Monday, 16 August 2010

Incredible Hulk #144. More Dr Doom

Incredible Hulk #144, Dr Doom
(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.

4 comments:

Sean Strange said...

I just wanted to say hi and let you know that I'm loving this well-written blog. Glad to see there is another Bronze Age Hulk fanatic out there. I obsessively collected Hulk as a kid, and was the proud owner of every issue from 102 to about 230, along with 4 of the original series, so these posts are really bringing back some great memories.

This series gets little love from comic book fans these days, but as far as I’m concerned it was classic stuff. Give me a super-strong, misunderstood green monster bounding around the planet just trying to survive encounters with all manner of evil geniuses, armies, aliens and monsters over silly costumed superheroes trying to save the world any day.

Feel free to check out my new blog devoted to classic comics at http://comicscosmos.blogspot.com/

Thanks!

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi, Sean. Thanks for your kind words, and good luck with your own blog as well. :)

Hoosier X said...

I remember feeling sorry for Dr. Doom when I read this one. He was so full of ego and anger and arrogance, and he just can't see or accept that, with his talents, he can have the love of his people without terrorizing them, and he can have the love of the woman without committing genocide.

I don't remember ever again having any sympathy for Dr. Doom.

What a douche!

Did Valeria ever appear before or since? I can't recall that she was ever mentioned again, but I may have missed it. Maybe in the Doom series in Astonishing Tales? The one-shot in Marvel Super-Heroes? Super-Villain Team-Up?

The Cryptic Critic said...

I've got a feeling she may have been in the Doom series in Astonishing Tales and, if I remember rightly, I think there's a footnote in this Hulk issue that says she was in Marvel Super-Heroes but I have to admit to not being totally certain. The truth is she would probably have worn out her welcome pretty quickly, as she was just there to complain about Doom being evil. She might have been right but, as a dramatic device, the endless complaining would have got tired pretty quickly.

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