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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 198

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at the classic Doctor Doom spotlight issue from John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run (#258, to be specific)..

Enjoy!

First off, an issue entirely spotlighting Doctor Doom was a great idea. It’s been done plenty of times since, but at the time it was a novel idea.

Byrne opens up with a strong splash page of Doom surveying his kingdom (which he had just recently taken control of after losing his title)…

but the REALLY cool part is the double page splash on the following two pages…

258splash

Nice enough page on its own merits, but the REALLY cool aspect of it is that it is an homage to Fantastic Four #247, when the FF had to help Doom get his title back. Check out THAT double-page splash…

247splash

Pretty nifty, huh?

Other cool things in this issue is showing Doom keeping up with events in other Marvel titles, a nice little continuity nod without going overboard…

The major plot point in the issue is a doctor trying to trick Doom into using a device that would give the user the Power Cosmic. Doom figured that it would not work on humans. This leads into a tirade about how much better Doom is than, say, Magneto.

Meanwhile, Doom thinks about the device and figures out who the device WOULD work on…

Cool, eh?

The artwork is great and the story is strong and it also sets up the next issue quite nicely (while fitting into the current narrative of Byrne’s FF run, including references to past issues).

Great stuff by Byrne.

22 Comments

Hey! I got a letter printed in that issue! (Well OK it was a blurb from a postcard I sent in buit still…) Also, poor Kristoff! If you think that was bad, kid, what’ll ya see what’s coming …

What a great issue! Byrne really did an outstanding job with Doom. He gave readers a view into the man’s psyche without getting too sentimental, that is, he made Doom interesting and compelling without making him appear even a bit sympathetic.

Although, Edo, plenty of Doom fetishists use this exact issue to argue that Doom is, in fact, a sympathetic character. They apparently skipped over the part where he nearly kills his prepubescent ward.

RIVALS?

A great pick, Brian. some comments:

Doom assaulting Kristoff: A noteworthy aspect of this scene is how it neatly parallels the scene in FANTASTIC FOUR # 85, page 7. Hauptmann (the brother of the character that we see in this issue), remarks that Doom’s ” brilliance rivals that of the Red Skull himself!” (page 7, panel 1). Doom explodes in the next panel, ramming Hauptmann against the wall. Obviously, Byrne was intrigued by this scene, and decided that it would be far more shocking if it showed Doom lashing out at a child, and not at an ex- lackey of the Red Skull’s.

Delayed payoff: Readers had to wait years before the suggested confrontation between Doom and Strange took place, but it was worth the wait. DOCTOR STRANGE AND DOCTOR DOOM: TRIUMPH AND TORMENT, by the team of Roger Stern and Mike Mignola, was a masterpiece.

Getting your money’s worth: Look at the richness of this issue: Doom putting Latveria back on course, Doom receiving news on potential foes, Doom dispensing justice in his Kingdom, Doom ouwitting Hauptmann’s scheme, Doom playing the role of surrogate father to Kristoff, Doom setting in motion his plan against the FF, etc. Nowadays,what with writing for the trade, you would be lucky to get an issue that contained even 25% of the content of this issue. Back then, an individual issue was supposed to be a complete experience in itself, not just a part of a larger whole.

Thanks for giving the spotlight to this issue, Brian. Definitely one of the best Byrne issues in the FF. Michael P, I think you are exaggerating a bit with the “Doom fetishists” pronouncement. What I like about the way that Byrne handles the character is that he does harken back to the Doom origin in FF annual #2. Doom was shown to be an extremely capable as a ruler yet still has his dark side. I wouldn’t for a minute want that part of him to go away. What Byrne does is let him keep both aspects of the character, the fascinating contradiction of someone who has the potential for both good and evil. What we don’t like is when a writer forgets that part, as Waid does to a great extent in “Unthinkable”.

