(Cover from October 1971.)
“The Monster And The Madman!”
Written by Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich.
Drawn by Dick Ayers and John Severin.
Lettering by Artie Simek.
That great philosopher of our times Boy George once shocked us all by revealing that war is stupid. He then went on to tell us that people are stupid and that love means nothing in some strange quarters.
Well, it seems even Dr Doom’s quarters aren’t that strange as, smitten by his childhood sweetheart Valeria, he does what any man would while trying to impress the love of his life - causing nuclear Armageddon. Never one to under-do things, Doom gets the now brainwashed Bruce Banner to build Latveria a Gamma Bomb with which Doom might smite its enemies. Then he gets the Hulk to carry it to where foreign forces are waiting to invade, so he can wipe them out.
Sadly for him, that treacherous peacenik Valeria’s messed up the Hulk’s brainwashing, causing our green-skinned gargantuan to detonate the bomb over an unpopulated area. The question of what’s now happened to the would-be invading forces isn’t addressed.
Then again the question of what’s happened to all the Gamma Bomb’s nuclear fall-out’s not addressed either, and so I can only assume that, straight after this story’s over, Latveria finds itself at war with whatever unnamed country it is it borders and also dowsed with radioactive particles at the same time.
Such considerations aside, it’s a stronger tale than last month’s offering. Not that that wasn’t enjoyable but, in the end, that was mere set-up. This trumps it mostly because the Hulk’s again reduced to little more than a supporting character, as the real drama and conflict’s between Doom and Valeria, Doom determined to conquer and crush all opposition to impress her, Valeria wanting him to stop trying to crush and conquer all opposition to impress her.
Needless to say the man who didn’t listen to Reed Richards all those years ago when he warned him his calculations were a bit off and he was going to blow himself up doesn’t listen to any mere woman and so comes a cropper because of it, ultimately beaten with no great difficulty by the creature he’d sought to enslave.
But here at least Doom shows some dignity as, facing death at the Hulk’s hands, he refuses to surrender. Preferring death to disgrace.
Sadly, upon being released by the Hulk, who can no longer be bothered to fight such an irrelevant foe, Doom then shows his less dignified side by refusing to accept he’s been defeated, and trying to start the fight all over again, failing to accept how far beneath the Hulk’s notice he now is.
And so, like the Littlest Hobo, the Hulk bounds off to wherever his next adventure will be, as Doom kneels there, ranting futilely for him to come back, having failed to learn a single thing from the encounter.
So, Boy George was right. War is stupid and people are stupid. And none are more stupid than Dr Doom, a genius too dense to see he’d never have had any problems in life if his own flaws as a human being hadn’t created them in the first place.