The Next Great Superhero Project

And we’re back. I have to tell those that are expecting the next installment of the Doom Retrospective that while the series is not finished, I wanted to give other characters similar treatment and so Doom is on a tiny hiatus. What makes the Doom Restrospective fun is that villains, especially in the Silver Age of comics, are easy objects of ridicule. They many times come across as moronic caricatures of evil. It’s a blast. One of the downsides, however, is that villains appear only seldomly, and there are so many issues of other heroes and villains being lolworthy, that I decided I wanted to focus on a hero for a bit. This will keep the narrative a bit smoother and allow me to take the reader on a ride with the character by following their adventures issue to issue. The question then became what hero on which to focus?

Honestly, it was an easy question. I wanted to write about a character who is one of my favorites but also one that does not have a million appearances. People like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Wolverine have their own solo titles plus they are in team books like the Avengers and X-Men. Trying to track down and then write about all those appearances would take time and effort that I simply can’t afford. Shockingly, I settled on my favorite superhero of all-time, a C-lister at Marvel but an A-lister in my heart.

Also my desktop wallpaper for three years and counting.

Also my desktop wallpaper for three years and counting.

Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist. Lots of appearances, but his first thirty are lined up really neatly and then even after that, he only starred in Power Man and Iron Fist for 77 issues. It’s a way more manageable number (ignoring guest appearances for now), and in fact, I think Doom has nearly as many appearances as Danny. Ok, so that’s the plan. Now, some words of warning. One, Danny was created in the 1970’s, so while there will definitely be some ridiculous and head-scratching moments, the overall goofiness of the 60’s is not going to be present. Therefore, my musings will be slightly more serious. Second, I love Iron Fist, so I will happily gush about how awesome he is and only make fun of him when he truly deserves it. Third, the 70’s were a crazy time. You’ll see.

So stay tuned, Iron Fist is on his way!

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. You can also send your comments to thenonicheblog@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at John_S20. If you really want to stalk me, you can find me posting fairly regularly at Herochat.com, known for its mature and frank discussions about comicbooks. Also, if you like what you read, subscribe!

The Doom Retrospective, Part 13

Adult language ahead.

I have to admit that things have not been going all that great for our hero. Two issues ago, he was humiliated by the walking sand trap, Thing, and last issue, he attempted to ruin the wedding of Reed and Sue, only to have the Watcher break his oath of non-interference and give Reed the ability to not only save the day but erase Doom’s memory of the event altogether! I think we can all agree that maybe Victor needs a break from taking on the Fantastic Four. Stan Lee must have thought the same thing, because Doom’s next appearance was in Avengers #25 (February, 1966). Before we examine this tale, however, let’s go to the scoreboard.

Record vs Fantastic Four: 1-8

Record vs. Spider-man: 0-1 (Doom’s scheme was thwarted)

Times Avoided Capture: 10 (Still perfect. No bars can hold Doom.)

Times Screaming about Richards!: Surprisingly, 0

Treacherous Underlings foolishly turning on Doom: 1 (Fuck you, Namor.)

Times Left Adrift in Space/Shrunk into Nothingness/Jumped out of airplane sans parachute: 4

Issues since the accursed Flash Thompson was replaced by the more accursed Watcher on top of the “waiting for swift and unspeakable retribution” list: 1

Our tale opens with the Avengers returning home after a battle with Kang the Conqueror. I don’t care about any of this because this is not a Kang Retrospective. As the team arrives, Doom spies on them with his television. This is now a recurring theme for Doom. He really likes just watching heroes in their most intimate moments. Doom has decided to lower the bar a little. His plan is to strike fear in the hearts of the Fantastic Four by thrashing the Avengers. The Avengers were clearly the B-list team in Marvel at this point, especially so since this is during the “Kooky Quartet” days – Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. Surely, such a weak lineup will be easy pickings for Doom.

Doom monologues about how he and Kang might be the same person. Stop it. Just stop it. I skip ahead to the Avengers back at HQ, in-fighting as usual. You think Johnny and Thing are bad? Watch Captain America and Hawkeye go at it:

fighting

All the boxes are checked here. Wanda swoons like a schoolgirl at the Living Mummy, Captain America.  I like how Captain America just can’t help himself.

Cap: Fuck you, Hawkeye.

(thinking): No, I mustn’t lose my temper. Nothing to be gained..

Cap: Eat my ass, you penny-ante Robin Hood.

Never change, Cap. The scene then shifts to Cap chafing under the strain of leadership. He feels overwhelmed by it all. He’s just a relic of the past! Steve Rogers has no identity of his own! Yeah, whatever. Cap’s whining is thankfully ended by the arrival of a strange letter from the far off and exotic land of “Europe.”

