CCI: Comic Character Investigation #261 octobre 2012
[ENGLISH] This month: Doctor Doom. Since the inception of The Golden Age of comics in 1938, many heroes, and many villains, have splashed their battles across artistic pages, have endured their struggles in those same pages and have intrigued a readership which has loved their adventures for 72 years. This column celebrates such characters by taking a look each month at one of them. Some you will know and some are more obscure, but all hold a significant place in comics, for the world of stories in any medium is about the characters who populate it. The spectacular citizens of the universe who inhabit the comic book nation might be brave or sinister, bold or fearful, but all are characters who we can never forget. So, The Golden Age becomes the Silver Age, The Silver becomes The Bronze and so on, until today and until tomorrow. . . in The Endless Age of comics, and the beings who live inside them.
The End Is Near: All Fear Doctor Doom!
When readers first saw Dr. Doom he must have seemed like some type of royal machine, garbed in green and wearing steel casings which gave him a most ominous appearance. In truth he suffered damage disfiguring his appearance by dealing in the black arts in the netherworld which forced him to cover his face. Such things did not scratch his immense vanity and this fit well for the character for he was the first supervillain Jack Kirby and Stan Lee created to truly
endure the test of time. The creative duo succeeded to great lengths and today he is one of the best-known characters in the Marvel universe. As Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four warmed the world up for super-powered good guys, Dr. Doom initiated, more than any other, the presence of super bad guys.
He made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #5 and his ego was immense as he believed wholeheartedly that the super foursome were “but pawns in the hands of Doctor Doom!” Always ambitious for more power his failure in the netherworld did not quell his desire to master the black arts so he traveled to Tibet to learn even more dark sorcery. Dr. Doom has been featured quite often in the F.F. series and has been featured in books of his own as well such as Doom 2099, a series which perhaps was meant to predict his future endurance as a character.
From his castle in Latvia protected by an army of robots he makes his countless plans to defeat the Fantastic Four and take what he wants from the world. Doom is actually a somewhat gothic character, living in an atmospheric castle in Europe like that caped supernatural figure Dracula, his face covered, much like the Phantom of The Opera. It is not hard to imagine that Lee and Kirby drew on such gothic images to piece together the Latvian ruler’s appearance. A device most effective as such images are well-known and relatable to readers of any medium, including comics. One can imagine a powerful lightning storm cracking its bolts over his European headquarters a he forges his cruel designs upon the Earth.
Once he had been classmates with Reed Richards, each brilliant scientists with split destinies. But Dr. Doom escapes all the classic components of a tragic counterpart, other than his disfigurement because nothing slowed his ambitions and his resolve to gain power. So what if he had met with disaster? Outfitting himself in a royal attire, he always announced his determined presence. There is no sadness about Doom. No despair and no regret. He is what he has become and he embraces it without remorse and pushes on. Had he been a hero instead such qualities would have set him apart. But that was not his path. His is one of gathering worlds in his steel-clad hands, firing his power bolts from his armor at The Thing, Johnny Storm, his old classmate and his spouse, The Invisible Woman.
His ego sustains the masked metal warlord and his costume’s design may hide his face but clearly also reflects his darkness, for who would want to meet up with such a figure on a dark street? He is timeless as a figure in the future and one which harks back into the past due to his design. Kirby and Lee could hardly have been more masterful in making him immortal, a result which Dr. Doom would have welcomed.
He will never succeed in his plans of course. That is the fate of most comic book villains created early in the mythologies we know and love, but again, he does not care. He has power. He has time, and will endure. Dr. Doom is unchecked by failures. He is the ultimate in villains for he is determined to get what he wants no matter what it costs him, even his own suffering. A villain like that required at least four heroes to fight him and while they may always stop him, his doom will always cast a shadow over the Marvel universe, one which he undoubtedly would like
to make his own.
James Parducci (www.jparducci.blogspot.com) is the creator of the comic series Nighthunter. He has been published in multiple periodicals and runs his own freelance writing business in San Diego.