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Doctor Doom Survey


As you may be aware, this blog is being written as part of the research for my PhD thesis, which is (currently!) called "Doctor Doom In The Marvel Age: An Empirical Approach To Transmedia Character Coherence". I'm trying to read through every appearance by Doctor Doom in all narrative media from his first appearance in Fantastic Four #5 up until Thor #383, the last comic with Doom in it with Jim Shooter as editor-in-chief. I wrote a (rather long-winded) explanation of why those are the dates when I began all this a couple of years ago, but the short version is that that's what I'm calling "The Marvel Age".

The reason for reading them is to help me find out who Doctor Doom "is", as much as a fictional character really "is" anybody. Part of my methodology is to generate an empirical approach to this, so that it can be re-done for other characters, and as part of all that I'm doing an online survey to try and find out what other people think Doom's core characteristics are. Hopefully this will be a way to get a starting list for his characteristics that doesn't just rely on my own ideas of who Doom is, as well as maybe pointing me in the direction of some aspects I haven't noticed before.

I'd be very grateful to anybody who wishes to take part - the link to the survey is here:

http://www.mjhibbett.co.uk/doom/survey/

It's completely anonymous, but you can also leave your email address at the end (unlinked to the main survey) to get updates on how it all goes if you'd like. It should only take about twenty minutes to complete, and is very much Not A Test - I'm as interested in finding out what aspects of Doctor Doom people don't know about as the aspects they do!

The more responses I can get for this the better, so do feel free to share this with other people who might be interested!

posted 1/4/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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What If The Avengers Were The Last Superheroes On Earth?


Doom appears a couple of times in this story, but never actually speaks. It's a re-telling of Avengers Annual #2, where Doom also had a very brief cameo. In that one he was acting in his role as an Avatar of Villainy, leading a group of supervillains in order to show that this is a major grouping of powerful baddies. He fulfils much the same function here, rather neatly appearing with exactly the same characters as before, getting soundly beaten by the Avengers. These "What If?" stories are all a bit rubbish (technical terminology), but I do like the way that they do at least seem to have been properly researched. This is shown by having the correct baddies in Doom#s first appearance and also in his second, as part of a very brief recap of his first meeting with Rama Tut, the baddie behind the Scarlet Centurion's mask. Here we see Doom getting picked up in Rama Tut's spaceship, seen from the opposite angle to the one shown in the original comics. That - and his appearance on the cover lying comatose - is the lot for Doom appearances in this story. We'll be back to something approaching normal soon, as we return to the world of "Spider-man" cartoons, but until then I'll leave you with this rather delightful image of Rama Tut/The Scarlet Centurion's collection of neatly shelved life-size superhero figures. It's like an eerie prediction of the Forbidden Planet shop window!


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posted 31/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Fantastic Mr. Frump!


Last time we loooked at an episode of the 1981 cartoon "Spider-man", a series which never aired in the UK (at least not in my ITV region). This week we're looking at a series that definitely did, as "Spider-man and his Amazing Friends" appeared on ITV at just the right time in life for me to be incredibly (very cleverly) cynical about it, mocking it constantly for its silly storylines and wooden acting. I still watched it every week though!

Both series were broadcast at the same time in the US, although where "Spider-man" was quite like the comics, "Amazing Friends" had a much more sitcom-like attitude, with regular interludes where Spider-man, Iceman and Firestar (the "Amazing Friends") would hang around in the home they shared with Aunt May and Firestar's dog, Ms Lion.

The show ran for three season, but Doctor Doom only appears in two episodes, and one of those is a barely noticeable cameo. Despite this, he has a regular space right at the end of the title sequence, a top billing which shows yet again what a recognisable, marketable, character he's become. It's noticeable that this version of Doom has the lighter coloured tunic and darker elbow/knee details of the "Spider-man" cartoon, although the image used for the title card is the classic John Buscema pose which crops up time and again in Marvel marketing.

The action begins at the Latverian embassy, although for some reason the spelling has been changed here to "Latvaria". Doom stands on the roof, wearing an amulet that reminded me, through no fault of its own, of the one from Sabre Wulf - a game which, by the way, I was national champion of in Crash magazine for two months running, although I don't like to go on about it. As stated earlier, this version of Doom is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the one in "Spider-man", with a longer tunic and slightly different mask. Whilst researching these two series online I found that there's no clear relationship between them, despite both being made at the same time. Characters appear in both series, and occasionally events from one are vaguely referenced in others, but stories also contradict each other.

Excitingly, if you're the sort of person excited by Doom's supporting cast, this cartoon also features Boris, the old retainer, who is sent to collect the final piece of the amulet which will give Doom "the power of the universe". After an (annoying) interlude with Peter Parker and Firestar's dog, we see Boris pop into a museum and steal the final piece of the amulet. It takes about 3 seconds to do it and nobody chases him, which explains why Doom chose an old man for this mission rather than bothering to send the robots.

While all that's going on Spider-man and his Amazing Friends are heading back from a trip to a baseball game (in their civilian identities) where they bump into a sad figure who Peter recognises as Mr Frump, an old friend of his Aunt's, getting the sack from his job. Firestar rather patronisingly tells him to keep his hopes up as "you never know when good luck will strike." "Sure," he says, and slumps off.

Back at the embassy, Doom has assembled the amulet and has got Boris switching on a transmitter which "will mix the ancient with the new, science with sorcery" - a classic characteristic of Doctor Doom. The magic words on the amulet will, apparently, bring forth a cosmic ray which will make Doom "Lord of all the earth - and beyond!" The Amazing Friends are still heading home from the baseball game, and decide to have a race back. It's a weirdly childish bit of action which, I remember at the time, made me think that this series was definitely "for kids". While taking a shortcut to try and catch up with the others, Spider-man sees Doom up to something, but before he can stop him Doom casts his spell. "I didn't know you were into magic", says Spidey, which seems a bit odd, as he definitely is, and then uses his webs to knock Doom over. The amulet goes flying and lands at the feet of Mr Frump, who gets struck with the cosmic ray and becomes "the most powerful being in the universe." At this point I have to pause and say how familiar this storyline is to Fantastic Four #234, where the most powerful being on earth is a dowdy middle-aged man called Skip Collins who doesn't realise he has amazing powers. That comic has a cover date of September 1981, so I wonder if it's just a coincidence, or if one of the storylines was based on the other?

Back in the cartoon, someone tells Mr Frump to "Bug off". "You bug off," he replies, and the nasty person gets turned into a giant insect. Mr Frump runs away! Later some kids tease him and he tells them to "go jump in a lake", so they do. He tells another to "clam up" and they turn into... a clam. Gradually he comes to realise that his dreams can all come true, and gives himself new clothes, a carriage, a hotdog, and a pet cat. Who can honestly say they would choose differently?

Back outside the embassy Doom and the Amazing Friends are fighting over the pieces of amulet, with Doom keeping the three heroes at bay fairly easily, stunning them with a "sonic siren" and blasting them with some pretty impressive Kirby Krackle. It's only when Frump starts to get more ambitious, changing the sky to rainbows and turning the buildings psychadelic, that they realise someone else has taken the power of the amulets. Frump summons Doctor Doom to explain what's going on, and Doom thinks quickly, saying that he deliberately gave Frump the powers. He offers guidance, suggesting that the Amazing Friends are his deadly enemies, so Frump summons them and turns them into stone. Doom and Frump have a good old laugh about this. While Doom rages about the amulet also getting turned to stone, Frump next summons Aunt May to be his companion. She's frightened to see Firestar has been statufied (she's not bothered about Iceman and Spider-man) so Frump brings them all back to life and then, when Doom protests, removes their superpowers. For someone with all the power in the universe he's very easily swayed!

Doom still has all his own abilities and is about to crush the heroes when Frump summons "all the money in the world", which falls on Doom's head, allowing them to escape. Frump then summons a big car, a yacht, and a massive telly. Doom suggests that a better entertainment might be to force the friends to fight various historical monsters. He gives them back their powers to do this, and it culminates with them fighting "the weirdest creature in the universe." When Aunt May takes fright Doctor Doom loses his patience and blasts her into the arena, where the creature grabs her. Frump decides to save her, transforming into "Wonder Frump - the most powerful superhero in the world." He beats the creature, saves Aunt May and flies off, leaving the Amazing Friends stuck with Doctor Doom. He offers them a deal - join forces with him to stop Frump. Again, it's a classic bit of Doom plotting, as they face a villain so evil that they must all join forces.

Doom tricks Frump by telling him that his powers will disappear in an hour unless he repeates the original incantation. The Amazing Friends back him up, though they have to cross their fingers behind their backs to get away with fibbing. Doom fools him into repeating all of the original circumstances, stealing the amulet for himself so that this time he'll get the cosmic powers. A battle breaks out in which Doom kidnaps Aunt May and Frump decides to save her. In the confusion the amulet gets smashed, depriving both Doom and Frump of the powers of the universe. "But there is another amulet somewhere", says Doom, "and I will never stop searching for it". As good as his word, he flies off into the sky to start looking right away. Everything returns to normal as everyone forgets what's happened, and that's the end of the show. I must admit I was sort of relieved to find that "Spider-man and his Amazing Friends" was just as rubbish as I remembered it when I first watched, and I'm glad that Doom's other appearances are going to be in the much better "Spider-man" show!



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posted 27/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Dr. Doom, Master Of The World


Today we kick of a substantial run of Doom appearances in the 1981 "Spider-man" cartoon series. There was only ever one season of this show, but Doom appeared repeatedly, and as a result appears in the titles sequence several times - in fact a lot more often than more traditioanal spidey villains like The Green Goblin! This episode features an awful lot of early Doom signifiers, with the United Nations being mentioned in the first few seconds as the President's plane is captured by another great Doom tradition - a futuristic blimp. It's even piloted by robots! While this is going on Peter Parker is waiting at the airport to take some pictures of the president arriving. When he hears that the president has disappeared he changes into his Spider-man costume and zooms off to hire a plane so he can go investigate. Perky music alerts us to hilarity as he finds Wilbur Moses, a "World War One Flying Ace" who takes him off to see what's going on. I do like the implied gag here that Wilbur flew for the Germans! Up in the blimp Doom and his robots are operating on the president, giving him a "remote mind implant" which will put his thoughts under Doom's control. This version of Doctor Doom speaks with a very deep, modulated voice, not dissimilar to Darth Vader's. He also wears a costume very similar to his usual comics one, except that his tunic is a much lighter colour. All in all it's a very professionally done version of the character, much more in line with the Hanna Barbera cartoon from 1967 than the dreadful New Fantastic Four of 1978.

Spidey and Wilbur fly close to the "futuristic blimp" and Spidey immediately realises that "there's only one man I know who could create an overgrown balloon like that", clearly implying that he and Doom have history predating this series. Spider-man uses his webs to transfer over to the blimp, finds a handy doorway, and almost immediately runs into Doom's robots. He uses his webs again, this time to turn the robots into puppets who then punch each others' heads off. He finds Airforce One but is then faced with Doctor Doom, and the pair indulge in some verbal sparring. "You never learn, do you", says Doom, once again implying a history between them, before pulling a lever which drops both Spider-man and the plane out of the bottom of the blimp. Nobody in the plane seems to notice anything wrong and it merrily carries on with its journey, with Spider-man stuck onto the side. It lands, and Peter Parker goes home, sneaking in past a sleeping Aunt May.

Back in the blimp, meanwhile, Doctor Doom is adding a remote mind implant to the representative from South Africa, which completes his collection of world leaders under his control. The only one he's not done yet is the secretary general of the United Nations - yes, it's that old chestnut again, Doom is planning to get the United Nations to vote him in as master of the world! It's a plot that's been used many many times in various comics, cartoons and newspaper strips over the years, despite the ongoing fact that the United Nations really does not work like that!

The plan is "foolproof" according to Doom, but "just in case" he sends a nuclear-powered flying robot to keep Spider-man out of the way. Spider-man himself is heading to the offices of the Daily Bugle to show off some of his pictures of the president. He's spent all his bus money on hiring a pilot earlier, so has to web-swing his way to work, and during this he gets into a fight with the flying robot. When he finally makes it into the Daily Bugle offices he meets longstanding supporting characters like Betty Brant and J Jonah Jameson, plus a new cartoon cast member, Jonah's nephew Mortimer. He's a prat! Peter and Mortimer head to the UN to cover the extraordinary meeting where they see the secretary general trying to warn everyone what's happened to the other delegates, only to be stopped by Doom's robots bursting in with sleeping gas guns. With everyone else knocked out Spidey (whose "super spidey breath" has saved him) follows the robots as they take the secretary general up onto the roof and into Doom's blimp. However, before he can assist Doom captures him in some sort of freeze ray. Spidey keeps on quipping, which clearly annoys Doom who says "where you are going, there are no jokes". He sets the blimp on a course to crash into the statue of liberty and then teleports back to the UN Assembly, where his robots drain the sleeping gas so that everyone wakes up. The mind-controlled secretary general nominates Doom to be world leader, everybody votes in favour, and suddenly Doctor Doom is Master Of The World! High above, Spidey manages to fire a "super hot wad of web fluid" through the skin of the blimp, blowing air out of the side and thus diverting the balloon just enough to miss the statue of liberty. The strain of all this breaks the freeze ray and he's free to web-spin his way down the side of the statue and back to the UN Assembly. Phew!

When he gets there, however, he's surprised to find that Doctor Doom really is master of the world now, as he orders a couple of security guards to take Spidey away. Spidey escapes, and figures it all out. "Doom wasn't elected legally", he thinks to himself, which is certainly one way of putting it. Knowing that he has international law on his side Spider-man rushes into action, grabbing Doom's computer and thus (incredibly easily) taking control of his robots, forcing them to turn on their master. Doom responds with one last classic move - he ignites his back-pack rockets and escapes out of a window! Spider-man uses the robots to send things right, removing the mind control implants. All that remains is for Peter Parker to return to the offices of the Daily Bugle to sell some pictures of his adventures to J Jonah Jameson. With money in his pocket he invites to Betty to the pictures, where they're showing a film about "a strange super guy from another planet who's allergic to green rocks" (arf!) but before they go he's embarrassed by a call from Aunt May, who's worried about him missing his bedtime. It's a standard-issue not very funny "joke ending" to one of these cartoons, which is a bit of a let down after a surprisingly enjoyable, well made (for its time) cartoon. There's a lot more of these to come, including a visit next time to a whole other series - "Spider-man And His Amazing Friends"!



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posted 20/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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More Marvel Superheroes That Didn't Quite Make It


We're back in the (very) occasionally amusing world of Crazy Magazine, for what seems to be at least part two of a sequence of strips by Paul Kirchner poking gentle fun at superhero stereotypes. This includes Conan The Commuter running for the "great metallic hell-spawned serpent" that is the 08:02 train to Penn Station, Ms Punk ("they gave her a medal - she pinned it on her cheek!") and my favourite, "Plot Device Man" Doctor Doom makes a fleeting appearance in a five panel gag about "When Bruce Bummer was bitten by a radioactive oppossum he became ... Possum Man!" Doom is only in a single panel, doing his usual job in these situations of being The Avatar Of Villainy, demonstrating Possum Man's greatest power when faced with any and all supervillains. It's not exactly a side-splitter, but it does feature a pretty faithful depiction of Doom, even if the rings around his arms makes the costume look like the version used during his run in "Astonishing Tales" over then years beforehand. Next time we start on a run of appearances in the "Spider-man" and "Spider-man And His Amazing Friends" cartoons. Stand by for action!



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posted 17/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Knightmare!


When I looked at the first part of this story I mentioned that I've often seen it mentioned as a "classic" Iron Man story, but that it didn't really feel this way. This issue doesn't either - it does, however, feel like a classic Doctor Doom story.

It's Iron Man's name on the cover, but it feels like he's only there to highlight how much more interesting a character Doom is. All the way through the two are contrasted, and at each turn Doom comes off as more dynamic and interesting. I know that this may be due to the fact that I'm about two thirds of the way through reading several hundred Doctor Doom stories, but I'm pretty sure it would feel that way to someone who hasn't read so many!

The story begins where the last one left off, with the two characters falling through time and landing in a place that turns out to be ... Camelot! Doom quickly works out what's happened - he was planning to use the time machine next to visit Morganna Le Fey for advice, and so that was where it was set to take them when Hauptmann switched it on - but before they can deal with the situation they're apprehended by a bunch of knights on horseback. As we'll see throughout this story, this is a story where an awful lot of characters are wearing expressionless masks! The knights tell them to kneel and Doom, obviously, refuses. A big fight breaks out between him and the knights, which is only broken up by Iron Man pointing out that allowing themselves to be captured will at least get them into the castle. Here they meet a rather grumpy looking King Arthur, who challenges them to demonstrate their "magical powers". Iron Man responds with the old "reverse magnetic field" trick to raise Arthur's throne into the air (which I guess must be made of iron somehow?), whereas Doom refuses to have anything to do with such showing off and simply presents his credentials as a fellow ruler. That's good enough for Arthur and so the two men are sent away to their respective rooms. We first of all see Tony Stark, who is visited in his room by a fair maiden who tells him that "In Camelot, royal guests are provided with companionship during their stay." It's pretty clear that she doesn't mean someone to play Ye Olde Scrabble with, and Stark is delighted. Was there ever a time when this was anything other than massively dodgy? Before it can get any worse we switch to Doom's room, where he is visited by another maiden. The previous page was so very sleazy that it almost seems better when Doom decides to hypnotise her, forcing her to tell him where Morganna Le Fey is. Once he's got that information he blasts a hole in the wall, zaps a passing guard, and carries out one of his signature moves - flying out of a window! Next morning King Arthur tells Iron Man what's happened, filling in some Arthurian Legend Backstory about his sister Morganna and her fights with Merlin. At the same time the maiden who Doom hypnotised is shown to be still under his spell - this is done, I guess, to remind us that Doom is the villain, and that the character who has spent the night enjoying the "companionship" of a woman under orders from her feudal owner is the hero.

While this is going on Doom arrives at Morganna Le Fey's castle, which looks quite a lot like his own. It's worth noting that we're getting a lot more pages featuring Doctor Doom in this story than the nominal hero, and this continues as he works his way past various traps and ends up flying into Morganna Le Fey's castle, where we meet an extremely 1980s version of the legendary character herself. Doom explains that he's come to ask for her help as part of his ongoing quest to free his mother from hell, and relates the story of his annnual attempt to free her through a battle with demons, as first mentioned way back in Astonishing Tales #8. Le Fey in turn tells him that she's trapped in her own castle, and the pair make a deal for Doom to lead an attack on Camelot for her, in return for some Magical Training. Before you know it Doom is heading back with an amry of undead knights behind him. This is spotted by a sentry, who I think reacts as we all would. Boring old Iron Man tries to talk him out of the attack but Doom, of course, refuses, and a Big Fight breaks out between King Arthur's knights, a load of zombies, Iron Man and Doctor Doom. Thanks to John Romita Jr and (especially) Bob Layton it all looks gorgeous - everything is so shiny!

Eventually Iron Man works out that Doom has never previously had the power to raise the dead, so somebody else must be doing it. He zooms back to Le Fey's castle which he's able to find because "King Arthur gave me its general location during our talks yesterday", which is handy. Here we finally get a few pages of the lead character in action, as he fights some mystic shadows and a dragon, which he defeats using a previously unmentioned tube of freon which he just so happens to keep in his... shoulder? Also handy! This allows him to confront Morganna Le Fey who is not happy at all. "Ohhhh, you make me hate you", she says, and then disappears in a mystical huff, causing all of her zombies to suddenly collapse on the battlefield. Doom works out who's responsible and how he's done it and flies back to the castle ready for what Iron Man expects is going to be another punch-up. However, Doom points out that things have changed, and that they'd be better off working together now in order to get home again. Iron Man (who is meant to be one of the world's smartest men) is taken by surprise, and when he asks Doom how he can trust him we get a Classic Doom response. again, Doom is playing the lead role in all of this, with Iron Man simply reacting - it feels like David Micheline is enjoying writing him a lot more!