What is in this letter? Why, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have received a letter from their long lost Aunt in Latveria! Oh happy day! What a coincidence as well, since Doctor Doom wants to destroy the Avengers and he also lives in Latveria. How fortuitous. Wanda and Pietro run off to tell Hawkeye, interrupting his practice and causing him to mess up a shot. Can you believe a guy can be a superhero with just a bow and arrow? I can’t. Anyway, this causes your typical kerfuffle.

asshole

Trust me, Hawkeye. I understand. I often wonder how I can be such a giant asshole. Except, unlike you, I don’t actively repulse women. We turn our attention to Doom, who sees through his pervision that the Avengers are heading to Latveria. All is going according to plan. This calls for a pimp strut.

pimp

Nobody struts around like Doom. Although, calling Latveria comic-opera seems a little degrading. Stay positive for once in your life, Victor! Doom decides to take my advice and show some generosity.

cripple

I think your bedside manner needs a little work, Doctor. Here you are, cripple. Have a penny. I have a scarred face so obviously your miserable life forever in a wheelchair is very similar to mine. As all of this is happening, the Avengers arrive in Latveria and are promptly arrested. As they sit in jail, Cap “remembers” that Dr. Doom rules Latveria and this must all be a trap! Play the sad trombone. How can you forget Doom rules Latveria?! Simple minded peasants. Well, anyway, the four promptly escape but decide they have to be careful. They are law-abiding Americans who respect the rule of law, after all, and Doom makes the laws here. Ah, the black-and-white 1960’s comics era.

Doom is monitoring everything, of course, and the Avengers are acting just as he expected. Time to pull out his ace card!

dome

Pulling a cartoon lever and having a giant plastic dome cover his entire country. What the fuck. I mean, the genius of Doom knows no bounds! The Avengers are trapped like hamsters! The Avengers immediately put all of their prodigious might against the dome – an arrow and a hex bolt which earlier turned off a television – and shockingly the dome holds! Clearly, it is indestructible.

The Avengers are then spotted by the civilian population and are immediately turned on.

radio

Latverian radio shows tells us we need to destroy costumed intruders. I would love to listen to a clip from Latverian radio. Is it Doom pointing at things and then destroying them for an hour? This is you, Reed Richards! Then the sound of glass breaking. This is you, Captain America! Then the sound of piano being overturned. This is you, Thor! Then the sound of a cat getting kicked. I could listen to that for hours.

Shockingly, the Avengers escape what looks to be about a dozen unarmed peasants and make their way to Castle Doom. As they enter, Doom strikes a menacing pose to welcome them.

jest

You will pay for your insolent jest, Hawkeye. Doom does not keep office hours, cretin! Scarlet Witch demands an explanation and Doom basically says “Ok.”

plan

The accursed Fantastic Four. Yes, always that accursed team. Doom’s every waking moment, even in the shower as he scrubs his delicates, all of them are dedicated to seeing Richards humbled. This is a tad creepy, to be frank. The Avengers have heard quite enough, and the fight is on. Doom handles them like children. A beam of light saps Hawkeye’s strength. A magnetic field traps Cap’s shield. A device nullifies Wanda’s hex power. And Quicksilver just gets slapped around. Doom clearly has the upper hand.

arrow

Or I should say he did until he gets hit with an arrow?!?! Stan Lee can’t even remember past issues and Doom is sent running from an acid arrow. What is this shit? Not only does it send him running, he has a meltdown a few panels later. Head in hands, he laments that he underestimated the Avengers’ power. Really? You just shit your pants over an arrow, Victor. I think it has more to do with your lack of preparation than the power of the Avengers. Still, Doom has one final attack planned. The Avengers flee the castle and hole up in a cave to plan their next move.

Meanwhile, the mother of the boy from earlier asks if the dome can be raised in order for the boy to see a doctor who can cure him of his crippleness. Doom denies the request, of course. Cannot risk the Avengers escaping! The scene then shifts to America where we see the accursed Fantastic Four listening to the radio. An announcement is made that Latveria has accused the Avengers of spying. I believe it. Too many Latverian radio shows.

