Yeah, yeah, I know, another one of these crazy comic book articles that’s about Dr. Doom. Dr. Doom has pretty much been in half of the crazy comic stories I’ve talked about on this site, but I just can’t help myself. I love the character, and clearly so do most writers, because he pops up in the oddest places. He’s really become just a villain to the whole Marvel Universe at this point, to the point where I would completely believe him showing up to menace any character. He’s like Mr. Burns in an episode of the Simpsons, he makes a story instantly more zany and fun if he’s introduced. And here we have a truly bonkers Iron Man/Dr. Doom comic from the early 80’s. And boy is it magnificent.
A little background info, this story took place not too long after the whole “Demon in a Bottle,” story-line where Tony Stark finally became sober, and still during the baffling period of the character when he was still pretending not to be Iron Man. Some characters work with secret identities, but I feel like Iron Man never did, especially when the idea was that he was Tony Stark’s “bodyguard,” who was never around the person he was supposed to be guarding. But whatever, that doesn’t really have anything to do with this story.
Things start off with Iron Man zipping around, fighting pirates who are attempting to capture a ship full of Stark International tech. He beats up the pirates, and we find out that he wasn’t even really there because of them, he was there to get the ship to turn around, because one of the shipments on it was going to a bad place. Turns out one of the bigwigs in Stark International sold a bunch of electronic equipment to Latveria, which is never a good call. Iron Man doesn’t want a known supervillain like Dr. Doom to get his hands on his technology, so he cancels the shipment, and decides to pay Doom a little visit. He first tries to get to Latveria as Tony Stark, but is kind of hassled at the Latverian customs in the airport, and decides that maybe it would be better to talk to Doom as Iron Man. So he suits up and flies over to the castle, which is fortified with all kinds of fancy technology that Iron Man pretty much just waltzes through. He gets through a fake wall and fights some robots before coming across Doom himself. Doom is an egotistical jerk (duh) about the whole matter, and doesn’t want to talk to Tony Stark’s “lackey,” which ends up causing the two to fight. They have an armor clad brawl before accidentally walking onto Doom’s crazy “Time Platform” by accident. There was another guy in the room during the brawl, some scientist who runs the Platform and hates Doom, so when they two get onto it, he fires the machine up and then breaks it, sending the two back in time.
At this point the story was pretty fun, but more or less a run of the mill Iron Man story. Most of the Iron Man comics from this time period were basically just Tony finding out that someone was using his technology, flying over to them, fighting with them, and then leaving with his gadgets. Pretty simple formula. This one was probably more fun than most because it features a fun battle with Dr. Doom, but it was still a pretty average Iron Man story. Until the Time Platform gets activated, and we learn where they get sent to, which is shown in a wonderful splash-page that opens the next issue.
Yep! Camelot! They actually got sent to Camelot, which a) they can identify by sight alone, and b) was programmed into the Time Platform. They barely even question it! There’s still some huge gaps in my knowledge of Marvel history, but apparently the fact that King Arthur is real in their world is common knowledge, let alone what exact years his reign was. But whatever, logic doesn’t often fit in with Marvel comics.
So they two stand around staring at Camelot while Iron Man is freaking the hell out, when they’re approached by some knights. The knights make some valid points about two crazy dudes in suits of armor just appearing before them and how weird that is, which pisses Doom off. He immediately starts mouthing off to the knights, and just electrocutes one of them. Iron Man makes Doom stop wantonly murdering these knights, and convinces him to play it cool, at least until they figure out how to get back to their own time. Doom decides to play along for a while, and the two are brought before King Arthur. Iron Man plays along with the whole thing, trying to explain that he’s a knight from a far-off kingdom, but Dr. Doom doesn’t have time for any of that bullcrap, and just starts yelling about being king of Latveria, and how everyone should be afraid of him. King Arthur finds this about as charming as you would think, and basically sends the two of them to their rooms. Tony goes to some bedroom in the castle, and presumably sleeps with some maid then enters his room while Doom fumes in his and thinks about his plans. Turns out he actually did want to go to Camelot at some point, because he figured that the magic of Morgana Le Fey, the witch that fights Merlin, could be used to save his mother from Hell. So when Doom’s maid/prostitute comes in the room, he uses some crazy hypnotism that he apparently has to get her to tell him the location of Morgana’s castle, and peace’s out.
