DOCTOR DOOM #7/ Written by CHRISTOPHER CANTWELL/ Art by SALVADOR LARROCA/ Colors by GURU-EFX/ Letters by VC’S CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
The Antlion Project was meant to bring about a new era of advancement for all humanity. By opening a controlled black hole on the moon, it was hoped that the problem of climate change might be forever solved. Many nations worked on the project, which was overseen by luminaries like Reed Richards and Tony Stark. Indeed, there was only one scientist of note who objected to the ideas behind The Antlion Project; Victor Von Doom, ruler of Latveria and the world’s leading expert on combining science and sorcery.
Despite Doom’s objections, it was a surprise to everyone when Latveria launched missiles at the Antlion facility, killing 3000 people and destroying the mechanism that controlled the black hole. It was certainly a surprise to Doom, who had ordered no such missile strike. Strangely enough, Latveria’s anti-missile defenses failed, leading to the deaths of thousands of Doom’s own people when a retaliatory strike was launched. To prevent more of his people from dying, Doom agreed to surrender himself into the custody of SHIELD while an investigation was launched, only for someone to attack the transport carrying him and arranging matters to make it look like Doom had planned a cunning escape from custody!
Doom has been on the move ever since, seeking to learn who has been taking steps to frame him, even as he considered the problem of how to prevent the black hole from expanding and destroying the Earth in a cataclysmic event that only he saw coming. Now, as the hero the Blue Marvel heads into the black hole to bring Doom’s plan to fruition, Doom has returned to Latveria and reunited with his inner circle. But before they can go about the work of reclaiming Latveria from a Symkarian invasion force and the puppet monarch they’ve placed on the throne, Doom must determine which of his closest servants and advisors betrayed him and his nation.
For anyone else, entering the stage astride a bear mount would be over the top posturing. For Doom, it is Tuesday. I can’t think of any better way to reintroduce this character or this book after a months-long hiatus. I don’t know if that was intentional on the part of the book’s creative team, but it’s a well played moment either way.
More than any writer in recent memory, Christopher Cantwell has captured the essence of Victor Von Doom. This issue proves to be a wonderful analysis of the character, as we see Doom through the eyes of his followers and how each of them regard him as something different and how that colors their interactions with him. The irony is that though they are closest in Doom’s confidence, none of them truly love him; a fact that Doom discusses with Boris, his oldest servant and foster father. Though Machiavelli’s The Prince is not referred to directly, Doom is clearly pondering the ruler’s problem of whether it is better to be feared or loved. Lest we feel too much sympathy for the devil, however, Doom is quick to admonish the wheelchair-bound Boris for not kneeling in his presence. Then again, he doesn’t require him to bother reciting a loyalty oath as he did the rest of his inner circle once that singular act is accomplished without complaint.
The artwork for this issue is as wonderful as the writing. Salvador Larroca is one of the most underrated artists working at Marvel Comics today. His work reminds me of a young Tony Harris, both in his photo-realistic character designs and his excellent use of shadow. This is most obvious in the scenes in which Doom interviews his followers one-on-one in a hunting lodge lit by a single fireplace. The darkness plays about the edges of each panel, as if truly illuminated by firelight. The colors of Guru-eFX help in the crafting of this masterful illusion. The lettering by Cory Petit is also excellent, with the word balloons being sparsely applied and never obscuring the artwork.
If you have not been reading this most excellent series, Doctor Doom #7 is the perfect place to start and see what you have been missing out on. With amazing art and solid scripting, it’s one of the best books of 2020 so far. Even if you’re not a fan of the Fantastic Four, this book may turn you into an acolyte of Doom.