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Evil Geek Book Report – Doctor Strange And Doctor Doom: Triumph And Torment

Doctor Doom is often considered the greatest villain Marvel had to offer. Beyond his insanely amazing costume I never knew why. As a kid, in the early 90’s the only Marvel comics I read were mostly X-Men related titles and Doom sure as hell wasn’t showing up there. I knew of him but I wouldn’t go anywhere near the Fantastic Four. That changed though when recently Kang convinced me to check out Jonathan Hickman’s run on the title from a few years back. It floored me and I wanted more so I had to go back in time. I read through John Byrne’s 1980’s tenure and I’m glad I did. It made me respect the team and comic in a way I never thought I would have. There was another last effecting though; it started me on an obsession with Victor Von Doom.

Byrne fleshed out Doctor Doom in a way that I could only compare to Chris Claremont’s work with Magneto. He turned what was a good concept but ultimately a one dimensional baddie into a living breathing tragically noble (in his own way) character. I always liked Doctor Strange too but knew very little. So when I found that in 1989 Marvel had released an original graphic novel starring both characters, I needed to check it out.

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“Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment” was an 80 page story written by Doctor Strange veteran Roger Stern and drawn by (then) rising star Mike Mignola and well…it’s an interesting one. The beginning of the story is a little hokey but it’s needed to get the ball rolling. The Aged Genghis awakens in a cave with more clarity than he’s been able to muster in decades and summons the globe’s top mystics. Among the many are our two doctors (and enemies) who are all put into a contest to see who is worthy of the title Sorcerer Supreme.

Strange wins, but owes a “boon” to Doom for his assistance in the contest (a request that cannot be denied). Doctor Doom takes advantage of this situation by asking Strange to assist him with freeing his mother’s soul. If you don’t know, Von Doom’s mother is trapped in Hell and has been for decades because of a deal she made with Mephisto to free her oppressed people. Every year Doom is granted one night where he can fight for her soul but it always ends in a stalemate. We are treated to some great scenes here where Strange accompanies Doom back to his home country of Latveria and begins to see another side of the man he previously thought was a warped malicious dictator. The story gives us appropriate origin story flashbacks of both Doom and Strange which were welcome and helps to add more heft to these characters had you not been familiar with them.

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The two descend into Hell together to confront Mephisto and in the process they fight hordes of evil demonic creatures and increasingly erratic landscape. It would be wrong to rob of you the twists and turns that happen next, but the story definitely develops a Shakespearian or perhaps more appropriately operatic nature to it.

I’ll be honest; I was a bit let down. The premise was far cooler than the actual execution but it is still an entertaining read. It’s totally a Doom story too, which is what I wanted but Doctor Strange unfortunately is there only to service the plot and nothing more. The Mignola art is a big treat though. I love seeing someone with such a distinctive style. It’s also really cool to see his earlier non Hellboy work. He’s perfect for the ancient artifacts at the beginning of the book and monstrous hellish creatures in the second half.

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The original graphic novel has gone out of print but Marvel recently packaged it as a trade paperback with a few other stories to pad it out. Most notably Astonishing Tales #4 by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan which established the tradition of Doom’s yearly quest to fight for his mom’s soul. It’s inclusion here makes sense and it’s a good story to boot. There’s Doctor Strange #57 written by Roger Stern that includes one page of Doctor Doom mulling over the idea of becoming Strange’s disciple. Which I guess you could make a case for its inclusion but only that particular page would be necessary really. The rest of the collection is rounded out by two Bill Mantlo penned Namor stories drawn by Mignola. They have no connection to Doom or Strange, just that it’s the same artist. I appreciate Marvel giving you more to justify the price tag, but those two certainly seem like a stretch.

If you’re a fan of Doom and want some more insight into the character or you’re looking for early Mignola art give this a read.

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners. Please click on the “About Us” tab for our takedown policy.

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About Biff Tannen

Film Noir, Pulp, Comic Books and Hitchcock.

Posted on June 2, 2015, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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