There then follows several pages of what would be, in a movie, a Working Together Montage, as the two men take their own suits of armour to pieces in order to build a device to send them home. They're both impressed by the skill of the other but, of course, would never say it aloud. Just before they switch the device on they agree a twenty four hour truce for when they get back, to give each other time to get home, then back they go in an oddly Ditko-esque splash of time travel. And that's pretty much that - all that's left is a one page "epilogue" which sees them arriving home, agreeing to have a Big Fight when they next meet, and then going their seperate ways. As I've said (repeatedly) this has very much felt like a Doctor Doom story, and it's one I've thoroughly enjoyed. I'm extremely aware of the fact that we're getting very close to looking at comics that I bought when they actually came out, and that's probably why I'm starting to enjoying the reading process so much. Everybody knows that the comics you read when you were eleven years old are the best comics you'll ever read, and there's some right crackers coming up on the horizon. Before that, however, we've got a whole heap of cartoons to watch, starting next time!


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posted 12/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Doomquest!


This is sometimes talked of as a "Classic story" for both Iron Man and Doctor Doom but, having read it, I think it's more likely that the next (double-sized) issue is the fondly remembered classic, as this one is more of a regular episode of "Iron Man", albeit one which has some important aspects of Doom's ongoing story in it as well.

Doom doesn't actually get mentioned until about 6 pages in, as the first 5 pages are concerned with Iron Man stopping a bunch of terrorists from hijacking a Stark International freighter ship. It's all inked by Bob Layton, so everybody involved looks very slick and shiny! Once he's foiled the baddies, Iron Man flies back to Long Island where he changes into a business suit for the Annual Meeting of Stark International's Regional Managers. He swoops in and swiftly fires one of his regional managers for selling electronic goods to Latveria. It's interesting that Latveria is still on the restricted sales list despite the fact that Prince Zorba is still in charge and, apparently, considered benevolent. The mere fact of Doctor Doom's presence in the country is still enough to stop Stark International trading with them.

Doom himself, meanwhile, has been on a trip into the past to learn the secrets of a magician called Cagliostro. This trip is not really important to the overal story in this issue, and is instead presented as a glimpse into Doom's day to day business, away from his more famous occupation as a supervillain. There are three nuggets of Doom-related storyworld in this section - first of all the contact with Hauptmann, the frustrated brother of another lackey previously murdered by Doom, secondly the use of his Time Machine, and final the lightning-bound castle in "the small european nation of Latveria". This castle is clearly based on the version drawn by Frank Miller a while ago, which has become the default design, even down to the constant bad weather surrounding it. Which castle is this meant to be though? The text clearly says it's in Latveria, so can't be the one we saw recently in New York state, but if Zorba is still in charge then it can't be the one in Doomstadt either. Maybe Doom liked the one in America so much he had another one built at home to exactly the same design?

Doom returns to his lab and congratulates Hauptmann for his work, using the people management skills that have made him so successful i.e. he tells Hauptmann that he won't kill him today. This genial atmosphere doesn't last for long, however, as Hauptmann has to deliver the bad news that their shipment of electronics has been turned back. I must admit to being a bit confused here - were the "terrorists" from earlier on actually employees of Doom, and if not, why didn't he stop them himself? Either way, Doom is livid, and stomps off leaving Hauptmann bristling at his own cowardice in still working for him. Doom sends a team to America to take back the shipment which he'd ordered and, apparently, paid for. They find Iron Man waiting for them, but with the help of their Doom-built submarine/tractor/aircraft thing they manage to escape, although this does not leave them enough time to actually pack the shipment away, instead zooming off like someone who's left their coffee cup on the roof of the car. Tony Stark flies off to Latveria to try and sort things out, and is met by armed guards. However, just as he's preparing to fight, he's surprised to discover that they're actually there to welcome him. Zorba is hoping that Iron Man will be coming along too, and that he'll somehow be able to keep Doom busy and stop him staging a counter-revoluton. Zorba doesn't actually appear in this story but his presence is definitely felt, especially here in the "new" Latveria. It's a nice bit of continuity from Dave Micheline, using the current storyworld situation to generate a fresh plot.

Iron Man does indeed show up, and flies to Doom's castle where... hang on, how does everybody know this is Doom's castle? Isn't that where Zorba lives now? Or does he really have another one stashed away - but if so, why don't the Latverian police pop over there to re-arrest him? It seems that what they meant by "keep him busy" was "do our job for us please"!

Anyway, Iron Man goes to this castle and quickly runs into another great signifier of Doom - robots! Iron Man makes quick work of the robots and finally reaches Doom himself, who is quite off-hand with the person he believes is just one of Tony Stark's employees. He points out that the consignment was paid for quite properly, and refuses to engage in any further negotiations with "a lackey". Iron Man refuses to leave until he gets the equipment back, and Doom retaliates by... shooting rocks out of his fingers? This is a brand new ability of Doom's armour, and quite a weird one at that. Iron Man manages to fight his way out of the instant avalanche and flies into the main laboratory area, where Doom gives chase. A big punch-up ensues! We see Hauptmann watching while all this is going on, and when the fight makes its way to the time machine he sees his chance and quickly switches it on, sending both hero and villain into the time stream. (I always think it's really weird when American superheroes say "Bloody". It sounds like such an English swear word - it pops up a few times in this comic, so maybe it's something David Micheline knew he could get past the censors?)

The story ends with Hauptmann smashing up the Time Machine's controls, thus marooning his boss in the distant past, and having a right old Super-villain cackle about his victory. And so ends this instalment of a story which has so far made excellent use of Doom's current storyline, a feat made more impressive by the fact that it's been carried on over several different series and creative teams over the past few months. We'll find out how it all ends... next time!



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posted 5/3/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Rogue Storm!


This issue begins right where the last one finished, with Nightcrawler finding himself two miles in the air, having teleported out of the trap we saw him in last time. He's bamfed himself two miles into the sky in order to be sure he's not teleporting into anything solid, but it does have the very slight disadvantage of meaning he's, well, two miles up in the air. Happily for all concerned he manages to glide down (using handy "updrafts") towards the lake that now seems to be next to Doom's castle, where he has time for a very soggy recap of the previous two issues.

With that all sorted out we go back to the inside of the castle, where Doom is explaining to Arcade that he personally designed the X-Men's traps (so not Arcade himself then) to test, rather than contain, them. Meanwhile an unnatural storm is raging, apparently caused by the Storm (the character) who has intense claustrophobia after being trapped inside a metal case. This leads to a nice chat between two of Doom's henchmen, Toby and Phil. We've seen Doom's henchmen turned into human beings on several occasions over the years, and even though these ones may be dressed slightly differently to their Latverian counterparts, it's heartening to see that Doom still hires chatty staff. Sadly Toby and Phil get knocked unconscious by Nightcrawler as he makes his way into the castle.

Meanwhile Colossus, Angel and Wolverine break out of their own traps, with Wolverine first to make it back to Doom's control room where he, alarmingly, stabs Robot Storm in the face then goes for Doom himself. Doom is impressed by what he takes to be Wolverine's ruthlessness, but is then disappointed by his apparent over-confidence in a fight. At this point Nightcrawler appears and brings Doctor Doom down, so that Wolverine can threaten him with a stab in the eye if he doesn't free Storm. He agrees, but the shock of seeing Storm released in a flash of light (and wearing what is basically two strips of toilet roll) distracts the heroes, so that Doom can zap them with his hand blasters. "Just as he'd planned", explains the text box. Storm is absolutely furious about being trapped, and goes a bit Dark Phoenix (actually a LOT Dark Phoenix), blasting Colossus when he tries to calm her down and posing such a threat to them all that Doom is forced to take charge of the situation. John Byrne can say what he likes about Claremont's characterisation, but this strikes me as a great use of one of Doom's main characteristics - taking control in emergencies with such authority that even superheroes are forced to fall into line. In the end it is Storm herself who brings things to a close, regaining control when Colossus points out that yes, this is all a bit of a rip-off of the Dark Phoenix story. She returns to earth where she asks Doom to hand Arcade over to them, and even makes him apologise for being rude. Doom agrees and then apologises again to Storm for attacking her team. This is just about within the realms of possibility for Doom's usual character - he's always saying he's a man of honour, but he's not usually prone to apologies, so it does seem a little odd. That, however, is as nothing compared to what comes next, when Doom basically asks Storm if they can be friends, and she says yes! Didn't he just completely trap her in her worst nightmare, causing her to lose control and almost go the way of the recently killed Jean Grey? And doesn't he look super creepy, leering at her through the mask? There are indeed some issues with Doom's characterisation, but maybe the problem isn't with Chris Claremonts understanding of Doom, but with his understanding of human beings altogether. If someone had dressed me up in loo roll, trapped me in tinfoil and kidnapped my friends, I would be blocking them on social media immediately!

And so ends an odd story, which sees Doom's grand return to Marvel continuity gently fading away from a big planned event and into business as usual. It seems a shame, but at least the next time we see him it'll be for an all-time Doom classic, in the realm of King Arthur!



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posted 28/2/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Tell Joey I Love Him


Doom only makes a very small appearance in this comic, which sees Dazzler continuing her Spider-man-esque life, struggling to pay her bills while almost reluctantly fighting crime. Here she wears herself out at work then teams up with an even lower league superhero called The Blue Shield to fight against a stolen piece of military weaponry called - brilliantly - The Think Tank. Doom pops up right at the start as part of a dream sequence which serves as a handy recap of the past two issues, as a delirious Dazzler imagines herself being shouted at by Doom, Nightmare, and The Enchantress. When she wakes up Johnny Storm congratulates her for facing off against "Doctor Doom - the deadliest guy on earth" and that's it for Doom content in this issue and indeed for this blog entry. Next time we're back to see what's happening with the X-Men!


