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Blog Archive: January 2020

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?
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!

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?

posted 24/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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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!

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!

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!

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!
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"!

posted 8/1/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett