Writer: Karl Kesel
Art: Paul Smith
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: VC's Randy Gentile
Publisher: Marvel Comics
$2.99 U.S. / $4.25 CAN
When Victor Von Doom discovers that Reed Richards had properly pointed out a mistake in his calculations, we see Victor forms a seeming friendship with his intellectual rival, and together the two develop a rocket ship. However, we see a scheming Victor knew the ship's shielding wouldn't keep out the cosmic rays, but his efforts to protect himself failed. Needless to say Victor blames Reed for his failure, and his subsequent transformation into a hulking Thing.
I keep hoping that Karl Kesel will eventually get his shot at the Fantastic Four, as in the entire industry he's been the one creator who has sold me on the idea that he absolutely adores these characters, and I don't think it's mere chance that he's always working on the Fantastic Four chapter of these fifth week events. Now I suspect one's enjoyment of this one-shot would be helped considerably by a familiarity with the original back-story for the Fantastic Four, as one's understanding of why Victor's expression in that one panel is so important is entirely dependant on the reader being familiar with how it originally turned out. Still, for Fantastic Four fans this is a pretty enjoyable little exercise as this single moment changes the entire dynamic of the Reed Richards/Victor Von Doom rivalry, though it is worth noting that even without this earlier motive, Victor still turns out to be a rather villainous soul. Now the one weakness that this story does have is that in a bid to give Ben his superpowers the story inserts the Hulk's origin into the mix, and this element of the story felt like an awkward addition that was tacked on simply to bring Ben back into the loop. Still I will concede that there is a decidedly Silver Age mentality to this story that makes it difficult to get overly worked up by the fact that the writer is so clearly manipulating events of the story to suit his needs, and the fact that it resulted in a battle between the Thing and the Hulk certainly helps one to look the other way.
Paul Smith is a name I wish graced more projects as his work on "Uncanny X-Men" rates right up there with John Byrne's work on that title, and the only reason why Paul Smith hasn't gained the fan base he deserves is that he dropped completely off the map for a couple decades, and his recent output has been seemingly limited to his work on James Robinson's "Leave to Chance" miniseries. Still, he is providing the art on this one-shot, and he turns in some lovely work, as while his work is clearly tailored to match the appearance of the early Fantastic Four adventures, he manages to put his own spin on the material, as how can one not smile at the looks on Ben and Reed's faces after Victor has kicked them out of his room. The transformation sequence is also nicely handled with Victor's transformation into the Thing being the highlight. Now his version of the Hulk did look to have a head that was out of proportion with the rest of his body, but I suspect this was an intentional visual homage to the early appearance of the Hulk.
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