Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Doomed If One Can Divine The Celestial Mind Control Motif

Today's entry, much to my own surprise, still deals with Claremont's Fantastic Four...

More specifically... # 25, a double sized anniversary issue cover dated January 2000, that properly reintroduced Doctor Doom to the Marvel Universe after the Heroes Reborn experiment of the mid 90s.

Before his triumphant comeback, Doom had spent most of his time as caretaker of the Heroes Reborn Earth, a world plagued by numerous catastrophies and natural disasters. That is, until Doom got involved in an attempt to save the world from itself ánd the dreaming Celestial who seemed to be at the core of all the shenanigans too convoluted or uninteresting to cover here.

What you need to know: Doom had just shifted 'his' Earth from the Heroes Reborn pocket universe into his home dimension and he now stood ready to deal with the Dreaming Celestial, along with his trusty aide Lancer (Samantha Dunbar) and his four generals: Lady Dorma of Atlantis, the battlemage Shakti, the mind controlling Divinity and the equally mind and body controlling Technarx.

Doom and his generals encountered the Fantastic Four in the opening pages of # 25 and, after the obligatory fight scene, decided to pool their resources to deal with their common enemy: the Dreaming Celestial who was now actively trying to destroy both groups in order to achieve, erm... something. Trust me, it really doesn't matter in the end.

So, how did he plan to achieve this? Well, have you heard of a little thing called mind control?

"Too much talking. Better by far to let Divinity assimilate them.
That gains Doom all of their powers... but none of their attitude."

As soon as the champions of two worlds entered the Dreaming Celestial's sanctuary, the mind controlling Divinity was attacked and absorbed by an equally shadowy creature that effortlessly took control of Divinity's form, as Doom's ebon general started claiming victims left and right. The Invisible Woman was the first to fall, when she got coated with the dark gunk. And well... you can guess what happened next, right?

"There's something else... as though the very darkness itself was a living entity!"

Ow boy, you're not kidding... and Sue and Divinity were just the warm up act. Moments later, the tendrils growing behind them struck out. While Johnny tried to burn through them, he was struck by something rather familiar...

"No joy, Reed. Something just hit me! It's Sue's forcefield!"

Yup, a mind controlled Invisible Woman was now working for the Dreaming Celestial, using her powers to knock everyone into the Celestial creature so they would share her fate. Overcome by emotions, Mr. Fantastic tried to free his brother and law, only to be saved by Doom, who stunned him into temporary helplessness with a shock blast. Doom ordered Lancer to aid the Thing in buying him, Mr. Fantastic and young Valeria Richards (another long story) time to solve this mess, by going deeper inside the Celestial's tomb.

So, in case anyone was wondering what chance one rockmonster and a woman with laserfire fingertips have against a Celestial born living darkness ánd at least 6 of their mind controlled allies?

None whatsoever. And they knew it.

Still, as they fell, they provided Reed, Doom and Valeria with a pretty important clue as they proceeded to venture deeper into the labyrinthian Celestial slumberpit (on a sidenote: don't you just love words like that?). The tentacle thing is taking over the FF and Doom's allies for a very good reason.

"You realize, of course, what will happen when all twelve are transformed."

Not specifically, no. Because Claremont's hopelessly convoluted, overly wordy script fails to clearly explain the significance of a Celestial guard dog taking over the form of twelve, apparently random, mortals. All Reed and Doom need to know from reading a few of the tomb's glyphs: they can actually stop the Celestial if they work together to simultaneously activate a number of switches that unlock a pair of levers that will allow them to deal with the Celestial.

In order to buy her two dads (I know...) the time needed to either stretch or manipulate the levers with a forcefield, Valeria quietly sacrifices herself as well.

"The brat is no more. And I am one step closer to my freedom!"

After consuming the daughter of two men (again, don't worry about it...), the Celestial sent his creature to deal with Reed and Doom. It proved remarkably capable of claiming both in record speed.

"Be so easy to give in! But they fought to the last for me. Can I do less?"

Doom's goading inadvertently fired up Mr. Fantastic and the two men manage to simultaneously hit all the switches ánd activate the levers in the exact way the glyphs instructed them. This set in motion a termination mechanism built into the Dreaming Celestial's tomb.

Apparently, the D.C. (surely a 'subtle' reference to a fellow New York based comics company) tried to to circumvent this lethal safeguard. Its idea was to replacing the essence of the twelve living Celestial guardian statues with those of others, any others. However, since Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom had managed to escape capture, the cycle wasnt complete so hitting the kill switch restored all twelve Celestial statues as they lethally wounded their wayward brother by proxy.

It also released some rather familiar faces...

"It was... Awful! I was aware of everything I was doing... But I couldn't stop myself!"

However, Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom weren't quite so lucky. In its dying moments, the Dreaming Celestial planned to take both of them with him to the grave. In the end, only one would survive...

Well, that's not exactly true, as these posts point out... 

Spoiler alert: It's actually Reed inside Doom's armor. Fun ánd games!