Is it just me or is Victor Von Doom now the coolest character in the Marvel Universe?
As a side-note to the continuing Avengers/X-Men: Axis bonanza, I treated myself to my first taste of the Loki: Agent of Asgard series, though primarily because I saw Doctor Doom on the cover of Loki: AoA #6 and couldn’t resist. And I was rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining reminder of just how wonderful a character the tried-and-tested old Latverian dictator still is.
Admittedly he was always cool-as-fuck and I haven’t read him for a while, but reading him through Loki: Agent of Asgard #6 and #7 and then in the main Axis series really brings home how superb, how complex and how poetic a character he really is. I only read those two Loki issues because I saw Doom was involved.
The insight we get into Victor’s mind across those two issues, as well as the sense we’re given of life in Latveria, is fascinating and leads me to one inescapable conclusion: Doom needs his own monthly title.
I mean if Loki gets his own title, then surely the gloomy dictator of Latveria warrants one. Think how fascinating it could be to have an ongoing series set in Latveria and exploring Doom’s dictatorship, his relationship with his subjects and his daily life. It isn’t guaranteed to work, of course; Magneto getting his own monthly was something I was excited about earlier in the year, but the reality hasn’t been that great yet (apart from elements of the Axis tie-in issues). Though that’s probably largely due to Magneto not being as engaging a character as he was twenty years ago. Doom, on the other hand, is as engaging and as cool as he’s ever been; maybe more, in fact. A solo run would seem to be in order.
The ‘magical duel’ between Doom and Loki in Agent of Asgard #6 is genuinely entertaining if only for Doom’s sheer poetic flourishes and all the talk of ‘magical thinking’ and the ‘imposition of narrative upon reality’; themes that come full circle by the end of #7.
The presence of the three-year old super-genius Valeria Richards in the mix also provides an enjoyable dynamic and rich fodder for a prospective solo title. There’s something very odd about a three-year old girl living with Victor von Doom; not in any sleazy sort of way, but just given how utterly dead-behind-the-eyes, how utterly non-tender a personality Doom is and has always been. I like it though; and it has the potential to bring out a side of Doom’s character that hasn’t been much developed before. It can also lead to some good comedy situations, especially because Doom seems to have become the king of the deadpan line and could soon be giving Deadpool a run for his money; comments and reactions clearly not intended as humorous on his part but end up being the funniest lines.
The classic example from Agent of Asgard #7 ; little Valeria Richards asks “Can we have ice-cream later?” To which a humourless Victor von Doom replies, “Doom will consider your request.” Perfect.
Although having said that, having “All you need is Doom” (as in a take on the Beatles song) playing on jukeboxes as Victor walks a corridor is a bit much. ‘Doom Town’ by The Wipers would’ve been much more fitting, however.
Writer Al Ewing seems to have a really good handle on Doctor Doom and might even be a natural candidate for chief steersman of any prospective Doom solo title (which I seriously hope is being discussed). This being my first taste of the Loki: Agent of Asgard series, I was also easily won over by the Jorge Coelho/Lee Loughbridge art style for the books and am tempted to jump on to this title beyond Axis (assuming it lasts). There’s a really nice texture and feel to the art in these books, particularly when set in the interior of Doom’s castle, which always looks evocative and suitably Gothic.
This Doom/Loki dynamic or situation we have in Agent of Asgard #6 and #7 is also surprisingly enjoyable to read and would seem to have a lot of longer-term potential for revisiting; though I have no idea if that is something being intended or not.
The other, rather perverse thing that occurred to me while reading Loki: AoA #6 and #7 was – and bear with me here – how analogous Doctor Doom was to the late Muammar Gadaffi. No, I’m not being facetious; and admittedly this is commentary you’ll find nowhere else on the web or in the realms of comic-book bloggerdom, but hey, every blogger should have a unique take on things, right
The analogy occurred to me specifically in Agent of Asgard #7 when the Latverians are succumbing to the Red Skull’s ‘hate wave’ and rioting. The image on page 10 of the Eastern Quarter of Latveria being devastated by the rioting population made me think immediately about the Libyan uprising (and about Syria). Doom is watching this and demanding his people calm down and obey “the Law of Doom”. He then angrily tries to tell them they’re under foreign influence that is causing them to rebel against the order Doom has established in the kingdom.
It’s a terrific sequence, but I’m sorry, it has Gadaffi and Libya (circa 2011) imprinted all over it. When the Libyan rebels began rising up against Gadaffi and the ‘order’ he’d long established in the country, I have very clear memories of the ill-fated dictator making angry speeches urging the people to calm down and desist, as well as telling them they were under foreign influence (and also that the mercenaries and militants behind the uprisings were not only foreign agents but were feeding the native rebels drugs to amplify their hatred and violent tendencies).
While the angry Latverian rabble yells “there he is, lording it over us”, “we’re better off without him”, “death to the tyrant”, the astonished Doom demands to know “Who ordained this rebellion? Who put you up to it?” The Gadaffi parallels there actually gave me goosebumps for a moment.
If the writers were partly inspired by the sad tale of Gadaffi and Libya – and it might just be coincidence and nothing more – I’m not complaining about it by any means. Comic books being informed by real world politics or issues is often a good thing. The Axis series’ whole ‘hate wave’ concept in general is an interesting one and made me think of certain current situations in the world, Libya, Syria and Iraq included; and the fact that its source is a bona-fide Nazi makes it all the more bleak.
While the shift from the ‘Red Supremacy’ portion of the Axis event to the ‘Inversion’ portion (as in all heroes turn bad and all villains become good; a result of Doom and the Scarlet Witch’s ‘inversion’ of the Red Onslaught in Avengers/X-Men: Axis #3) results in a lot of silliness, one of the not-as-silly outcomes has been (so far) Doctor Doom’s self-searching and desire to atone for past crimes, which again is a theme with potential. Avengers World #15 sees Doom seeking to assemble a team of second and third string super-heroes to help him against a vengeful Scarlet Witch who he knows will be coming after him.
Again Avengers World #15 demonstrates how engaging a figure Doom is and how much potential for ongoing storytelling exists in the Latverian setting.
Either way, it’s time for Victor Von Doom to have his own publication all to himself. When all the smoke and debris clears from this drawn-out Axis event, I hope it is something being discussed and considered at Marvel HQ.