Folks, I have just learned something that shocked me to my very core. I haven’t talked about my main man, Doctor Victor von Doom, since September! That fact was both startling and saddening, so I decided I needed to rectify that by highlighting two Doctor Doom stories this month. And, luckily, I have recently found a truly weird and delightful Doom story. It’s another entry in the baffling and wonderful Acts of Vengeance event, which I actually have already talked about here on Marvel Madness. Actually, that one was also about Doctor Doom! Lucky us! For a refresher, Acts of Vengeance was an event where all the villains of the Marvel Universe were brought together by Loki and convinced that they should essentially switch heroes, hoping that by fighting heroes that aren’t familiar with their styles they can gain the upper hand and finally vanquish them. It’s a blast. And, apparently, it was just littered with Doctor Doom, which is always a good thing. If you’ve read some of my Marvel Madness articles in the past you can tell that I’m a huge fan of Doctor Doom. And, more specifically, I’m a huge fan of when Doctor Doom interacts with heroes other than the Fantastic Four. Don’t get me wrong, the most compelling and interesting Doom stories are usually those surrounding the Fantastic Four, since he has the most pathos and history with those characters, but one of my favorite things about Doom is the fact that he works so well with just about every single character in the Marvel Universe. You can find a story where Doctor Doom interacts with just about every hero in Marvel’s stable, letting us see Doom challenging omnipotent gods to scrapping with lowly street-level heroes. So, to continue on that thread, how about we talk about a time that Doctor Doom, the sovereign leader of Latveria, dealt with the Punisher, a lunatic who drives around in a van shooting gun-runners. And don’t worry, it gets nuts.
The story begins with Doctor Doom hanging out inside the Seven-Sided Room, the strange inter-dimensional meeting place that Loki has created so that the six leaders of the Acts of Vengeance plan can meet and strategize. Not that any of them know that it’s Loki yet. They all think that they came up with the idea. Which leads to some problems. Such as the beginning of today’s story when Doctor Doom is sitting around in the Room and the Kingpin comes waltzing in. Doom really resents the fact that he’s been considered on the level of Kingpin, a common criminal, and the two quickly start fighting. They start trading barbs with each other, and realize that they both think that they came up with this plan, which leads to further conflict. Kingpin makes fun of the fact that Doom has recently been deposed by Kristoff, which is a whole insane thing that I don’t even know if I can explain properly. Just know that he’s a man with all of Doom’s memories who thinks that he’s Doom, and is currently running Latveria while the real Doom is in exile. It’s not important. What is important is that Doom starts giving Kingpin shit about the fact that he claims to be such a powerful gangster, and yet can’t take care of the biggest nuisance to his empire. The Punisher. Doom knows that the Punisher is Kingpin’s biggest expense. Kingpin is irritated by this claim, but to prove his superiority Doom offers to defeat Punisher, showing Kingpin how easy it is.
Meanwhile, the Punisher is driving around in Maine, heading out to his next big attack. He laments the fact that some recent legislation has caused a rise in illegal automatic weapons flooding into the country, and has decided to do something about it. He’s contacted a gun-runner named Joe Spiff and convinced him to meet up in a nearby quarry. Punisher then plans to kill Spiff and take all of his guns to take another criminal off the streets and add more weapons to his cache. He arrives at the quarry earlier than his meeting with Spiff, and starts doing some recon to plan for his assault on gun-runner. But, as he’s setting things up he suddenly gets a surprising visitor.
Victor Goddamn von Doom. Doom just comes waltzing out of the woods and tells Punisher that he arranged this meeting, that he impersonated Joe Spiff, and that this is all a set-up. But, he’s not there to launch a surprise attack. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He’s here to tell the Punisher that he should prepare himself, get his arsenal together, and prepare for an attack in the future. The Punisher is obviously pretty confused about the fact that the leader of a foreign country has just told him that they’re going to duel to the death soon, and he of course asks Doom about that. Doom just kind of casually explains that it’s not a big deal, and he’s just doing it to prove a point. But, nevertheless, he is going to have to defeat the Punisher. And, while Doom is explaining this, Punisher is secretly activating a mini-gun that’s inside his war-van, and it ends up extending and firing a barrage of bullets into Doom.
Ah, the old Doombot trick! That rascally Doom. Yeah, that wasn’t the actual Doctor Doom. Shocker. He actually sent a Doombot to talk to Punisher, figuring that something like this would happen. And, planning ahead, Doom decided to have a little surprise for the Punisher if he proved to be unaccommodating to his request for a gentlemanly duel. He brought a tank and a whole bunch of soldiers! The tank rolls into the quarry, and begins firing at the Punisher as he tries to flee in his war-van. He does his best to out-maneuver the tank, but it quickly becomes clear that Frank isn’t going to be able to fight his way out of this situation, so he turns the van on auto-pilot and straps himself into a goddamn jetpack to escape.
The Punisher sacrifices his war-van, but is able to get away from the tank by flying his jetpack away. He’s then pretty quickly able to kill the random soldiers that Doom sent over to fight him, and he zips away, leaving the tank and the wreckage of his battle-van. Frank gets away from the quarry, and then starts to think. He’s not quite sure why he’s been put in this situation, but he’s not going to give up. So, he gives a call to his good buddy Micro, gets picked up, and the two start scheming. They both realize that it’s going to be pretty damned hard to bring the fight to Doom, what with the fact that he runs an entire country and military. So, they figure that the best way to defeat him is to hit him where it hurts. They then do a bit of research, and find that Doom has quite a collection of artifacts. Including a very expensive Faberge egg that’s covered in diamonds stolen from the gypsy tribe that he was raised in. Which they decide sounds perfect. That’s right, the Punisher is going to Latveria!
Yep. The Punisher and Micro have donned their finest lederhosen and are getting ready to hike over the Austrian Alps so that they can secretly get into Latveria. It’s a hard trip, but they eventually make their way to Doomstadt, and get within eyesight of Castle Doom. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, Doom isn’t in that castle. Kristoff is. Doom is still hanging out in the Seven-Sided Room, being shitty to Kingpin. Kingpin is razzing Doom because of his hubris. And, Doom has to admit that he underestimated Punisher. However, he now believes that he has the perfect solution. He’s done quite a bit of research, and has found a warehouse that the Punisher is certainly using as his current base of operations. So, Doom sends out a goddamn strike team in a couple jets to drop bombs on the warehouse, hoping to destroy it before the Punisher could possibly know what hit him.
However, as we know, the Punisher isn’t there. He’s at Castle Doom, preparing his assault. He and Micro have scrapped together every bit of information on the castle that they could, and he’s devised a plan of action, hoping to climb through an ancient sewer tunnel. He then begins travelling around the castle, armed with little more than a knife. He ends up coming across a massive guard-robot, but Micro gave him a small devise that could knock out electrical systems, which he uses to destroy the robot quickly. He then sneaks through the halls, scaring what few guards he comes across, before making his way into Doom’s treasure room. He looks around the room, and eventually comes across the egg he’s looking for, along with a portrait of a gypsy couple that Frank couldn’t possibly realize is of Doom’s parents. He grabs the egg, and is suddenly startled by something unexpected.
Whoops! Punisher has just been captured by three Doombots, all of which begins speaking in the same voice. They’re clearly being controlled by Doom. Just not the Doom that the Punisher thinks it is. But, they surprisingly aren’t that mad. In fact, they invite the Punisher to dinner. And, seeing no real alternative, he accepts. Frank is then brought to a lavish dinner, where things start to get very confusing. The Doom that he’s dining with is actually Kristoff. But Punisher doesn’t know that. Instead, he listens to Kristoff as he explains that the Doom that fought with him in Maine is actually a renegade Doombot that’s lost its mind, and that they can’t get under control. Kristoff explains that it’s not okay that Frank has broken into his castle, but to atone for it he’s willing to let Punisher take care of this robot situation for him.
Frank obviously agrees with this idea, and promises that he’ll take care of the renegade Doombot, which should be made easier since it seems to be out to kill him, and will probably come to him. But, until Frank is ready to return to America and kill what he now thinks is a Doombot, he’s to be Kristoff’s guest. They end up going back into the treasure room, and Frank learns the truth about that portrait. He doesn’t act like it’s a big deal, and starts wandering around the castle as if he was completely planning on obeying Dooms request. But, that’s obviously not the case. Instead he comes up with a really goofy plan. He sneaks into the treasure room, steals the portrait of Doom’s parents, and then lets the shit hit the fan. He starts a fire, and starts beating up random castle guards, fleeing through the castle before stealing a helicopter and escaping.