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posted 21/2/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Doctor Doom Meets Prince Namor!


We're back in the cosy world of Spidey Super Stories today, with a light re-telling of a story that appeared in Super-Villain Team-Up a few years ago. It's the one where Doom managed to enslave Prince Namor and force him to fight his enemies for him - you can tell it's been copied from that story because it also features several of the supporting characters from that series, without really introducing them.

The action begins at one of Doctor Doom's favourite places, The United Nations! Prince Namor is there to get membership for Atlantis, but before he can enter the building Doom turns up with a proposal, at which point pretty much the entire run of Super-Villain Team-Up gets summarised in a single panel. Doom is never one to take "no" for an answer, so he zaps Namor into unconsciousness and flies off with his rocket pack. He straps a collar around Namor's neck (which only he can take off) and forces him to fight Spider-man, who has witnessed the kidnapping and is in pursuit. Namor thumps Spider-man, then he and Doom head to Atlantis, where Doom spots a "Sea Horn" in the throe room. He's told not to play with it, which obviously makes him do exactly that. I really like the Spidey Super Stories characterisation of Doom as an impulsive, very naughty child, who hates being told what to do and refuses to be denied anything he wants. It's feels very true to his persona in the mainstream universe!

The Sea Horn summons a sea monster, as Sea Horns are bound to do, which terrifies Namor but pleases Doom no end, who is soon riding round on it gleefully. He gallops back to the city, where Spidey is unable to stop him going on a rampage. Meanwhile in Atlantis Namor's pals have turned up, and manage to pull the collar off without any bother at all, which does rather beg the question why the (very strong) Namor didn't at least have a go at taking it off himself? He zooms back to dry land, where Spidey is still struggling to cope with the monster. Namor simply snatches the sea horn and smashes it up, so that the monster is freed from Doom's control. It decides to head back to the sea, taking its captor with it. Spidey wonders whether they should help Doom, but Namor says he'll be fine - his armour's watertight, and once the monster falls asleep he'll be able to escape without any bother. So that's all OK then.

And that's the end of a very concise, very simple, yet very well characterised version of some characters we've been spending a lot of time with lately. As EZ Reader says on the cover, that comic was very easy to read!



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posted 14/2/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Superman And Spider-Man


This comic is simultaneously very straightforward, in that two superheroes get together to fight a common foe, but also very odd as the superheroes come from two entirely different storyworlds, yet never mentioned the fact. Through it all, however, Doctor Doom remains resolutely Doctor Doom!

The story is a "spiritual sequel" to the huge-selling "Superman vs Spider-man" of 1976, and like that takes place in a world very similar to both the DC and Marvel universes, except that both appear to have always co-existed. It means we get a scenes such as the one where J Jonah Jameson orders Peter Parker to go and get pictures of Superman as if that's something he says all the time. It starts off like a normal Spider-man story, with Spidey stopping some bank robbers while being observed (from a distance) by Doctor Doom, who is busy with another plot for world domination. This is very much the Doom we know, so much so that Jim Shooter even gives him a moment of tortured contemplation in front of a mirror. Doom then goes to one his trademark video screens, where he sees the Hulk being guided towards Metropolis. One of the Daily Planet's reporters is also keeping an eye on his progress, while stuck in a meeting. Superman flies out to fight the Hulk in a scene which, for a long-time superhero fan, is immensely jarring. The Hulk behaves just like the Hulk, Superman is Superman, but the whole thing feels entirely wrong - these two should not be meeting, and even if they are, surely it shouldn't seem so everyday? Then, to make it even worse, Spider-man arrives to help too! My brain hurts! It turns out that Doctor Doom sent the Hulk to Metropolis to free The Parasite, accidentally breaking him out of an underground prison as part of his rampage. Meanwhile Peter Parker meets some of the staff from Galaxycom, where he sees someone he knows - Lois Lane! This is one of the very few nods to the previous story from five years ago. Meanwhile Superman has worked out that, with Lex Luthor locked up, only one man can be behind the Hulk's rampage, and so flies over to New York to visit the Latverian embassy, where he confronts Doctor Doom. Doom's behaviour, language and even location are all perfectly on-brand, which comes as something of a relief amongst the mash-up going on around him! He suggests that Superman could use his mighty powers to make the world a better place if he wanted to, to which Superman gives the standard, deeply conservative, superhero-genre response that actually doing something to change the world makes you a supervillain. Doom then demonstrates exactly what an actual supervillain would really do, by attacking Superman with a chunk of Kryptonite and then, when his foe escapes the trap, pointing out that he can't be punished because of his own greatest superpower - diplomatic immunity! This is becoming like a greatest hits tour for Doctor Doom - surely he will be jumping out of a window at any moment?

Superman is dismissed, and then Doom briefly calls in The Parasite to assure him that, under Doom's guidance,they will be victorious. We then get a humorous sequence where Clark Kent has to hide in a cupboard from J Jonah Jameson while Superman rescues a jumbo jet, before he flies over to Latveria for a little bit of reconnaisance. Doom,of course, had expected this to happen, so has lackeys on hand to fire a particle beam at Superman, which doesn't seem to hurt him or, as yet, have any kind of effect. Doom himself, meanwhile, is giving The Parasite a guided tour of his secret base, where he has the Hulk stored in a stasis cube. When the parasite starts to ask questions Doom is forced to show him who is boss. While all this has been going on Spider-man has been wandering round Metropolis, where he eventually discovers Wonder Woman fighting some of Doom's soldiers. She recognises him, and after an initial suspiciousness (she's been reading Daily Bugle editorials) they team-up. The soldiers are still too much for them, and Spider-man manages to escape while Wonder Woman is captured, much to the delight of The Parasite who has a mad crush on her. When Doom questsions this the Parasite points out that, beneath the "hideous thing that I am" he is still a man and, moved by this simularity between them, Doom decides to tell him the Big Plan for World Domination. He's built "Omega Installations" all around the world which will emit "Omega Radiation" that will destroy all fossil fuels and weapons. Thus, when he presents the world with a fusion reactor providing clean energy for the whole planet, nobody will be able (or really want) to stop him. Ooh, what an evil plan! Er... isn't it? Luckily for the world, or at least the fossil fuel industry, Superman and Spider-man finally team-up to stop him, smashing into his secret base where they have a Big Fight with a pumped up Parasite and one of Doom's robots. It's all going really well until Doom himself enters the fray and brings Superman to his knees with the application of (I think) Kryptonite gas. Spider-man is distracted all this and gets walloped by The Parasite, waking up not long after to find himself trapped in the same room as the unconscious Superman and the stasis tubes containing Hulk and Wonder Woman. Things look bleak - if they can't escape Doctor Doom will destroy fossil fuels and weapons and inflict clean energy on the world, the absolute fiend!

While Spidey tries to flex his webshooters to somehow free Superman, The Parasite gets a sudden jolt of spider-sense, stolen earlier from Spidey. He suddenly realises that Doom is about to betray him (another classic Doom trope!) and the pair have a punch-up which leads to Doom's falling into, and breaking, his own control panel. Spidey and Superman break free, stop the Parasite and halt the Omega Radiation just in time. Phew! And what is Doom doing during all this? He's jumping out of the window and legging it down the road to the Latverian Embassy! BINGO! I do believe that that's a full house of Doom activities! Superman and Spider-man can't do anything more about it, so head back to their respective cities, happy to be back where they belong. It's a cosy ending for what has been a thoroughly fun mash-up of the two universes, where many things have felt odd but Doctor Doom has proven to be the perfect portable supervillain, maintaining his character whatever happens. In a couple of weeks we'll see him doing this again in the world of cartoons, but next time we're back to a much more familiar alternate universe, as Doom returns to Spidey Super Stories!



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posted 7/2/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Murderworld!


John Byrne began his acclaimed (especially by me) run on Fantastic Four a month after this comic was published, although it'll take us a while to get to it as he waited quite some time before he brought in Doctor Doom. However, when he did introduce his version of the character one of his first points of business was to retcon today's story so that the Doom seen here was actually a Doombot. Apparently he didn't like the way Chris Claremont portrayed Doom... or indeed, at this point, Chris Claremont! It may seem that this is all a bit petty, but having re-read the comic in question I can see that Byrne does have a bit of a point. There's something distinctly wonky about Claremont's characterisation of Doom, notably the way he uses contractions in his speech, the oddly passive way that he behaves around Arcade, and some rather out of place self-awareness. In the actual story, Doom has captured the X-Men and trapped them in a version of Arcade's Murderworld, where each of them has been given a deadly puzzle to escape from. For instance, Nightcrawler is placed inside a room with no windows, so he has no way of knowing where he'll reappear if he tries to teleport out. As with all stories involving Arcade, it all seems a bit pointless to me. What does Doom gain by putting his enemies inside a logic puzzle? Isn't there the risk they'll escape and defeat him? And what does he have against the X-Men anyway, as they've never really met before?

He's also very quickly developed an obsession with Storm. In the last issue we saw how he'd transferred her into "organic chrome" much like Colossus's armoured form, so "she will live - and remain beautiful - forever", while constructing a Storm robot to be his servant. This actually makes a tiny bit more sense if this Doom really is a robot - maybe he's made himself a lady robot to be his girlfriend? Is that the sort of thing robots do?

