Comics : What If... Secret Wars

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This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

A few years ago (in Marvel time) some of Earth's greatest heroes and villains were teleported to another world for the entertainment of an omniscient being known as The Beyonder. He forces them to fight each other in order to leave the Battleworld planet. To the winning side, he promises to fulfill their dreams.

As one could guess, Doctor Doom is a member of this elite group. Instead of accepting what's offered, he wants all the Beyonder's power for himself. Doom manages to steal power from Galactus and challenges the Beyonder directly, acquiring his powers. This proves to be temporary as no human mind – even one such as Doom's - can control that kind of power. He ultimately loses his concentration allowing the power to return to The Beyonder.

In this reality, Doom retains his powers and returns to Earth with an agenda.

In Detail...

"What If ... Doctor Doom Kept the Beyonder's Powers?"
What If... Secret Wars (Story 1)
Feb 2009 : SM Guest
Summary: Alternate Spider-Man appears
Writer:  Karl Bollers
Artist:  Jorge Molina
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At some unspecified point in this alternate future, Doom stands before the Celestials, ready to fight to the death to keep his god-like powers. As he stands waiting for the first strike he thinks back to the long road which brought him here.

His journey started 27 years ago when his mother Cynthia Von Doom bargained with the Devil to protect her clan from the corrupt Latverian baron. She was killed in retaliation for using black magic against the baron's soldiers. Ten-year old Victor discovered this and swore to save his mother's soul at all costs.

Eleven years later he is in the United States attending Empire State University. His only goal is to construct a machine that will open a portal into Hell and save his mother. Due to an unforeseen error, the machine explodes. This permanently scars Victor's face and causes the university to revoke his scholarship and his visa. He leaves America in disgrace.

Victor learns of a secret order of monks in Tibet and with no other place to turn, seeks them out. He studies with them for eight years until he has mastered all their teachings. It is here that he forges his trademark armor with additional mystic seals. He renames himself "Doctor Doom" and returns to Latveria, leading a resistance movement that overthrows King Vladimir. Doom rises to power as the new monarch of Latveria and brings a degree of order to the country. However his superior attitude leaves many world leaders concerned for the future. In the months and years that follow, Doom confronts the Fantastic Four several times as well as Spider-Man and the X-Men.

He recalls being abducted by The Beyonder to the Battleworld planet despite his "death" months earlier. He steals the Beyonder's powers and kills the heroes with a thought. He then returns to Earth and explains the "Secret War" and how he acquired unlimited power. He admits that he was responsible for the deaths of the world's abducted heroes, but glosses over that to describe the utopia he will create for humanity. He then defeats all remaining pockets of resistance: Wakanda, Atlantis, The Eternals, Asgard, the Inhumans, and the remaining heroes not chosen for the Secret War. The list includes Tony Stark, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Hercules, and Daredevil to name a few.

He then sets his sights on galactic conquest. When they refuse to accept his leadership, Doom destroys the empires of the Kree, Skrull, Shi'ar, Badoon, the Brood, and others. Once this phase is complete, he collects the infinity gems (space, time, reality, mind, and soul) preventing anyone from challenging him for supremacy. He uses the soul gem to free his mother from Hell.

Returning to the present, Doom destroys the Celestials, although by his admission it took 407 Earth years to accomplish this. Returning to Earth, Doom sees that the shock waves from his battles have shifted the Earth's orbit, turning the world into a frozen wasteland where humanity is all but extinct. In a rare moment of nobility, Doom expends all his remaining power to realign the Earth's orbit and reignite the core to make it habitable once again.

Once the world has been restored, Doom returns to Earth as a mere mortal and helps humanity start over.

In General...

The overall story was interesting and had a logical extrapolation of what Doom might do if he retained the Beyonder's powers. First take control of Earth, show up Mr. Fantastic by creating a utopia based on his innovations, and then conquer the remaining inhabited planets.

Unfortunately there were a few items that took away from the story. The non-linear sequence of events was confusing in parts, especially where the target history diverged from the original. I had a little trouble keeping the outer space battles in order.

Another issue was the extensive background for Doom. It seemed unnecessary as by and large it served no purpose in the story. I believe that a 1 page abridged history would have covered all the material needed.

Finally the apparent limit to Doom's powers baffled me. True it extended his life by 400 years, but he had to use all of it to put the Earth back in the proper orbit and restart the core. This doesn't make sense. I would think someone with enough power to beat the Celestials (eventually) should be able to snap their metallic fingers and fix that problem.

Overall Rating...

3.5 webs. Overall it was an interesting read, despite a few problems. Personally I would have just let Doom keep his god-like powers, avoid the frozen Earth sub-plot, and let him simply rule the universe. That would have been a typical ending, but with the direction the story was headed, it would have been more fitting. Perhaps the final comment could have been along the lines of "I am master of all that is and ever shall be. Where I should be content, I find myself empty. Although I always considered myself superior to the rest of humanity, I find it impossible to rid myself of certain elements. I am everything and yet I am nothing."

Footnote...

  • Dr. Doom's first appearance was in Fantastic Four #5.
  • Doom's first encounter with Spider-Man occurred in Amazing Spider-Man #5
  • Doom encountered the "new" X-Men in X-Men (Vol. 1) Uncanny #145
  • Prior to his arrival on Battleworld, Doom was seemingly killed in Fantastic Four #260
  • Tony Stark remained on Earth during the Secret War. Jim Rhodes took over as Iron Man when Stark abandoned his responsibilities due to alcohol addiction. This began in Iron Man #169