Avengers: Emperor Doom (Marvel Graphic Novel #27)
Issue(s): Avengers: Emperor Doom (Marvel Graphic Novel #27)
The credits say that this issue is "Based on a concept by Mark Gruenwald, David Micheline and Jim Shooter". Editor credits were left off of my reissue, but Salicrup is listed on the oriignal.
This is one of my favorite Doctor Doom stories, and yet in the context of my project here this is one of my most deadly foes. I'll get to the second half of that statement in the Chronological Placement Considerations section. For now, here's the story in a nutshell:
Doctor Dooms takes over the world. Easily. Proves that he can run it successfully and make the world a better place to leave. But then he gets bored and relinquishes control. And that, friends, is awesome.
Even more awesome, the means for the world-takeover is the Purple Man. Dr. Doom plops him in the center of a giant purple gem to amplify his powers, affecting the entire globe.
To prove that he's a complete badass, he exposes himself to the Purple Man's pheromones just to show that he can resist them.
I wouldn't have thought any less of Doom if he never did that, but he did do it, so that's one more thing to add to the All Praise Doom column.
The one thing that the Purple Man doesn't affect is robots. But Doom's got that covered too. He uses his old partner the Sub-Mariner to slap some control discs on the three robots that are currently at large: the Vision...
I'm sure we can think of other entities active on the Earth right now who shouldn't be affected by even the amplified version of the Purple Man's power. The Beyonder, certainly. But i think everyone shown to be affected makes sense, and we can assume the other beings were either too confused, isolated, or indifferent to make a difference.
The one other person in this story who wouldn't be affected is the synthetic Wonder Man. And just prior to Doom activating his big gem, Wonder Man agrees to sit in an isolation tank for study for one month.
When he gets out, he's our point of view character, the only person in the world who knows that it's wrong for Dr. Doom to be in control. When he tries to talk to the other Avengers, they turn on him and he has to go into hiding for a while. He later returns and targets Captain America for de-programming.
Cap then picks out a few other Avengers that he believes will have strong will: Hawkeye, the Wasp, and Iron Man. I actually find his reasoning a little week.
Wonder Man correctly has some doubts about Iron Man, and there's one scene in this book where Iron Man nearly reverts to a Doom-loyalist, but he ultimately holds. Hawkeye tries to revive Mockingbird but it doesn't work out.
But we all know the Avengers' crusade was pointless. Doom could have beaten them. He just didn't want to.
This is the second time Doom has taken over the world and then gotten bored.
I don't know what to say about the Sub-Mariner. This was intended to take place during a time when he was just rejected by his people (although that's not his stated motivation), but a complete world takeover via mental domination doesn't seem his style. Doom says that Namor is strong-willed enough to resist the Purple Man's powers (at least before the big gem is activated) but Doom is carrying a small version of the gem with a strand of the Purple Man's hair when they first meet, and it's very possible that Namor was mind-controlled from that moment on (he's definitely mind-controlled later on in the story). The alternative is that Namor went along with Doom's plan. It's not entirely out of character for Namor given his history, but it means he goes from world conquering super-villain to being offered a membership in the Avengers within a short period of time. Which, i guess, is shame on Captain America more than anything. Plus it makes Namor look a bit dumb to sign up for an alliance with Doom again and get betrayed again. Actually, what i like least about this story is Doom's betrayal of Namor.
There's some confusion about Doom's standard guard robot. In the beginning of this issue, a panel shows the robots but as Doom exits a plane, the narration panel says
...the waiting Color Guard trembles only slightly -- knowing that the smallest break in formation would cost them much more than their jobs. The armored man is aware of the effect he has on his subordinates. And he is pleased.
A little later, when the West Coast team (sans Wonder Man) attacks Doom's base, they also refer to the robots as people.
But later, when Captain America is fighting the same robots, he thinks to himself, "According to Hawkeye, these foot soldiers are robots! Good... I don't have to hold back!".
There's no panel where Hawkeye discovers the truth, but i'm going to assume he does so off-panel and realizes his mistake (and hopefully he's been studying the Avengers/FF shared data files more careful ever since). As for the narration panel, either there's some additional "Color Guards" off panel that Doom is happy about terrorizing, or i guess the robots' AI is so good they're capable of human-like emotions.
