The Infamous Iron Doom
Brian Michael Bendis (W), Alex Maleev (A), Matt Hollingsworth (CA)
Cover by: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Before we start, is anyone else surprised that Marvel restrained themselves and didn’t price this at five-bucks? I would have expected them to hike the price on this #1.
Anyway, welcome back to the B-List Defender, where the script is unscripted, and I say whatever the hell I want. Today, we’re looking at the newest villain book by Marvel, Infamous Iron Man.
Apparently Tony Stark is dead, or gone, or legitimately a computer program now. Something happens to him at the end of Civil War II. As usual when it comes to that story, I don’t really care. I’m just glad it gave birth to a new team of Champions and has provided Doctor Doom with his own comic series.
For those who haven’t been keeping up with recent comics, particularly Invincible Iron Man by Brian Michael Bendis, Doctor Doom has been trying to make amends in the aftermath of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars from last year. His face is unscarred, his suit is Armani, and he is actively trying to be a nice guy. With the apparent death of Tony Stark, Victor has redoubled his efforts to make a positive difference in the world.
This begins with an apparent reflection with his short time on Norman Osborn’s Cabal during the Dark Reign. Parker Robbins aka the Hood starts pressing Doom for supervillain advice and questions as to what his motives are these days. After a time, Doom silently banishes Parker from the room with his sorcery, and he turns his attention back to the present.
In the now, El Diablo has managed to kidnap S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill, and the villain manages to fire off a monologue while she is strapped down with something that looks like it came from Paste Pot Pete (the Trapster, for those who don’t recognize that the old name was better). Doom comes onto the scene and kills El Diablo with little apparent exertion. He then frees Hill and leaves.
Victor next visits Doctor Amara Perera, the former flame of Tony Stark. He is looking for guidance on his next move, and he hopes she can provide something since she was so close to the deceased Iron Man. She is of course nervous, and he decides that he needs help people “with the same flourish and energy with which I attacked the world.” He leaves, and new S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Ben Grimm (yep, you read that right) approaches afterwards on the hunt for Victor.
The next setting is Stark Tower, where Victor is looking for answers in the helmet of Iron Man. A holographic manifestation of Tony Stark appears and begins to chastise Doom. The two have a brief discussion that ends with Victor telling Stark that he has decided to take up the mantle of Iron Man. Stark is less than enthusiastic about this, and Victor flies away in a gray suit of Iron Man armor.
The comic ends with Victor von Doom’s mother watching this from a crystal ball while talking to an unknown collaborator.
This comic is not bad, but it’s not really great either. As you know, my rule on a #1 is that it needs to either excite or intrigue. This comic only does the latter for me because I am excited to see a Doom solo book. However, I can’t see it doing that for most, and I can’t really blame them if this comic doesn’t grab their attention.
It’s very low energy, and the plot kind of meanders forward. I understand that Doctor Doom is not what one would call hyperactive, and he is generally a man of few words (unless he’s firing off an awesome monologue). However, the comic only seems to be establishing what we already know from the title and cover: Victor von Doom is becoming the new Iron Man.
I get that this is definitely an odd move for Doom, and an explanation is certainly in order. The comic does a good job of establishing the thoughts that are currently occupying Victor’s headspace which have lead him down this path. However, it spends the entire comic doing that and little else.
I guess what this comic really needed was something big and dramatic to help set the stage. This is Doctor Doom. He is deciding to become a hero. He’s getting his own comic. Doctor Doom is often grandiose and theatrical; his comic needs to be the same. I can respect a focus on character development, but big and dramatic are huge parts of Doctor Doom’s character.
Speaking of character, Tony Stark is not the archenemy of Doctor Doom. All of Victor’s actions in this comic seem to be fueled by a fascination with Tony Stark. I get that we’re pretending that Reed and Sue Richards kind of don’t exist right now, but Reed is the antithesis and nemesis to Victor von Doom. Despite that, Mister Fantastic is mentioned once in this comic, and it’s by El Diablo while Doom isn’t even present. That seems off, and I don’t really like that. Reed Richards is such a big part of what made Victor into Doctor Doom, and he should be thinking of him in this moment where he is considering becoming a hero. Also, Victor using Stark’s visage for this venture is a little odd, but I am willing to let that slide for the spirit of this comic. Plus, Iron Man is just as bombastic and theatrical as Doctor Doom ever was.
I’m maybe beating up this comic a little too much. I do want to emphasize that this comic is good. It also promises a good second issue and onwards with the tone and path it sets here. It has really good moments in it, namely the prologue with the Cabal, Doom killing El Diablo, and him telling the holographic Stark that he wasn’t “asking his permission” to take up the title of Iron Man. Plus, it does a really good job of establishing who Doctor Doom is at this present moment.
The conversation with Doctor Perera had a lot of good little details in it too. Doctor Doom is clearly looking for guidance, but he doesn’t know how to ask for help. He can’t articulate what he wants, so she is constantly nervous and asking him why he’s there. Despite this, he has already made up his mind about becoming a hero. As a result, when he announces his decision, it’s clearly been made independently with no input on her part. These are a lot of little details that amount to an interesting character moment that is 100% Doctor Doom.
Alex Maleev’s art fits the comic very well. It’s detailed, but it’s also gritty and kind of ugly at times. It fits the character of Victor von Doom so very well, and he was a perfect choice for this sort of comic book. Matt Hollingsworth’s washed-out and less-than-vibrant color art compounds with the effect of Maleev’s work, and the two make this comic look very good in how dreary it is.
I encourage you to try this book. If you don’t like anything about this issue, you definitely won’t like the series. If you dislike some parts but like some of its ideas, then I will tell you right here that, with my history of reading comics, I think it will greatly improve from this point. However, I’m not going to tell you to give this comic a pass and to keep purchasing the series on faith (that would be really hypocritical of me after that Doom Patrol #1 review). This was still a mostly underperforming #1, and you use your money as you see fit.
I tentatively recommend this comic, but I do expect it to be a full recommendation by issue two.
Final Score: 6/10