Robot 6

The Fifth Color | Doom Over Wakanda

Yeah, it's the cover to #3, but it looks awesome!

Yeah, it's the cover to #3, but it looks awesome!

Event books are made up of a variety of different ideas, marketing ploys and world-building plots, the semantics of which we could go on about for hours, but for right now, let’s look at three rather basic needs:

  • A Major Villain: Sorry, Stilt-Man is not event book main operator.  I’d say even Norman Osborn isn’t really Event Book Material either; in the Siege, this is really just Loki’s show with a lot of targets and threats under his puppet strings.  The Red Skull, Doctor Doom, Magneto, people who only want the world, people who drink domination like fine wine on big gaudy thrones and are just clever enough to pose an incalculable threat.
  • An Incalculable Threat: something on a scale so massive it should hurt our ears.  Planets should be in danger, if not just our favorite one, Earth.  All the dead that have ever died, rising up out of Hell to scourge the land, going back in time to ensure Hilter’s victory in World War II, alien invasion, this should effect everyone and their mother.
  • Crossover Appeal: Teams and heroes from different titles banding together to fight a common enemy.  It doesn’t matter how much the Hulk and Thing don’t get along, it’s the problem at hand that matters first and their solution should be a point of contention (or camaraderie) by the time this all is through.

See?  Pretty simple stuff.  Sure, there’s a lot more that goes into it but if you ensure these three basics of storytelling, fans will be more likely to stand up, take notice and, most important, check their wallets for the right amount of cash.  You can tell us it’s going to be the Second Coming, but until the threat is unleashed by a class act villain that every mutant and their mother has to go handle, then we know who means business.

It’s this kind of blockbuster storytelling that makes me wonder where Doomwar #1 has been all my life.  Don’t tell my husband, but I think it’s love at first issue.

SPOILERS: Yeah, we’re going to talk about Doomwar #1 here so please, give yourself the delicious joy that is Doctor Doom and go pick up the issue. For those of you who have, let’s read along!

Everybody read it?  Isn’t it awesome?  Jonathan Maberry has hit the top of my to-read list with this quick paced, suspenseful introduction to the OTHER Siege that’s taking place on a different continent.  If you’re like me and haven’t read Black Panther in a while, do not hesitate to pick this up; its been brilliantly expositioned for the new reader and has poignant moments for the fan at heart.  For a man whose work has topped the horror genre, his skills are just as sharp and as gripping when he’s working on a political drama and blockbuster scaled event.  After 33 pages, I’m ready to say that the rebel X-Men and denounced King and Princess Regent are going to have a harder time taking back their homeland that Norman Osborn is going to have taking Asgard.

We all know Osborn is going to lose amongst giants and demi-gods; in Doomwar, we’re working with a rag-tag bunch of mutants and men for the freedom of a country that cannot be taken.  This is drama because, for the first time in awhile, the little man is on the line.

Marvel’s little man is legendary.  He shows up as a cabbie or a off duty cop or a motorist or a hot dog vendor, humble jobs and faces that appear next to our heroes.  In Amazing Spider-Man, New York City is as much of a character as Peter Parker himself; those little touches of humanity bring our heroes down to the sidewalk and remind us of how human they are and how great we can become.  It’s a mighty Marvel tradition.

Big Events haven’t treated the little man well.  Front Line comics can get too preachy or lack involvement with the main storyline, leaving the little man to the side while the Big Boys are fighting it out for their own reasons.  World War Hulk was titans fighting in the arena for honor and respect.  Secret Invasion can be distilled to a shake-up for the capes and tights set and in the end, Joe Everyman got lost or shuffled off to a back-up miniseries.  Puppet pawn or desperate hostage, even (dare I say it?) plucky teen out of their depth, this is the eye of the reader who reminds us what exactly is at stake when heroes and villains clash.

Doomwar brings us back to those in need.  Wakanda has been insidiously invaded by a cruel dictatorship that is hurting population under the guise of reform.  There’s a palpable plight in the Doomwar #1, and the threat of Doctor Doom makes it all the worse.  If there is anyone in the Marvel Universe who can shake a nation to its core, it’s freakin’ Doctor Doom.   This man thinks of everything and he will crush you with an iron glove if you dare to stand in his way.  There is no grey area with him, sympathy and reason are hard to find with a man who wants ten thousand tons of the world’s most power metal for is own nefarious purpose.  He wants power, he’s going to take it and the heroes better be ready.

