Books of Doom

Books of DoomSummary: Five-time Eisner-nominated Best Writer Ed Brubaker turns his shadowy vision to Marvel’s greatest villain, Victor Von Doom. With the phenomenal art team of Pablo Raimondi and Mark Farmer, you will witness Doom’s life from his earliest moments to the day he took the throne of Latveria. A dark and revealing examination of how an innocent boy grows up to be a tyrant – a new twist on an old legend – Books of Doom is a sweeping epic of tragedy, madness and destiny! Collects Books of Doom #1-6.

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Books of Doom, by Ed Brubaker and Pablo Raimondi 7.0

Can’t get enough of Doctor Doom, the evil Marvel Comics mastermind? Are you sick of seeing this mad genius relegated to a supporting player in other characters’ comics? Are you tired of seeing his plans get foiled time and time again by his nemeses, the unflappable Fantastic Four? Would you like to see him succeed for once?

Well, look no further!

‘Books of Doom’ is a 6-part series that attempts to map out the origins and rise of Victor Von Doom, future ruler of Latveria and super criminal. It’s one in a long line of stories in all forms of media that tries to delve into a villainous character’s psyche, find the roots of their evil and humanize them so that we can have a better understanding of them.

It’s become a bit of a cliché, frankly – at the very least since George Lucas’ stupid ‘Star Wars’ prequels vomited forth a childish Darth Vader and ineptly attempted to explain how a numb-faced, naïve child prodigy happened to stumble into the dark side of the Force. We all know how that went. Sigh. And it rarely goes any better than that.

Case-in-point, ‘Books of Doom’, which is a very average series that creates far too many parallels between Doom and Vader: that he’s haunted by his failed attempt at saving his mother, has a doomed relationship with his childhood sweetheart, and gets trained into the mystic arts by some monks that also blend magic with technology.

Oh, and lest we forget, they are both mutilated and must wear armour to conceal their appearance.

Look, the lack of originality is likely not Ed Brubaker’s fault. My thought is that, when one is hired to write an iconic character by one of the largest comic book factories in the world, one doesn’t get much creative power. In fact, the main lines of story are likely mapped out in advance and the writer is merely hired to connect the dots. I could be wrong, but that’s my guess.

Thankfully, each episode has an interesting base. Unfortunately it’s developed in a loose, if not rash way, without truly delving into Von Doom’s psyche; all is explained in simplistic terms and his massive shifts in the last half are completely unexplained. One would have to make giant leaps to understand his logic (or lack thereof) and behaviour.

I did enjoy that Brubaker chose to recount Doom’s life through interview segments, however, essentially making his book like a documentary piece – as though this had actually happened. The many people that Doom encountered in his life are perfectly-suited to give their brief but telling perspectives on the man behind that mask. It was a good device.

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

That leads me to the ending, which revolves around the interviewer herself.
I enjoyed the turn of events for their unexpected quality, but it makes no sense: it’s obvious that Doom’s assistant is friends with the journalist (they’re on a first-name basis), so why would he trap her the way that he did?
And if he was just faking it all along, then why bother to let her interview the Doombot at all? Why not jail or kill her without playing all these games?
It just doesn’t make any sense.

*MAJOR spoiler alert*

The art is equally frustrating. For some of the larger art, Raimondi displays a talent for fine detail. However, the rest of the art is pretty sloppy, with poor proportions and veritably weak facial features littering the book. I don’t know if it’s a lack of talent or just a tight schedule that makes this work sloppy, but Doom certainly deserved better.

In the end, this collection of ‘Books of Doom’ makes for an okay tale and origin story, but it’s not nearly as good as one might hope for. The main lines are decent enough, but the way that it was fleshed out leaves to be desired; it’s formulaic, thereby making a character that is well out of the ordinary kind of mundane. Doom would not be pleased.

So says me.

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