Appearing in "The More Things Change...!" or "It's the Real Thing..."
- Blastaar (On-screen)
- Diablo (On-screen)
- Wizard (On-screen)
- Psycho-Man (On-screen)
- Xemu of the 5th Dimension (On-screen)
- Gymnasium Robots
- Thing Exoskeleton
- Null Time Sequencer
- Doctor Doom's Armor
- Doctor Doom's Promethium Armor
- Antimatter Extrapolator
Synopsis for "The More Things Change...!" or "It's the Real Thing..."
In Latveria, it appears that Doctor Doom has amassed a massive army of Doombots to attack Castle Doom in a last ditch effort to reclaim the throne from his heir Kristoff Vernard, who believes himself to be Doctor Doom, and the real Doom to be an impostor. These invaders easily break through the castle and fight past the defenses. Kristoff defends himself from the leader of the invaders but is suddenly surprised when yet another -- differently armored -- Doctor Doom appears and reveals that the attacker is a malfunctioning Doombot by destroying it. Doom remarks that this Doombot is a remarkable as it is one of the only to develop a personality of its own. Doom then turns to Kristoff and says the word "Ouroboros". Kristoff finally feels his mind back to normal after months believing himself to be the true Doctor Doom. Unsure if he can trust that the real Doctor Doom has freed him, Doom proves that he is the real Doom by removing his mask and letting Kristoff see his horribly scarred face. Suddenly the other Doombots come crashing in the room accusing both Kristoff and Doom of being impostors, but Doom easily dispatches them with the slip of a switch in his gauntlet. Claiming to have been away for a very long time, Doom scans his databanks to see the current activities of his foes the Fantastic Four. He learns of their various foes, the fact that Ben Grimm has been restored to human form, that Johnny Storm has married Alicia Masters, and the Thing currently has a relationship with Sharon Ventura, the woman known as Ms. Marvel who has been transformed into a She-Thing herself. Doom decides that this development will work for him nicely.
Sometime later, Ben Grimm (wearing his Thing exoskeleton) is reading the news about Doctor Doom's return to power in Latveria, when suddenly he is interrupted when Sue blasts him with an invisible force field for having his feet up on the table. As Ben recovers, Sue asks why he is wearing his exoskeleton and Ben tells her its to make Sharon feel better after she recently was briefly reverted back to human form, he thought maybe she would feel better if her boyfriend looked like a Thing just like her. They are soon joined by Reed and Franklin and Reed questions if perhaps that wearing the exoskeleton all the time will only remind Sharon of her condition. Ben doesn't think so but he thinks wrong as later when Sharon comes in she yells at Ben to take off the exo-skeleton telling him he looks ridiculous wearing it. When Sharon reads the newspaper story about Doctor Doom, she notes that he is a brilliant scientist, intimating that he might be able to cure her. When she asks Reed if he can cure her of her condition. Reed tells her that he will try her best, but cannot give her a definitive yes or no answer. This upsets Sharon so much that she storms out of the room, suggesting that if he can't cure her, perhaps she should find someone who can. Sue goes to Ben and provides comfort, reminding him that he used to act much the same way when he was the Thing, assuring him that she'll snap out of her bad mood before too long.
Out on the streets, Sharon is suddenly approached by a limousine from the Latverian embassy who offers her an audience with Doctor Doom. Sharon is about to tell them to beat it, but they convince her to come along and hear what their master has to say. She is taken to the Plaza Hotel where Doom has rented out a room. Meeting with Doom, he explains that he is trying to restore his reputation and generate more revenue for his cash-strapped country. Defusing her concerns that he is up to some kind of twisted revenge plot by explaining that he has not battled the Fantastic Four for years and that those attackers they faced previously were actually Doombots that were programmed to think they were the real Doctor Doom. He then offers Sharon the chance to be cured, admitting that if successful the technology he created could be sold and help revitalize his poor nation.