Storm may be trapped inside her new chrome body, but she's still vaguely conscious and feeling claustrophobic, which comes out as terrible weather conditions all over the world, including outside the castle itself. Once again, the castle seems to have been very directly copied from the Frank Miller version a while back. A team of substitute X-Men arrive and battle their way through Murderworld which, as ever in these stories, appears to be enoromous and partly magical, with room for battling spaceships and fairground horses which somehow come to life. The whole rest of the comic is taken up with Havok, Banshee, Polaris and Iceman fighting their way through hallucinatory scenarios, as the weather gets worse and worse, influenced by Storm. By the final page Doom is gazing out of the window wondering what's going on, but then is disturbed by Arcade, looking for a light. Doom responds to his armour being used as a lighter and his cigars being stolen (although I don't think we've seen him smoke a cigar before - how would they fit through his faceplate?) by saying "Arcade, if you wish to tell me something, please do so". This seems slightly bizarre for a character usually happy to murder people just for bringing him bad news. I think I'm starting to agree with John Byrne?

The story closes with Arcade pointing out that Nightcrawler appears to have solved his puzzle and teleported out, but we'll have to wait a while to find out where he went, as we've got a couple of trips to other storyworlds to come, starting off next week with Doom meeting ... SUperman?


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posted 31/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Here Nightmares Abide!


We're back in the Dazzler storyline today, which has no links whatsover to the one happening simultaneously in The X-Me. Here we find Doom gazing at his reflection in The Merlin Stone, admiring his own cunning in capturing Ms Blaire "... or Dazzler as I believe you call yourself" to go and get him another one. Dazzler herself is being guarded by a new style of guard, called "Robotrons", who look like deep sea divers. This is all going on in Manhattan "in one of the many fully equipped laboratories which (Doom has) secreted about", so at least it's consisent with the X-Men story in that he's in the USA. This labcontains a huge computer system which combines the powers of science and sorcery to send Dazzler into another dimension to find the other Merlin Stone. This combination of science and sorcery was a big part of Doom's background back in the very earliest days of the character, but doesn't get mentioned so much at this point.

There's a couple of brief interludes showing Johnny Storm at the UN overhearing someone talking about Doctor Doom being involved, and then Dazzler's estranged father sitting alone in a chair Being Stern, before we return to see Dazzler disovering that her rollerblading skills come in very handy in the Ditko-ish dimension she's landed in. Doom watches as she struggles, and reveals once again what a terrible personnel manager he is. If he didn't think she could get the Merlin Stone for him, why did he kidnap her in the first place? Or is he maybe making excuses for his own poor judgement? Either way, he switches his monitor off, so misses Dazzler's psychological battle with her own father, a battle which she wins by using the very historically accurate battle cry "Let's go for it!" Things go from bad to worse for Dazzler as she faces off against an evil version of herself and then Nightmare, who (like most characters in this comics) is very prone to describing everything that's going on. Nightmare gives her The Merlin Stone just to get rid of her, and then Doom's monitoring systems (which I thought he'd switched off?) immediately bring her back to her own universe, where Doom continues in his bid for Boss Of The Year by rewarding her for her achievement by not having her beaten up. This is just about the limit for Dazzler, who no longer finds his arrogance so appealing. She uses the music from her pocket radio again to create enough light to bounce off the Robotrons, across the lab, and then shatter the Merlin Stone. Doom is not happy. The two square up for the traditional Big Fight, blasting each other around the room until Dazzler is knocked unconscious. However, just as Doom is about to kill her, he spots the Human Torch heading his way on a view screen, and decides that the better part of valour is to scarper. The issue ends with Johnny Storm bursting in to pick the unconscious Dazzler up off the floor, with the promise that the story will be continued next issue "Most Definitely!!!" It's a bit of a disappointing ending with the (female) lead character being defeated, and only saved by the lucky arrival of a (male) supporting character. Still, it's also been a good reminder of some of Doom's earliest defining characteristics, such as huge keyboard-like gizmos, using superheroes to do his bidding, lots of viewscreens and, of course, running away at the end. If only he'd jumped out of a window it would have been Early Doom Bingo!



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posted 29/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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To Defy Dr. Doom!


I know that this oddity was published in 1981, but I'm not sure exactly when, so when I logged it in my CORPUS I used the same dating method as I used when I worked in clinical trials: if we didn't know when in a year something had happened - a diagnosis, for instance - we'd say it was on July 1st, as roughly halfway through the year. I always thought it was a bit unscientific for something as very scientific as a clinical trial, but if it was all right there I think it's fine here, so July 1st it is!

There's no date on the comic itself because it's not a regular comic. It's the fourth in a series of miniature comics released by Amurol Products to accompany their bubble gum - there were six issues in total, with the first four featuring Marvel characters and the last two Archie. They consisted of a cover, bubble funnies backing, and ten story pages, so were really tiny little things. The contents appear to have been written and drawn by the team responsible for Spidey Super Stories, as Doom looks very much the same and all the dialogue is split up into easy to read chunks. The story sees Spider-Woman spotting a Professor of plastic surgery getting kidnapped. She follows the criminals responsible and sees them getting on a flight to Latveria - she knows it's going to Latveria because it says "Latveria" in big letters on the side. In her secret identity as Jessica Drew she catches a plane to the "spooky" looking kingdom of Latveria and tries to walk into Doom's castle. A guard tells her to go away, so she changes into her costume to go in fighting instead. Although this looks like a Super Spidey Stories comic, it doesn't really read like one. There's none of the playful silliness of those comics, and much more likeness to the mainstream Marvel universe, notably in the colouring of the guards, who look quite similar to Doom's usual lackeys.

Once inside the castle Spider-Woman overhears Doom explaining to the kidnapped Professor that he's been brought here to cure his facial disfigurement. This is basically the storyline from Thor #182, when Doom kidnapped Thor's alter ego Don Blake, believing him to be a plastic surgeron, except without the moral dilemmas and twists of that (actually pretty fantastic) comic. Doom threatens the Professor with death if he doesn't restore his disfigured face, so Spider-Woman leaps in to help... and instantly gets taken hostage herself. The Professor leaps in to help her, grabbing Doom by the hands. Sadly for all concerned, Doom's gauntlets are electrified, and the surgeons hands are horribly injured. Spider-Woman is being a bit dramatic here - as the surgeon himself says, his hands will heal. Doom lets them both go... and that's the end! It's not a particularly exciting storyline (Spider-Woman goes to rescue somebody and becomes a hostage, almost ruins the victim's livelihood, and is then let go) but it has to be said that in the very few panels available Doom has acted very much in character. He's worn his costume, he's tried to cure his face, he's taken what he wants irrespective of other people's feelings and, in the end, he's acted sort of honorably. All this and a free piece of gum too - what more could you want?



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posted 24/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Kidnapped!


Doom has been absent from the mainstream Marvel universe for over two years, but now he's back, appearing on the cover of not one but two comics in the same month, in both cases hassling female superhero covers - last time we looked at him kidnapping an unconscious Dazzler, while today we have him doing much the same to Storm!

The actual story begins at the ballet, where Storm is trying to get to know Kitty Pryde's ballet teacher, Stevie. However, before they can get properly into a discussion about The Dance, they're attacked by Miss Locke, a lackey of Arcade who wants the X-Men to help her rescue her boss from the clutches of Doctor Doom. The editor, Louise Jones, misses off the issue number for the reference she's making here, and that's perhaps not too surprising as neither Arcade nor Doctor appear in the story that's being referenced! It's actually Marvel Two-In-One #68, published about nine months ago, in which Angel and The Thing get trapped in a castle full of robots controlled by the Toad. It turns out that the castle is actuallly Doctor Doom's old New York castle, as seen in Fantastic Four #5 and occasionally since, and that Toad is funded by a mysterious "Mr A". The story ends with Angel taking over and paying for the castle's transformation into an amusement park called "Toadland". I hope they remembered to take out the Time Machine before opening day!

Doom and Arcade, as I say, don't appear, so it's a bit of a stretch for Claremont to use this as a way into a Doom/Arcade story. Anyway. Storm flies back to the X-Men to discover that they've also had friends or family members kidnapped. The team decide to get some more information about Doctor Doom, who they appear to know nothing about. It's a bit of a surprise to realise that Doom and the X-Men have never met before (except briefly in Fantastic Four Annual #3 aka The Marriage Of Reed and Sue), with only Nightcrawler claiming to have even heard of him. Central Europe is, of course, a small place, so word gets around!

Professor X calls in some extra help from some previous team members via astral projection, then they head off to update New York to visit Doom's old castle, which now looks a lot more like the one recently seen "in the Bavarian Alps" than the amusement park. Storm drops into the castle where she is met by Doom, who offers to discuss the matter with her over some food. Right away this is the honourable, slightly suave version of Doom rather than the laughing lunatic, and while the rest of the X-Men jump into battle with his battle-suited guards he and Ororo enjoy a slap-up feed, attended to by the cloaked lackeys that he's been employing recently. As ever, we must ask: "How is Doom eating?"

The meal goes really well, almost becoming one of those really good episodes of "Blind Date" in the Guardian Magazine. Doom is, of course, simultaneously monitoring the battle with the other X-Men and so knows that they're getting close to him. He thus decides to reveal that Arcade isn't a prisoner at all, and that this whole business has been a sneaky trap to get the X-Men there. Doom uses a new device on Storm which coats her entire body in chrome and, when the X-Men burst in to fight him, uses it on them too. Colossus, of course, already has a body coated in chrome so this doesn't work on him, but Doom just zaps him with a "neural disruptor" anyway. And that's the end of the comic - how will the X-Men escape? What does Doom want them for? And what's Arcade got to do with it all? We'll have to wait a while to find out, because next time we're looking at... bubble gum!



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posted 22/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Jewels Of Doom!


Doctor Doom's return to the Marvel Universe gets back on track in a rather unexpected place today - the third issue of "Dazzler"!

