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DOOM

Chuck Dixon and Leonardo Manco pit a powerless, armorless Dr. Doom against the forces of Counter Earth

By James Busbee     August 02, 2000

Take away Iron Man's armor, and you've got a brilliant but alcoholic playboy. Take away King Arthur's armor, and you've got a charismatic but naked Brit. Take away Doctor Doom's armor, and you'll just make him mad...and brother, that's never a good idea.

But writer Chuck Dixon and artist Leonardo Manco are rising to the challenge in Doom, a three-issue mini-series chronicling the Latverian monarch's exploits during the months he was 'missing' from Fantastic Four #25-#30. Taking their lives into their own hands, they've stripped Doom of his armor, his robot armies, his throne; everything but his matchless mind. But that's all Doom needs to survive--and claim power.

Doom's Day

Fantastic Four fans will recall that Doom vanished from the Marvel Universe several months back after a Celestial zapped the dueling Doom and Reed Richards in Fantastic Four #25. As a result, Reed was transposed into Doom's armor, and Doom himself was sent back to Counter Earth, a.k.a. 'Doomworld,' the alternate Earth from the Heroes Reborn series.

As the mini-series opens, Doom finds himself buck naked, dumped in the sub-Saharan Africa of 'Doomworld,' where he gets thrown into the slave-pits of Al-Khalad and has to fight his way out and back to his world. But he doesn't have long to ponder his plight. 'I wanted to take full advantage of Manco's talents at drawing nature at its scariest,' says Dixon. 'The guy fights a lion on the first couple of pages! With no weapons! No clothes, even!'

As the mini-series progresses, we'll see Doom meet the test of his wild new surroundings. On Doomworld, a planet he once ruled, Doom must survive not only Al-Khalad's unyielding slave pits, but the harsh elements and violent populace. It's a story unlike any Doom tale before it, but utterly in keeping with the Silver Age origins of the character.

'Doom is a 'rags-to-riches' story,' says Dixon. 'More accurately, it's a 'naked-to-full-body-armor' story. I wanted a little [fantasy author] Robert E. Howard in here, a touch of Road Warrior.'

Bringing a beautifully realistic touch to the story is Manco, whose work on the Blaze of Glory mini-series redefined Marvel's western heroes. Manco admits to feeling a bit awed by taking on such an established character, but he's pleased with the results. 'The power Doom shows made me feel stronger, and I think readers will feel the same,' says Manco. 'Plus, it was a pleasure drawing the ideas of a great writer like Chuck Dixon.'

Though the mini-series features a passel of villains from Atlantis and a brief cameo by the Fantastic Four themselves, Doom focuses on the main man alone. 'This is Doom's story!' crows Dixon. 'He will brook no interlopers!'

Despotic Delight

Dixon, whose Website (www.dixonverse.com) is one of the best pro sites around, is best known for his work in Batman's Gotham City, having chronicled the adventures of Batman, Robin, et. al. for years. But with Doom, he relished the chance to stretch his creative muscles and work on a larger canvas. 'The Batman mythos is like a grand, gothic tale told in pulp form; Dracula meets The Shadow,' says Dixon. 'The FF [mythos], and Marvel in general, is more grand opera. Bigger. More epic in scale.'

As for writing the character of Doom himself, well, calling Dixon 'thrilled' at the assignment might even be understatement. When the offer to write Doom came through, 'I jumped on it!' he says. 'I mean, it's Doom! I look around my office and see a Doom litho signed by Kirby over my desk, a Doom statue glares down at me from the top of a bookcase and there's a display case fulla Doom action figures, even the lame ones! I drink coffee from a Doom mug! This was like Christmas in July!'

Scripting the adventures of Doom can also let a guy burn off some aggressions. 'The guy pushes everyone around and gets away with it!' says Dixon. 'And everyone jumps when he gives an order. And he's the smartest guy in the Marvel Universe. If only he wasn't also crazy...'

Crazy or not, Doctor Doom has captured fans' imaginations for nearly 40 years. So what makes Doctor Doom, corny name and all, one of the most popular characters in comics? To start with, he's as complete a character as you'll find in popular literature. Doom is first in a line of 'supervillains' who wouldn't even conceive of themselves as such. Characters such as Doom, Magneto and DC Comics' Lex Luthor possess such unshakable confidence in their own motives that they can't conceive of the possibility that they're on the 'wrong' side. But even among these luminaries, Doom stands alone.

'Doom is the most arrogant, most self-centered villain in comics,' says Dixon. 'He thinks a whole lot of himself. Everyone on Earth is his inferior. Nobody scares him. He's the ultimate intellect wedded with the ultimate predator. The rest [of the supervillains], great as they are, stand in his shadow.'

'Doom has a very personal, scary style,' agrees Manco. 'I think that just to hear him breathing would be enough to chill me. Besides, have you seen his face?'

And even though he's a supervillain, Doom commands respect, not only from Marvel heroes, but from his own writers as well. 'He's got an undefeatable nature,' says Dixon. 'Nothing gets this guy down. Nothing could ever defeat him. He just shakes it off. He's not a 'glass is half empty' kind of guy. He's like [motivational speaker] Anthony Robbins in steel plate. (Now there's a scary thought.)'

The real tragedy about Doom, Dixon suggests, is that he thinks he's doing the right thing. 'He wishes to do good, but you gotta do what he says,' notes Dixon. 'He's like the friend who's always telling you how to run your life. Except in this case, the friend vaporizes you if you don't follow his advice.'

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