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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 326

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 comics posted so far!

Uncollected Classics week is over, but today we’ll look at a work that WAS uncollected for nearly twenty years!! It’s Walt Simonson’s classic “Return of the REAL Doctor Doom” storyline from Fantastic Four #350 and 352!


In the giant-sized Fantastic Four #350 (with inks by Al Milgrom), we get quite a surprise! Doctor Doom has been carrying on his battle with Kristoff, the “back-up” Doctor Doom from earlier in the series, but they are both in for a big twist…

Yes, BOTH Dooms were replacements! This was a major deal, as Simonson established that Doom has been gone for awhile now, so that any appearance that seemed kind of odd (most Acts of Vengeance appearances, to wit) were actually Doom-bots (but he also added in that Doom occasionally DOES come back to visit the “present,” so all the COOL Doom appearances (Byrne’s FF) were the REAL Doom!

Which was a pretty interesting idea (and has been copied by a number of writers over the years with other characters).

The big plot of this issue is Doom effectively seduces the She-Thing. Look at how charming Doom is…

This leads to Ben Grimm turning himself BACK to the Thing to save Sharon (who doesn’t want saving).

Check out this great confrontation between Thing and Doom…

After Sharon betrays him and knocks Ben out, Doom offers Reed Richards a challenge..

This leads to the CLASSIC Fantastic Four #352, which I’ve covered in Cool Moments before.

Reed takes him up on the challenge, and for the rest of the issue, you have two timelines. On the left hand of the page (in color) you have the Fantastic Four, progressing in real time. On the right hand of the page you have Reed and Doom, battling through a different chronology than “real time.” When they are in time, they are black and white and when their battle gets them in sync with the “real” timeline, then they are in color. The battle is time-stamped so you can follow Reed and Doom’s fight by following the time stamp. Page 1 may be 1:06 while Page 2 would be 1:22 and then Page 3 would be 1:14. You would have to flip back and forth to keep track of the fight.

Here’s two sample pages (click to enlarge)…

Get the (awesome) drift?

What an amazing issue.

The “problem” in collecting these issues was that Simonson’s “best” issues of Fantastic Four came a little bit into his run, but Marvel, logically enough, when they decided to collect his FF run, they started from the beginning. And sales were not super amazing, so they were slow to come out with the third volume of Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walt Simonson, but in November of last year, they finally did! Hurray! Thanks to an anonymous poster for letting me know that it came out (and our own Greg Burgas for confirming it).


Jeremy A. Patterson

November 20, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I felt that this was a great way of rescuing Ventura from the Scrappy Heap!

I am pissed that they decided to force her back into some form of ‘She-Thing’ a few years later!


FF 352 is one of the most inventive comic books i’ve ever read. It took me several times of reading it to fully figure it out. Still one of the greatest Doom/Reed battles of all time!

I don’t like the idea of tossing out the Doom stories of the previous few years by saying it was all a robot. There were a lot of things wrong with Englehart’s time on the series, but his version of Doom was perfect. I usually detest the Everything-you’ve-been-reading-the-last-few-years-is-a-lie type of story anyway– it’s very insulting to the readers, I think, and even more so to the previous writers (who sometimes deserve insults, I admit, but it’s still not very nice).

I may be misremembering, but I was under the impression that Simonson was saying that Doom occasionally returned home for the odd adventure or two, so you could pick and choose which Doom adventures you wanted to believe were actually Doom and which were Doombots. So if you wanted, you could say that the Englehart Doom stories were the real Doom. Simonson wasn’t saying ALL recent Doom appearances were false, only the badly written ones.

Right. Same with Dan Slott’s adaptation of the idea in the last issue of his She-Hulk run– the reader’s left to pick and choose which appearances of which characters were so off that they were really the earth-A versions.

Yeah, these are probably the best Fantastic Four issues ever. At least since number 70 or so.

Peter David did the same thing in Incredible Hulk; in “Tempus Fugitive,”Nightmare had been messing with the Hulk, and the reader is left to decide which of the comics published prior to David’s return were canon. I don’t mind the trope itself, although I think David’s execution was questionable. Maintaining a personal accomplishes the same goal.

FF 352 is one of those comics that uses the pages imaginatively and effectively to do something new with the medium, and is entertaining to boot.

Woo-hoo, I requested this issue! Didn’t know it had been collected. But I agree, FF 352 was amazingly inventive. If Marvel ever did the DC style “The Greatest ____ Stories Ever Told” trades, then this story would be a sure thing for the FF volume.

FF 352 is amazing, one of the too-few comics that play with the medium in a way that’s impossible anywhere else.

I like how Simonson handled he idea of Dr. Doom appearances being possibly Doombots. I’m someone who likes the idea of a fast & loose continuity and personal canon. Other writers haven’t been able to pull off the same trick as skillfully (e.g. Peter David in the “Tempus Fugitive” story in Hulk).

What happened? Wasn’t this originally posted two days ago, not today at noon? The date stamps on the first comments seems to confirm that.

I for one was glad to see Simonson address the lackluster and bizarre Steve Englehart run. Admittedly, he seems to plead editorial interference these days but Simonson had good reason for this issue. He felt that Doom running around begging others for help to win back Latveria from Kristoff was wrongheaded. Note how in Triumph and Torment he forced himself to earn the right to get Doctor Strange to help him. Simonson has posted here on CBR a couple of times about the Doombot issue and he never wanted to explicitly state which appearances where Doombots. He preferred to leave it to the reader to decide. Naturally, the Lee/Kirby run is untouchable. But Englehart? Doombot all the way.

BTW, Time magazine had a nice write up about FF #352 a while back and it is still viewable online


I meant to say in my second senten ce in the post above that Englehart (not Simonson) did say he had a lot of creative differences with Marvel editorial back on this run. It’s why you see some of his FF work credited to the nom de plume “Jonathan Harkness”

Ok, I’ll admit it…I miss Kristoff….Seeing him in the MC2 Universe always had me wondering where he is now in the 616 one…..

Besides “Doom’s Family” makes for an interesting family dynamic opposite the FF to me…. like Doom could ever stand that….

If you miss Kristoff, here’s some good news:


“So we have big Doom plans coming up,” Hickman continued. “I’m very excited about getting to write him. I think the only thing I’ve written with Doom besides this little bit so far in FF is that story I did for ‘Dark Reign.’ It was kind of a Doom daydream story, which was a lot of fun. I think I get the character. I think I can write him well and I’m really, really looking forward to it. Oh, I’m also looking forward to Kristoff as well.”

It’s kind of spoilerish but Kristoff already returned in the mini-series Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, issue #4. I had to laugh because according to that, he was the reason why Doom was arrested in Mighty Avengers. :-) I got to briefly chat with Jonathan Hickman at C2 E2 back in April and lobbied to get Kristoff back. But then he might have been planning it all along.

I love the smoothie-Doom in his smoking jacket / dressing gown, but still wearing his mask. Playa!

Actually it looks like he has a completely different “bedroom” or “downtime” mask. PLAYA!

You’ll also notice how Walt sets up the Skrull reveal with the implausibility of Johnny’s marriage to Alicia.

I spoke at length on the Englehart FF issues in one of the previous entries – the issues involving what purported to be the “true Doom” were penned under his pseudonym, John Harkness, and were dream sequences designed to wake the team…of course, the Human Torch’s dream was the one that did the job.

Walt did a superb job with the FF, and I agree with everyone here that #352 was a shining example with what can be done with comics that cannot be done in any other media.

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