Saturday, April 29, 2017

Doctor Doom - The Doomsman!


Like a lot of Marvel fans of my generation, I'm a fan of the split books. Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, and Strange Tales were comics which delivered a powerful bang for the buck with two lead features in every issue. Admittedly they only got ten or so pages on average, but those were packed pages.


Marvel didn't forget the concept and a few years after busting out the classic split books into individual features they gave us two more Amazing Adventures with the Inhumans and Black Widow and Astonishing Tales featuring Ka-zar and our villain of interest today...the deadly Doctor Doom.


Roy Thomas is tapped to script this series but the real headline is that Wally Wood is the artist. Wally Wood did precious little work for Marvel, but it was surprisingly significant work. He'd taken on the floundering Daredevil title some years before and given it a direction and flavor and gave us DD's famous striking red costume. Now Wood returned to draw Marvel's top villain.


In this debut story we see Doom play a prank on NASA and we see him create an android with his own brain patterns. That this is going to be trouble, any fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein could tell Victor Von Doom. Also on hand are Prince Rudolfo the apparent true heir to the Latverian throne who is plotting Doom's downfall and a beautiful girl named Ramona who resembles the love of Victor Von Doom's life. It's a heady beginning.


By the second issue of Astonishing Tales the "Doomsman", Doom's android creation has run away and the plot to overthrow him is uncovered with the followers of Rudolfo on the run.


But there's a hidden element to the plotting, the ignoble Prince Rudolfo is assisted by a mysterious globe-headed entity known as the Faceless One.


In Astonishing Tales three by new scribe Larry Lieber and Wood, the forces of Rudolfo and the Faceless One attack Doom's castle again and he destroys it to end the threat of his enemies, but it's revealed that the Faceless One is in fact a non-humanoid alien.


Rudolfo and his surviving forces retreat to wait for another day while Doctor Doom confronts the menace of his "Doomsman" and ends it by sending his creation into a completely other dimension.


Wally Wood hangs around for one more issue which sees the castle rebuilt and the menace of the Red Skull invade Latveria. But then Wood is seen no more in the series he started and helped to shape in its early issues.


The Doomsman returns in the early issues of Giant-Size Villain Super-Team-Up when Doom and Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner team up to confront the android menace of Andro. Andro is the Doomsman returned to Earth and using his technological skills to create a new race of artificial life.


Even before he was named "Andro", the Doomsman reminded me of Wally Wood's other "artificial human", Andor a renegade agent of the evil forces which confronted the THUNDER Agents in that Tower Comic. He had the same misunderstood outsider attitude, a being fashioned to be a threat but who wanted to find another way forward.


Anyway for what it's worth, Wally Wood's brief stint on Doctor Doom was a most memorable one indeed.

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2 comments:

  1. Wood's art was astonishingly detailed and atmospheric, but sometimes his figures looked a bit static, even when they were supposed to be in motion. Almost as if models had posed in these positions and Wally had captured that 'posed' quality. Unlike Jack Kirby's figures, who moved and were 'alive', and looked as if they were actually in motion on the page. That's why, when Wally inked Jack, we were getting something that each artist couldn't quite do on his own. Having said that, WW's art was always a pleasure to behold.

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  2. I think Doom was diminished by this series. He was such a towering, terrifying figure in, for instance, that sequence where he stole the Surfer's power, and in these stories he was mostly on the defensive. You don't really get the sense that the world has as much to fear, when he can't even control his own people. In Jack Kirby's world, the citizens of Latveria had nightmares about him, not to mention every superhero. I just feel it should have been grander and more hallucinogenic; this is a character that knows the extremes of science and magic and has a ferocious hunger for unlimited power.

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