Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book #41. Iron Man: Legacy of Doom

This review is of 8 comic book issues, written over more than a quarter-century. The story takes place in Iron Man 149 & 150, 249 & 250, and Legacy of Doom 1-4.

In a terrific two-part story from 1981, Iron Man and Doctor Doom first visit Camelot. As the pair battle over a business dispute, a disgruntled Doom employee hits the button that sends the pair back to time of King Arthur. Doom seeks out Morganna LeFey, and asks her help in releasing the soul of his gypsy mother from Hell. She agrees, in return for Doom leading her undead forces against Arthur. But Iron Man is able to force the sorceress to flee, leaving Doom without an army to lead. His purpose for coming to Camelot gone, Doom suggests that their combined circuitry can return them to their rightful time. Returning to the present, the men call a truce, but each recognizes that they will meet again in battle.

In a 1989 sequel, the pair received mysterious high-tech artifacts, which mystically draw the men to London of 2093. There, they are met be the great wizard Merlin, who introduces them to the current incarnation of Arthur, who unfortunately is just a young boy. They have all been called to this time because England (and the Earth) faces dangers from space. They can only return together, and Iron Man is staying to save the day, forcing the reluctant Doom to become his reluctant ally.

The Lady of the Lake finds herself paved over by a modern mega-mall, but Merlin is able to locate her. The sword chooses Iron Man as champion, which Doctor Doom does not appreciate. Both men find themselves battling their heirs, who are allies on the side of destruction, having agreed to share rule after the catastrophe. They save the day, and before leaving for their own time, Doom reveals that he has learned that Iron Man is in fact Tony Stark, but that knowledge does not accompany him back to the present. The men call another truce, but realize that their rivalry will continue: another time.

In 2008, David Michelinie revisited this story, in the four-issue Iron Man: Legacy of Doom. Doom summons Tony Stark’s “lackey” as an aid in his battle against Mephisto’s efforts to bring the End of Days. The pair head off together for another trip, this time to Hell. And in a move that is a surprise to nobody but Iron Man, Doctor Doom leaves the Avenger behind in Hell, having made a deal with the devil. After fighting the spirit of his long-dead father, Iron Man escapes to battle Doom back on Earth.

Doom received from Mephisto a shard of Excalibur, and with it, he drafts Morganna Le Fey into his scheme, and forces her to provide for him a reforged version of Excalibur. The magic-born sword damages Iron Man’s armor, and the pair go toe-to-toe in a terrific series of fight scenes. But they are forced (of course) to join forces, when Mephisto’s plan to end the world actually begins to manifest. They join forces to fight eyeball-creatures from another dimension, with Merlin’s help, after which their memories of the fight fade. They end the story as adversaries, once again.

This is a great collection of stories. The fact that Michelinie manages to keep the characters in character over stories written decades apart is quite an accomplishment. All of the characters or consistent, including Merlin, who appears throughout the issues. And the art remains consistent throughout, as well, with many call-backs and references to confrontations as the story progresses.

I am a huge fan of Doctor Doom, and although he is rightly considered to be primarily a Fantastic Four adversary, the Camelot stories from the 1980s are among my absolute favorite Doom stories ever. And among my favorite Iron Man stories ever. I especially like the fact that Doom had understandable motivation in all of these issues, from rescuing his mother to protecting the entire Earth from destruction.

The hardcover volume that collects Legacy of Doom 1-4 is very good, including an introduction that summarizes the issues from the 1980s. It also contains David Michelinie’s written pitch to Marvel Comics for the 4-issue mini-series. This was a fascinating document, giving insight to the outlining process that a writer goes through in developing a story before receiving a commitment from the publisher.

Source: Issues 149, 150, 249 & 250 are from my personal comic book collection collection. Legacy of Doom is from the public library.

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