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Fantastic Four #67 By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics Ė Mark Waid (w); Mark Wieringo (p); Karl Kesel (i)
I was simultaneously impressed and irritated by this book.
Impressed because itís really rather good and it does something that Iíd like to see more of in the comic book industry (but more on that in a bit).
Irritated because going to Newsarama on a regular basis essentially ruined the surprise of this book.
OK, so a little plot summary and then on to further explanations of what I did and did not like.
Victor von Doom, archnemesis of Reed Richards and his family, travels to Cassamonte, Georgia (a town notable solely for being a tourist trap; specifically, a haven for charlatans and con artists posing as psychics and shamans) in search of information. Specifically, his journey centers on ascertaining the location of a woman named Valeria, a fellow gypsy with whom he was in love during his youth in their Balkan homeland. In addition to serving as a chance for Waid to cement, to his readers, the kind of persona that Doom will embody under his (Waidís) pen, the issue also clarifies (and, for all I know, introduces) some elements of the legendary dictatorís past and origin. Doom, for once not clad in his armor (merely an iron facemask), merely walks down the street in Cassamonte for the entire issue, visiting a variety of homebrew seers, continually searching for Valeria and nothing else.
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Now, what I do like about this is that is essentially re-establishes that Doctor Doom is a villain. If thereís one in comics that I canít stand, itís the tendency to attempt to turn popular villains into heroes (and, not to unfairly single anyone out, but it must be said that Marvel is the worst offender of this). In recent issues of Fantastic Four, Doomís former role as an unrelenting oppressor of his people and rival of Reed Richards slipped to the point where he delivered Sue Richards child (apparently he went to the same evil medical school that Dr. Evil attended). This, of course, is not even taking into account the fact that J. Michael Straczynski has him crying in the ruins of the World Trade Center. Itís just not right, man.
What irritates me though is that a recent Newsarama interview and subsequent talkback posts essentially ruined half of this issueís big surprise. Itís not a criticism of Newsarama or Waid. I respect the work that both of them do. Iím irritated at myself though that I read a moderate amount of message board posts in response to the story, where a general consensus determined (accurately, I might add) that a return to his mystical roots was forthcoming from Doom.
Anyway, what I want you to take away from this review is that Marvel spent a fair amount of time hyping this story arc and it really lives up to it. Waid promised an old facet of Doomís personality would be revived, that we would see him return to his roots as a ruthless, hard-hearted man; heís delivered on those promises (the latter of which is fulfilled in the storyís twist ending). Itís definitely worth the read.