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 original.
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 Doom takes over the world. Easily. Proves that he can run it successfully and make the world a better place to lives. 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 willpower: Hawkeye, the Wasp, and Iron Man. I actually find his reasoning a little weak.
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 the debate about 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 still a great piece.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Now for the hard part. There have been a lot of deliberations on this, so see the comments.
A note on the title page says "This takes place before West Coast Avengers #1" (and they mean the ongoing series, not the 1984 mini). This also has to take place after Iron Man #200 since that's when Tony Stark returns as Iron Man in the red and silver costume. Per Jeff's comment, when this was reprinted as part of Marvel's Epic collections, a note said that it took place between Avengers #255-256. I've moved things around to honor all of these considerations.
The elephant in the room is still 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, Iron Man #200 in Nov 85, and Avengers #255-256 in May-Jun 85. Pushing all of those issues before or after Doom's return from the dead is absurd, and would create all sorts of other problems regarding the status quo of the characters (e.g. the West Coast Avengers weren't even formed when Dr. Doom died, even ignoring Tony Stark's status and costume). There's really just no way to fit Dr. Doom into this story, which is a shame because it's his story. 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.
There's the Hulk and Luke Cage to contend with.
Actually Luke Cage isn't really a problem but it's worth noting that Iron Fist is slowly dying from radiation poisoning at this time. The Hulk, on the other hand, shouldn't be on Earth at this point. But he does return to Earth for Marvel Fanfare #20-21 (which is between Hulk #308-309) and we don't see him returning home, so we can assume he stuck around for this and is docile thanks to Dr. Doom's control.
I should note that Starfox's appearance here supports the Avengers placement (he leaves in Avengers #260). The Vision and Scarlet Witch is a little weirder; they left in Avengers #255, but i guess they could have come back for their toothbrushes.
I'm assuming the Ultron appearing here is the Mark Twelve version. It really doesn't matter since he's under Doom's control.
There's also the question of the "one month" that Wonder Man is in the tank. As mentioned, it means that Iron Fist's radiation poisoning lasts a long time, but that's not necessarily a problem. This placement also means that Captain Marvel is in space for a long period of time, but that actually serves the story well. And since the entire world is affected, this shouldn't affect most other characters except perhaps the Micronauts and ROM, which take place off world, since they're all here being mind controlled. With Marvel Time Compression we can assume the "month" isn't so long anyway.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showCaptain America, Dr. Doom, Gears Garvin, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Jarvis, Luke Cage, Machine Man, Mockingbird, Purple Man, Scarlet Witch, Starfox, Sub-Mariner, Tigra, Ultron Mark Twelve, Vision, Wasp, Wonder Man
We never were able to sort this out at the MCP. We discussed it in a couple of threads:
Posted by: Michael | July 10, 2012 12:05 AM
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.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2012 3:39 PM
Shortly before this placement, there have been two world-wide disasters recently (Marvel-time-speaking) - a one week blizzard covering the world for a week during the northern hemisphere's summer (which would have caused major agricultural damage and greatly reduced the world's food supply) and the seismic destruction caused by the Wraithworld's proximity.
Perhaps if Doom's rulership was as efficient and beneficial as he thinks it was, it would help explain why no long-term fall-out from those events were never referenced in other books. (Or maybe it's something the Beyonder did.)
Posted by: Erik Robbins | October 18, 2013 7:45 PM
Marvel will be releasing an epic collection titled "Avengers: Judgment Day" on July 1. Included in the contents are this graphic novel and Avengers #278-285. I don't have these issues and am not sure if pushing this Graphic novel back to this later time period would help with placement but wanted to pass it along.
Posted by: Uncanny Michael | January 8, 2014 1:42 PM
A footnote in the "Judgment Day" Epic Collection says that Emperor Doom takes place earlier than the storyline contained within (the Olympian saga with Herc on his deathbed) and is being included because that's where it fell publishing-wise.
The Epics, if you haven't been reading them Fnord, have been trying to break as much as possible along the lines of story arcs and creative team changes, but also keep to a certain page count (400-500 pages). I guess it was easier to put "Emperor Doom" where it was published rather than where it fell in continuity so they didn't screw up page counts.
I don't have my copy on me but I'll check tonight, I think the epic has a footnote stating this was to have taken place during the "250s" of the main Avengers book.
Posted by: Jeff | May 29, 2015 5:28 PM
Here's my problem with this story: We see that Doom is bored with the actual minutiae of ruling. Fair enough. But the minutiae he gets bored with?
