Comic Legends: How Triumph & Torment Squelched 'Young Fantastic Four'

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The Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom graphic novel, Triumph and Torment, led to the cancellation of Dwayne McDuffie's Young Fantastic Four graphic novel



On our recent countdown of your picks for the Greatest Comic Book One-Shots, "Done in One" Stories and Original Graphic Novels (you can see the entire master list of the countdown here), the #9 original graphic novel on the list was Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom - Triumph and Torment by Roger Stern, Mike Mignola and Mark Badger, a 1989 graphic novel about Doctor Strange helping rescue Doctor Doom's mother from Mephisto...

The graphic novel was a hit and it is obviously still a very well-received graphic novel. However, it also led to the cancellation of an original graphic novel that Dwayne McDuffie had sold to Marvel tentatively called Young Fantastic Four (I doubt the final project would have actually been called Young Fantastic Four. I think that was just a placeholder title by McDuffie).

The concept of the series was that we would see how the four members of the Fantastic Four all met in the past, and then tie in to a plot in the present where Doctor Doom finds a way to sort of save his mother by taking over Hell itself and then bringing the Earth to Hell, where his mother will be free and he will be in charge of Earth (and he will have proven himself superior to Reed Richards).

Here is an early snippet from McDuffie's plot (check out the whole thing here)...

The big news in the boardinghouse these days is the impending visit of Reed's old roommate, All-American football star (Heisman Trophy winner? What position did he play? And what did he get his degree in anyway, Aviation? Also, why didn't he play pro ball?) Ben Grimm, who is coming by (perhaps on leave from the Air Force?) to spend some time with his old buddy.

On the roof of Jewel's brownstone, Johnny shows Sue the toy Reed built for him, a remote-controlled flying vehicle (which may visually prefigure the "flying bathtub" Fantasticar). They argue about Reed. Johnny thinks that Reed is too cool to be interested in "mushy stuff". Sue contends that Reed loves her. "He just doesn't know it yet."

Meanwhile, Jewel has let in a visitor, an old classmate of Reed's, and calls Reed down to meet him. The figure, who wears a hooded cloak that shrouds his face, is known to Reed but isn't who he expected. He is VICTOR VON DOOM. Doom claims, in an especially unconvincing manner, that his arrival is coincidence. He simply needs a room, and although this place isn't up to his usual standards... Sue and Johnny enter the sitting room. Johnny races towards Doom shouting, "Mister Grimm?" Doom pushes him away and Johnny hits the floor. Sue threatens, "You hit my brother again and I'll pound you !" "I don't need my dumb sister to stick up for me, I'll pound him myself!", Johnny protests.

"Don't call your sister 'dumb', kid. She was just lookin out for ya." It's Ben Grimm, standing in the doorway. "Hi, stretch. You didn't tell me this was a class reunion. I like the hood, Doomsie. But if I had a puss like yours, I'd do the public a favor and stay off the street !"

Ignoring Ben, Doom comes on courtly with Jewel. He made a mistake, Johnny surprised him. With Reed's encouragement, Jewel gives Doom a room. Doom retires to it.

Reed makes introductions. Johnny is impressed by Ben and adds to his sister's introduction. "She's Reed's fiancé." Embarrassment all around. Johnny is confused, Ben amused. Jewel shoos Sue and Johnny away to prepare for dinner, then leaves herself. On the way out, Sue smacks Johnny on the head. "What'd I dooo?", he whines.

Ben wants to know why Reed encouraged Jewel to let Doom stay. Doom has been obsessed with proving he's Reed's superior ever since "the accident."

Of course, since Doom's mom was being saved in the aforementioned Triumph and Torment graphic novel, McDuffie's plot could no longer be used.

McDuffie later did a What If...? with Luke McDonnell (What If...? #18) where he used a lot of those same plot points...

Only this time, the scale was smaller and the warps only brought Doom's mother to him rather than bringing Earth to hell...

It's a shame that McDuffie's graphic novel couldn't be made, but even the late, great McDuffie noted, "Not only did Roger's story kill my project, the damned thing was so incredibly well done, I couldn't even bitch in good conscience."

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Were H.R. Giger's designs for Alien too freaky for United States Customs?

OK, that's it for this week!

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