still pretty clever. Ben says he wants to stay, because, again, he gets to murder and destroy with reckless abandon, but the guys want to go back home, so he tells his new crew to tie them up. Luckily, Johnny is still soaked in water, so he can’t do anything, and they wrap Reed up in a sail. The guy fit his whole body through a rivet hole, but wrapping him up in a sail will keep his hugging at bay. Ben says to put them in a life boat and then leave them behind, so that Ben and his crew can get lost in the fog that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near them. Unfortunately a fucking tornado just appears out of nowhere and wrecks the ship.
All three guys end up on a beach together with the treasure chest. Everyone else is dead, I think. Pretty fortuitous happenings. Doctor Doom hits his button to bring the guys back, and when they show up, he explains to them that the treasure contains Merlin’s baubles that make their owner invincible! Normally a super villain shouldn’t disclose this information with his would-be enemies, but they’ve set up a circle of trust, so it’s only fair that he share with them. Johnny points out that those baubles ended up at the bottom of the sea and could be found by Namor at some point, but Reed doesn’t give a shit.
That’s when Doctor Doom opens the chest and finds worthless chains! The loss of Merlin’s baubles is nothing compared to the loss of trust he had with his nemesis, so he becomes very enraged! But before he can do anything, Ben decides to punch him to death. He hits him, and the body explodes! It was “nothin’ but a robot!” Doom drops a disco ball from the ceiling with his face on it and again explains his plan, telling them he’s going to remove all the oxygen from their room and explains exactly where he’s located. He then taunts Human Torch, because he can’t flame on, because there’s no oxygen. So he must have just instantly removed a large portion of oxygen from the room. Probably left some farts in there.
Now it’s time for Sue to show why she’s truly the greatest member of the team. She turns invisible and then hits a button on his machine, but it was around a corner where he wouldn’t have been able to see her anyway, but just in case…. After hitting the button, the machine blows up, because the brilliant scientist put a button on his machine that could blow it up. To think, Doom chose her, thinking she didn’t have the power to defeat him, yet she actually retained the power to push a button this whole time! Sue escapes and finds the guys in time to know exactly where the button is to open the door, although it was hidden in the wall. Her button-pushing skills are on point! She then goes inside the room and lets Reed untie her. I probably would have opted to stay outside the room, but her decision doesn’t backfire. Reed stretches outside the window… Yes, the brilliant scientist, Doctor Doom, put them in a room with a window and was able to take the air out of it, and nobody thought to stick their head out the window. So yeah, Reed stretches outside the window and pulls on a bar while Ben punches it, and a giant hole opens up, and I don’t know why they didn’t do this when they were worried about air. This whole thing is honestly very confusing.
They get out of the building, but then they have to cross a moat. If only there was someone on their team they could use as a bridge. Since there isn’t, Johnny decides to use his brain and gives his flame “the intensity of atomic heat,” which allows him to “boil a section of the water away and fuse the ground, turning it into a glass-like substance.” I don’t know what any of that means, but he makes an ice bridge with fire or something. Then he flies around the castle to smoke out Doom, but he just puts on a jet pack and flies away. Johnny can’t keep up with him, because he’s fucking stupid and just wasted all of his energy making an unnecessary ice bridge. He plummets from the sky but catches a tree branch that miraculously doesn’t break and saves his life. Reed tells him “That was a great try!” like he’s a 3-year-old that just did an okay job of wiping his ass after a huge shit. Thing says, “Bah! They don’t pay off for also-rans!” I have no idea what that means.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with Reed caressing Thing’s breast: