Oh man, I just realized I haven’t talked about Doctor Doom in almost two whole months! I’m starting to get the shakes! And there’s only one way to remedy that my friends. That’s right, diving deep into the Marvel back-issues to find some classic nonsense. We’re going all the way back to Spider-Man’s fifth issue today to discuss some true Silver-Age weirdness folks. Because if there’s one thing that I like more than Doctor Doom stories, it’s stories where Doctor Doom is dealing with people other than the Fantastic Four. Don’t worry, I’ve found quite a few goofy Fantastic Four stories that I’ll be getting to sooner rather than later, but there’s just something special about seeing Doom interact with the other heroes of the Marvel Universe. Because the man is like bacon, he makes everything better if he’s included. Doesn’t matter if you have a story of cosmic importance or one about stiffing Luke Cage 200 bucks, he works perfectly. And I’ve talked about Doom fighting the X-Men, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Doctor Strange, so I think it’s high-time to let him deal with the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. After all, just like the cover says, it had to happen sooner or later.
The story starts off in one of the most common places for a Spider-Man story, with J Jonah Jameson complaining about him. Jonah has apparently bought himself some air-time to rail against Spider-Man and tell the town how much he hates him and why. And the children of Peter Parker’s high-school are not pleased. They’re all gathered around a store-front watching the news (weird, that happened in Bat Signal yesterday too) and everyone is pissed, especially Flash Thompson who is a huge fan of Spider-Man. Which really amuses Peter, who decides to keep his classmates off his trail by telling them that he agrees with Jameson, which does him no favors in the friendship department. But it’s not just children watching the broadcast, there’s a certain Dictator of Latveria checking it out as well. And Doom is finding it very enlightening. In fact, Jameson makes Spider-Man seem like such a menace and monster that Doom decides he could easily convince him to join his eternal war against the Fantastic Four. His only problem is that he needs to contact Spider-Man. Which, actually, turns out to not be a problem, because Doom has rigged up some insane communication device that essentially comprises of a radio and a captured spider. I’ll let Doom explain it.
Oh, never mind. Doom doesn’t really explain this process at all. But, shockingly, it works like a charm, so while Peter is hanging out in his web-slinging he suddenly gets bombarded by Doctor Doom’s invitation. And not one to be rude, Peter puts on his costume and begins swinging around town to find its source. Which turns out to be a nondescript warehouse outside of the city. But Spider-Man is pretty suspicious of the whole situation, so he peeps into the windows before entering, and is shocked to find Doom himself hanging out inside. So Spider-Man slips into the building and catches Doom by surprise, demanding to know why he tried to contact him. Which is when Doom decides to give him his sales pitch. And honestly? It’s not that terrible. He basically points out that no one likes Spider-Man, and that he’s an outcast, just like Doom, and that outcasts need to stick together.
Unfortunately for Doom Peter is a good person, so he quickly rejects Doom’s plan, and wraps him up with webbing so he can take him to the authorities. Which doesn’t really work out that well, because it turns out Peter has fallen for the oldest trick in the book. The old Doom-Bot switcheroo! Yep, Doom was actually talking to Peter through a Doom-Bot, and now that Peter has refused him he stops messing around and just starts trying to defeat Spider-Man. He tries to drop him into a pit and then just starts blasting him with his energy gauntlets, which causes Spider-Man to peace the hell out of there and jump out of a window, swimming away. The Amazing Spider-Man!
Anyway, Spider-Man bails out of the building and into the river, and after that he decides to head back in and deal with Doom. But when he climbs back up onto the dock he’s shocked when the warehouse explodes. Doom is really good at covering his tracks. So, left with no other alternatives Peter gives up, takes some photos of the explosion, and heads to the Daily Bugle to sell them to Jonah and profit off of his failure. Jonah heckles Peter a bit about not giving him pictures of Spider-Man, the usual, but does pay him for the explosion photos. After all, Spider-Man is a menace. Which is where we get to another important plot point. A huge prank. Because after Peter’s buzzkill attitude towards Spider-Man at the beginning of the issue the other kids decide that he doesn’t like Spider-Man because he’s scared of him. Which obviously means that the girls have to sew together a Spider-Man costume for Flash to wear and scare Peter in.
I wonder where this is going! Anyway, Flash gets into the costume and gets into position, ready to jump around a fence and scare Peter. But he’s picked the worst possible time, because as they’re getting ready to scare the crap out of Peter Parker, Doctor Doom is planning his own revenge. Since Spider-Man wouldn’t willingly help him, he decides he should kidnap Spider-Man, learn his identity, and make his life hell. So Doom whips up a device that can track Spider-Man’s spider-sense like a Geiger counter (just…just go with it) and he sets out to find him. Which just happens to be when the prank is going down. So As Doom flies around the city looking for Spider-Man, Peter is walking down the street that Flash is getting ready to attack him in. Which results in Flash, in costume, standing there when he turns around and is terrified to find Doctor Doom striding right up behind him, blasting him with some knock-out gas.
So Doom grabs who he thinks is Spider-Man, and flies him away to his next base while the rest of the kids are a little confused about why Flash didn’t jump around the fence to scare Peter. And Peter just walks on by, having apparently not noticed Doctor Doom kidnapping one of his classmates, and he heads on home to hang out with Aunt May. And while he’s talking to May something odd happens. Doom breaks into the cities television feeds to give an ultimatum to the Fantastic Four. Apparently his plan is to now blackmail the Fantastic Four’s senses of honor by telling them that if they don’t publicly disband as a team he’s going to kill Spider-Man. This obviously confuses Peter, but almost immediately he gets a call from Liz Allen who tells him the truth about Flash’s prank, and that it’s probably Flash that Doom kidnapped. And after a brief moment of Peter contemplating letting Doom kill Flash, he decides to do the right thing and sneak off to the city to fight Doom. So Spider-Man swings around town until his spider-sense is triggered by Doom’s base, and he sneaks in to reveal that Doom kidnapped the wrong Spider-Person.
Doom is obviously pretty pissed about being made a fool of, and he takes out that anger by trying to beat the hell out of Spider-Man. But he’s not just going to use physical strength, because Doom has apparently had a whole lot of time to set up this hide-out. Unlike the last one it’s not just a warehouse with a trap-door, no, this time he’s outdone Arcade himself and made a whole goddamn fun-house of tricks to stop Spider-Man. And things start off quickly. Doom begins by trying his blasters again, but this time Spider-Man is ready for him, and quickly builds a little wall of webbing to stop the blasts. So Doom moves on to plan B and opens up a vent above Spider-Man, dropping a bunch of liquid Nitrogen on him. Luckily though it’s webs to the rescue again as Spider-Man builds a quick umbrella to protect himself from the freezing liquid. Which means that it’s time for Doom to get weird, because he then wheels out some crazy gadget that’s basically a high-powered magnet that has several steel balls orbiting around it at high speed. Spider-Man starts getting pummeled by the balls before webbing up the magnet, breaking the gizmo.
Doom gets a little less goofy at that point, and goes to old standbys like flame-jets in the floor and an electrified floor once that doesn’t work. And while the fire doesn’t work, the electricity does. It starts zapping Spider-Man, who is able to deal with the voltage better than a normal person would, but really needs to get it to stop. So, he fires a line of webbing at Doom, which apparently conducts enough electricity to begin shocking Doom as well. So Doom turns off the electricity, and is officially done messing around, and starts playing dirty. He summons another Doom-Bot to grapple with Spider-Man, and also brings in some sort of death ray to blast Spider-Man in the back while he’s dealing with the robot. But he’s still underestimating Spider-Man, who quickly gets a hold of the situation and begins struggling with Doom himself. The two trade blows and start beating the hell out of each other, until Doom hears the distinctive sound of the Fantasticar approaching. And, knowing that he doesn’t stand a chance against the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man combined, he delivers a powerful blow to knock Spider-Man down and runs away. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four have shown up and found Flash imprisoned. They yell at him for impersonating Spider-Man while the real Peter sneaks off. And, in true Spider-Man fashion, the next day Peter goes to school and finds that the whole incident has just made Flash more popular, and he’s become even more derided. C’est la vie.
In the grand scheme of Doctor Doom stories, this isn’t one of the more crazy ones, but honestly any time that Doctor Victor von Doom shows up is going to be a great time. And I have a particular fond spot for these really early appearance. I’ve been going through the early days of the Fantastic Four lately, and even in his very first appearance the guy is pretty much perfect. True, he’s missing some of the aspects that make him the guy I love so much today, but he’s still incredibly solid. I don’t believe Doom is the leader of Latveria yet, and his magic hasn’t really taken a big role, but he’s still a crazy super-genius who attacks heroes for his own weird reasons, and that’s kind of all I need. Plus, we get a fun and foundational Spider-Man story to boot. We get to see Peter do what he does best, putting his own personal gain aside to help people who don’t even like him. He battles one of the most well-known and powerful supervillains in existence to save one of the biggest thorns in his side besides J Jonah Jameson. Because that’s just the type of guy Peter Parker is. A hero.
the Amazing Spider-Man was written by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, written and inked by Steve Ditko, and lettered by Sam Rosen, 1963.