The Four race off to their rocket to head to Latveria. Only thing to do is to get clearance to take off.

denied

Which is promptly denied. Man, the 60’s were rough for superheroes. Aunt May shutting down Spider-man every issue. And the FF can’t even take off. You see, Doom is a world leader! It would be an international incident! Back in Latveria, Quicksilver overhears the poor mother sobbing that she can’t take her boy to the doctor because of this dome over the whole country. This blasted dome. Pietro tells the other Avengers and they decide it is time to take the fight to Doom. For cripples everywhere. Cap decides to open the fight by throwing his mighty shield.

shield

Yes. Doom’s supreme intellect. His matchless armor (Suck it, Iron Man). His dazzling skill. What is a mere shield to Doom?

shield2

Look on in awe and fear, Captain America. Doom effortlessly catches your shield and sends it back at you with irresistible force. He is more than a match for any of you cretins. Doom uses rocket harpoons and a mesh net to fight the Avengers. For having matchless armor, it does jack and shit. All of his weapons appear out of the walls, mad scientist style. Finally, the net slows the team down and Doom pulls out a big honking disintegrator gun. But when he pulls the trigger, nothing happens.

witch

The accursed Scarlet Witch. At best, your power flips switches. At worst, you have the power to induce forgetfulness? Laziness? Sloppiness? You’re terrible, Scarlet Witch. I will continue to mock your power no matter how many times you make me forget to flush the toilet.

The team piles on and finally they are able to pull the lever that removes the dome from Latveria. The Avengers know they can’t take Doom, so they have to figure out an escape. How will they do it??

sneeze

By making Doom sneeze. This is some crazy shit. Doom has a sneezing fit and the Avengers escape. The end. A fucking sneezing fit. Take a good look at this people, you will probably never see Doom sneeze on panel again. A fucking sneeze arrow. Hawkeye caused Doom all sorts of trouble with an acid arrow and a sneeze arrow. This is the fucking worst. How long can I keep this up?

Next: Back to fighting the Fantastic Four. And this time, it’s one of Doom’s most famous arcs. Victory will certainly be Doom’s!

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. You can also send your comments to thenonicheblog@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at John_S20. If you really want to stalk me, you can find me posting fairly regularly at Herochat.com, known for its mature and frank discussions about comicbooks. Also, if you like what you read, subscribe!

The Doom Retrospective, Part 12

Well, this is awkward. I’ve been running from my responsibility here on the Doom Retrospective. I’m not going to lie. Last issue was a trial. I took a break. Examined my priorities. Sat on a bench and reflected on my life. The usual. I realized Doom deserves better. This isn’t the end! This is just the beginning of a new era of Doom dominance. This is Victor von Doom we are talking about. I’m sure the accursed Thing will pay many times over for what he did last issue, which we will never speak of again. Now, the scorecard.

Record vs Fantastic Four: 1-7

Record vs. Spider-man: 0-1 (Doom’s scheme was thwarted)

Times Avoided Capture: 9 (Still perfect. No bars can hold Doom.)

Times Screaming about Richards!: Surprisingly, 0

Treacherous Underlings foolishly turning on Doom: 1 (Fuck you, Namor.)

Times Left Adrift in Space/Shrunk into Nothingness/Jumped out of airplane sans parachute: 4

Issues Flash Thompson has awaited swift and unspeakable retribution: 6

Doom got busted up in issue 40, but he does make a cameo shortly thereafter in issue 43 (October 1965). His hands seem to be healing nicely.

Hands

Fuck you, Thing. Your nancy-grip left nary a scratch on the hands of von Doom! Look at those hands. Still virile. Still powerful. Still so lithe. Soon Thing will be mightily spanked by the hands of Doom!

The very same month, Fantastic Four Annual #3 hit the newsstands. The wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm! Yes. The perfect opportunity for revenge!

theplan

Doom’s hands are in perfect condition. Look how swiftly he tears that newspaper to bits! That will be your fate as well, Richards! He wants to protect his perfectly healed hands so much, he kicks his secret door open. His plan is simple and elegant. Fan the flames of hatred for the Fantastic Four. Richards is so insufferable, I’m amazed he needs to invent such a wondrous machine to inspire hated of that insipid man.

We then head to the festivities. Socialites are here. Even that fop, Tony Stark.

stark

Look at Thing immediately creep on and then alienate Stark’s date. You can hear the utter revulsion in her voice. You’re a fucking creep, Thing. Also lurking in the audience is the dastardly Puppet Master, who is in control of some poor slob of a guest. Of course, Thing doesn’t know what the fuck is going on.

fury

Luckily, Nick Fury and some SHIELD goons are there with their bullshit made-up tech to cover your ass, Grimm. You piece of shit. The Puppet Master takes off, confused. He has sworn to never attack the FF again, yet something compelled him to do it. Perhaps someone is pulling your strings, Puppet Master? Eh? As the Puppet Master escapes, we see the Red Ghost sulking about. Thing runs to tell Richards that someone is out to get them but then decides not to ruin his wedding day.

professorx

Some cunning shown by Thing here. With Reed murdered and out of the way, Sue will look for some shoulder to cry on. Mayhap a misshapen freak rocky shoulder, Ben? Keep dreaming, wretch. Sue can do a lot better than a talking litter box. Even Professor X is giving Thing major side-eye. Like get the fuck away from me, freak.

