Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards
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|Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards|
Cover to Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards #1, September 2000. Art by Duncan Fegredo.
|Publication date||September–December 2000|
|Number of issues||3|
|Main character(s)||Reed Richards
Victor von Doom
Before the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards is the second of three mini-series from Marvel Comics (the other two being Before the Fantastic Four: Ben Grimm and Logan and Before the Fantastic Four: The Storms) showing adventures the core members of the Fantastic Four had in the days before they received their powers. The series centers on Reed Richards (the future Mister Fantastic), and is a semi-humorous archaeological adventure, very much in the vein of the Indiana Jones movie series. Reed's primary opponent in this tale is Victor von Doom, who would become his archrival Doctor Doom.
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A prince named Bayan flees his (unnamed) Asian country to escape the evil General Lao-Tse (aka Lao-Tse the Mystic), who hopes to use the prince to open the Lopnor Gateway. Although he once tried to have them executed, Bayan is assisted in his flight by archaeologist Reed and his partner Alyssa Moy. On the run from Lao-Tse's henchmen, Reed fakes the trio's death by causing a landslide. After the rescue, Prince Bayan rewards Reed with the Scepter of Bast, an ancient artifact once belonging to Khafre.
In Paris, Reed meets with his former professor Roderick Van Nuys, who suffers from Sebert Syndrome, a fictional disease causing muscular degeneration. The professor has been studying the magical Claw of Bast, and knows that the scepter Reed has is one of three parts necessary for its assembly. Reed is attacked by an assailant in his own home, but escapes, and meets with Professor Francesca Fisher, who reveals the complete truth about the Claw of Bast, and manages to convince him to seek out the other components, with her as his partner.
After another flight to another unnamed Asian country, Reed, Francesca Fisher and Alyssa Moy retrieve the second component, the Eye of Bast, although Fisher is captured by Reed's mystery assailant, a man named Ko-Gar, who is working for Victor von Doom. Ko-Gar transports Fisher to Latveria for an audience with von Doom, who hopes to use the magic of the Claw of Bast to repair his face. Reed and Moy follow, to effect a rescue.
After all three escape von Doom's clutches, they travel to Giza, because the Claw can only be completed at the Sphinx. The two components allow them to enter the Sphinx, but they inadvertently allow von Doom the same access, and he combines all three components (the third being the Claw itself), completing the artifact. However, before von Doom is able to put it to use, the Sphinx itself rises up, possessed by the spirit of Khafre. Using this distraction, Reed freezes von Doom with a "Cryo Sphere" and retrieves the Claw from his frozen hand. Coincidentally enough, Francesca Fisher knows an "ancient Egyptian transfer spell" and is able to siphon Khafre's energy into the Claw from the Sphinx, rendering it a mere tourist attraction once more. Reed returns to Paris and uses the claw to cure his old professor, after which the claw is destroyed.
At the end of the series, in present day continuity while Reed is telling this story to his son Franklin, General Lao-Tse appears and uses magic to ensnare Reed, demanding to be told where Prince Bayan might be. Franklin throws one of Reed's "cryo spheres" at Lao-Tse, freezing the man solid. Reed comments that he's going to drop the frozen wizard off with Doctor Strange.
- In the miniseries, von Doom has already experienced the incident which scarred his face, but he has not yet donned his familiar mask. Additionally, he is never referred to as "Doctor Doom".