For my money, Doctor Doom has always been one of the greatest supervillains ever created. He exemplifies the egomania present in all of us, failing not because he’s stupid, but because he lets his selfishness blind him. It’s a character that has been expertly explored as well as written as an over-the-top goof. In Christopher Cantwell and Salvador Larroca’s latest turn with the character, we’ve peered at the man in a fascinating and deeply moving way. In the latest issue, Dr. Doom attempts to save the world, and before he does prepare for his victory.
If you haven’t been reading this series, fear not, as it’s quite easy to jump in. Along with the usual Marvel summary-opener, the book opens with a helpful recap to catch us up on how and why Doctor Doom is saving Earth. Smartly written, Cantwell front-loads the issue with Doctor Doom’s musings via captions as he explains to himself the various ways he’ll live after saving the world. You get a sense Doctor Doom is way too sure of himself and he’s thinking way too far ahead. Via his rumination, you get a sense of the man and how he sees himself. Layered in with these thoughts is a key scene of Mr. Fantastic voicing a bit of concern about the project.
That scene properly seeds one of the best Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom interchanges ever written. Mr. Fantastic knows Doctor Doom can pull it off, but also knows the great doctor is setting it all up for a victory that’ll gain him accolades and love. There is where he will fail as Doctor Doom can’t simply save the world and be happy with that, no, he must have more to feed his ego. Cantwell writes an amazing scene between the two that tells us more in between the actual words. This allows the reader to make judgments and come to conclusions on how characters feel as they react to one another.
Larroca is an artist that excels at depicting technology from ships to gizmos, and he gets plenty to show off in this issue. Not only does Doom’s mask look great, but his Doom Bots do too. Parts of this book look like they were rendered via computer, which suits the futuristic interiors and crazy laser cannons. Small details bring it back to reality, like a gold metal covering on a pipe or rivets in logical places. The moon also looks realistic. It all blends together to bring the narrative to a natural and believable place.
This issue also plays into the long history between Doctor Doom and Mr. Fantastic in how Doom always blames Richards for his failings. In a way, he’s not wrong, and Cantwell does well to show us why in this issue. One might say Reed Richards is Doctor Doom’s kryptonite because it messes with his head and it’s displayed beautifully here.
As the penultimate issue of Doctor Doom, the creative team has set up a finale where Dr. Doom might break bad (more so than usual), or go the route of savior hero. It’s too early to say. Considering his headspace in this issue, it’s an exciting moment for the character that has made the finale a must-read. Doctor Doom is a powerful portrait of a flawed perfectionist that is consistently engrossing.
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