In FF #3 by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred was a really, really good one -- at least according to Comic Vine. It had everything you could ask for: suspense, action, adventure, The Yancy Street Gang, the beginnings of a possible romance and of course, a future Johnny Storm. Now, Johnny's one character that has spent plenty of time between being alive and being dead, and in this case, he has essentially returned from the dead and traveled into the past in an effort to save the Fantastic Four who have ventured off on one of their space adventures.
For Reed, Sue, Johnny, Ben, Franklin and Valeria, traveling through the depths of space (and time?) is like an average day at the office, except when it isn't. And in this case, it's not. The issue opens with Johnny's appearance at the home of the Fantastic Four where he reveals to the new (temporary) leaders of the Future Foundation (Scott Lang, Medusa and She-Hulk) that the Fantastic Four "died beyond the veil of space" and that he (Johnny) has been traveling through time and space for the last forty years searching for a way to reverse things.
So what happened? How did they die? According to Johnny, all roads lead back to Doom. Johnny reveals to the FF that Victor Von Doom, Kang The Conqueror and an Annihilus had taken advantage of the Fantastic Four's departure in order to join forces ("and forms"), and together they became 'Doom The Annihilating Conqueror,' a character that swore to wreak havoc and destruction, and was responsible for the death of the Fantastic Four. So how do you solve this problem? How do you stop this from happening? By focusing on Doom and Latveria first. Yet, how do you stop Doctor Doom, especially when you don't have Reed Richards to help?
Even the most feared villains have their insecurities, and in the case of Doctor Doom he may be his own worst enemy. If you're up on your 'Silver Age' comics then you might recall one of Doctor Doom's earliest appearances in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #2 published in 1963. The issue, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jack Kirby, tells the origin of Doctor Doom. It explains his life as the son of a gypsy and a sorceress and a young boy who lost it all. It's the story of a boy who had no control over his own life and grew up to be a bitter man, resentful of everyone he came across. It is clear early on that Stan Lee crafted Doom to be this incredibly insecure character. Lee established immediately that Doom's inadequacies would be his greatest downfall and would lead to many of his failures. I may have used this example in the past, but it is a really good one. I think it is one of the earliest examples of a series of panels that truly define Doctor Doom and his insecurities.
After demonstrating his supreme intellect, Doom is plucked from his homeland and brought to America on a scholarship to study at a top University. Upon his arrival, Doom meets Reed Richards for the very first time and immediately rejects his peer. Based on the way this scene is written it becomes clear to the reader just how arrogant Doom is, and it is his arrogance that will prove to be his greatest weakness and set the precedent for the man he would become. He doesn't want to believe that somewhere out there may be his intellectual equal (Reed) and he completely rejects the possibility that he is human, and humans err. This rejection of Reed and demonstration of his pride leads to the creation of Doctor Doom.
Beyond his pride, there is also greed. Doom does not only want Latveria, he wants the entire world. He does not want to be one of the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe, he wants to be the greatest mind. This is why he cannot stand Reed Richards. This is also the reason why when he gained immense power in SECRET WARS, he was conflicted. There is an entire panel in issue #10 of this mini-series that depicts Doom seated at a throne, dwelling on what to do with all the power he has gained. He begins by thinking to eliminate all heroes and destroy the entire planet and then demanding some sort of compensation from the Beyonder. However, that thought strays from the destruction of his peers rather quickly to well, why not destroy the Beyonder? Why must he "settle for second" when he could be first?
Doom considers throwing his life away and battling the Beyonder if it means he would then become more powerful. Overcome by both pride and greed, he is willing to risk everything for the chance to become the most powerful being in the universe, and as a result he comes pretty close to sealing the deal on his own demise. So how does it end? Well, like we said before, Doom is his own worst enemy.
Yet, we go back to the same trait we saw in our first example when Doom first meets Richards. Victor is so consumed by self doubt and his insecurities that he fails. We can trace a huge percentage of Doom's failures back to his insecurities and his feelings of inadequacy. This is why Reed is his greatest rival, because Reed is his intellectual equal. This is also why Doom, after having gained the powers of the Beyonder and after eliminating every hero, completely psych's himself out. He is so riddled with thoughts of whether he would subconsciously bring back the heroes he killed that he completely falls apart. He is his own worst enemy in the worst possible way.
So without the help of Reed Richards, how do you stop Doom? If you are the Future Foundation how do you venture to Latveria and prevent Doctor Doom from joining forces with Kang and an Annihilus to become 'Doom The Annihilating Conqueror'? By preying on his arrogance, pride and greed. So how will they outsmart him? It will definitely be interesting to see. FF #4 hits stores on February 27th, although we may have to wait until after this Valentine's Day issue to get a little bit of Doom action. What do you think? Have you been reading the current FF and FANTASTIC FOUR? What do you think the current FF must do in order to beat Doom?