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FF #2

A comic review article by: Ray Tate
Doctor Doom's made a deal with Valeria Richards: he'll join the new Future Foundation if they help him regain the knowledge he lost. Will Reed aid his greatest nemesis? Will Doom stick to his word? If you've read any of John Byrne's estimable run of Fantastic Four, you should know the answer to the latter, if not the former. Doctor Doom is a man of his word. He is a man with a quirky sense of honor. The Lee/Kirby Doom possessed such an attribute, but he was prone to bouts of manic outbursts. The movie Doom possessed no honor but was once close to the team. This version of Doom combines the three, and it's a very satisfying mix.

I was an avid reader of Kelly Puckett's Supergirl series. That is, when I still read and reviewed DC comics. In that run, Batman occasionally appeared to test the mettle of the Girl of Steel and I referred to Batman as Kara's eccentric uncle, Uncle Arthur to Supergirl's Samantha Stevens. Using the same bewitching analogy, Dr. Doom is Endora to the FF's Stevens family.

I might be the only one besides Jonathan Hickman that thinks Doom is a perfect addition to the FF. The truth is that Doom has won. He is the internationally recognized sovereign of Latveria. His people love him. His hobby is to simply best his rival Reed Richards and the FF. If he can kill them at the same time, bonus. Surmount that last obstacle, and you're in business.

Hickman's writing is witty and remarkably reader-friendly. I didn't know that Doom had lost any of his expertise, and I certainly don't know when. The premise of the book, however, is easy to follow. Sue's threat to Dr. Doom is loaded with familiarity. She refers to him as "Victor" just as she does in the movies. Ben's reaction isn't that much different from the way Michael Chiklis' interpretation of The Thing might react.

Epting's and Magyar's realistic artwork lends to the feeling that you're really watching scenes from a film laid out in comic book form. Lots of artists get criticized for tracing over photographs, and rightly so, but Epting always drew like this. His pencils frequently demonstrated a more lifelike quality to the cast. Rick Magyar cut his teeth on Maze Agency, and graced the work of Alan Davis and Adam Hughes. He naturally imbues a softening affect. However, the colors are a little too muted this week, perhaps due to a variation in the printing, or perhaps Paul Mounts, who is so used to producing vibrant hues ala Power Girl, hasn't yet acclimated.

The realism can be a boon to FF when the characters' emotions come into play. This is especially true in the preempted fight scene, as well as the drama in ethics later emphasized by a perturbed Spider-Man who subtly exhibits his motto -- "with great power, comes great responsibility" -- without a single word. Reed didn't just want Spidey on the team for his intelligence but also his conscience. Occasionally the artists go a little too far with their emulation of the film strip, using up ten panels to exhibit the conversation between Doom, Reed and Val. Ten panels? Come on. When did this become acceptable? You could have produced the same effect with four.

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