Fantastic Four: The Master of Doom

written by Mark Millar
penciled by Bryan Hitch

Doctor Doom had been the antagonist of the Fantastic Four for as far back as I had read Marvel Comics. You wouldn’t get one without getting the other, and you wouldn’t get a good Fantastic Four story without exploring how the villain plotted against the family or how he was involved even though the situation didn’t involve Doom directly. As cruel as he gets, even Doom has a master. So who would be powerful enough to make even the evil doctor bow to and call him master? 

One-liner intro: A brilliantly engaging read with twists and turns to get you hooked to the question: Who is the Master of Doom? 

Best part: Showing that even Doctor Doom has a teacher; death of Uatu (not really…); really surprising twists in the beginning. 

Not-so-best part: A rather dull final part wanes off to a rather usual ending; a more brilliant stroke by one of the most brilliant mind in Marvel-verse would be nice.

Synopsis: Who is Doom’s Master?

Collecting issues 562 – 569, the story continued the events of the death of Invisible Woman from the future. Doom’s murder of the future protagonist resulted in his incarceration, but he was far from anxious for “his master is arriving”. Puzzled as Reed Richards was, Christmas was arriving and the family had planned to visit Reed’s cousin in Scotland. Unknown to them, Doom’s master and his apprentice had just destroyed another universe’s Fantastic Four, their footsteps getting closer to the protagonist’s universe. 

After an unrelated adventure in Scotland with his cousin, Reed returned to his home only to confront another confounding discovery – the death of Watcher Uatu. It seemed that this master of Doom had the power to murder even a supposedly immortal Watcher. As Doom prepared his homeland to welcome the arrival of his master, little would he expect that his master had the same torture planned for the Fantastic Four as well as for his protégé. 

As the master from whom Doom learned his tricks and cruelty from crossed cosmos and multiverses to reach the Marvel universe, the Fantastic Four and Doom may have to fight this new threat hand-in-hand. With unimaginable power at his behest, this veiled character could snuff out galaxies with a thought, so what plans did he have in mind for the doctor and the fantastic family? 

And the world remained ignorant of his arrival until it was too late. For the Marquis of Death had come. 

Plot: The Plots of Doom’s Master 

This arc is one of my personal all time favorite in the Fantastic Four stories. With brilliantly and deceptively twisting plots which turns you around at the end of each comic book, “Master of Doom” offered hope only to grind it with the show of power by the Marquis of Death. 

With each part of the arc revealing more twists than a pretzel has, it really is a captivating read. Once again, my disappointment comes in the form of how the arc ended. Although another surprise is shared in the end, it is not true any brilliant stroke that the Fantastic Four defeated Doom’s master, merely another “fist to the face” episode that sees the family beating the villain to a pulp. A stunning ending stroke by an unforeseen character helped saved my faith in Millar’s story, securing my undying loyalty to his other works. 

Verdict: Better master for Doom?

Short as it may be, the “Master of Doom” arc really presented another face to Doctor Doom, exploring a character which even the evil doctor would submit to. Maybe Millar, or any other Fantastic Four writers, could do better by using brilliant ending strokes instead of the usual “fist to your face” kind of ending. After all, they have Mr. Fantastic, one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel-verse, in their disposal.

Death of Uatu? (image taken from Comixology)

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