Emperor Doom

Emperor Doom Graphic Novel

Emperor Doom (aka Marvel Graphic Novel #27)

Script: David Michelinie

Art: Bob Hall

What if Dr. Doom succeeded in taking over the World?

He’s a genius. He might actually be really good at the running the place.

That is the premise of Emperor Doom, the oversized graphic novel (which I’m going to call a graphic “album” to distinguish the format. I don’t think I invented this phrase but I’ll take credit anyway :))

With his new authority, Doom starts solving the Big Issues. Hunger. Poverty. The World Economy. Getting the trains to run on time.

And people are happy. They’re well fed, prosperous, the future looks bright. Sure, he’s controlling their minds but they don’t know that.

And for the handful of people who do know that…. balance mind control against the benefits of a successful World at peace. Who can say it’s wrong if the Good that Dr. Doom is doing is so hugely obvious?

That’s the question Wonder Man — the only person on Earth who is immune to Doom’s mind control — must resolve.

Back in the 80’s when this was published, Marvel didn’t totally “get” graphic albums. With few exceptions, their albums read like their code-approved monthly books and this particular album is no exception.

This is a good plot idea but suffers because the characterization is bland. The Avengers are have little personality save perhaps Ironman. Namor is haughty and dimwitted. Dr. Doom is put through the motions but rises only slightly above comicbook villain stereotype.

Contemporary to this book (even going back the previous 20 years to this book), the characters have more dimensions to their personality elsewhere in the Marvel Universe.

There’s a lot deeper that Micheline and Hall could have gone with this but didn’t. And that is really my main problem with this book. It’s fine for a monthly comic book but when something is put in a prestige format and charged 8-10x more, the reader expects that much more.

I may be unfairly maligning Micheline & Hall when the real problem might be Marvel. Under Shooter, they did put out some really bland books that would have been more at home during DC’s Silver Age. Steve Englehart, for example, wrote an imaginative run of Green Lantern for DC with well-thought out characters but the same month was writing bland crap in West Coast Avengers and Fantastic Four. The same “culture” — for lack of a better word — may have been plaguing Micheline & Hall.

A minor problem I have with Emperor Doom is continuity.

One of the plot points is that the mind control is airborne pheromones culled from the Purple Man. Characters who don’t breathe must be taken care of early in the story. The Vision, Machine Man, and Ultron get taken down. Wonder Man doesn’t breathe and manages to escape Doom’s notice.

In the cross-over between Super-Villain Team-Up and The Champions (both books pencilled by Bob Hall!), Doom succeeds in conquering the World, also using an airborne mind control chemical. The Ghost Rider is shown to be immune because he doesn’t breathe. Wonder Man and the Vision both go under because they both breathe.

There’s a no-prize waiting to be claimed to work that out.

At the end of the day, this book isn’t terrible but It has a feeling of blandness about it. It feels like it needed one more draft to tighten it up.

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