I love me some Doctor Doom. You want to talk classic, yelling, boasting, talking about himself in the third person villainy, Doctor Doom is definitely the way to go. So an entire issue based around the guy so evil his name is fucking DOOM becoming a good guy? I am there. And if that didn’t hurt, look at that fucking cover. That is amazing.
So if you’ve never heard the story, our old buddy Uatu is there to fill us in as he bombs out on an asteroid, his watcher’s crotch on display for all to see. BEHOLD ITS GLORY, HUMAN. I gotta say, guys, Fred Kida’s art in this is fantastic.
Ahem. So… Victor Von Doom. Born in the tiny nation of Latveria, a… Germanesque? country full of fans of lederhosen, alpenhorns and a distinct fear of werewolves, Doom is raised by his father, Werner von Doom. (Jeez, I never would have guessed that there’d be a better supervillain name than Victor von Doom but Wernher von Doom? That’s fantastic.) Doom’s mother, Cynthia was a witch, burned at the stake while Victor was still a tiny, speaking in the third person baby.
One day, Latveria’s evil baron (Of course, there’s an evil baron.) contacts Wernher von Doom to help his sick wife. “Zat’s not my department” says Wernher von Doom. He is put to death. Victor swears revenge and then heads to America to get his doctorate in “Contacting My Mother In Hell” studies. I’ve always assumed this was the class Dr. Venkman was teaching.
So Doom attempts to use a combination of sorcery and witchcraft to contact his mother’s damned soul. Before he can, Reed Richards gets a look at his work and sees that a few decimals points are missing. He tries to tell Victor but Doom is having none of it. He goes ahead with the experiment, blows his own fucking face off, flees to Tibet, forges himself some armor and builds a time machine to steal Blackbeard’s treasure. You know, that old chestnut.
But, asks Uatu, still displaying his crotch in a manner that can only be to make us uncomfortable, what if Doom wasn’t a big dickhole? What if he listened to Reed, checked his math and THEN sent his spirit to hell? And that is, in fact exactly what happens. Doom sends his soul into the demonic pit where he finally contacts his mother. After laying on the traditional parental guilt trip (Why don’t you CALL, Vicky?”), she drops a knowledge bomb on him, letting him know that he’s the true heir to Latveria. She never mentions why exactly if that was the case, he and his father were living crappy lives in a shitty Gypsy camp but, to be fair, he never asks.
Victor’s soul returns to his body and he tells Reed of his plan to finally save his mother from Hell and then return victorious to Latveria where he shall rule benevolently. Perhaps in a gaudy suit of armor. He and Reed part as friends, and Reed heads off to tragically mutate his best friend and then presumedly spend the rest of his life fighting… I don’t know, probably the Mole Man.
In a gorgeous and very Bernie Wrightsony sequence, Victor travels the world learning dark secrets of the occult, speaking to ancient sorcerers and appearing in eight issues of Tomb of Dracula. Finally, on a trip to Tibet, Victor learns the secrets he needs from an ancient order of monks. The monks forge him a suit of golden armour and a… let’s say unique helmet.
Looking good, Vic.
Doom heads to an uninhabited cave to work his magicks, contacting Satan like so much Ghost Rider. He finally frees his mother’s soul, allowing her to go to… Heaven? I guess. The one afterlife that HASN’T been proven to exist in the Marvel Universe. Except for that time the Fantastic Four found out Jack Kirby was God.
Meanwhile in Hell, (a sentence that has never worked out well for anyone.) Mephisto (the actual devil) discovers that one of his souls is missing, resulting in a lot of yelling and acting rude to his demonic whores.
Incidentally, Mephisto’s in this? Hooray! A story where the hammiest motherfucker in the Marvel Universe pisses off the second hammiest motherfucker in the Marvel Universe? SOLD. Anyway, Mephisto vows revenge. Blah blah blah.
Back on Earth, Doom returns to Latveria, determined to rule it as is his birthright. Unfortunately, he finds it under the control of the evil, medallion wearing Prince Rudolfo, which may be my new favourite name ever. Rodolfo’s been doing the usual evil king stuff: taxing the peasants, throwing people in the dungeon, cancelling Christmas and banning all toys in the kingdom. You know the drill.
Luckily for the sad peasants, Doom arrives in his ridiculous gold armour to wreck up the place. He uses a combination of magic and technology to fucking destroy Rodolfo’s army of guards, including turning one into a giant frog which is FANTASTIC.
Rudolfo is ultimately killed by a bullet’s ricochet, alas. Good night, sweet prince. I look forward to openly mocking your ridiculous tombstone.
Doom frees all of the prisoners in Rodolfo’s dungeon, including his old girlfriend Valeria. He then moves all his stuff into Latveria Castle and begins using his technology to improve the lives of his people. This mostly involves robot farmers but… you know, Latveria is a simple country. Doom also proposes to Valeria. He marries her in front of his subjects, including a young Alfred E Neumann and Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika.
Everything’s basically perfect until Doom and Mrs. Doom head off on their honeymoon… and the Devil shows up. “Now you run a pretty good country, boy, but give Mephisto his due. I’ll take every life, damn your lovely wife, Latveria burns because of you.”
Basically, Doom owes Mephisto a soul and to get it, Mephisto is perfectly willing to drag all of Latveria to hell. This is followed by some truly glorious purple prose as these two guys yell at each other and address themselves in the third person. It’s wonderful.
Finally, Mephisto offers Doom a deal. Latveria’s safe. That’s off the table. All Mephisto wants is one soul. Doom’s… or Valeria’s. Surely that decision can’t be too difficult for the benevolent savior of Latveria?
Unfortunately, Doom might be a good guy but he’s still an arrogant piece of shit. “The world can’t lose me. I’m Doctor Fucking Doom! I have so much love to give!” So he sentences his wife to burn for all eternity, vowing to find some way to someday save her. (Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)