- You mistake restraint for weakness... compassion for cowardice.
Appearing in "Middle Game!"
- Fantastic Four
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "Middle Game!"
The Silver Surfer is unable to destroy the Fantastic Four to free Shalla-Bal from Dr. Doom's control. However, he places them in a trance and delivers them to Dr. Doom instead. They are able to break free from Doom's imprisonment and destroy a number of his humanoids, but it was all just a way for Doom to delay them. He needed time to collect the Surfer's Power Cosmic in order to construct a duplicate who will be able to actually destroy the Fantastic Four.
On a viewscreen in his castle, Dr. Doom observes the Silver Surfer battling Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Medusa. As the Surfer fights, Doom gloats that soon the entire world will serve him. But when it becomes apparent that the Surfer cannot bring himself to destroy the Fantastic Four, Doom starts to rage. He wants the Surfer to cause them pain, to match the pain that they have so long caused him. Then he walks by a chessboard with pieces carved into the images of the Surfer and the Fantastic Four. The Surfer is but a pawn, he muses as he picks up the Surfer-piece, as are all men in his hands. For years, he says, Richards and his companions have thwarted his plans, but never again after today. Although he stole the Surfer's power once before, he has since learned that controlling that power is preferable to actually wielding it, and this is what he is doing now. Then Doom sees that the Surfer is explaining his attack to the Fantastic Four.
Furious, Doom crushes the Silver Surfer figurine in his fist and shatters his viewscreen, not wanting to listen to any more of the Surfer's "self-lamenting diatribes." Doom then recalls how the Sub-Mariner rescued him after his fall from space, which gave him the idea of gaining control of the Surfer. After monitoring the Surfer for several weeks, Doom watched his attempt to escape from Earth, and then he guided the Surfer's fall to Latveria. When the Surfer discovered that Latveria's queen was none other than his beloved Shalla Sal, Doom had him in his power. Saying that he would restore Shalla's memory, Doom forced the Surfer to swear that he would destroy the Fantastic Four. However, the Surfer has so far failed to do this. A few seconds later, the Surfer appears in the sky above Doom's castle with a gleaming four-seated air-car in tow. Within the craft sit the Fantastic Four, placed into a hypnotic trance by the Surfer. He tells Doom that he could not destroy them, so he brought them to Latveria to leave their disposal to him. Doom examines the prisoners to see whether this might be a trap, but his sensors inform him that the Fantastic Four are helpless.
Then he turns to the Surfer, astounded that he would not take four "paltry lives" to regain the woman he loves. The Surfer replies that he knows not whether to be ashamed or proud, but Doom interprets this as weakness and slaps the Surfer's face with his glove. Power, roars Doom, is the image of a boot stamping endlessly upon the upturned face of a cringing humanity, or an armored hand across a quivering lip. Angered, the Surfer tells Doom that he is mistaking restraint for weakness, and he demonstrates his cosmic power by ripping the stones out from under Doom's feet and by shattering a suit of armor. Doom, however, is not impressed, and he activates several energy sources within his armor that quickly restore the stones and rebuild the armor. Just like the Silver Surfer, says Doom, he can also be a builder and a restorer. Then Doom indicates Shalla Bal, saying that until he releases her willingly, the Surfer and his cosmic power, belong to Doom. Then he orders the Surfer to release the Fantastic Four from their trance: all but Reed Richards. Acting under Doom's orders, the Surfer levitates the teammates into a specially prepared room. The Human Torch is placed into a flameproof cage, the Thing is bound in an electro-rack that tightens whenever he moves, Medusa is bound with her hair in a transparent bubble, and the comatose Mr. Fantastic is placed inside a transparent cylinder. Doom says he will enjoy watching their vain attempts to escape before finally putting them out of their misery. The Surfer wonders what Doom could have done to Shalla Bal to make her so insensitive to this cruelty and he wonders what the world has done to Doom to make him such a tyrant. Doom replies that Richards is a "lionized incompetent," while Doom's genius goes ignored and he is forced to hide behind a mask. As Doom departs, Shalla Bal for some reason tightly rests her hand on the Surfer's shoulder.
Back in Doom's dungeon, the Torch, the Thing, and Medusa awaken but find their escape thwarted by Doom's devices. Johnny quickly learns that everything in the room is fireproof and Medusa is unable to work her hair free to pick the electronic lock that holds her. Doom watches them through a porthole and then he orders Daedalus, one of his servants, to escort the Silver Surfer to a special chair. Daedalus covers the Surfer with a pistol, but the Surfer remarks that the real reason for his compliance is the woman Shalla Bal. All Earth-made firearms are quite useless against him. As Shalla Bal stands next to the Surfer, Doom watches on his viewscreen as the Surfer's frustration builds. Doom muses that he will put this emotion to far better use than the Surfer. Meanwhile, the Thing tells Johnny to set his prison-cage swinging toward him and soon Johnny comes within Ben's reach. Ben shatters the cage which frees Johnny, but Ben's movements make his own bonds tighter. Reed's cylinder is fireproof, so Johnny picks up a bar from his broken cage and smashes the container. This brings Reed out of his trance and, after he clears his head, he stretches his arm and turns off the mechanism that is slowly strangling Ben. Finally, Medusa is freed. Reed comments that this was much too simple a trap, but Ben replies that it was Reed who allowed the Silver Surfer to put them into a trance, gambling that Doom's ego would not let him simply do away with them. Now they are free to attack.
As the four companions head toward Doom's chambers a door opens and Doom, along with several robot guards, confronts them. Doom declares that the guards are his latest experiment in death-dealing humanoids. Ben's pounding fists quickly bowl the guards over and as Johnny and Reed enter the fray, Johnny remarks that the androids seem no different from Doom's old ones. It does not matter, says Medusa, because the androids still outnumber them three to one. As the Thing bulldozes the creatures into a pile, he notes that if Doom were really serious about destroying them he would have made the odds twenty to one. Doom remarks that this observation is correct. The androids were already marked for demolition and he simply had them do it for him. Then Ben attacks Doom as his teammates finish off the androids. With one punch Ben smashes the figure of Dr. Doom, revealing it to be a robot. The real Doom, watching on his viewscreen, declares that his robot attack gave him time to maneuver the unsuspecting Silver Surfer into the special chair where his emotional energy is being siphoned away for analysis. This, he gloats, will allow him to duplicate the energy in a creature of his own creation by simply pressing a button. As Doom presses the button, he says that although the Surfer himself would not execute the Fantastic Four, soon another shall do it with the Surfer's own Power Cosmic.
- This is not the real Shalla-Bal, but a construct created by Galactus. As revealed in Silver Surfer (Vol. 3) #130, Zenn-La was destroyed by the Other in 1947, shortly after the Silver Surfer became a herald of Galactus. In order to keep this a secret Galactus wiped out the Surfer's memories of Shalla-Bal's death and supplanted the rest of them. Galactus then created a construct of her for when the Surfer's memories eventually surfaced. Norrin would not learn of this duplicity until decades later.
The story references:
- Fantastic Four #57 to Fantastic Four #60 - Doctor Doom steals the Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic
- Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1 - Sub-Mariner rescues Doctor Doom
- Fantastic Four #155 - Silver Surfer's latest failed attempt to escape Earth
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