Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kirby's Doom!

While I'm a great admirer of Kirby's Fourth World and its awesome villain Darkseid, I have to relent and say that without a doubt Kirby's greatest villain Doctor Doom. While he created villains which were more powerful and villains which were more depraved, never did he (ably assisted by Stan "The Man" Lee) make a bad guy who combined all of those vile traits with just enough of a dash of nobility to make it all very weird. Rooting for the villain is not how it's supposed to work, but sometimes with Doctor Doom it's hard not to try to understand his point of view, a demented as it can be.

Here are (as far as I can tell) all of the covers Kirby ever produced featuring Doctor Doom. (Would love to find out I"m wrong.) I command you to enjoy!

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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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A Day In The Anti-Life - One Hundred!

We have reached one hundred days of the Trump administration. Since Donald J. Trump became president of these United States it has simultaneously seemed like a mere moment and an impossible age. There has been so much tumult in the first one hundred days that you'd think we were approaching the end of the first four-year term. (When many Presidents famously turn to foreign affairs after confronting the limits of domestic policy change.) That's certainly what it seems like now that our "so-called" President has discovered all of his war toys spread across the globe, and has in complete contradiction to the litany of long-winded taunts to the contrary, taken up a role as an exceedingly eager commander-in-chief.

Of course his supporters seem all in, as if what he says and what he does have no relevance beyond the purely tribal lust for a strong leader. I can see why folks might've seen some of the support of Obama in this same light, but they'd be wrong in the main, and certainly Obama after his first few years was held to a standard unlike most of his predecessors. Likewise Trump might leaven his quixotic approach to world affairs with something akin to the calm exhibited by his predecessor, but I rather doubt it. Nothing in his history nor his demeanor suggests this is the case. He naively thinks the world operates like he imagines it to in his "ugly American" mindset.

One thing is pretty certain though. He is aided and abetted by the Republicans, a clan of nitwits and self-important nabobs who have said "nee" to anything that struck them as remotely against their ill-considered prejudices and now are finding that putting together a positive agenda ain't all that easy. Being the gadfly is self-aggrandizing and for a rank of conservatives reared on the endless swill spewed by Limbaugh and his ilk and now it seems they cannot get past their cranky complaints to get anything done. Rather with the both houses of Congress and the Presidency in hand, they still seem inclined to find a scapegoat (Pelosi, Democrats, the Mainstream Media) to explain their own misunderstandings of the proper limits of power.

I have little doubt that they will eventually get something approximating an act together and will do some proper damage to these United States (so Liberals need to stop chortling about his failures so far), but we have been spared some of that damage early because reality has seeped into the domes of some few of them, and they realize that even a flawed healthcare plan is better than no healthcare plan as their constituents are also slowly realizing, even one which bears the brand of the dreaded Obama. Not to say that Trump has done nothing at all, as many of the copious executive orders he's signed to unravel some protections from the Obama years, and that's doing something, even if that something is entirely negative.

Trump wants to say that "one hundred days" is just a figment of the imagination of the media and he's pretty much right about that. But like most everything the Dolt-in-chief mutters he wants to have it both ways.He himself has promoted the hundred days measure and now that he's fallen well short of his often bellowed claims, wants to shift the blame to someone else (standard for him). His hyperbolic claims to accomplishment fall short of  actual real reality, and it's clear that even his ardent supporters cannot fabricate enough "alternate facts" to convince even themselves that the case is otherwise. They've tried to manufacture crowd sizes and mandates but the shock and awe of cold reality is a tonic even the most benighted supporter has to take a whiff of eventually. Maybe.

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