BTW, I got to briefly chat with Jonathan Hickman at C2E2 and prodded him on getting Kristoff to return. If that does happen, you can perhaps blame it on me !. And another point on Kristoff. Byrne has said on his MB that he wanted to make it clear that when the Doombots grab Kristoff and subject him to the device that overwrites his memories with Doom that it was never Doom’s intention for that to happen. We know from this story in FF#258 that Doom is prepping Kristoff for some kind of role perhaps in the governance of Latveria but Doombots acted on their own in regards their actions with Kristoff. Byrne had planned a larger arc after Doom returns in FF #287- 288. According to Byrne, Doom would be horrified upon finding out what had happened to Kristoff in his absence and that the FF were keeping him locked up in Avengers mansion. This would then turn into a huge 12 issue conflict that would give Doom a renewed hatred of the FF for what happens to Kristoff. I think he probably would have been killed at some point if I remember Byrne’s summary correctly.

This is one of my favourite issues. (also thought the cover was very clever).

I loved how Byrne emphasized Doom’s competence as a leader and the importance of his citizens (granted, they were more like property than individuals, but still important) so that we could better understand how Doom was a hero in his own mind.

When I finally read the Lee/Kirby Doom/Surfer/Power Cosmic story I was very disappointed that they didn’t deal with this leader aspect (instead, upon getting the power cosmic, Doom flies around terrorizing his citizens like a rampaging monster). It was very cartoonish.

Obviously I love that Lee and Kirby created this great villain, but I didn’t really enjoy him until Byrne fleshed out the character with stories like this.

John Byrne is so awesome he homages John Byrne.

*pays homage to

gah!rammar.

Darn…. I just noticed my previous post came up as “Anonymous”

dhole, I know what you mean about the Lee/Kirby treatment of Doom. We have him fleshed out in FF annual #2 and then when playing off against the Silver Surfer he becomes more flat out manical. Note that prior to this, the Silver Surfer is a servant to Galactus who didn’t seem to have any qualms about playing a role in the destruction of entire worlds full of sentient beings. But against Doom he comes across as a bit naive along with this newly emerging nobility that Stan uses later on. Naturally Doom has to be full out evil for contrast.

Later, when we get to an extended visit by the FF in Latveria, we see a fear of their ruler creep into the citizens of Latveria. There was a group of us on the old usenet groups that used to kick around ideas about the tangled state of Doom’s continuity in Marvel. and one poster came up with the idea that when Doom absorbs the Power Cosmic, it evenually drives him mad over the long term, like exposure to radiat ion. This is why he is shown to be increasingly unstable up until he has a complete mental collapse in FF #200. When you think about what happens to Terrax after Doom exposes him to the power cosmic a second time as he does here in FF#258, it kind of makes sense. Doom also loses his grip on reality when he gets the power of the Beyonder later on so maybe he’s just wasn’t mentally stable enough at that point in time to handle such godlike powers.

Iron Maiden:

That’s a cute idea, Doom going bonkers after exposure to the power cosmic. It would certainly explain the labile state of his emotions in FF # 84-87. It kind of reminds me of a pet theory of mine regarding Frank Miller’s retcon of the Kingpin’s strength levels. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Kingpin quite clearly possessed superhuman strength prior to his first encounter with Daredevil. Once Miller got ahold of him, however, the Kingpin’s strength levels were reduced to peak human.This power reduction engendered a great deal of obfuscatory ink regarding how the depowered Kingpin managed to go toe to toe with the superhumanly strong Spider-Man (E.g., the Kingpin’s great fighting skill and surprising agility compensate for the strength disparity, Spider-Man holds back during the fights, etc.).

My answer to this conundrum involved the Kingpin using a stength enhancing drug during his tenure as a Spidey villian. The drug, unfortunately, had severe mental side effects. These side effects became truly deleterious in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 85, when the Kingpin became catatonic. The kingpin’s revival in CAPTAIN AMERICA 147 would have due to a combination of Richard Fisk’s treatments and to the drug wearing off. The Kingpin, now aware of the drug’s dangers, would only use it when he was certain that he would need superhuman strength, as in his planned battle with Spidey in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 163-164.