So far, we’ve garnered some old school X-Men who are there to fight for Storm (I’d say ‘rescue’ but the woman can really take care of herself) and the royalty of the country, noe blessed the the Panther God and the other one of the most interesting men on the planet.  We can talk about the genius of Reed Richards, the engineering prowess of Tony Stark and the tactical skill of Steve Rogers, but just imagine a man who’s devoted himself to all three skills to rule a nation unparalleled in power.  T’Challa may not be the Black Panther right now, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of this fight.  If anything, it gives him more freedom to rule his country and fight for the rights of his people.  His sister now wears the Panther garb and she wears it well.  With the two of the in the lead, this fight is very clearly by Wakanda for Wakanda and, by any means necessary, their country will be free once more.

It’s that kind of dramatic impact I’m looking for.  The daily super-hero versus some mind-boggling powerful force isn’t doing it for me.  I don’t need gigantic splash pages of energy eruptions, decapitations, bodies ripped apart or bold heroes declaring that this time, it ends now.  The first person to die in Doomwar #1 was a complete innocent and someone I didn’t even know and it hit harder and raised the stakes faster than Ares’s fall in Siege.  It meant something because it was an injustice, a gut-gripping shame that someone should fight for.  No roll of the eyes for the revolving door of heroic death, this was dangerous.

Event books will come and go, but more should come out of the gate like Doomwar #1.  Next time you hit up your local comic book shop, don’t go for the easy blockbuster sale, go with a new story that’s going to fight for a nation in need, fictional or not.

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4 Comments

So glad to hear the positive comments on this one. I’ve thought for years, “why hasn’t Doctor Doom gotten his own event?”

Magneto had an event, Apocalypse had an event. (Two if one counts Fall of the Mutants and Age of Apocalypse.) The Skrulls had an event. Thanos, the Magus and even some third version of Adam Warlock invented for the purpose had their own events. The High Evolutionary had an event (okay, I’m blurring the definition of “event” and “big crossover” now, if I wasn’t already; mea culpa). It just seemed odd that the greatest supervillain of all should never get to appear on the really big screen, other than in “supporting” roles.

Now (interestingly, at a time when Doctor Doom is already EVERYWHERE… seriously, Dark Reign/Seige, Fall of the Hulks, appearances in Doctor Voodoo, X-Factor, various others…) Marvel has decided that there shall be a Doom-centric crossover.

It still doesn’t quite make it into “line-wide” territory, but the Avengers, X-Men and the FF, they’re including a lot of the Marvel Universe if not a lot of books. And best of all it seems to be actually GOOD. I think we’ll all take that over a bigger number of tie-in books, right?

I also find it odd that it has taken this long for Doom to be the focus of these modern Marvel events. It’s been 25 years since he stole the show from the rest of the cast in Secret Wars.

The only thing that makes me twitchy is when you have Doom threatening to kill 10,000 Wakandans a minute. With Loki and Osborn engineering the thousands of deaths in Soldier Field in Siege, IMO you don’t need Doom to raise their hand to become just as bad ass….he’s already bad ass enough without it. Genocide is getting into some pretty dangerous territory. And I always preferred the more “gray” version of Doom, the one that had his own code of honor.

With Loki and Osborn engineering the thousands of deaths in Soldier Field in Siege,

It’s a problem when the deaths of innocents are merely a plot device, an excuse to get a fight going. After all, the archetypal superhero is charged with protecting innocents. If they die due to villainous acts, he’s failed before he can do anything. The killing of Asgardians in SIEGE has the same effect:. By killing innocents, the villains have already won. They’ve done their damage, regardless of what the heroes do from SIEGE #3 onward.

In Busiek’s AVENGERS #49, thousand of people died from Kang’s attack; he overcame the heroes’ efforts. That hasn’t been a classic issue in any respect, partly because it was a “Nuff said” issue, partly because it was part of a war with a predictable outcome. The deaths, though, could be the basis for the heroes deciding they’d failed and that they’d disband, achieving the results of “Avengers Disassembled,” for example, without the contrivances and contortions.

If Doom is the star of DOOMWAR, then the story would seem to be one without a theme. If he can perform villainous acts without consequences, then he’s not an actual character — more like the torturer in an S & M story. That’s not to say that Doom’s presence in a story automatically robs it of any literary elements, but if his only purpose is to be a inhuman source of evil for the heroes to deal with, then his presence is always a weakness.

SRS

agreed with everything, Carla; what a phenomenal first issue. And as much as I have been enjoying Siege’s bombast, it’s so refreshing to have a counter-event that’s entirely selfcontained without any reliance on tie-ins at all. (I’d almost forgotten those could even exist in this cross-promotion-heavy landscape!)

I’d never really paid much attention to Scott Eaton’s work until now but he draws the HELL out of this book. I love the varying and nuanced facial expressions on his Wolverine too; it’s great to sometimes see a smiling, determined, team-player Wolverine that doesn’t have to be drawn brooding ALL the time.

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