Back at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Reed and Sue are conducting a test they hope will unlock Franklin's long-dormant mutant powers. After the test, they are met by Ben who is wondering if they have heard anything from Sharon. They reassure Ben that she will be back when she is in a better mood, however, they can't be any more incorrect as Sharon has traveled to Latveria with Doctor Doom to see about his cure. Brought down to the lab below Castle Doom, Sharon agrees to be exposed to the device and miraculously Doom manages to cure her. When Kristoff sees the results he is surprised as well, but Doom reveals it took a combination of both science and magic to restore Sharon back to normal. At that very moment at the Four Freedoms Plaza, Ben has decided to solve the problems facing Sharon and himself in his own way. Completely unaware that half a world away Sharon has been cured, Ben sneaks into Reed's lab and begins constructing a device to bombard himself with cosmic rays in the hopes of being mutated back into the Thing. When he activates the device he causes the power to surge in the headquarters, prompting Reed, Sue, and Johnny to rush to Reed's lab to investigate. There they shut off the device and pull Ben from it. Weakened, but already slowly starting to change into the Thing again, Ben tells them that he was willing to sacrifice his own humanity for the preservation of his and Sharon's love for each other.
As they get Ben to relax the Fantastic Four are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a robot that informs them that their audience is sought by Doctor Doom in Latveria. It tells them that Doom has Sharon and that in order to keep her safe they must be in Latveria within the next four hours. When the Fantastic Four arrive at Castle Doom, they are attacked by an army of Doombots. They easily make short work of these robots, including Ben who has finally reverted back to his Thing form. They then find four tunnels and realize that Doom means for them to split up. Each enters down their own tunnel where various traps are waiting for them. Johnny is forced into a room filled with water where his only chance for survival is a lone oxygen mask. Sue enters a room with a massive jungle gym where she has to battle it out with a robot, the robot's dexterity outdoes her and she is knocked out. Meanwhile, Reed is forced to enter a tunnel where the roof is lowering rapidly, forcing himself to stretch out down and low, but quickly realizes the tunnel leads to a dead end.
Meanwhile, Ben's tunnel leads him to Doom's lab where he is surprised to find Sharon has been restored to human form. When Ben tries to approach her he is blasted by Doom. Doom explains that he hasn't battled Ben since the "Battle of the Baxter Building" and vows to get revenge against him for crushing his hands all those years ago. As they fight it out, Ben suddenly mutates further into the spikier form that he obtained when he was exposed to cosmic rays a second time. In this form, Ben is even stronger than Doom's weapons and he manages to force his way to his foe and grab his hands. Before he can crush them for a second time, Sharon attacks him from behind, giving Doom the edge he needs to knock the Thing out. Suddenly he is confronted by Reed Richards, who managed to escape from the tunnel by carving his way through the limestone walls with his belt buckle. Doom is pleased and suggests that they fight to the finish using his Null-Time devices literally allowing themselves to battle it out between seconds in time. Agreeing, Reed puts on the device and the two suddenly blink out of sync with time for what may be their final battle.
This story is continued in Fantastic Four #352...
- This story finally resolves the long standing feud between Doctor Doom and his heir Kristoff Vernard. Kristoff's rise to power is as follows:
- Kristoff was taken as a ward of Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #247 when his mother was killed.
- Doctor Doom was seemingly slain by Tyros the Tamer in Fantastic Four #260.
- Thinking Doctor Doom to be dead, his Doombots reprogrammed Kirstoff's mind with that of the personality and memories of Doctor Doom in Fantastic Four #278–279 and he was imprisoned in the Four Freedoms Plaza since his defeat as seen in Fantastic Four #293
- In the meantime, the real Doctor Doom was restored to normal by the Beyonder after cheating death in Fantastic Four #288.
- Doctor Doom and Kristoff battled it out for supremacy of Latveria in Fantastic Four Annual #20 on the eve that Doom tries to free his mother from the domain of Mephisto. When Doom's use of Franklin Richards led to his failure, Doom admitted making an error causing his Doombots to believe him to be an impostor and force him out, allowing Kristoff to usurp control of Latveria. Doom had been trying to take over ever since.