This was a comic originally intended to be a genuine transmedia event, linking to an animated TV special and a real singer called "The Disco Queen", who at one point was going to be Bo Derek. None of this ever actually happened, apart from the comic, which was repurposed to be part of the Marvel Universe. That means that, in the early pages of the comic, she goes through some of the generally accepted jobs of a new Marvel character in their third issue, notably meeting other members of the Marvel Universe (in this case the Fantastic Four) to establish her presence there, and then facing mundane issues in her private life - in this case money troubles in her job. Dazzler is visiting the Baxter Building when Johnny Storm spots a news article about an exhibition of Doctor Doom's jeweles, which is being staged at the United Nations. This gives a handy excuse for a quick recap of recent goings-on in Latveria. We then pop over to the aforementioned United Nations - a place which figures almost as much in Doom stories as Latveria or Manhattan - where the Latverian ambassador fills in a little more background about his country's current situation. It's interesting how quickly Latveria has gone from a place of hope, as seen in Fantastic Four #200, to the strife-torn country shown in Fantastic Four Annual #14. Aside from the slightly dodgy continuity seen recently in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14, this feels like a concerted attempt to move the story of Doom and Latveria gently forward through the background of the Marvel Universe.

We then briefly follow Dazzler as she accepts a charity gig at the UN and pays a visit to her father before returning to "a castle in the Bavarian alps" that is a clear swipe of the one we saw in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #14. A hooded lackey, also seen in that annual, tells Doom that his jewels are being exhibited at the UN. At first Doom dismisses this, calling Zorba "an unthinking boor" but as soon as he hears that The Merlin Stone is among the exhibits he sets off immediately to get it back.

He's not the only one after the jewels, however, as a gang of robbers wait outside the UN to try their hand at stealing it. I wonder if Tom deFalco or John Romita Jr have ever actually seen "punk rockers"? Dazzler disturbs them and, powered by the sounds of her pocket radio, stops them in their tracks. However, while all that is going on somebody else makes their move, and when Dazzler pops back to check that everything's OK she discovers that it's ... I can't help thinking that this was meant to be the last page of the issue - there's even a boring space in the bottom right where a "NEXT TIME!" box could go - and I wonder if the length of the issue was extended at a later date?

Doom acts the gentleman, helping Dazzler up, telling her "Do not fear! Doom does not make war on helpless civilians!" which is not something which has been borne out by his actions over the years. Still, Dazzler is impressed. The feeling is mutual, with Doom impressed by the "noble, courageous spirit" which he senses under her impertinence (according to him anyway), so decideds to give her more backstory, including a brief discussion of his first encounter with the FF way back in Fantastic Four #5 when he sent them back in time to get blackbeard's treasure chest. It turns out that he didn't just give up when Reed Richards conned him, but instead continued looking and eventually found the Merlin Stone. Not only that, but this stone will allow him to find another one in another dimension.

Dazzler decides that she can't let him get that much power, and a Big Fight breaks out during which she nearly beats Doom, until he manages to electrocute the floor and knock her out. The story ends with Doom picking up the Merlin Stone and then Dazzler too, taking her away on his hoverbike so that she can be sent off in search of the second stone. It looks like it's going to be a retread of Doom's very first appearance, using superheroes to do his dirty work for him, but we'll have to wait a little while to find out how it turns out because next time we'll be looking at another appearance that would prove to be highly contentious!



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posted 17/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Days Of Future Past


It could almost be Minor Appearances Month again today, as we (briefly) look at an absolute classic of a comic, where Doom appears in just one panel.

The story itself, in the unlikely event you don't know, is the first part of a two-part story that not only inspired a (not very good) movie, but also set the tone for the next couple of decades of twisty-turny X-Men comics that skipped backwards and forwards across several different futures. It's also one of the very highest high points of Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run on the series, where the pair of them (not to mention Terry Austin on inks) are firing on all cylinders. I remember reading this in Marvel UK reprints back in the distant days of the 1970s and being convinced that nothing else could ever be as exciting as this. In terms of comics, I think I might have been right - what I'm basically saying here is that if you've never read this comic give yourself a treat and do so!

As for Doctor Doom, his single-panel appearance comes when Kitty Pryde Of The Future is telling the story of what happened in her timeline, where all of the super-powered individuals were rounded up by the Sentinels. As ever, I'm duty bound to point out that Doom is the only villain in this montage, pointing towards his importance in the Marvel Universe and also his ongoing position as Avatar Of Villainy, being the one character chosen to represent all other supervillains. Also mildly interesting is that Kitty Pryde talks about "the North American continent" being taken over, which suggests that Doom was in the USA when everything went down - presumably either at the Latverian Embassy or at the United Nations as usual.

That's the lot for Doom here - next time there's a much bigger appearance, in a much less venerated series: Dazzler!



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posted 15/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Spidey and Doctor Strange Versus Doctor Doom and the Dread Dormammu


This comic is advertised as "Spidey and Doctor Strange versus Doctor Doom and the Dread Dormammu" but none of the characters meet until the very end when Spider-man has a brief chat with Doctor Strange. Doom and Dormammu, meanwhile, operate more as plot devices than participants, with the main baddy being a small man called Dilby. I guess "Spidey battles Dilby as does Doctor Strange (seperately) while Doctor Doom and the Dread Dormanmu are elswhere" wouldn't have been quite as exciting.

Techinically speaking this is also, sort of, chapter two to last time's chapter one of the return of Doctor Doom, although the chronology is a little confusing - previously we saw Doctor Doom flying out of Latveria to plot his revenge, yet here he's back in the country in a castle called "Castle Doom" which appears to be on an isolated mountain somewhere. I should say at this point that the whole comic looks great. It's drawn by Frank Miller very much in the style he was developing during his Daredevil run, with everything looking very sketchy and exciting, and also constant rain in every outdoors sequence. It looks "modern", although that might just be because this was what "modern" comics looked like when I was a teenager. Still, it's clearly something different from the more "Bronze Age" stylings of people like Keith Pollard that we've seen in recent stories.

Inside the castle we meet Dilby, a geeky American academic not unlike Dilbert (although Dilbert would not be created for several years yet) who Doom has recruited to help him "combine magic and science" to bring about something called "the bend sinister". Throughout the story Doom is very autocratic, stalking the chambers of his castle referring to various underlings as "slaves". Doom "rewards" Dilby for his work by allowing him to be the first test subject for the device he's invented, which sends the unlucky academic into the realm of Dread Dormammu, where Frank Miller does a thrilling re-interpretation of Steve Ditko's version. Not long this after Doom is rudely interuppted from a nice sit down in front of the telly with a cup of tea. Dormammu appears on the screen, interrupting a documentary about the Nazis which Doom was watching to learn where they went wrong, and we discover that the two villains have been plotting to use Dilby to implement the previously mentioned "bend sinister". How is Doom drinking that cup of tea through his mask?

Over in Greenwhich village, Dr Strange takes delivery of a crate, which turns out to contain a robot monster conjured up by Dilby. A Big Fight breaks out, during which Dr Strange is completely overwhelmed. He sends out a psychic distress signal which, after trying several other superhero HQs first, finally settles for Peter Parker, who's in the middle of teaching a class at ESU. He's forced to leave in a hurry, pausing only to be rude to his boss (a Crusty Old Dean) and cancel a date with his girlfriend Debbie. Spidey dashes over to Greenwich village, battling past some mystical stone gargoyles, angry New Yorkers, and Bright Yellow Hand Monsters, until eventually he finds Strange's manservant Wong, who has received a mysterious four-letter psychic message from his boss. Denny O'Neill is doing his best to be hip, sending Spidey off to CBGB nightclub where he discovers a band called "Shrapnel" playing. This is a real band who O'Neill was a fan of, a bunch of New York punks who apparently courted controversy by using militaristic language in their lyrics. Or, to put it another way, they were an even worse version of the Ramones, with a different gimmick!



It's all a bit much for square old Peter Parker, who thinks to himself that it's all a bit too loud (he probably can't hear the words properly either). It is, however, the sort of music that Debbie likes, which seems a bit odd considering what a drip she is, as seen a few panels later where she turns up, sees a woman talking to Peter, and immediately leaves, assuming he must be on a date. Peter runs after her, claiming he'd gone there to find her, and takes her for some coffee. They collide with Dilby on the way, and then just as Peter's promising Debbie a meal his spider sense goes off and he has to run out on her again. Come on Debbie, you can do much better than him!

The band Shrapnel are marching down the street, chanting "Bend Sinister", followed by their audience. As Spider-man watches, more an more people come out on the street, chanting and marching towards Central Park. It's apparently something to do with a small figure standing on top of the Latverian Embassy. Hang on, what's he doing up there? Surely the embassy is still under the command of Zorba?

Dilby has Dr Strange trapped in a crystal as part of a Cunning Plan that involves Strange being sacrificed at a crucial moment which, combined with the music of Shrapnel and the dancing of New Yorkers, will bring about the Bend Sinister. Spidey does his best to foil the cunning plan but is stopped by Dilby's robot. Another Big Fight ensues, but just as the Bend Sinister is about to happen Spidey manages to steer the flying robot into the giant crystal, shattering it to pieces. Dr Strange escapes but, before he can magically punish Dilby, the baddy gets sucked through a portal into Dormannu's dimension. The crowd returns to normal and Spidey asks the question we've all wanted answering - what IS the Bend Sinister anyway? What a cop out!

The story ends with a return to Latveria, where Doom takes delivery of a magical package containing Dilby trapped in a smaller version of the crystal, which he simply adds to his collection. This feels like a nod to the ending of "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", but this comic was actually published a year before that film came out!

And so the story ends with Doom going off to plot some more. It's been a cracking story, but I must say I'm a little disappointed in how the continuity has worked out. I thought this was going to be a co-ordinated "Chapter Two" of Doom's return, but it makes no mention of the larger story and could well have fitted into any part of Doom's history. Things will at least look up in this regard when we next see Doom in a full story, but before that we've got another minor appearance coming up in an absolutely all-time classic comic!


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posted 10/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Power Of The People!


Welcome back to a new year of the Marvel Age Doom blog, which kicks off in style with the return of Doctor Doom to the mainstream Marvel universe.

As we saw back in November, Doctor Doom was completely incapacitated at the climax of Fantastic Four #200 and did not take part in the Marvel universe proper for two whole years. The whole of "Minor Appearances Month" detailed his various appearances in flashbacks, adverts, "What If?" and other publications, but he was otherwise entirely absent from the main "story" of Marvel from 1978 to 1980. Looking at it now it's quite a feat of editorial policy, and suggests that there was a determination within the company to rest the character before very gradually bringing him back in a series of stories that would see him returned to his status as Marvel's top villain. It's a process that companies have done a lot more in recent years, notably with Marvel's recent temporary retirements of Thor and The Fantastic Four, but this is the first time I recall seeing it happen during the Marvel Age.

Doom's return begins, quite appropriately, in a Fantastic Four Annual - the same place that his full origin was first told sixteen years earlier. "The Power Of The People!" is a back-up story set in Latveria, where the absence of Doctor Doom has not gone quite as smoothly as one might have hoped. Rather than ushering in a new age of peace for the East European country, his removal from power has seen the nation begin to collapse without its former iron ruler in charge. Even all these years later, it's quite astounding to see the usual "fairy tale" of a dictator overthrown being turned inside out in this way, and it's possible to see Doug Moench using Latveria to comment on then-current events across the world, where dictators such as the Shah Of Iran were overthrown, only for the newly free nations to fall into chaos and revolution. It's the start of a character voyage for Doom and Latveria that will come to a head with John Byrne casting Doom as an almost benevolent tyrant, whose previously-deemed "villainous" policies are actually for the good of the people.

For now, the problem seems to be that Zorba, the revolutionary installed in charge at the end of Fantastic Four #200, is too weak to control the simple-minded people of Latveria, who object mightily to the taxes necessary for their freedom to be established. Seen through a cynical eye this is a pretty mean-spirited view of ordinary people in the rest of the world outside of America, who do not have the backbone needed to nurtuer a revolution. Americans, of course, were pure of heart and savoured freedom above all else, but the suggestion here seems to be that other nations tend to get upset if they don't get their creature comforts. Zorba's advisor, Starn, tells him not to worry, and together they go down to the basement where Doom is being guarded by Hauptmann, the scientist who worked for the old regime despite the fact that Doom murdered his brother. They look in to see Doom sitting still... "Too Still?" asks Zorba, and when they check it turns out that the figure in the holding cell is in fact (see if you can guess!)... a robot! Starn suggests infiltrating the Doom Loyalist resistance to see what's happened, but Zorba refuses - that is how Doom used to do things, not how he does them now! It seems that the rescue of Doom's body only happened very recently, as the scene cuts to a cavern where Doom's body is being delivered to the Loyalist's base, which is under the command of our old friend Boris. They're very soon joined by none other than Hauptmann, who explains why he's come to help, despite his family history with Doom. "The fear is stronger than the hate!" Again, this is a pretty cynical view of oppressed peoples, practically willing themselves into oppression at the hands of "strong leaders". To be fair to Doug Moench, this was a common view in the US at the time, and arguably informed much US foreign policy, but with historical hindsight it's still a bit alarming to see.

Meanwhile, Zorba is woken up by a nightmare about his treatment at the hands of Doom - as previously established, his cybernetic eye is a result of human experimentation in Doom's lab. He leaps out of bed to go and check that, even though Doom's body has gone, his armour is still where it should be, and arrives just in time to bump into the loyalists who have come to take it back. This is a big turning point for Zorba. He's already been reminded of his own mistreatment at Doom's hands and is then gassed by his enemy's lackeys, all because he refused Starn's advice to infiltrate them in secret. It's all too much, and he changes his mind, choosing instead to play the game Starn's way, and advises him to use one of the Loyalists to track down Doom's base. "It is time to let idealism die," he says.

Back in the Loyalists' base, Doom is placed in his armour and then strapped to a table where he is going to be zapped with a "generator". The comparisons to Frankenstein are not shied away from... Doom comes back to life, shouting "Where am I? What has been done to me?" There's only time for a quick explanation before one of his guards realises that Strego (the name of the guard who was set up to be followed earlier) has somehow escaped, and Doom swings into action right away by simply murdering him. Zorba's forces are already there, but Doom destroys them easily, partly because they're trying to use his own weapons against him (something which many have tried before) and partly because, well, he's Doctor Doom. Zorba and Starn are forced to flee, leaving Doom's loyalists to start hailing him again. Doom orders his men to find a new headquarters and tell the people that he's coming back, before strapping on a device which looks rather reminiscent of the one he used to steal the Silver Surfer's power and then flying off to begin his planning. This leaves Boris to watch his master depart with a mixture of emotions - he's done his duty, but he seems to be aware that his boss is not entirely a Good Thing. This has been a fascinating comic in many ways, playing with our sympathies throughout, never allowing us to entirely get behind any one character, and putting Doom in a place where he can begin to make his comeback. As I always say, it's a mark of Doom's importance in the Marvel Universe that he gets this sort of treatment and, as we'll see next time, his return is deemed a big enough deal to spread out into other titles as well - this was, after all, only "Chapter 1"!



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posted 8/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Let Doctor Doom Tell You How To Subscribe To 4 Marvel Comics For The Price Of 3!!


Minor Appearances Month comes to a pulse-pounding end today with yet another advert featuring Doctor Doom. We've previously seen him advertising Fun And Games Magazine and commanding readers to enter a Milk Duds competition, and today he's at it again, trying to sell subscriptions to Marvel comics.

As with those adverts, I found out about this thanks to the efforts of the Grand Comics Database indexers - my suspicion is that one of the people who was indexing 'The Defenders' was particularly scrupulous about what he included (they're all "he" according to the listing for this comic), and I must say I'm glad he was, otherwise I might have missed it!

The version of Doctor Doom shown in this ad isn't particularly Doom-ish - on other occasions the creators of the adverts have at least tried to make him a villain, but here he comes off more as a huckster, trying to interest us in a deal. The Fantastic Four also seem out of character, all being keen on the idea with the exception of Reed Richards, who at least considers the idea that it might be a trap! All in all it seems like a very strange way to advertise anything. "A notorious liar and villain is saying this is a good deal, and even the superheroes have their doubts!"

If only there was some sort of topical joke I could make about this today.

And with that we draw Minor Appearances Month, and indeed the blog for this year, to a close. These blog entries have covered two whole years during which Doctor Doom made no "real" appearances in the mainstream Marvel Universe but, as we'll see when we get back into action in the new year, when he does finally return it will have been worth the wait. In the meantime - Merry Christmas everybody!


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posted 13/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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The Super Fantasy...


After all the excitement of a proper full-scale Doom appearance last time (albeit in an alternative "What If?" universe) we're back into the swing of Minor Appearances Month today with a very minor appearance indeed. It takes place in the pages of "Crazy", another attempt by Marvel to do a rip-off of "Mad" in the same vein as "Not Brand Ecch" and it's... well, it's a rip-off of "Mad", basically.

Doctor Doom appears in a two panel gag which seems to be an ongoing feature comparing reality to fantasy - later on there's one about a dentist's called "The excruciating reality and the exhilerating fantasy" where the reality of a dentist's appointment is contrasted with a fantasy of taking revenge on the orthodontic team. It's not very good!

The Doctor Doom one contrasts the fantasy of being a superhero with the reality (in the second panel) of being a bespectacled comics fan being beaten up by bullies. Here Doom is once more shown at the front of a group of supervillains, cowering for comic effect, just as he was in all of those "Not Brand Ecch" strips, and, as with those, it's one of those occasions where you see something from a different time and/or culture and think "Was this ever believed to be funny?" In a way, "Crazy" Magazine is much like the bits of "Henry IV Part One" that always get cut out because they don't make sense anymore. In a way.

Anyway, that's your lot for today. Tomorrow it's the last instalment of Minor Appearances Month, as Doctor Doom tries to sell magazine subscriptions!



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posted 12/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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What If Doctor Doom Had Become A Hero?


Over the course of Minor Appearances Month 'What If?' has become a sort of second home for Doctor Doom, just like 'Not Brand Ecch' when we looked at the late sixties. This particularly story is, however, not minor at all, comprising a remix of most of Doom's greatest hits so far. For someone who's spent a lot of time reading those hits (and misses!) it's pretty exciting stuff!

Unusually for this series, the cover answers it's own question. "What if Dr. Doom had become a hero?" it asks, then comes straight back with "He would struggle with Mephisto... and he would suffer as no man has ever suffered before!" I'm very tempted to say "Thanks, the cover, I don't need to read the rest of this one then", but there is much, much more inside.

It all begins with The Watcher giving a brief recap of Doom's story in the main Marvel Universe, starting with a scene from Doom's very first appearance, way back in Fantastic Four #5. The FF's costumes are drawn correctly for the period, although the Thing is a lot rockier than he was then, but Doctor Doom is drawn in the current version of his costume, not the slightly more medieval one he debuted in. He's also shown with his tunic hitched up to reveal his metal pants. This seemed incongruous at first, until I turned the page and discovered that Fred Kida has drawn The Watcher in exactly the same way! Once we've all recovered from that, The Watcher gives an abbreviated version of Doom's origin as it was told in Fantastic Four Annual #2, with the addition of Valeria's presence, as first seen in Marvel Superheroes #20, and then gives a brief explanation of how Multiverses work using an image very similar to the front cover of DC's "Crisis On Infinite Earths" #1. The idea of 'What If?' is that it shows what might have happened if one crucial moment had gone differently, and in this case it's Doom's decision in college to ignore Reed Richards' warning about an error in his calculations, which led to his machine exploding an scarring his face. Here, Victor Von Doom takes moment to calm down, and then asks for an explanation, which leads to Reed fixing the machine. Instead of exploding it works as planned, with Victor visiting the Netherworld where he discovers that his mother is trapped in hell. As the note in the panel says, his mother's fate was previously established in Astonishing Tales #8. Clearly Don Glut did his homework before sitting down to write this story, picking out the highlights of Doom's story so far, although the bit about her being damned to hell because she was unable to confess before she died is, I think, a new addition.

Another addition is Doom's claim that he is the rightful heir to the Latverian throne. I don't recall this ever being mentioned before, but it'll crop up again later in this story. As in the main Marvel Universe, Doom sets out on a quest for knowledge, eventually reaching the same sect of monks who accept him as their master and forge him a suit of armour, although this time it's made of gold with "a helmet befitting a knight of old" rather than grey with a sombre mask. Doom flies off to a nearby cave where he performs a magical ritual which sets his mother free from hell. It only takes a couple of panels to do, and appears to be ridiculously easy. However, when Mephisto, one of hell's "brooding masters" finds out about it, he swears to have his revenge on Doom.

Blissfully ignorant of all this, Doom flies home to "the tiny, storybook kingdom of Latveria" where he discovers that the Baron who caused the death of his father has himself died, leaving the country under the villainous yoke of none other than Prince Rudolfo, first seen in Astonishing Tales #1. He is, to use the correct terminolgy, even more of a dick here than he was then. Rudolfo is enraged by a peasant who has come to ask for mercy paying his taxes, which Rudolfo says makes him "no better than this kingdom's thieving gypsy population", setting him at ideological odds with Doom, who promptly bursts in to free the man, fighting off a platoon of royal guards through the medium of laser blasts and... turning them into frogs? It's great to see that even in this universe, Doom still calls his enemies "Dolt"!
Rudolfo is mortally wounded in the battle, but with his dying breath he crows that he will die without Doom knowing "the richest secret" about himself. Rudolofo dies, from his wound or from the shock, leaving Doom able to rush down to the dungeons and free all the gipsy prisoners that have been kept there, including his ongoing supporting characters, Valeria and Boris. Doom becomes King, not through revolution but from birthright, and brings about great changes to the country, notably through the provision of tractors and arc welding equipment. This delights the peasantry who salute the King and his fiancee as they walk through the streets of Latveria, in another callback to an image first seen in Fantastic Four Annual #2 and homaged many times since. The pair marry and the whole country celebrates, but just as they're heading off on their honeymoon Doom suddenly finds himself standing on "what appears to be some god-forsaken asteroid", where Mephisto tells him that he's stolen Latveria, put it into an orb, and trapped the whole country in hell, as compensation for the loss of Doom's mother's soul. I'm neither a theologian nor a lawyer, but it seems to me as if Mephisto has taken things a bit too far here. Surely a whole country isn't repayment for a single person? Sadly there isn't an ombudsman for Doom to complain to, so instead he launches into a Big Fight with Mephisto, which ends very badly for him. Mephisto, perhaps aware of the unjustness of his original plan, offers Doom a way out. He'll swap all of Latveria for just one soul - that of either Valeria, or Doom himself! Normally, in a superhero story, the hero would offer himself up willingly to save the eternal soul of his country and his wife, but Doom is not that kind of hero and, after grappling with the issue, decides that "the world must not be deprived of Doom", and Mephisto takes Valeria's soul instead. Immediately Doom is returned to the car, where his wife has suddenly disappeared. The story then flashes forward several years to mid-summer's eve where, just as in Astonishing Tales #8, Doom is doing battle with Mephisto's demons for the soul of a woman that he loves - only this time it's his wife, rather than his mother. As with the original version of the story, Doom fails, and the issue ends with Boris watching as his master retires, beaten, but promising himself that he'll try again next year. It's a downbeat ending which doesn't have a lot to do with him becoming a hero, but does follow a distinct pattern for "What If?" stories, which always seem to end either with everybody dying or, as here, things turning out pretty much the same as they did in the main universe, if with a slight twist.

Despite the slightly standard ending, this has been a fascinating story which, as I said at the start, takes us on a tour of most of Doom's greatest hits so far. Next time, however, we're back to a single panel appearances, as Minor Appearances staggers towards a climax!



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posted 11/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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The Masks Of Doom


Another flashback today to a Minor Appearance that I didn't know about until I started out on Minor Appearances Month, and, as with last week's example I only found out about it by accident, in this case vy spotting Doctor Doom in the background of a Facebook post about Ben Cooper masks.

Ben Cooper were an American company who made masks and costumes, mostly for Halloween, often tied into licensed properites. They did a lot of superheroes and supervillains including this rather wonderful Doctor Doom costume in (as far as I can tell) 1967. As you can see, the face part is really quite close to the comics character, while the costume... isn't. I do like the idea of Doctor Doom storming around with his own face on his chest - it's not impossible to imagine him thinking that this is a good idea - and the "DOOM" on the belt buckle is a nice touch too. It's interesting to see this appearing as an item of merchandising so early on in Marvel's existence, when they were only just starting to become popular and well before Doom himself appeared in much other media. Around this time he was making a guest appearance in the Hanna Barbera cartoon but before that he'd only been in one edition of the (awful) Marvel Super-Heroes series the year before.

About seventeen years later Doom would appear again in an entirely new version of the costume which, to my eye, owes quite a lot to Darth Vader. Again, the mask is very close to the comics version but the costume isn't, and again it features an image of Doom's own face on the chest. It's interesting that this costume should go so far towards Darth Vader (who was based, at least partly, on Doom), but maybe that's more of a reflection of the fact that Doom was also appearing in 'Secret Wars' around this time, when his costume was altered vaguely along these lines. Or maybe they had a design for a Space Astronaut that they weren't using!

Either way, it's interesting to see Doom popping up amongst the more conventional hero costumes, proving his popularity yet again. That's all for the flashbacks for now - next time we're back to chronological order for what will turn out to be a very major appearance as we discover what would have happened if Doctor Doom had turned out to be a hero.

Hang on, I thought he already was?



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posted 9/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Come on in... the Revolution's Fine!


Here's an extra special flashback edition of Minor Appearances Month, looking at a very minor appearance from 1970, where Doctor Doom - or, rather, a Doctor Doom costume - appeared in the first Rutland Halloween Parade comics crossover.

These crossovers occurred occasionally throughout the 1970s (and even more occasionally beyond then) as an unofficial link between Marvel and DC's universes, notably in 1972 when a story involving Steve Englehart driving to meet Gerry Conway and Len Wein began in the background of Amazing Adventures #16 (written by Englehart), continued into Justice League of America #103 (written by Wein) and concluded back in the Marvel universe with the Gerry Conway-written Thor #207. It's a lovely bit of fun brought about by the enthusiasm of this generation of comics creators, recently arrived from the world of fandom.

This story does not, sadly, feature any actual superhero crossovers - the parade's organiser Tom Fagan traditionally wore a Batman costume but even this could not be shown in the Marvel-published stories, so he's shown dressed as Nighthawk - but it does feature plenty of comics creators in cameos, including Roy and Jeanie Thomas, who look very excited to be there. Doom appears a few times, although he's quickly revealed to be just someone in a halloween costume. There's a brief moment when he first appears when it might just be him though, if only due to the dialogue. It's a great gag, only slightly given away by the fact that the Red Skull is clearly some bloke in a mask! Doom takes his own mask off in the following page, and then makes his final appearance on the page after that, actually leading the parade. Is it me, or is there a cheeky Batman in that crowd? The rest of the story is... let's say "very of its time", as The Valkyrie organises a bunch of female Avengers into a group called "The Liberators" in order to fight the "male chauvinist pigs" in the rest of the team. She turns out to be The Enchantress in disguise, and the less said about the sexual politics of the whole thing the better! Unfortunately I only found out about this story by chance, when I noticed Doom in a feature about the Halloween parade - it would have been good to talk about it in its rightful place between Thor #182 and the DERANGED Astonishing Tales #3, as this was right at the start of Doom's first real period of glory. It would also have been good to have been able to relate it to Daredevil #9, another appearance of a Doom costume and, coincidentally, another issue that I missed at the time! Having said that, it does fit in quite nicely with the next episode of Minor Appearances Month, which will be another flashback, looking at some real-world Doom costumes!



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posted 6/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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What Do Marvel Super Heroes Really Talk About in the Midst of Battle?


When I talked about "Marvel Fun And Games" last week, I promised that one day I would tell the scintialating story of how I fouund out about it. This is that wonderful day, so get ready for an explanatory thrill-ride as I basically say "I saw it in an advert".

For LO! It saw it in an advert!

All right, there's a bit more to it than that, although not much. When I first looked through my corpus I was slightly mystified as to why Fantastic Four #220 was included. I have always loved John Byrne's run on the comic, and had read a reprint of this comic in "Volume 0" of Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne, a collection of his various bits of Fantastic Four work before he took over properly, and didn't remember Doctor Doom appearing.

Normally when Doom isn't in the actual story it's because he's in an advert or editorial page, and I usually check this by visiting one of the "scan" sites, which sometimes contain these "paratexts" alongside the story pages. Sadly that wasn't the case for this one, but luckily for these me comics are fairly inexpensive, so I was able to buy a copy on eBay. Well, I say "luckily for me", but on the other hand I also have a complete collection of Byrne's FF run, which by this logic remains pretty much worthless!

When the comic arrived my suspicions were proved correct - Doom did appear in an advert, for "Fun And Games Magazine" as shown below, in an image clipped from the cover of Fantastic Four #200 What's interesting here (to me at least) is that this advert must have appeared in pretty much all other Marvel comics that month, yet it's only logged as appearing in two comics - this one and The Defenders #85. This demonstrates, yet again, the lack of consistency you get with crowd-sourced databases. They don't tend to have clear rules about what "counts" as a story or character appearance, so some people get a bit more enthusiastic than others. Looking at the databases it seems to me that the person who was logging "The Defenders" was one of these enthusiastic people, as several issues have advertisements logged in The Grand Comics Database where other series don't. That includes another one that we'll be looking at next week!

Tomorrow, however, Minor Appearances Month has a special flashback episode as we look at another comic that I discovered by accident, all the way from 1970!



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posted 5/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett