When it comes to great villains, the world of comics have delivered many of the most beloved in pop culture. The folks over at DC can lay claim to one of the greatest rogue’s gallery for Batman, while I can’t help but think of Lex Luthor whenever I hear the term “criminal mastermind”. Meanwhile, Marvel has given us some legendary baddies who have gone up against Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the X-Men. When it comes to the upper etchelon of fiends that inhabit the House of Ideas, it’s hard to argue that Doctor Doom is the baddest of the bad.
The man born Victor von Doom has it all – brains, power, mad magic skills, and a logic to his actions that is often hard to argue with. Doctor Doom has been front and centre to some huge Marvel stories, most notably in my book the outstanding Secret Wars series that Jonathan Hickman crafted some years ago, that found Doom ruling over the world after multiple incursions destroyed the planet Earth and nearly all of its heroes. I’m always reading and rereading Secret Wars, and nearly everytime I find myself thinking it was too bad we couldn’t have had a Marvel Universe with Doctor Doom at the helm for a little while longer.
This past week saw the release of a massive collection bringing together decades of stories from the ruler of Larveria, not so cryptically called Doctor Doom: The Book of Doom.
Here’s the log line:
Collects Fantastic Four (1961) #5-6, 39-40, 246-247, 258-260, 350, 352; Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #5; Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #20; Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up (1975) #1-2; Super-Villain Team-Up (1975) #13-14; Champions (1975) #16; Amazing Spider-Man Annual (1964) #14; Uncanny X-Men (1981) #145-147; Iron Man (1968) #149-150; Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars (1984) #10-12; Marvel Graphic Novel: Emperor Doom (1987); Marvel Graphic Novel: Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom — Triumph and Torment (1989); Fantastic Four (1998) #67-70, 500; Fantastic Four Special (2005) #1; Books of Doom (2005) #1-6; material from Fantastic Four (1961) #236, 358; Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #2; Astonishing Tales (1970) #1-3, 6-8; Marvel Double Shot (2003) #2. Bow before the majesty of Doctor Doom! The greatest villain of all is celebrated in a tome of tyranny six decades in the making! Featuring the Latverian ruler’s first battle with the accursed Reed Richards and his Fantastic Four — and their most epic clashes since! Plus: Doom’s unforgettable encounters with Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men and the Avengers! A trip to hell with Doctor Strange! The power of the Beyonder! Victor von Doom’s incredible life story contained in the Books of Doom! And more tales of the Lord of Latveria!
Clocking in at an astounding 1300 pages, this omnibus is a fantastic way to experience what has made Doctor Doom such a pivotal character in all of comics. Though I might dock it some points for not including anything from Secret Wars, it does have so much essential material, from Doom’s first appearance in Fantastic Four, to the excellent graphic novel Emperor Doom from 1987, that found Doom ruling the world and genuinely making it a better place. Emperor Doom is one of my favourite all-time stories, and was the first I read when I started in on Doctor Doom: The Book of Doom, and I’m happy to say that it still holds up very well. In fact, it’s a great precursor to the Doctor Doom we’ve read over the last decade.
As we eagerly await the arrival of Doctor Doom in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Doom: The Book of Doom is an excellent way to get to know the character and discover (or rediscover) why he’s earned his place as a classic pop culture villain.