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Blog Archive: February 2020

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!

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!
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!

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!

posted 7/2/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett