Doctober Spotlight – Doctor Doom
Most would probably say that Doctor Doom is the best villainous doctor in comics. I’d go one step further and say that he’s the best VILLAIN in comics. Sure, you’ve got your Magnetos and your Galactuses… Galacti? But Magneto can’t make up his mind about what side he’s on, plus he’s kind of got a point about humans. And Galactus? That guy’s not even doing anything wrong, he’s a force of nature in a dumb hat.
Doctor Doom on the other hand tries his hardest to be a villain, despite being a study in duality. He’s a brilliant scientist but at the same time one of the world’s foremost magic-users. He’s the magnanimous leader of a country filled with contented citizens and yet he devotes the majority of his free time to the pursuit of petty revenge. Revenge over an accident that happened in college. He’s at times the most over-the-top villain one could imagine and at other times a vulnerable soul for whom the reader can root. He is at times shown to be a very vulnerable human being, but he not only takes measures to hide it, he seems to actively work to dispel this notion.
But it’s the first point that’s always fascinated me so. People (lame people, but people all the same) use the term “techno-wizard” to refer to their nephews who known how to save a password on Firefox. Doom is the embodiment of a significantly more badass interpretation of that term. He’s the kind of dude who, in between routine repairs to his functioning time machine, might pop out to the garden to successfully attempt astral projection. He’ll have a late lunch in Limbo and an early dinner in the Negative Zone. And it’s one particular pairing of those two strengths that I’ll focus on today: Issues 258-260 of Fantastic Four.
These issues open up with Doom acting as the master of all he surveys, touching base with his advisors, spies, and even his young ward after some time away from Latveria. He’s recently taken Kristoff Vernard under his wing after witnessing the death of the boy’s innocent mother. Doom is shown to be respected and loved by this child, as he is by all Latverians. This section of the issue is where we see the infamous moment wherein John Byrne, writer and penciller of this issue, cheapens the events of Chris Claremont’s recent Doom appearance in X-Men by retconning the Doom appearing in those issues as a Doombot. I fully support that move by Doom, any insane facets to Doom’s megalomania always make me smile. He cannot tolerate the affront of a match having been lit on his robot duplicate’s armor and order summarily causes the robot to self-destruct. Doom has Kristoff watch on as he does this, and in fact over the whole day. He wants the boy to learn the behavior of a king.
We flash forward a few weeks to more exciting day in the life of Doctor Doom. The machine he’ll use to obtain the power of a god is finally complete! Doom’s all about apotheosis, he’s tried it before and he will try it again. Where once he’d tried to drain the power cosmic from the Silver Surfer, this time he has a self-contained apparatus. Doom wisely tests it out on Hauptmann a double-crossing scientist, rather than on himself and is not surprised to see a pile of ashes in Hauptmann’s place when the machine cools down (after all, if the machine had worked why would Hauptmann himself not have used it). Doom muses on who could possibly withstand the pressures of containing such power as that of the Silver Surfer, and when Kristoff suggests Magneto, Doom flies into a jealous rage for a moment. Anywho, he regains his cool and settles on Terrax the Terrible, former herald of Galactus and perpetual a-hole.
Terrax/Tyros (no one can really make up their minds about that) gets to work antagonizing the Fantastic Four (at least three of them), and does one hell of a job. He’s got The Thing, The Human Torch, and The Invisible Woman on the ropes but Doom is a displeased. Richards is the one he truly wants dead, the rest of the crew is just gravy. He commands Tyros to hold off so that they can wait for Reed to witness the deaths of his loved ones, but Tyros won’t have any of it. So Doom gets to work BEATING THE SHIT out of someone with the Power Cosmic.
Now, admittedly Doom as punching a little over his weight on this one because Tyros immediately blasts the good Doctor with enough energy to fuse all of the joints in his armor.
Tyros has, as you can see, been making a bit of a scene in this supermarket parking lot and as a result attracted the attention of his fellow former Herald the Silver Surfer. And while the Silver Surfer’s only real move in a fight is to come flying at his opponent firing a beam of energy at their face, it more often than not does the trick. When he shows up on the scene, Doom correctly assumes that this whole shindig is going to end with a sizeable fresh crater. So he does what any madman in a highly advanced suit of battle armor would do…
He magics himself the eff out of that popsicle stand. All of those years hanging with his gypsy family weren’t for naught , and Doom only needs a few seconds to send his consciousness into the body of an unsuspecting rubbernecker.
Doom lives to fight another day, albeit in someone else’s husk. As you might expect, Doom returned in his traditional form before too long with another plan up his sleeve, but this instance always stood out to me one of his better stories. It touches on his home life, makes him something of a sympathetic character only to then spotlight him at his most megalomaniacal. This is the perfect Doom story, and Doom is the perfect supervillain.
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