I am Iron Doom. Yes, it would seem that Marvel is not content with adding just one new Iron-Man to its repertoire and has opted instead to give fans a second in the unlikely form of Victor Von Doom. Could such a bold, left field move possibly be a success?
Doctor Doom first reappeared in the Invincible Iron-Man comics earlier this year and under somewhat ambiguous circumstances. He seemed to be set on a new path of heroism as he aided the then Iron-Man, Tony Stark, in his battles against Madame Masque along with a few others. The answer to the of question of why the former country leading terrorist had seemingly switched sides never became abundantly clear however and it appears that this new series will tackle that conundrum.
From Brian Michael Bendis’ opening to this new series it is clear that the psychology of Doom is set to be put front and centre as the story unfolds. That one simple fact immediately sets this apart as the most interesting Iron title on the market right now, though that is hardly a difficult achievement. In a scene that evokes both great comedy and a haunting sense of foreboding, you get to see The Hood and Doom (Prior to his transformation to good guy) engaging in a little verbal back and forth as Hood inundates Doom with personal questions in a decidedly fanboy-esque manner and the former leader of Latveria becomes increasingly irritated with his stooge. The moment asks two very important questions; what is Doom’s goal and why didn’t he kill The Hood?
With regards to the first question, that will serve as the underpinning to this entire journey readers are now about to embark upon. It is something that Bendis should be careful not to reveal too quickly lest the series become tired without that sense of intrigue. The second rather informs the first as it shows that this switch in personality for Doom may have been a long time coming, rather than a spur of the moment thing. It is certainly out of character for him to banish someone from his villainous meetings rather than dispose of them more permanently.
With the set up for the series out of the way it is time to look at how this issue performes as a standalone entity. With the brilliantly designed plotline it would be natural to assume that you’d be treated to a strong opening issue but that simply isn’t the case here. Yes, certain aspects do garner some interest as they cause you to question everything you know about Doom and second guess his motives as he begins his transition into the role of the new Iron-Man but, for the most part, the writing feels flat and, at times, hopelessly dull.
The strongest indicator that this was not a rousing read is that the entire middle portion of the book is almost instantly forgettable. You get a fantastic opening segment as discussed above and the ending leaves you somewhat eager to see what is to come next but the bulk of the story follows Doom through a series of tedious encounters that do little to inform on his character beyond what you already knew. He saves Director Hill and visits Stark’s scientist ex-girlfriend, neither of which gives any useful information to readers save for giving them the heads up that The Thing is set to have showdown with Victor in the very near future (say, next issue maybe).
This is all indicative of a larger problem with Bendis’s writing and that is that it always feels as though he is writing with the Trade Paperback in mind so that his work can be read as a collection. True, when the TP is released it will likely read very well but that won’t help keep monthly sales at the level they need to be as reader interest is going to die off if they’re subjected to long periods where nothing of any note happens.
Moving on, you will find the art and colouring provided by Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth to be disappointingly subpar. Perhaps this is nothing more than a matter of personal taste but the majority of the panels look far too grim and muddy to spark any excitement in the audience. With the exception of the depiction of Doom’s magic, the colours are all subdued and difficult to distinguish. It makes for a boring read visually and does absolutely nothing to breathe life into the almost equally uninspiring script. The lone strength can be found in the imposing manner that The Thing is drawn in, he looks every bit the tower of stone that he is and it does give cause for at least some excitement to be felt in anticipation of his inevitable battle with Doom.
Working with such an interesting premise should have lit a fire under all those tied to this book but sadly it doesn’t seem to have done so. There are moments of promise to be found and the hook at the end is enough to bring most back for a second go around but overall this issue can be listed as a missed opportunity. The hope is that Bendis and co. can do some serious course correction as quickly as possible in order to salvage what could still be a classic saga.
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