This isn't a perfect story. Great plot. Bob Hall's art is very nice (the scans are particularly bad for this one - the colors are all washed out. Sorry about that.). But the scripting isn't Michelinie's best. There's a little too much time spent with Wonder Man on the run and not enough exploring debate bout how under Doom the world is better (there is some). And Doom is a little too villainous; i like my Dr. Doom a bit more ambiguous. But it's a still a great piece.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Now for the hard part. A note on the title page says "This takes place before West Coast Avengers #1". Well, at least they thought about it. But obviously not too hard. The elephant in the room is that Dr. Doom was dead from Fantastic Four #260 (Nov 83) to FF #287-288 (Feb-Mar 86). WCA #1 came out in Oct 85. Placing WCA #1 before FF #260 is absurd. Placing it after FF #287 would at the least be extremely disruptive - FF #288 is a tie-in with Secret Wars II #8 and the West Coast team appears in SWII #5 - but it's potentially doable in and of itself. It means that Secret Wars appearance also has to take place before WCA #1. But due to Secret Wars II dependencies this would also mean that the Sub-Mariner was an Avenger at the time this took place; he's on the Avengers by FF #286. Seems absurd but not impossible.
But then we have the actual characters appearing in this issue. There's the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. Those two left the Avengers in Avengers #255 to be debriefed by the government, and the next we see of them is Vision & the Scarlet Witch #1, where Vision is being held at Project Pegasus.
Starfox leaves the Avengers for space in Avengers #261, but he seems to come back to Earth for Secret Wars II #5 anyway.
Ultron should appear after the Thing brings his head back from the Secret Wars planet in Fantastic Four #277.
There's the Hulk and Luke Cage to contend with.
There's also the question of the one month that Wonder Man is in the tank. Since the entire world is affected, that shouldn't affect any other books except perhaps the Micronauts and ROM, which take place off world.
See Michael's comment for an expansion of the complexity around this. I was hoping to push this out until after Doom comes back, but this just doesn't seem problem. So we're going to have to make up a story around Doom's presence here. I don't want to go the Doombot route; the scene where Doom takes off his mask in front of the Purple Man would be completely ruined if it wasn't the real Doom. So that means time-travel. We can either assume that the time-travel was voluntary (per Fantastic Four #350 and elsewhere, we know that Doom likes to time-travel) or a result of him briefly falling out of the time-stream when he was plucked from time by either the Beyonder or the Marquis of Death.
So if we ignore Doom, it's just a matter of finding a placement for all the other characters. If we piggy-back on Starfox's first fake return to Earth we can place this circa Secret Wars II #5, which is before Sub-Mariner joins the Avengers, is after Luke Cage came back from K'un-Lun, is while the Hulk was hopping home from Canada and fits as well as we can do for the Avengers (The break between WCA #4 and #5 is going to be much longer than intended, unfortunately). This requires the Vision & Scarlet Witch to return to the East Coast Mansion for an unofficial visit; maybe they heard Starfox was back in town and wanted to say hello. This is what i'm going with.
Another Ignore Doom option that seems viable is, as Michael suggests, circa Fanfare #21, which gets the Hulk temporarily back from the Crossroads. That would require me shuffling a bunch of Iron Man comics back in publication time, but it seems doable. Michael's option also avoids the extra long gap between WCA#4-5 and doesn't add a month of time to a period when the Scarlet Witch is pregnant (but between Marvel Time and magic i'm not too concerned about that).
I'm sticking with placement circa SWII #5 for now to avoid a lot of shuffling (Iron Man, and i'd like Shaman's appearance in IM #196 approximately concurrent with the beginning of Alpha Flight #23, and i'd want to adjust PM&IF's chronology so that Iron Fist isn't dying of radiation for an entire month; i'm also i'm not sure if i love Captain Marvel being in space for quite that long since she wouldn't be affected) but i'll re-evaluate when i get into 1986's West Coast Avengers issues.
As for Namor vis-a-vis the Avengers, i think as far as they are aware, Namor was under Doom's mind control, so i think they're willing to give him a pass.
It's also possible that Doom used the gem one final time to cloud people's memories of the incident. Otherwise you'd expect mass chaos after people realized that Dr. Doom was in charge of the world. As i speculated above, there may have been some individuals who resisted the affects of the gem and word eventually gets out again amongst those who need to know.
Finally that just leaves the uninteresting fate of the off-world books. I've got ROM ending prior to this series (something i couldn't do with a circa Fanfare #21, but post-Wraith War, while ROM is traveling deep space by himself, i guess it's not a problem either way). As for the Micronauts, we have the team on planet Aegis from New Voyages #13-16 for an unspecified period, and it's possible they've been resting there recovering from their ordeals.
Continuity Implant? Y
Reprinted In: N/A
Characters Appearing: Captain America, Dr. Doom, Gears Garvin, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Jarvis, Luke Cage, Machine Man, Mockingbird, Purple Man, Scarlet Witch, Starfox, Sub-Mariner, Tigra, Ultron, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
We never were able to sort this out at the MCP. We discussed it in a couple of threads:
Based on Michael's comment it doesn't seem like there's any point in holding out on attempting to place this post-Doom's return, so i'm placing it in 1985. See the Considerations section for more.
Michael, as always, i appreciate your thoughts on this.
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