Sunday, 15 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #143. Dr Doom

Incredible Hulk #143, Dr Doom
(Cover from September 1971.)


Written by Roy Thomas.
Drawn by Dick Ayers.
Inked by John Severin.
Lettering by Sam Rosen.

Given his somewhat ubiquitous nature, it seems amazing it’s taken so long for Dr Doom to finally make his appearance in The Incredible Hulk but, at last, he's here and doing exactly what you’d expect him to do - trying to invade Europe. It’s somewhat ambitious for the ruler of a country that seems to be composed of one village, one castle, one graveyard and not much else but, like Draxon before him, Doom’s not a man to let such trifles as common sense override egomania and, with both Bruce Banner and the Hulk now in his custody, he feels he has the perfect weapons for the job.

It’s a relatively ordinary tale by the standards of the strip’s recent form, lacking the oddness and quirkiness we’ve grown used to, and we’ve seen the, "mad dictator trying to use the Hulk as a super-weapon," plot before, most notably from the Mandarin and Tyrannus. But Dr Doom always brings a touch of class to proceedings and there’s something appealing about the scientific genius Bruce Banner meeting the scientific genius Dr Doom, two men cursed by the results of their own experiments.

Dick Ayers is no Herb Trimpe but his story-telling’s good, and John Severin’s inks mean you almost don’t notice the difference, but I would like to know why Dr Doom dresses his lackeys in such silly clothes. Just what are those strange bobbly things on their hats?

Best moment is when our regular cast of characters think the Hulk’s dead and reflect on the event and what it means to them. It’s a nice bit of insight into their heads and reflects well on them that none are happy, not even General Ross who’s devoted his life to destroying the Hulk.

It also makes you realise what a man-magnet Betty Ross is, reminding us that Glenn Talbot, Doc Samson and Bruce Banner were all competing for her affections at the same time. Just how did the girl do it?

Not such a good moment is when Doc Doom arrives back in Latveria and the locals greet him with a quick outbreak of the old Nazi salute. I think we’ve all spotted the Hitler analogies with Doom. Showing us the salute does feel like we’re being somewhat bashed over the head with it.


Hoosier X said...

One of my friends had this when I was a kid. (Or it might have been the second part in Hulk #144.)

It wasn't the first time I saw a comic with Dr. Doom, but it was the first time I saw a comic with the people of Latveria and the way Doom has them all so scared that they all must pretend to adore the ground he walks on.


I think the several-part series of the F.F. in Latveria in F.F. # 83 to #86 (or so) was reprinted in Marvel's Greatest Comics just a few months after I read the Hulk vs. Doom. That was even more creeeeepy!

The other thing I remember about the Hulk/Doom comic was Valeria, the love of Dr. Doom's life. Who pretty much disappeared after this and was never mentioned again.

Still, it's Dr. Doom vs. the Hulk and is therefore awesome!

The Cryptic Critic said...

I'm speaking off the top of my head here, without checking but I think that in whatever Fantastic Four annual it was where they did Dr Doom's origin, they showed the Latverian people as being genuinely grateful to have Dr Doom in charge, even though they were scared of him, because he'd brought them peace, prosperity and security. I sort of liked that portrayal, that he was evil and yet had been good for his people. I can't help feeling it's a shame that subsequent appearances tended to just concentrate on the tyrannical side of him.

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