Today’s Super Comic — Fantastic Four #258 (1983)

fantastic_four_vol_1_258Since I reviewed John Byrne’s portrait of Lex Luthor yesterday, it seems appropriate to bookend it by reviewing Byrne’s portrait of the Fantastic Four’s greatest enemy, Doctor Doom.

The FF don’t appear in Fantastic Four #258. This is Doom’s book, and he carries it so well 30you don’t even notice the absence of the title characters. While the issue sets the stage for the FF’s next threat, it spends ample time showing us a day in the life of Doctor Doom—how he rules over the country Latveria, sincerely believing himself to be a benevolent dictator to his people; how, in his own twisted way, he seems to genuinely care for his young ward Kristoff, even allowing the child to stand by his side as he tends to his monarchial duties; how constantly aware he is of people who plot against him; and how enraged he becomes if anyone or anything dares to question his supremacy.

Without ever explicitly telling us so, Byrne portrays Doom as a man who’s living in a constant state of fear. It never looks like fear, though—it looks like ego, suspicion, rage, and a desire to control or destroy all enemies. Doom has lots of power and resources, but no real human connections to draw strength from. And holding on to power, without support, takes considerable and constant effort. One slip-up, and it could all be gone—and he’d have nothing.

This issue shows us why Doom is the perfect foil to Marvel’s premier family (even if that family is taking the issue off).

Writer/Artist: John Byrne

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Volume 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up