Classification: Terrestrial technology
Creator: Victor von Doom
User/Possessors: Fantastic Four, Victor von Doom
First Appearance: Fantastic Four I#5 (July, 1962) (see comments)
Powers/Abilities/Functions: The "Necrophone" was built to be a communication device to contact the spirits of the netherworld, however it exploded during its initial activation.
(Fantastic Four I#5 (fb)/Fantastic Four Annual#2/1 (fb)/Fantastic Four I#278 (fb)) - After being awarded a scholarship from the visiting dean of science of Empire State University, Victor von Doom left his home in his native Latveria to go to America. While attending the university, Victor began construction of the "Necrophone".
One day, fellow student Reed Richards paid a social call to von Doom's dormitory room and saw Victor's notes on his experiment, which dealt with matter transmutation and dimensional warps. Just then, von Doom entered and angrily confronted Richards, suspecting him of spying. But having noticed that some of Victor's equations were off a few decimals in some places, Reed advised Victor to double-check his work. Victor snatched his papers from Reed's hand and ordered him to leave his room, then went to the "Necrophone" as his assistant completed the work.
Despite the warnings of his assistant about his forbidden experiment, Victor sat in the machine and ordered him to activate it. The "Necrophone" exploded -- his assistant escaped with minor injuries, but von Doom's face was left hopelessly disfigured (see comments).
(Fantastic Four III#509) - Many years later, after the Thing had been slain during a battle with Dr. Doom, Mr. Fantastic searched for some way to revive his friend. As he delved into researching the afterlife, he was reminded of Doom's device and built a new model, correcting the flaw that existed in Doom's version. Contacting the Invisible Woman and Human Torch, he told them that he proposed to use the machine to enter the afterlife, find Ben Grimm's spirit, and return to Earth. The two agreed to his plan and activated the machine.
(Fantastic Four III#510) - After arriving in the afterlife, the trio abandoned the machine to begin their search for Ben.
(Fantastic Four III#511 - BTS) - The reunited Fantastic Four were ultimately returned to Earth via "God", who cautioned Reed that the device would not work a second time.
Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
I don't believe this device has ever officially been named, but for the purposes of this profile, I'm calling it the "Necrophone" (or as an alternative, it could probably be called the "Necroscope").
Initially, it was stated that Victor's intentions for building the "Necrophone" were just to contact the netherworld -- it was later elaborated that its purpose was to contact the spirit of his deceased mother.
The "Necrophone" was briefly introduced in a one-panel flashback in Fantastic Four I#5, but the story of its creation, along with the involvement of Reed Richards, was fleshed out in Fantastic Four Annual#2/1 (1964).
The "Necrophone" has been seen in numerous flashbacks regarding the origin of Dr. Doom.
Victor's assistant was not identified in the original stories, but in Fantastic Four I#278, when Dr. Doom's ward, Kristoff Vernard, was being subjected to the Remembrancer and relived Doom's memories, he was finally identified as "Kurtz".
And in Books of Doom, he was identified as Daniel Kurtz.
Further, it was shown in the Remembrancer-induced flashback that Victor's injury resulting from the explosion was only a long, thin scar running down the left side of his face -- this was something that could easily have been repaired with plastic surgery, and a normal man would have been grateful to have escaped with such a minor injury, but the vain von Doom's colossal ego had magnified this relatively minor wound to the point that -- in his eyes -- his once-handsome face was now destroyed; Victor's face was further disfigured when he later encountered an order of monks who fashioned his mask for him, and he ordered them to put the still glowing red-hot mask upon his face.
There's an urban legend going around that inventor Thomas Edison had worked on a device that could communicate with the dead -- I've heard this on the Coast to Coast AM radio program, so you can take it for what it's worth...
In a flashback in Mephisto vs. Fantastic Four#1, Mephisto
claimed that the phone did summon him to Earth. He
arrived in the room but was unnoticed by Doom as
he was left unconscious. However, Reed Richards (who
had run into the room to check on Doom after hearing
the explosion) saw Mephisto and made a deal with him.
The above comment was revealed as false.
In the novel Doomgate by Jeffrey Lang, we discover that a student at ESU named Frank Forester facilitated von Doom's access to resources for his "Necrophone". In the present of the novel (which follows Civil War) a student at ESU named Stanislaw Klemp (the name homages the author of Solaris) finds one of von Doom's notebooks and reconstructs the machine. It summons a demon who possesses him. The demon recruits Hydro-Man, Electro, Vapor and Chemistro on page 142.
Profile by John Kaminski and Prime Eternal
The "Necrophone" has no known connections to
images: (without ads)
Fantastic Four Annual#2, p9, pan7 (main image)
Fantastic Four I#278, p8, pan5 (mirror's reflection of Victor's injury from explosion)
Fantastic Four I#5 (July, 1962) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks)
Fantastic Four Annual#2 (1964) - Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (pencils), Chic Stone (inks)
Fantastic Four I#278 (May, 1985) - John Byrne (writer/pencils), Jerry Ordway (inks), Michael Carlin (editor)
Fantastic Four III#509-510 (March-April, 2004) - Mark Waid (writer), Mike Wieringo (penciler), Karl Kesel (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Fantastic Four: Doomgate (November, 2008) - Jeffrey Lang (writer)
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
Last Updated: 08/25/07
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