In a surprise turn, Chip Zdarsky and Declan Shalvey have written an annual issue for the Marvel Two-In-One series even though the main series hasn’t hit its sixth issue yet. Why would they do such a thing? Because Dr. Doom deserves an issue devoted to him, of course.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
THE THING AND THE INFAMOUS IRON MAN – UNRAVELING THE SECRETS OF SECRET WARS! There is but one place in the Multiverse where VICTOR VON DOOM holds no sway. A spot where even DOOM can be judged and tamed. A place that houses…THE COUNCIL OF REEDS. Can Doom escape with his life in order to save BEN & JOHNNY?
Why does this matter?
If you were a fan of the Secret Wars Marvel Comics event you have to read this. It’s like a follow-up that reflects on Dr. Doom after that event and also dives into how that book ended too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with a flashback to when Dr. Doom was just a child. He’s being trained by his father to master the art of combat using a staff. It’s in this short two-page scene Zdarsky probes how Victor became the man we all know and loathe. Much of the rest of the issue focuses on Dr. Doom and Thing in the present attempting to find their dimension’s Reed Richards. In their exploits, Dr. Doom is tested in mind and body and by the end, readers get a new perspective on the man. In a surprising turn, Zdarsky has a few big brained heroes reflect on Dr. Doom and he inspires them to take on a new mission. In a sense, this story is about childhood and how parents can screw up a kid and that makes this story deeply personal.
If I’m sounding vague it’s because there’s a lot here I don’t want to spoil. Let’s just say if you read Secret Wars and loved it you’ll really dig a few of the revelations in this one. There’s also a super crew that shows up that was a delight. Jonathan Hickman fans will not be disappointed.
Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire keep the story grounded and clean. There’s some great use of white space to make the characters pop off the page as well as a good mix of close-ups and mid angles to probe the characters. I particularly liked the glow on Doom’s chest and some great shadow work on Thing as he watches Doom fight for his life, mouth agape.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I imagine if you read this without knowing the history of these characters a lot of the weight of the story will be lost on you. Aside from this, the ending is a bit too cute. I like the message Zdarsky is imparting, but it’s also a much smaller endeavor than to “solve everything” as their main mission used to be. To replace it with something so emotional, and downright easy when you break it down, almost makes them seem foolish. I really dig this group of heroes, but if this really is their new mission I’m not buying it.
Is it good?
I really dug this annual issue due to its probing the mind of Dr. Doom and connecting to Secret Wars. If you’ve read and loved Infamous Iron Man starring Dr. Doom you must read this simply so that you can get a reflective perspective on this complex villain.