So Doom blows a hole in the castle, whips out a jetpack, and flies off to Morgana le Fey’s castle, which is a wonderful sentence to write. King Arthur and Iron Man talk about Doom, and Arthur explains how powerful and evil le Fey is, and that they should be really worried that Doom is in league with her. So Iron Man promises to protect Arthur, and find a way to stop Doom.
Meanwhile, Doom has reached Morgana’s castle, and after solving some illusion puzzles of her own, he gets into her castle and approaches her with a deal. Doom explains that he’s there to get some magical power from her so that he can get into Hell and save his mother. He also talks about the whole idea that he’s allowed to get into Hell and save her every year Mid-Summer’s Eve, which is a thing I love about Doom, and leads to the wonderful book Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment, which is one of my favorite comics of all time, and one I’m going to get around too talking about eventually. Anyway, he tells Morgana that he wants some of her secrets, and she agrees to help him in exchange for killing King Arthur. Dr. Doom is down with that deal, and agrees. So Morgana gives him an army of zombies, and he leads them to Camelot to do battle with the legendary king. They march to Camelot, which understandably freaks out. The guard alert King Arthur, who prepares for battle while Iron Man flies out to try and talk some sense into Doom. But Dr. Doom doesn’t want to hear any of Iron Man’s thoughts, and the two just start having a crazy superhero fight in the middle of his Dark Ages war.
But Iron Man finally stops to think about what the hell is going on, and realizes that even though Dr. Doom has some magical abilities, he can’t raise the dead. So he realizes that Doom must be working with Morgana le Fey, and flies off to her castle to see if he can stop the zombies there. Morgana sees him coming though, and sends some magical attacks Iron Man’s way, which don’t really do anything. She shoots some weird blasts of shadow at him that he defeats with light, and a dragon which he just straight up freezes to death with a freon bomb. So Iron Man breaks into her castle, and she admits defeat, unable to combat his technology. Morgana vanishes, and relinquishes control of the zombies, causing them to fall apart in the battlefield. Doom realizes that Iron Man must have done something, and flies to Morgana’s castle to confront him. But since Morgana is gone and Iron Man doesn’t know where she went, they decide to just call the whole trip a wash and return back to their own time. So the two agree to work together, and using components from both of their armor they initiate a building montage and create a working time machine that gets them both back the present. They end up back in Latveria, and after delivering some badass lines to each other, go their separate ways.
This comic is a blast. I love pretty much everything about it. I’m not the biggest Iron Man fan, and going through these old issues has been a bit of a chore, because they’re pretty much all the same except for some pockets of genius like this story and the “Demon in the Bottle,” one I mentioned earlier. But man does this story rock. I really love the idea of Iron Man and Dr. Doom fighting each other, since they both wear these crazy technological suits of armor. They match each other in both intellect and technological power, and it was a lot of fun seeing them fighting. And honestly, I would have loved just a simple story of Iron Man and Dr. Doom fighting, but the fact that they had to take it up a notch and send them back in time to Camelot? That’s just wonderful. I mentioned it earlier, but I really love that they just accept that King Arthur is real on Earth-616, and just role with it. No one questions how Camelot is real, they just accept it and start acting like knights.
One of my favorite things about Dr. Doom is his whole balance of technology and magic, and I really love the idea that he uses with technology to create a Time Platform that lets him travel through time to learn magic spells. The fact that all of this happened so Doom could go try to learn a spell to save his mom almost humanizes the guy, and makes the fact that he was leading an army of zombies understandable. Plus, I’m always a fan of Iron Man dealing with magic, the one thing he frustratingly doesn’t understand. The story has some gorgeous artwork, great writing, and just all-around wonderful storytelling. It’s a hoot.
the Invincible Iron Man #149 and 150, “Doomquest,” was written by Dave Michelinie and drawn by John Romita, Jr, 1981.