- Doctor Doom claims that over the years Doombots have been acting on his behalf. Claiming that he hasn't fought the Fantastic Four since the "Battle of the Baxter Building" which took place in Fantastic Four #39–40 which ended with the Thing crushing Doom's hands. This was going to be a plot element developed during Walter Simonson's run of Fantastic Four, but when Tom Defalco took over as writer in Fantastic Four #356 it was a plot point that was quickly dropped. It was later explained in the back-up story in Fantastic Four #358 that Doom was actually live editing propaganda that was later edited by his chief propagandist the Editor to make the people of Latveria believe all his previous defeats were really Doombots acting in his place.
- Still Doom pretends that he has no idea what the Fantastic Four have been up to since the "Battle of the Baxter Building" here are the items he goes over:
- He notes that he Fantastic Four's Thing has been reverted back to his human form, this happened in Fantastic Four #326.
- The inclusion of Sharon Ventura, aka Ms. Marvel and her mutation into a She-Thing is also touched upon. Sharon joined the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #307, she was mutated by cosmic rays in Fantastic Four #310.
- The villains who appear on Doom's screen are ones that have no memory of seeing the Fantastic Four battle before. However this is a flimsy bit of exposition because some of the villains depicted here appeared prior to the "Battle of the Baxter Building" thus it seems impossible that Doom had no prior memory of them. Those villains are:
- Xemu of the 5th Dimension who originally battled the Human Torch in Strange Tales #103.
- Diablo first battled the Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #30
- The Wizard was originally a Human Torch foe who first battled the youth in Strange Tales #102 he first battled the Fantastic Four as a team in Fantastic Four #36.
- If Doom's cover is to be believed the only villains he would "not have known about" were Blastaar who appeared in Fantastic Four #62 and Psycho-Man who appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #5.
- Doom also pretends to be unaware that Johnny married "Alicia Masters" in Fantastic Four #300.
- Unknown to all, the woman claiming to be Alicia Masters is really the Skrull spy named Lyja, as revealed in Fantastic Four #358. She replaced Alicia circa Fantastic Four #265.
Some facts about Ben Grimm in this issue:
- Ben lost his powers in Fantastic Four #326, they remain lost until he purposely transforms himself again in Fantastic Four #350.
- Later on in this story he wears an exoskeleton based on his Thing form. This is based off the original that was constructed for Ben back in Fantastic Four #168 that he wore until it was destroyed in Fantastic Four #175 when Galactus forced Ben to resume his Thing form.
- Ben recently started wearing the exo-skeleton in battle on occasion beginning in Fantastic Four Annual #22.
- Doom quotes German architect [wikipedia:Ludwig Mies van der Rohe] (1886-196), not mentioning him by name: "A great man once said that God, Kristoff, is in the details." The quotation comes from "On restraint in Design" in The New York Herald Tribune (28 June 1959).
- Ben mentions how Sharon recently was restored to human form. This was when the Time Variance Authority briefly trapped the Fantastic Four on an prehistoric island without their family, as seen in Fantastic Four #345–346.
- Reed doesn't appear to be able to restore Sharon back to normal. Nobody seems to remember that the transformation into a Thing is probably psychological as Reed suggested in Fantastic Four #245, nor has he tried any of the other past methods he used to try and cure Ben, or attempted to recreate the accident that stripped Ben of his powers in Fantastic Four #326.
- Reed and Sue are trying to restore Franklin's mutants powers which have mostly been dormant since Fantastic Four #245. Reed and Sue have been trying since meeting Franklin's Earth-811 counterpart in Fantastic Four Annual #23.
- Doom succeeds in curing Sharon Ventura. Unexplained here, but later explained in Fantastic Four #375 it was in exchange for Sharon spying on the Fantastic Four on his behalf in the future. Sharon remains in human form until Fantastic Four #378 when Doom punishes Sharon from reneging on their deal.
- After being exposed to Doom's ray blaster, Ben mutates further into his "spikey form" similar to that which he had after being exposed to more cosmic rays in Fantastic Four #310. This form was last seen just as Ben was restored to human form in Fantastic Four #326.
- This story is continued in Fantastic Four #352. That story also reveals that Reed isn't fighting Doctor Doom, but Kristoff Vernard, who is standing in Doom's place.
Links and References
- The Grand Comics Database: Fantastic Four Vol 1 
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