As for where the Kingpin obtained his formula, I theorized that he stole it from Norman Osborn. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 59-61, the Kingpin used a brainwashing machine developed by Prof. Winkler, an employee of Norman Osborn’s. The Kingpin even used Osborn’s facilities as a base for his brainwashing schemes. Since Roger Stern has established in his HOBGOBLIN LIVES! mini that the brainwashing device was originally developed by the Green Goblin, it stands to reason that Winkler was working for the Goblin before he was submerged into the Osborn persona in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 40. With his employer gone (Winkler, obviously, did not know that Osborn and the Goblin were one and the same), Winkler offered his services to the Kingpin, bringing with him both the “Winkler machine” and samples of the Goblin serum that he had managed to steal from the Goblin.Ah, fanboy fun.

Syon:

Fanboy or no….that’s a pretty impressive. One of these days I am going to have to start getting the Spider-Man Masterworks. I’m current with the FF ones and I don’t have my ASM originals anymore since my brother is the bigger Spider-Man fan. The Lee/Ditko/Romita Sr years were a lot of fun.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Miller portrayed the Kingpin as impossibly strong in the only Miller story where he fights Daredevil physically; he even has the guy walk off a bullet wound and shows him using the ultra-heavy stone door from an old Spider-Man story as a vault. Matt nearly breaks his legs kicking Fisk in Miller’s DD #171, and comments that he’
s “battering himself to death” taking on Fisk.

The Handbooks did a lot of dancing around to dial back the character’s strength, but Miller really didn’t. D.G. Chichester, on the other hand….

Keep the flames burning, True Believers.

I’ve had this issue ever since it was new. It was the first Fantastic Four I’d read since the Wolfman period, and it just blew me away.
Ever since, my mental image of Doom’s character has remained exactly the way he is in this story, and I judge all other Doom portrayals by how well they match up with this one.

Since I began reading Comics Should Be Good a bit more than a year ago, I’ve seen this story mentioned several times, but it’s always been in regard to one single scene, which you didn’t even show here. Thank you for that.

Omar Karindu:

Looking back on it, you seem to be right in terms of Miller’s depiction of the Kingpin’s strength in DD # 171. The Kingpin does seem to be operating at superhuman levels in that issue. Of course, Miller often has rather strange ideas as to what constitutes normal human range strength, as the depiction of Marv’s abilities in SIN CITY indicates.

I think that the reason why I assign the blame for the depowering of the Kingpin to Miller is because he was “in charge” of the character during the time when the first MARVEL HANDBOOK came out. As you rightly pointed out, it was the HANDBOOK that stated that the Kingpin had peak human level strength. To be precise, the K-M issue of the HANDBOOK (vOLUME 1) explicitly states that the Kingpin can lift 650 pounds. As this figure is blatantly at odds with how the Kingpin was depicted in every previous appearance, someone must have decided to retcon the Kingpin’s strength levels. Given Miller’s authority over the character at the time, I have always thought that the decision to depower the Kingpin was his.

Miller also had DD fight Kingpin in issue 228, during Born Again. We don’t get the benefit of thought balloons to show DD’s frustration, but the fight similarly results in Kingpin trouncing him (although DD draws blood with a billy club across the nose).

I distinctly remembering that 650-pound strength level in Marvel Universe, which was 200 pounds more than Daredevil. It had me speculating what Spider-Man might be (1000 pounds? 2000?) such that I was not ready for Spidey’s 10-ton (!) level. How did Spidey even break a sweat with this guy?

For me the worst depiction of Kingpin’s strength was when Bendis had DD mop the floor with him at the end of “Hardcore” which pretty much made me fed up with Bendis’s run by then.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Miller probably didn’t have much interest in giving stats to the Handbook writers; if you read their Elektra entry int he same edition, it’s pretty clear they were desperately trying to make heads or tails of his other work on their own.

Omar Karindu:

“giving stats to the HANDBOOK writers” : I certainly don’t think that Miller told them the 650 figure. However, I do think that Miller probably told them that he did not want the Kingpin to have superhuman strength. I find it hard to imagine editor/head writer Mark Gruenwald deciding on his own to go against years of continuity.

Just thought that I would post the results of reading through DD 170-172 in search of data on Miller’s treatment of the Kingpin’s strength.

DD 170: pages 7 and 8 (all pagination will be from the DAREDEVIL VISIONARIES: FRANK MILLER edition), the Kingpin mops up the floor with 8 guys, gathered from “the finest martial arts schools in the world” (page 8, panel 5). In the real world, this would certainly count as superhuman prowess, but, in the MARVEL UNIVERSE, this is within human norms (Shang-Chi, Daredevil, and Nick Fury have all emerged victorious in similar encounters). As an aside, this scene is directly based on a similar Kingpin workout in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 68 (pages 3 and 4).

DD 172: pages 12-14. This is a tricky sequence. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 69, the kingpin has a vault door that lacks a lock. The door’s only defense is its massive weight. The Kingpin remarks that “only the Kingpin’s naked strength can accomplish such a feat [opening the door] (page 4, panel 3). On page 18, Spider-man opens the door. It seems quite clear that opening the door takes superhuman strength.

Given this information, what are we to make of the fact that DD pulls open the door in DD 172? Granted, in contrast to the relative ease with which both the Kingpin and Spider-Man performed the feat, DD’s opening of the door is presented as a monumental accompishment,the culmination of a supreme effort. However,the fact remains that DD did open the door, which indicates that the feat is within the bounds of human level strength.

DD 172, pages 15-16: The fight between DD and the Kingpin. This is probably the strongest evidence for the Miller Kingpin having superhuman strength, as the Kingpin weathers an onslaught that would have killed a normal man. E.g., after kicking the Kingpin, DD thinks “That last shot to his side would have crippled a normal man” (page 15, panel 4). On panel 5 of the same page,DD remarks that he is “not even sure he’s [the Kingpin's] human.” Furthermore, on page 16, panel 3, DD thinks that he is “beating myself to death against this monster!”

DD 172, pages 19-21: The Kingpin survives the collapse of a partially constructed building. In terms of establishing the Miller DD’s level of strength, on page 20, panels 1 and 7, the Kingpin moves steel girders with his bare hands. again, on page 21, panels 1-3, the Kingpin is again seen moving steel girders.

DD 173,pages 12-13: the confrontation with Lynch. On page 12, panel 9, the Kingpin survives 1 to 2 bullet wounds from Lynch’s handgun. Athough Lynch fires his gun twice, we do not know if both shots actually hit the Kingpin.

Omar, I’m not quite sure if this scene indicates superhuman prowess or not. The Kingpin was wounded by Lynch’s handgun, and he tells Bullseye to “get me a doctor” (page 13, panel 11). The Kingpin’s response to the wound is commensurate to the possible response of an enraged athlete who has been shot in a non-vital spot.

The verdict: Is the Miller Kingpin superhumanly strong? Frankly, after going through these issues, I’m not really sure. The chief problem arises from the fact that Comic Books are rather hazy about the boundaries between the human and the superhuman. For example, apart from his senses, DD is supposed to be within human limits, yet in DD 179, pages 8-9, we see DD “hefting four hundred [pounds] like it was fifty!” As with the Kingpin easily besting 8 top martial artists,
DD throwing around 450 pounds as though it were 50 would seem to qualify as superhuman in our world. In the MARVEl Universe, however both feats seem to be within human norms. Anyone have any thoughts?

I don’t know, I never got the feeling that Stan intented Kinpin to be superhuman either. He never gives any background to his physical prowess except the old “it’s not fat! it’s pure muscle!” thing, implying that he simply trained himself that way.

Stan referred to the Kingpin as having super-strength. And Miller referred to the Kingpin as having “inhuman” strength.
Here’s the weird thing about the Kingpin’s Handbook entry- it appeared in June 1983. O’Neil had just started writing DD a month earlier- Miller had left a few months before that. Both O’Neil and Miller seemed to think the Kingpin had super-strength. I get the feeling that when the Handbook entry was written, it was in between Miller leaving and O’Neil coming on, and somehow someone decided the Kingpin didn’t have super-strength. Unfortunately, that stuck.

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