Now in the home stretch, Comic Book Classics Revisited takes a look at the first part of the final act of Marvel’s event, Secret Wars! Let’s soak in Mike Zeck’s glorious cover for just a moment, and then let’s crack this baby open!
When we last left the series, Galactus, the world devourer, began eating up Battleworld. The X-Men were first to attack and found themselves quickly over-matched. When Captain America and the rest of the heroes came, they started making real progress against the monster. Despite initially being concerned that defeating Galactus would spell ultimate defeat for the heroes, Reed Richards helped lead the charge against his longtime foe before seeing Galactus return to his own home base to devour it and come back to completely destroy Battleworld. Back at Doombase, Doctor Doom dissected Klaw and creating a machine that would help him take control of the entire Secret War!
The heroes watch in horror as Galactus absorbs his entire home. They know he’ll be back to finish off Battleworld quickly with him at full power. Just as Galactus is ready to drink in the immense power, it is suddenly ripped away from him and is diverted to a location on Battleworld itself. Realizing the power is heading straight for Doombase, Captain America sends Captain Marvel to take a look at what’s happening. To her surprise, Doom was no longer captive after their defeat at the hands of the heroes. Professor X helps connect her mind to Reed Richards so he can try to decipher and translate what Doom is actually doing.
Doom has become far more than a mortal man. He has the power to shape reality around him. He also has new empathic powers that help him discover that Captain Marvel is spying on him. When the link between minds is cut off, the heroes act quickly to go to Doombase to save her and attack Doom. Magneto steps up to the plate for the heroes to help the X-Men’s damaged craft fly, but this only opens the door for more “us vs. you” rhetoric between Cap and Wolverine. The conversation heats up so much to where Wolverine actually states that 1) Maybe Magneto was right in how he handles Mutant Civil Rights and 2) He’s lost all his respect for Captain America for seemingly only defending the very Americans who hate and fear the X-Men.
Meanwhile, Doom gazes upon the Beyonder’s open portal and ponders what his next move will be. He knows that if the Beyonder is truly more powerful, he could never settle for second. Besides, if he truly wins the prize the Beyonder offered, what would Doom even choose when he already has so much power in his possession? Doom thinks back to the first issue when he and Galactus were violently repelled from being able to enter the Beyonder’s realm. He analyzes what he learned about that encounter and adjusts his armor to better suit his next attempt to engage the Beyonder. Just as the heroes arrive at Doombase, Doom vanishes to make his attempt and defeating the Beyonder. The heroes find Captain Marvel, but Doom’s basically turned her into a living hologram. They find Klaw’s head and learn that Doom has left to take on the Beyonder and still all the power of the god-like being.
Doom’s battle with the Beyonder is causing shockwaves powerful enough to nearly destroy Doombase. Richards decides their only hope is to revive the unconscious Galactus and get his power on the side of the heroes in the event that either Doom or the Beyonder turn their attention back onto those on Battleworld. Doom takes some heavy battering, including having one of his legs completely sheered off, as the Beyonder doubles and redoubles his power to defend. Suddenly, after powerful earthquakes nearly tear Battleworld apart, there is an eerie calm. Professor X senses someone, or something, approaching and Spider-Man’s spidey-senses goes bonkers. What appears before the heroes is a astral projection of Doom asking for the heroes to lend him their power so he can finally defeat the Beyonder – which he claims is actually the true enemy and not the hero/villain teams the Beyonder created for his own entertainment. Magneto is the only one to lunge forward to give Doom extra power, but stops himself before being jumped by some of the Avengers who accuse him of trying to betray the heroes. As Doom fades away, the planetary onslaught begins anew.
Finally silence falls and Doom, who is now minus an arm as well as a leg, lies alone and defeated. Out of curiosity, the Beyonder then decides to study his defeated foe. He learns all of Doom’s history and, in further curiosity, decides to continue to peel away Doom’s flesh as the Beyonder yearns to learn more about this man and this thing he has an abundance of – desire. However, as the Beyonder pulls Doom’s chest plate closer, Doom knows his secret weapon against the Beyonder is located there. Against everything, Doom reaches out to the chest plate…
Suddenly, the largest of quakes occurs on Battleworld, shaking Doombase apart completely. When the heroes, and the imprisoned villains, get to safety, a giant Doctor Doom appears declaring that the Beyonder is dead and he is the most powerful being on the planet. When he reduces down to a normal man’s side, he tells Captain America to stay his hand as both the evil of the Beyonder and the evil that was once Doctor Doom have been destroyed and now Doom removes his mask and tells them he has ended this war…
In modern terms, I would easily have to say that this is one of the more iconic Doctor Doom issues. Without a doubt, there is a clear definition of what Doom is. He is power hungry and, with entire certainty, believes he is more than any human or mortal. We all know Doom to be something of a despot with massive delusions of grandeur. There are two very interesting points to be made about Doom. While he is definitely full of himself, some could argue that Doom isn’t exactly a bad ruler. Yeah, he’s crazy. He’s done bad things. He’s an all around jerk. There have been many stories since, though, that depict that Doom’s kingdom of Latveria is actually well managed. There may be a distinct division of classes, but you can’t say that he doesn’t keep his people safe. So, maybe some of his grandeur is somewhat warranted.
What’s most interesting about Doom is, like oh so many Marvel characters, there’s a real central tragedy in his life. His mother was brutally murdered and labeled a witch for poor reasons. Yeah, she made potions and played with actual magic, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was wrongfully put to death. On top of that, she’s trapped in hell by Mephisto. So, Doom doesn’t exactly have mommy issues, but, instead, wishes to use the vast powers he covets to free her soul. He does bad stuff to a lot of people, but it’s all in pursuit of saving someone he loves. It’s actually kind of sweet.
Beyond the back story given through the Beyonder’s “eyes”, this is Doom at his “Doomiest”. He’s got all the power he could ever have imagined having, thanks to his dissected buddy, Klaw, being able to divert and focus the power from Galactus into himself. However, Doom is forever chasing his next prize. It’s not good enough that he can warp reality or time or know the thoughts of others. No. He’s gotta go take the Beyonder’s power too. However, it’s not just a situation where Doom fails due to his overblown ego. He actually succeeds through his iron will. At least for now, Doom has achieved ultimate power and he seems to be changed by it. All his pursuits bore fruit. Some six issues back, I discussed the Hulk holding up a mountain range that had been dropped on the heroes and how it was the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “Hulk”. Well, when I think of Doctor Doom, I almost immediately think about the cover to this issue and his victorious battle against the Beyonder to claim all the power.
But how will he use these powers? Come back on Monday and Comic Book Classics Revisited will take a look at the penultimate issue of Secret Wars!