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The Way it all Began
Review and Media by Jon T

Episode #7 - The Way it all Began
Original Airdate - September 23, 1967

Dr. Doom heads towards New York, claiming diplomatic immunity. Sue and the police commissioner summon all the team members to the Baxter Building, where the Fantastic Four prepare for Doom's arrival. There, they get a message from Doom, who tells Reed that he should say goodbye to his team-mates as he only has a few hours left to live. The commissioner asks Reed why Doom hates him, and he tells him of how he and Victor von Doom used to be at the same college years ago. Ben was also there, becoming Reed's roommate, while Doom conducted a dangerous experiment that scarred his face. Doom was expelled, and blamed Reed for his disfigurement. Doom vanished, while Reed and Ben served their time in World War II. After the war, Reed developed a starship, and chose Ben to pilot it, with Sue and Johnny as the rest of the crew. During their first flight, the starship was bombarded with cosmic rays that gave the team their super-powers and turned them into the Fantastic Four. Back in the present, Doom appears at the Baxter Building and completes the story, telling of how, after his scarring, he went to Tibet and was found by a secret order of monks who give him a suit of armor. Their tales now told, Doom and Reed face each other for another battle.

Notes: Based on "The Fantastic Four" from Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961) & "Prisoners Of Dr. Doom!" from Fantastic Four #5 (July 1962), written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby.

Review: The origin of the Fantastic Four had to be told sometime, and considering the non-linear nature of most cartoons at the time, it was probably a wise move to do it in flashback. As a welcome bonus, we also get the origin of Dr. Doom too!

Unsurprisingly, both origins are taken almost verbatim from the original comics, with no needless embellishments or alterations. It's great to see just how Reed first met with Ben Grimm, and even with Victor Von Doom himself. Due to time constraints we sadly don't get to see how Red met Sue or Johnny, but we do get to see their fateful flight to the stars, which is quite different and more impressive than the interpretation seen in the opening credits. Through the origin we again get a brief glimpse of Ben's sadness about his condition, a helpful reminder about his true feelings, which weren't often dwelt upon in this show (and not at all in the 1978 version).

As for Doom, well his voice was more tolerable this time, probably helped by some stronger scenes than his last appearance. Also, having Doom simply land in New York and rightfully claim diplomatic immunity is an old, but annoyingly smart plot device used many times in the comics, and I'm sure such a move would've caught many uninformed viewers by surprise!

Dating this episode somewhat are scenes stating that Reed and Ben served in World War II (as was originally the case in the comics), complete with a few scenes from the war, one including the complete destruction of an enemy ship thanks to "The Grimm Reaper"!

In the end, it's the very fascinating back-stories that make this episode worthwhile, with the surrounding present-day segments quite illogical and simplistic, serving only as an excuse to tell the origin stories in the first place.