#5: The Fantastic Four: Doomsday by Marv Wolfman.
Marv Wolfman is known for his excellent run on Tomb of Dracula. Within a few years of this novel he would write for one of the best comics ever created – Night Force – and co-create the New Teen Titans.
The cover is by “Buscema & Ledger”. I can only guess that the Ledger might be Peter Ledger – who did cover art for Marvel magazines at the time. Buscema is easier: John Buscema’s name is recognizable to any Marvel fan and was a regular artist on the Fantastic Four’s comic. The cover artist MIGHT be his brother Sal Buscema, but it is doubtful considering the stars of the book.
The book is “packaged and edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.” Len Wein is the co-creator of DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Wolverine as well as joining him with Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus as the All-New X-Men.
Released April 1, 1979. The book is 191 pages long, although the story begins at page 9.
Empire State University is holding a reunion of all their alumni. Reed Richards and his college roommate Ben Grimm – otherwise known as Mr. Fantastic and the Thing – decide to attend. Unfortunately so does another alumni – Victor Von Doom!
Doctor Doom apologizes to his former fellow students for all he has done and offers them all a weekend in his kingdom of Latveria; where all can tour the castle, meet the people, etc.
Has Doom turned over a new leaf?
The EPU alumni are convinced, but the reader is quickly shown it is all a trap for the Fantastic Four: Mr. Fantastic is stuck in a maze filling quickly with acid; the Invisible Girl must use her powers to either block lethal laser blasts OR a poisonous candle, but not both; the Thing is attacked by endless automated armored knights; and the Human Torch is being suffocated in a sealed chamber!
Doom meanwhile breaks into the FF’s Baxter Building and enters the Negative Zone to absorb its power.
Having escaped their individual traps, the FF confronts Doom in the Negative Zone and follow him eventually to a final confrontation at Stonehenge.
Interesting that in the novel Dr. Doom’s origin is given several pages, whereas the origin of the FF’s powers were only given a line or two by the Thing.
Of course, Doom’s story is integral to the plot: his childhood, his mother, his father.
We meet Johnny Storm’s and Ben Grimm’s girlfriends, Frankie Raye and Alicia Masters, but little time is spent on them compared to more pages with Doom’s manservant Boris. We also meet Anna, a Latverian national who befriends Johnny.
Wolfman does an excellent job translating these comic book characters into prose. This would make a wonderful two (or three) part story or an Annual. The Thing’s and Human Torch’s bickering, though, sometimes gets as old as it did in the comics. But Marv does a wonderful job showing their love for one another, as well as the relationship between Reed and Sue.
A few times the FF members stress they are a team, and a good team. I enjoy the later incarnations of the group when they say they are NOT a team, but a family. They are a family here, too. They always have been. And that is what REALLY gives them their strength.
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to Marvel Comics and Pocket Books for the use of their images. Cover image was taken by the author.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated or credited.