The danger he senses is the Mole Man. Charles summons the X-Men and they fight off the little Moloids. Boy did the X-Men suck then. Angel is jumping on moloids because his power doesn’t allow him to do anything useful in a fight. Hmmm. Tony Stark. Nick Fury. Professor X. The entire X-Men team. I think I am starting to see a flaw in Doom’s plan. I’m sure it will still work out.

Thing is now convinced he has to warn Reed. As he climbs the stairs, he hears Alicia scream and it’s not at his grotesque appearance for once. He busts in and Sue is fighting the Red Ghost and his super apes. Is it any wonder Doctor Doom took once he was introduced? Jesus, these FF villains fucking suck. Anyway, Reed and Johnny hear the commotion and bust in. Business is picking up.

The team struggles with apes, Jesus this sucks. Anyway, the Red Ghost is ready to strike an almost assuredly deadly blow on Reed’s weak mind, when the unexpected happens.

doctorstrange

By the Whorey Hostess of Denny’s, it’s Doctor fucking Strange! He just up and banishes their asses to hell. Reed is concerned. Some unknown enemy is sending all these villains after the team. Who could it be, Reed? Who could it possibly be, you idiot?

Doom is satisfied with himself. His machine has produced the desired results. We see villains heading to the wedding, compelled to attack. The Mandarin. The Black Knight. Kang the Conqueror. The Gray Gargoyle. The Awesome Android. Wait, Kang? Doom’s machine is so amazing, it travels through time and dominates Kang’s weakass mind. I’m still so angry about Doom’s last appearance that I am taking it out on poor innocent Kang. But seriously, fuck all these guys.

Thor is flying to the wedding and is attacked by the Super Skrull. They fight.

superskrull

I admire the Super Skrull’s confidence there. Not only does he possess every power known, every single one, even floating, he is also the greatest warrior in the galaxy. Such an unbeatable foe. Unequaled in the Marvel, DC, and Mortal Kombat universes. The team sees the explosion of the fight…

omen

And Sue is showing her cold feet. Look, Reed. An omen that our wedding should be called off. She wants out so bad. Good move, Sue. Reed tells his lawyer, Matt Murdoch, to tell the guests the wedding is running a bit late. He immediately tells his own hangers on, Foggy and Karen, to do that for him. He runs outside, now as Daredevil, and sees Hydra attacking! And they have a giant bomb with them! One of these worthless goons has to be able to get the job done.

While Daredevil is fighting Hydra, the Avengers show up. Jesus. Captain America is immediately attacked by Cobra, the Executioner, and the Enchantress. Where is security to clear out all this riff-raff? While Cap fights for his life, Mr. Hyde watches the action from afar like a sex offender before deciding now is the time to end the Avengers. Luckily for Captain America, Hawkeye is there to save him! But who will save Hawkeye from the Enchantress? Spider-Man, of course. Jesus Christ. This isn’t even a story. It’s just nonsense.

We cut to Black Knight who decides to help Hydra against Daredevil. Who is that flying in to save Daredevil? It’s the Angel!

mandarin

In one of the most embarrassing moments for a super-villain ever, the Black Knight needs saving from Angel, whose sole power is to be a giant pigeon. The X-Men show up to save his ass, and villains are crawling out of the woodwork.

villains

Look at that motley crew. Electro, Mandarin, Unicorn, Melter, Beetle. A real winning lineup there. Again, is it a shock that Doom rose above this shitshow to become #1 stunner at Marvel? Outside the Baxter Building, all hell is breaking loose.

madness

Black Knight sucks so bad, Reed is kicking his ass from one hundred feet away. Still, Doom’s moment of triumph is growing closer. Beast will be the first to die since nobody wants to see close-ups of his fugly feet anymore. And who is that weirdo staring at me from the corner? I’ll see that face in my fucking nightmares.

The Mad Thinker and Awesome Android show up, slapping around Iron Man. Quicksilver takes out the Top. It’s craziness. Down at the docks, fortune smiles on Doom.

attuma

Attuma rolls up with an entire army! What a happy accident. Who needs the treacherous douche Namor when you can get an army? We turn the page and see Daredevil STILL driving around with Hydra’s bomb truck….

bomb

Poor Attuma. He just pulled a Santino Marella in the Royal Rumble. Poor guy. Maybe next wedding, Attuma. Back to the Baxter Building, Reed is lamenting that the heroes don’t have the power to defeat the villains. What are they going to do? That’s easy. Have the fucking Watcher show up and take Reed away from the battle. Where does he take him?

watcher

To his home, of course. Fuck you, Watcher. Non-interference my ass. I have sworn not to interfere but I am going to go read this book while you ransack my home for weapons. What a douche. Fuck you, you overgrown bald baby. Kickass Kirby art, though.

So Reed finally understands one of the devices. Probably the equivalent of a Watcher’s Fischer-Price toy because it’s Reed. Watcher, my “non-interfering” ass, sends Reed back to the fight with weapon in tow. What does it do?

victory

Changes time, of course! Curse you, Richards. You win this round. Even Doom will forget his role in this. So close to victory. Eat a dick, Watcher, you mutant Gerber baby. Victory was Doom’s! So the wedding finally happens. An iconic moment in Marvel history. And two wedding crashers gets turned away at the door.

theend

All’s well that ends well. In all seriousness, an iconic issue. A huge moment in the early Marvel age. One of the greatest Marvel comic issues ever. But Doom will return and the Watcher just nudged Flash Thompson one spot lower on the revenge list. You will pay for your meddling, you walking fat cue ball.

Next: Doom fights the Avengers!

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. You can also send your comments to thenonicheblog@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at John_S20. If you really want to stalk me, you can find me posting fairly regularly at Herochat.com, known for its mature and frank discussions about comicbooks. Also, if you like what you read, subscribe!

Ready Player One or The 80’s Were Amazing and I am Old

I know I am a little late to the party, but I just finished the book and I wanted to give The Doom Retrospective a tiny break. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book review and I think Ready Player One is a worthy work to break my critic’s drought.

Published in 2011 by Ernest Cline, the book has developed into sort of a geek cult sensation. Honestly, as a huge nerd that grew up in the 80’s, I felt this book was written specifically for me. It’s not hard to understand that feeling when you consider that Mr. Cline is only five years older than me. It was also his first novel, which he published at the age of 39. The bastard. My window to match his feat is rapidly closing.

021915_ReadyPlayerOne_Cover

Climbing up towers of double-wides would make me avoid reality as well.

As you can probably guess, I really enjoyed this book. It is set in a not-too-far off dystopian future (2044), where global warming, wars, an energy crisis, and a stumbling economy have contributed to a world that is hardly habitable. Our main character, Wade Watts, lives in a mega trailer park and spends all his time in the OASIS, a virtual reality video game that is so revolutionary that it has supplanted the real world. People shop there, fall in love there, get married there, and even go to school there. It’s creator, James Halliday, is Willy Wonka, holding a contest inside the OASIS to determine his successor after his death.

The book really strikes the proper chord of nostalgia and forward thinking. Wade is obsessed with technology and the past. Throughout the book, he goes to great lengths to avoid the real world and the present time. As the book progresses, however, he starts to realize that the outside world still does hold some value (friends! love interest!). There is a political agenda here too, aside from the aforementioned worldly ills, race and sexual orientation are mentioned in the book, but they seem sort of just tacked one, like Cline wanted to call attention without really exploring the issues. Did I mention that a completely amoral corporation is the villain? Or other hunters of the prize team up to take down said evil corporation? All the boxes are checked here.

As for the writing, most of the time I didn’t notice it, which is a pretty high compliment. For a novel that is steeped in fanboyish obsession, the story could have been laughable, but Cline’s prose gets out of the damn way and lets the story flow. It’s not Steinbeck, but the book is well written.

The real draw of the book is just how much fun Cline obviously had writing it. Any major cultural touchstone from the 70’s and 80’s is fair game. Movies, comics, Dungeons and Dragons, music, and video games. It’s all in here. And they aren’t just mentioned. There is a page of nothing but Monty Python and the Holy Grail dialogue. There are pages describing games like Zork, Black Dragon, and Tempest in detail. I owned Zork and I loved that game. So bonus points there.

Overall, nothing in Ready Player One is revolutionary. Willy Wonka. Evil corporations. Virtual reality vs. the real world. Contemporary ills that lead to dystopian future when ignored. Nerdy loner growing as a person. Every bit of this book is recognizably drawn from somewhere else, and can even be a bit tropey and clichéd, but the prose is steady and Cline’s enthusiasm jumps off the page. I don’t feel changed by the book, but I still loved it.

8/10 1UPs!

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. You can also send your comments to thenonicheblog@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at John_S20. If you like what you read, subscribe!