Doom 2099 #40-42
Issue(s): Doom 2099 #40, Doom 2099 #41, Doom 2099 #42
Having Doom 2099 come back in time was a no-brainer. For context, Warren Ellis' run on the series had just concluded, with a story in which Doom had tried but failed to take over the world via (essentially) the internet. We're just a few issues away from the entire 2099 line getting collapsed into a single "World of Tomorrow" series, which itself would only last eight issues. And despite my joke above, the cancellation of this title didn't seem to be something Marvel knew about at the start; at least according to issue #40's lettercol ("Have no fear... Doom will not go the way of other 2099 characters who have had their titles so rudely pulled away from them!").
The boost that should have come with Doom 2099 interacting with popular Marvel characters might have helped keep things going longer, but maybe not, and in any event this story is plagued with weird choices: in terms of the plot, the characters involved, and the creative team(s).
In terms of the creative team, the generally-competent Tom Peyer (and writer of the concurrently published but unrelated issues of X-Nation 2099) is described as the "new scribe" at the start of this (he also does the non-essential prologue to this story in the final issue of Ellis' run), but by the second issue Evan Skolnick is scripting over his plot, and for part three Tom DeFalco is the writer. Which makes a kind-of sense since part three leads into a crossover with the Fantastic Four series, but having multiple writers on the story probably led to the disjointedness. The weirder creative team choice is the art. Part one is by John Buscema and while it's not Buscema's best art, it's classic storytelling, clean and clear. Part two is by John Royle and it's a little messier but still ok. Part three is by Jeff Lafferty (and about a hundred inkers), and it's a weird stylized look which i might have liked for an issue of Marvel Fanfare or something, but it's an inappropriate fit here (i've always thought the cover of issue #41, which has a similar cartoony look, was by the artist that did the interior for #42, but it turns out the cover is by Humberto Ramos).
After the FF crossover, this story continues in issue #43. Lafferty continues as the artist while the original writer of the series, John Francis Moore, returns. And it goes directly into a crossover with the Fantastic Four 2099 series (!) but as far as i know/care, it's not important to anything here.
In terms of the characters appearing, i say it's "weird" only because Marvel avoided doing the gratuitous thing have any of their more popular characters (Wolverine, etc.) appear. It's an unusual time for restraint, but i guess i appreciate it. It might have been interesting to have Doom 2099 interact with other "from the future" characters like Cable or Bishop, just for some clarification/contrast of the timelines, but i guess that's too nerdy a request. Instead we get the very obvious, natural choices: the original Doom, the Fantastic Four, and Doom's longtime frenemy Namor. And also Dr. Strange (which, fine!) and Daredevil for some reason. Daredevil does have some classic connections to Dr. Doom (both from "A blind man shall lead them!" in Fantastic Four #39 and when they switched bodies in Daredevil #37-38) but he's not in my top ten list of people who i wanted to see Doom 2099 dealing with.
Plotwise, we begin with Namor discovering an undersea platform sucking up all the ocean's crabs. Meanwhile, present day Dr. Doom has detected an unknown planet moving into Earth's solar system. Assisting him are a Dr. Weber and a Dr. Danzer, as well as a Latverian peasant named Dorian (who, per a text page in issue #40, was intended to be the present day version of a 2099 character who was the leader of the Wild Boys, but there seems to have been some confusion (see Notes section) in the handoff on that due to the many different creative teams involved).
Dorian tries to warn Doom about an energy reading and gets tossed in prison just before Doom's device explodes, indicating that an intruder "has breached the positronic vault". It is of course Doom 2099.
Doom 2099 defeats Doom 1996, but doesn't kill him, leading the present day version to start to believe that he really is his future self. Doom 2099 frees Dorian and takes over an Alistair Chemical company (and changes its name to Alchemex, a company from 2099 continuity). Using crabs.
Meanwhile, Dr. Strange detects chronal vibrations, but after that cameo in #40 he isn't seen again until #42.
Also, Daredevil's routine crime sleuthing has led him to a Dr. Weller (not to be confused with Doom's Dr. Weber) and the crabs.
After a crab-related death in the subway, his investigation brings him to Alistair.
Dorian gets addicted to the crab juice, causing a major physical deterioration (or maybe it's just the change in artists).
Daredevil goes undercover and gets a job at the crab factory, and so he's there when Namor attacks. Doom 2099 sees Namor and Daredevil but only finds them "vaguely familiar". Doom fights Namor (while Daredevil mostly watches) allowing the crabmobile to complete its mission.
The crabmobile then explodes, catching Namor in the blast. Daredevil later brings a portion of the exploded crabmobile to Ben Urich. Namor, meanwhile, is found by the present-day Doom, and they form an alliance.
Dr. Strange returns, and brings the Lafferty art with him.
Like i said, for some prestige format artsy kind of book (or even for a Dr. Strange run), i would probably like it. I mean, i do like it! But Doom 2099 coming back to the present and scuffling with some Marvel heroes calls for some more straightforward art. Or at least consistent art; you don't just throw this kind of stuff in on part 3 of a storyline after starting with John Buscema.
Unless the idea is that we're all hepped up on the crab juice by now. Like, the ink of this issue was laced with crab juice. Which i can believe.
Dr. Strange contacts the Thing and brings him to Yancy Street, where Doom is active.
Daredevil also converges on the scene. Interestingly (or, more likely, because we have a different writer again, Doom 2099 immediately recognizes the Thing even though he didn't recognize his longterm partner/rival Namor).
While the Thing and Doom fight (or whatever this is...)...
....Dr. Strange investigates Doom's victims, including a wigged-out Dorian. Strange (who is in astral form; only the Thing can see him; a contrivance that doesn't have much payoff) keeps talking about how things are at a crucial moment and the Thing has to do exactly the right thing or whatever, but it's just a standard fight that ends in an explosion that kills all the crabs and exposes Doom to the addictive juice. Doom decides that he needs tech from the Fantastic Four to replicate the crab juice.
Meanwhile, Namor and Doom 1996 are keeping their powder dry.
I do want to clear something up, though: i've been goofing on the crabs, but i am 100% in favor of super-villains using mind control crabs. That is exactly what super-villains should be doing. So i have no objection to that (i do think the crabs were somewhat overloaded in that they did mind-control and they were an addictive narcotic AND they were going to save future generations of Latverians from a "necrotoxin", but i'll let that go). In fact, i think it's a huge miss that this story did not feature Namor and/or the Thing with a crab stuck to their face, fighting the other heroes. I mean, COME ON! What i do think is funny is that it's Doom 2099 who's using the crabs (or even that they're being used at all in a 2099 comic). In the Moore and Ellis runs, Doom is a technologically savvy quasi-hero. But he comes back to the Marvel Age and he immediately reverts to being a super-villain doing crab stuff. It's goofy!
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Namor has spent "long weeks among the Fantastic Four" and has returned to the sea to get away from their "perpetual, frantic activity". Continues directly in Fantastic Four #413. That issue brings young Franklin Richards back to the present day, placing this whole story pre-Onslaught.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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