Farm subsidies. Border disputes. Delaware wanting to secede.
Why should ANY of those things exist in One World Under Doom?
Farm subsidies? "All farmers are expected to produce to the best of their ability, to the extent that local agricultural conditions allow, and shall be justly recompensed for their labor. Surplus foodstuffs shall be stored in case of emergency. Any farmers determined not to be producing to the best of their ability shall be punished."
Border disputes? "Borders no longer exist, save as sites of historical interest that may be visited on educational trips during citizens' days of leisure."
Delaware wanting to secede? "The former leaders of the region formerly known as Delaware are reminded that the Union they wish to leave is no longer extant, much like Delaware itself. If they needed to be reminded of this again, disciplinary measures shall be taken."
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 29, 2015 7:16 PM
Well, I'd imagine even Doom would have use of sub-world borders to make his realm easier to manage, much like how the United States has Delaware within its borders and other nations have sub-national units. And I'd imagine Delaware is trying to secede from Doom's rule, not the United States (but I'm sure it's a complete coincidence that a US state is seriously talking about seceding for the first time in over a century right after Doom took over the world), though that raises the question of why the Purple Man's gem isn't working as well on them.
"A note on the title page says 'This takes place before West Coast Avengers #1'...The elephant in the room is that Dr. Doom was dead from Fantastic Four #260 (Nov 83) to FF #287-288 (Feb-Mar 86)...Placing WCA #1 before FF #260 is absurd." Am I missing something? I'm not sure why placing the graphic novel before FF #260 means WCA #1 has to go there too if the graphic novel comes first. The fact that they called out WCA #1 as a story this precedes doesn't necessarily mean it has to come right before WCA #1 (especially if, as Michael suggests, it's just a way to smooth out Ultron's status quo). Now there may be other reasons why putting the graphic novel before FF #260 isn't worth considering, and the business with the Epic collection might trump older debates over placement for the time being, but the way it's phrased currently seems odd and unconvincing.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 29, 2015 8:21 PM
@Morgan Wick: The scan specifically says why Delaware must secede from the Union. Granted, Doom could have called his new rule the Union, but I doubt it.
Also, sure, Doom can use borders to make things easier to manage, but there shouldn't be disputes about it. Two sub-units can't agree what the borders are? Doom says THIS is the border. End of dispute. Bring it up again and you get banished to a solar wave.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 29, 2015 8:32 PM
Maybe Delaware is just used to being part of the Union? And sure, Doom can decree what the borders are, but that's part of the minutia he's getting sick of. Heck, that's pretty much what they're asking him to do in the scan, isn't it?
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 29, 2015 9:07 PM
Morgan, fnord could have worded it a bit more clearly- this GN features Iron Man's red armor, which was first seen in WCA 1 (Oct 1985) and then we saw Tony don it for the first time in Iron Man 200, which came out the next month. Placing Iron Man 200 before FF 260 is absurd.
Posted by: Michael | May 29, 2015 10:56 PM
"Lord Doom understands that in the past, there have been disagreements regarding the delineations between nations and other such subdivisions. However, now that we live in a more enlightened age, these disagreements must cease. To that end, the relevant staff of all sub-global administrative units shall be provided with a special edition of the new GLOBAL ATLAS, based on Lord Doom's personal files. It shall be computerized and will be capable of detailing the exact borders between sub-global administrative units down to the millimeter. Any administrative staff who continue to dispute borders are invited to come to Latveria and make your displeasure with Lord Doom's atlas known to him in person."
...I may not be able to write a good Doom, but I think I do a pretty decent job writing Doom's chief of staff. :)
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 29, 2015 11:02 PM
fnord, to follow up on my comment from yesterday, the footnote in the "Avengers Epic Collection: Judgement Day" reads as follows:
"Marvel Graphic Novel #27 Occurs in the recent past, between 'Avengers' #255-256."
That certainly does place this story before the ongoing WCA #1.
The research credit for "Judgement Day" is Jeph York, who I'm very familiar with from the Marvel Masterworks board (Roger Stern also frequents there), and he really knows his stuff -- I'd definitely put him on par with both you and Mark Gruenwald in terms of knowlege of Marvel Chronology. So I'm guessing Marvel wouldn't have gone on the record with such a definitive statement unless that was their intent.
In my head, 255-256 does feel right for this story, Doom's status aside. Doom IS a known time-traveler after all. It could conceivably be any Doom.
