Appearing in "The Return of Doctor Doom!"
- Fantastic Four
- Stan Lee (First appearance)
- Jack Kirby (First appearance)
- Statuettes of:
- On Jack Kirby's Sketchboards:
Races and Species:
- Doctor Doom's Armor
- Mental Teleporter (First appearance)
- Reducing Ray (First appearance)
Synopsis for "The Return of Doctor Doom!"
Reed Richards is conducting an experiment on how to photograph Sue while she is invisible when suddenly the team notices the Fantastic Four signal flare in the sky. Trying to rush to the signal, Reed finds the locking mechanism on his lab door jammed and uses his stretching powers to try and reach the release on the other side but his arm goes the wrong way, forcing Johnny to use his flame powers to melt through the lock. The group rushes through avid fans to the apartment of Alicia Masters, Ben's girlfriend, where Ben reveals that he just wanted to show his teammates the various sculptures that Alicia has made of the Fantastic Four's various foes.
Meanwhile, at the offices of Marvel Comics, writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, who have been licensed to create Fantastic Four comic books based on the heroes' adventures, are stumped over creating a new villain for the group to fight as all their other previous foes have been vanquished.[Continuity 1] As Jack is trying to pitch a new villain named False-Face they are interrupted by Dr. Doom who demands that they call Reed Richards to their office to lure him in a trap, threatening to show them his horribly scarred face if they do not comply.
Reed is called over, but when he arrives he is gassed by Dr. Doom who then teleports away with Richards as his prisoner. When Reed awakens at Doom's laboratory, Reed is shocked to see his old foe who was last seen being carried away on a meteor. Doom explains that he survived when he was rescued by an alien race called the Ovoids. Learning that these creatures had great mental powers, Doom forced them to teach him their method of transferring minds into other bodies before they returned him to Earth. Doom then demonstrates this ability by swapping bodies with Reed. The two fight it out, but Dr. Doom has the advantage by using Reed's own stretching powers against him.
Soon the rest of the team, tipped off by Stan and Jack, arrive at Doom's lab and easily subdue "Dr. Doom", Reed's attempts to convince his team that Doom has swapped bodies with him fall on deaf ears. Doom (pretending to be Reed) then convinces the team that the only way to be rid of Doom is to trap him forever. While the other members of the team suggest ideas to do that, "Reed" has a better idea and shows them a trap that he devised in the basement of the lab. With "Dr. Doom" trapped in an unbreakable glass cage, the rest of the team leaves, leaving Reed and Doom alone. Doom gloats over his victory, pointing out that the air cylinders in the unbreakable glass cage will run out of air in exactly an hour and then leaves Reed to his fate.
While pretending to be his greatest enemy, Dr. Doom then begins working on a shrinking ray and starts testing it on animals that his teammates realize have gone missing from one of the local zoos when the animals might break free.[Continuity 2] When Sue and the others start to question "Reed's" work, Doom tells them that he has come up with a theory that the dinosaurs went extinct due to their large bodies and small brains. He then suggests that through a process of shrinking someone in size and then restoring them to normal could boost not only their mental power but their physical abilities. Doom then sells the team on the fact that with this method the Torch would be able to fly in space, Sue would be able to turn selected parts of her body invisible, and Ben would be able to revert back and forth from human form. The group is ecstatic and Doom tells them that he will use it on them once the tests are completed. However, Doom really intends to shrink the group down to nothingness, eliminating his hated enemies forever.
Meanwhile back in the unbreakable glass cage, Reed tries to break through a flaw in the glass using Doom's mask and succeeds in punching holes in it. He then takes one of the air cylinders and plugs the hole with it, then tosses another at the first cylinder. The resulting explosion breaks the glass, freeing Reed from his death trap. He then goes to Alicia's apartment and tries to convince her that he is really Reed Richards trapped in Dr. Doom's body.
However, Reed is unaware that Sue was there to tell Alicia the "good news" and she manages to knock Reed out by smashing a vase over his head. When Ben and Johnny arrive, they try to attack "Dr. Doom" but Reed manages to instill doubt in their minds, convincing them to bring him back to the Baxter Building with them. However, they bring "Doom" to "Reed" who binds Reed up so he can conduct his shrinking experiment on the other members of the Fantastic Four. When Doom decides to start on Sue first, Reed tries to protest, raising more doubt in the mind of Johnny and Ben.
Johnny decides to test his suspicions by using his flame powers to create a mirage of a stick of dynamite. When the mirage appears, "Dr. Doom" tries to shield his teammates from the blast with his own body while "Reed" tries to flee the scene. Realizing that "Dr. Doom" was telling the truth, Ben grabs "Reed" and pulls him back into the room. With the ruse revealed the process reverses itself.[Continuity 3] With Doom back in his original body, he begins to attack the Fantastic Four. During the scuffle, Reed is knocked back into the controls of Doom's device. In a bit of irony, Doom's shrink ray blasts himself causing him to shrink to seeming nothingness, leaving the Fantastic Four to wonder if their foe has been vanquished forever.
- Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are never clearly depicted in this story. They are always seen in shadow or otherwise obscured. This trend would continue in their future Fantastic Four appearances. Based on the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #4 the appearances of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in this issue are not considered topical references per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, that is typically used for real-life individuals that appear in the comics that were popular during the era of publication. This suggests that both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were working for Marvel Comics on Earth-616 during the early years of the Fantastic Four.
- The technology used in the shrink ray used here was the work of scientist Otto Kronsteig. As revealed in Incredible Hulk #155, Doom had utilized Kronsteig to develop the device, then turned it against the scientist after it was completed.
- In Sensational She-Hulk #48, Reed explains that the shock of discovery is what reverted the body swap between himself and Doctor Doom.
Events occurring behind the scenes in this issue affects the chronologies of the following characters:
- At the end of the issue is a bonus pin-up, featuring Invisible Girl
The date depicted on Sue's pin up in this issue lists the year the "photo" was taken was 1962. This should be considered a topical reference, per the Sliding Timescale.</ref>