Thursday, August 6, 2015

FF Week #23--Dreaded Deadline Doom (Get It? Doom? Get It?!?)

Forgive me, but due to time constraints, I'm going to a bit of a re-run here.

But it is relevant this week, as we discuss one of the things that's been wrong with Fantastic Four movies...I'm seeing the new one tonight, and the reviews haven't been too promising, and I'm willing to wager that they made the same sort of mistake.

And that mistake is?

Don't fuck with Victor Von Doom's origin.

It. Was. Perfect. It cannot be improved on. If you try, it will drag you down. Seriously, it is probably the most perfect villain origin that Marvel has ever come up with, and these fools think they can make it better?

Memo to screenwriters: Stan and Jack didn't introduce Doom until issue number 5. FIVE. You don't need to always bring in the biggest villain in the first movie. If you make a good first movie, you'll get more chances. (See also Daredevil, which decided that they would try to fit about 40 issues worth of developments into one film)

Another memo to screenwriters: Don't try to tie in Doom's origin into the Fantastic Four's, except in the tangential "Listen, fella" brief meeting. Don't have Doom finance the FF's space experiments. Don't have the same accident that created the FF create Doom. Just. Don't. You rob Victor of a lot of his own agency, and his own tragedy, if you make anything but his own arrogance and his own overreach responsible for his fate. One of the best thematic resonances throughout FF history is that Reed and Doom are each responsible for their own tragedy, but Reed chose to overcome it, and Doom chose to blame others and wallow in it. (See also Amazing Spider-Man movies, where Richard Parker's experiments are responsible not only for Peter's condition, but the Goblin's, and the Lizard's, and...)

So in about 12 hours I'll be seeing how they f'd up Doctor Doom in this movie. Until then, please enjy this 6 year old post admiring the perfect original origin of Victor Von Doom:


It's Wayback Machine time again, folks, so it's time for Slay Monstrobot to hop back 45 years, and take a look at Marvel 1964!! The year I was born!!

Now, the fascinating thing for all you young 'uns out there--and you won't believe this--is that Marvel published a whole 11 issues in September of 1964 (and one of those was an annual!). 11. For the entire month!! That's less than half of a single week of Marvel's output these days...You could have bought Marvel's entire output for $1.45!! (That's only $9.96 in 2008 dollars, Marvel, not $45. I'm just sayin')

The other fascinating thing is the relatively few creator names we're going to see, as the Marvel Bullpen consisted of about 5 people at this point. So this week we'll be getting a whooole lot of Stan and Jack, a dash of Ditko, and a helping of Heck.

(A special note to artists who can't seem to complete even one comic on a monthly basis--please look at the sheer amount of material these guys were turning out. This month alone Kirby cranked out 4 complete monthly issues AND an Annual with 37 pages of new material AND 6 covers. Lord knows, not all of it was his greatest work--we'll see some rush jobs--but there's a message in there for all of you "slow" artists: stop trying to make it perfect--just draw, dammit)

So how will we start Marvel 1964 Week? Only with one of the seminal classics of Marvel history:

Oh, yeah.

Not even 3 years into Marvel history, and we're going to get an entire annual devoted to Victor Von Doom. That's what kind of impact the character had. And while he had a small taste of his origin back in his first appearance in Fantastic Four #5, Stan and Jack decided it was time to substantially flesh out that story:

Our creators? Why, of course:

Stan wasn't over-hyping the splash page copy too much. We were going to learn secrets we hadn't known. Despite several attempts to slay the FF, neither we nor the FF had learned of his Latverian origins. And this story would be a Mighty Marvel Classic.

We start of with meeting young Victor's father, a simple gypsy healer.

Hmm, apparently even Latveria had health care problems, with the rich having to kidnap wandering doctors.

Anyway, although Werner wasn't able to save the countess, he escapes, goes into hiding with Victor, dies of exposure, and leaves us with famous last words:

And then Doom discovers the truth about his mother:

Victor grows up to be a scientific genius and a mystical wonder...yet for some reason, wastes his gives on ridiculously trivial con jobs:

I mean, check this out:

He's created a substance which makes wagons impervious to mortar fire...and instead of selling this to the defense departments of any number of countries, he's just running around outwitting Latverian Keystone Kops!! Good gosh, Victor, you could have bought each member of your tribe their own mansion with the kind of money that was worth!!

Still, all these high-tech hijinks pay off in one way:

A "State University" that goes around recruiting known felons and giving them scholarships?? Must be Ohio State University...(sorry, Buckeyes, I kid because I despise every molecule of your being).

I won't belabor Doom's days at OSU, because we all know them very well. A couple of notes, though:

Oh, if only they had invented calculator's by then...

Doom violates dorm rules with a hot plate...

Really? OSU had "forbidden" experiments? I'm curious what that list would have looked like...

If this happened today, instead of being expelled, Doom would be suing the university...

Now, here comes the juicy part, and my most brilliant idea ever:

Mysterious order of monks? Himalayas?? Think about it...(brace yourself)...did Von Doom somehow stumble into K'un L'un? Is Doctor Doom's origin tied up with Iron Fist's?? Now, as far as I know, we've never seen these monks again. There's one heck of a Doom/Iron Fist story waiting to be told. Marvel, you're welcome to use it, if a) you give me credit and b) you lower the price of your comics so I can afford to read it.

(By the way, that idea actually came to me in a dream. Ultra-nerd, or hidden genius? You decide!)

And then Victor earns his doctorate--in pain:

And we leave back in present day, with Doctor Doom doing his Reservoir Dogs walk through town:

Hmm...that was Doctor Doom's origin, all right. But I didn't see any sign of him bowing and scraping to become an apprentice to some omnipotent dimension-hopping evil god. Geez, that's odd...ah, well, who am I to doubt the quality of Mark Millar's Fantastic Four run (which he couldn't even be bothered to finish himself...)?

And let's give fullest kudos to Stan and Jack. Doom becomes a fully independent character here, a villain whom the reader still has some sympathy for, whom many of the Latverians view as a good leader, someone with a touch of tragedy behind the evil. This was a level of depth you just weren't getting anywhere else in comics. Suddenly, Doom stopped being simply a recurring annoyance, and become Doctor Freakin' Doom.

There's lots more in this annual, but the next story is more than twice as long, so I'm breaking the Annual into 2 posts. So tune in about an hour from now for "The Final Victory Of Doctor Doom" (SPOILER ALERT: He gets no victory, final or otherwise).


SallyP said...

Doom actually has a pretty fabulous origin...and I too can't understand why they wouldn't use it. Heck, it could they could make an entire movie JUST about his origin!

I also always liked the idea that he either got the scars on his face, by being too impatient to let the stupid mask cool...or that he only has one small scar, but can't bear to not be perfect...because that is such a Doom thing.

Mista Whiskas said...

Great origin story for a great character, and thanks for the great article on it!