Posted by: Jeff | May 30, 2015 1:54 PM
Jeff, thanks for this info. It's good to hear how others are solving the problem. It seems like that placement is doable, and fits with Michael's suggestion to take advantage of the Hulk's brief return circa Marvel Fanfare #20-21. It will require some shuffling on my part that i'm not yet quite convinced won't totally upset the current house of cards that the placement of this issue is built on (excuse the multiple mixed metaphors). And frankly, it's not for a TON of gain, since it still doesn't address the "elephant in the room" of Dr. Doom. But if that's Marvel's "official" placement and it seems to work, i'd feel good about moving it there. Let me noodle on it a bit more; i started off thinking it wasn't worth trying to move, but the more i think about it the more i want to do it. Just need to validate it against more character chronologies and figure out what other books need to get shuffled (so far, definitely Iron Man #198-201 and some issues of the Thing's solo series as well as the Marvel Fanfare story).
Morgan, thanks for pointing out that the Considerations needed clarification. I've updated it, but i'll probably revise it further once i convince myself to move the entry.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 31, 2015 11:48 AM
Ok, i have moved this and as far as i can see it fits fine here. The weirdest thing is the return of Vision and Scarlet Witch to the Avengers so soon after leaving, but that's not a big deal, and it had to happen anyway. Jeff, thanks for bringing this up.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 1, 2015 4:01 PM
Continuity timing questions aside, it's odd that Wonder Man would even agree to be locked in an isolation tank for a month, considering multiple other stories that explore his utter fear of death, and just how terrifying it was to be "dead" but also still alive (the way he was when he was in his original coma).
You'd think being locked in a completely dark and silent box with no human contact for a month would be way too traumatizing for him to even consider agreeing to it.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | June 14, 2015 2:49 AM
But it's a way of connecting with his brother/sibling/uncle/whatever relationship he has with the Original Human Torch. I'm not saying it's smart, or good for anything other than plot convenience, but it makes sense.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 20, 2015 8:21 PM
Love this story (other than Michelinie's standard tics popping up a few times) BUT there is a tremendous oversight in that Erik Josten would also be exempt from the Purple Man's control. He was still being held in custody in the West Coast compound too, so for a project that had both Shooter and Gruenwald involved in some capacity, it's really weird to see that overlooked. Especially since the story goes the extra mile to acknowledge the issue with robots Vision, Machine Man and Ultron.
Posted by: AF | April 15, 2016 4:59 PM
That's a good point AF. Since Goliath/Josten would be immune for the same reason as Wonder Man, that should have been brought up.
All it would have taken to explain it was a couple of thought bubbles from Wonder Man along the lines of: I should free Goliath He's an ionic energy being too and would be immune. No, he's a criminal and would turn on me first chance he got. He's staying put.
Posted by: Rick | April 15, 2016 9:16 PM
But there were other characters that didn't need to breathe that weren't mentioned- Nimrod, for example. Granted, none of them were in Avengers custody.
Posted by: Michael | April 16, 2016 5:31 PM
Now, if the Hand digs up Killgrave, we'll have one helluva interesting mess in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Obviously, he had too much potential to croak it, here.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | April 16, 2016 6:11 PM
Is it possible that the Hulk we see in this story isn't the real deal? Doesn't Doom have possession of the robot Hulk that he eventually turns over to the Jester during the Acts of Vengeance?
Posted by: Bill | January 15, 2017 1:00 PM
How is Wonder Man synthetic? Where was this first mentioned?
Posted by: Chris Cohen | January 15, 2017 2:28 PM
In Avengers 164, the team's various scientists determined that Wonder Man was no longer a biological life form:
Basically, procedure that gave Wonder Man his powers also caused him to gradually transition into an "ionic" being.
Posted by: Mortificator | January 15, 2017 3:28 PM
There is another strange reason for Wonder Man to agree to be away for a month. This was during the height of his movie acting career.
Posted by: Urban Commando | March 11, 2017 7:00 AM
Wonder Man's acting career is much like Dazzler's music career. They can be a success, a failure, washed up or a joke depending on the writer.
Posted by: AF | May 18, 2017 12:09 PM
If Marvel ever let me write Dazzler my way, Wonder Man would play a prominent role early on, and 90+% of what I know about Wonder Man came from "Emperor Doom."
Posted by: ChrisW | May 18, 2017 8:25 PM
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