|Even the cover design looks like it was pounded out with a copy machine over a cup of coffee.|
I had the distinctly unnerving experience recently of seeing this book – Emperor Doom, a one-shot Marvel Graphic Novel written by David Michelinie and illustrated by Bob Hall, and bearing all the hallmarks of a “major event” book, if just in terms of its packaging – discussed online by folks I know as though it were actually any good.
I was hearing it described as “a great idea” and “well-executed” and having an “innovative ending” but wasn't hearing anyone pledge to “do all things imperfekt” or paying coal to see the film negatives of a movie, so I suspected I wasn't on Bizarro World.
In pursuit of due diligence, I indulged myself in a re-read of the book and came to the only reasonable conclusion; clearly a second version of Emperor Doom was produced down the road somewhere and everyone else read that one while I read the one that stank on ice.
There’s a policy I prefer to maintain on this site, that I don’t write articles about books or characters which I didn't enjoy on SOME level – I USED to post articles about books I straight-up loathed, but I kicked those reviews off the site as they seemed uncharitable at best, and had a certain artist's fans and family members writing me angry letters, at worst.
|Also the colorist for this book was a blacklight.|
The plot of Emperor Doom is straightforward – Doctor Doom, perennial and possibly preeminent Marvel baddie, would-be conqueror of the world and self-impressed technological tyrant - wins. He conquers the world, and establishes himself as the sole ruler of the Earth. Ta-da.
Doom accomplishes this by plucking a pube from Killgrave the Purple Man, an ages-old enemy of the swinging superhero Daredevil from so far back in the day that he might show up on Mad Men. Killgrave the Purple Man (not to be confused with Killellea the Pink Man, Kilpatrick the Chartreuse Man, Killgore the Plaid Man or Killkearny the Paisley Fella) has super-powered pheromones which allow him to mentally dominate anyone who, um, can smell him. Doom encases the mauve mesmerist in a giant gem (I guess he had one lying around) which weaponizes his stupefying stink for Doom’s benefit, and broadcasts his B.O. of mass destruction across the globe.
|A little casual spousal abuse before the big game.|
Everything about Emperor Doom seems to cry out “inventory issues”, and the whole thing reads as a two-part adventure for the West Coast Avengers. For one thing, it’s super-fluffy. For the second, the West Coast Avengers star in it. Plus, at one point in the second half of the story, we’re treated to a flashback and a recap of the first half of the story, which certainly seems to imply this was intended as a multi-parter over at least two months.
Despite Doom’s name being in the title, the story is more about Simon Williams, Wonder Man, part-time stuntman/actor and ion-powered superhero who enters the story by being cheerfully dunked into a sensory-deprivation tank where he sleeps it out in a coma for a month. When he awakes, he happens to be one of those people who doesn’t bow to Doom’s mind-control ray (ionic beings can’t smell? I don’t know) and he leads a meandering, page-padding journey of self-discovery before he finds the impetus to rally other superheroes to his side.
|My favorite scene.|
And then there’s the conclusion – in the end, Doom allows the heroes to overthrow him because he didn’t expect there’d be so much paperwork involved in ruling the world. That’s the actual conclusion. Dr.Doom has mind-controlled an entire planet into immediate obedience and, by way of that obedience, eradicated disease, war, crime and famine, but he can’t mind-control anyone into taking care of his paperwork. He can’t mind-control a personal secretary; it’s the ONE FLAW IN HIS PLAN.
The ending is particularly dumb in the pants because you have to wonder about the character arc – the heroes of the story reestablish the status quo, Killgrave is freed, Namor is freed, all the robots are freed, everybody goes back to the world the way it was, as does Doom but didn't Doom just learn that he really doesn't want to rule the world? Didn't he just learn that his expectations and ambitions were wrongly engineered, that his entire life's goals have been a frivolous misunderstanding of his true dreams and needs? This story should have changed the nature of Doctor Doom forever, but it didn't, it's a blip and an oddity which clearly belonged in the monthly schedule somewhere but was wisely elevated to the Graphic Novel line where some level of non-canon deniability could be maintained, or so is my theory.
Anyway, in conclusion, Emperor Doom is not a well-done story and Tumblr should stop suggesting it is, the end.
|"Also I clank when I need to pee."|