And what’s the real Doom up to while Punisher is stealing his belongings from a weirdo with his memories? Well, he’s still squabbling with the Kingpin. They’re both not quite sure if the Punisher was actually killed in the bombing of the warehouse, and that uncertainty is making both of them rather snippy. Doom is currently hanging out in Kingpin’s penthouse, giving him a closer access to Punisher’s stomping grounds, and the two just can’t stop squabbling. They end up arguing about which of the two’s power is superior to the others, all while a massive protest is going on outside of Kingpin’s skyscraper. However they both quiet down to watch the news as Captain America arrives to calm down the protests, setting up the idea that there’s quite a bit of turmoil in the streets at this time.
While all of this is going on things are getting even crazier for the Punisher. Because he stopped to pick up Micro in the helicopter, and now the two of them are flying out of Latveria, and into some restricted airspace. Luckily, Micro has access to some SHIELD codes, and hopes that that will get them through. Unfortunately, this just gets the attention of SHIELD, who send a ship to come and pick up Frank and Micro. Luckily though, Nick Fury doesn’t seem overly concerned with the Punisher, even though he’s probably one of the most wanted murderers in the world, and he just lets them both go. So, they then fly out to New York, and prepare their revenge on Doom.
Frank and Micro land in New York, Frank gets suited up while Micro gets a new battle-van, and they get their plan ready. The duo drive out to a print shop where a woman is able to scan Doom’s family portrait, and make a copy of it. Frank then pastes the copy to the roof of his battle-van, and begins driving around the city, looking for some action. Which he’s quickly able to find, because it turns out there’s a huge super-brawl going on in the middle of Manhattan, spilling over from the evil plan that the Acts of Vengeance are causing. Frank drives straight to the battle, and just starts driving around, hoping to catch the attention of Doom. Which he does. Very quickly. Because Doom is currently flying around in a special airship, watching the battle. And when Frank starts doing laps around the battleground, showing off Doom’s most prized and personal possession, he freaks out.
He immediately orders that his airship stop caring about the massive battle that he and his fellow villains have been orchestrating, and instead starts chasing the Punisher’s war-van. He’s quickly able to corner them in a dock, and announces to the Punisher that he wants to talk. Doom floats down to the ground, and the two quickly begin fighting. Doom is horrified to learn that Kristoff is being so careless as to allow the painting to have been stolen, but he’s perfectly fine with calling off this whole fight if he can get the painting back. Punisher agrees to these terms. Doom promises that he won’t ever fight the Punisher again, and does the customary thing that these issues have where he acts impressed to have been out-witted by the Punisher. Frank hands over the painting and Doom goes back to his Acts of Vengeance, while secretly being happy about the loophole in his agreement. He won’t go after the Punisher, but Kristoff is still free to get some sort of retribution.
This story is just such a delight. I really have been enjoying these Acts of Vengeance books. I’m always a sucker for heroes fighting villains who aren’t their normal ones, and it’s given me two really fun Doctor Doom stories. Yeah, things get a little complicated with all the Kristoff stuff, but it’s so worth it. I just love how bored Doom gets in his exile, and immediately takes that boredom and starts shit with the Kingpin, trying to find something to entertain himself. And he succeeds! Because the Punisher ends up to be much more willy than Doom ever could have hoped for. I’m on record as not being a huge fan of the Punisher, but this version of the character is someone I can get behind. The weird art-thief who is constantly cracking jokes with what he assumes is the real Doctor Doom and devising an insane plan that doesn’t end in a massacre? Yeah, that’s a fun Punisher. I just love the idea that the Punisher was able to come up with a plan to defeat Doom by hitting him in his most vulnerable place. His family. Doom’s whole existence as a character stems from his mother, and I love that he’s willing to throw away this entire plan that he’s been working on for months to save a painting. Few people have been able to cause legitimate panic in Doctor Doom, but the Punisher did. These stories where Doom fights with non-Fantastic Four heroes are just so goofy and fun, and I adore how they all end with him having to admit that the guest hero is pretty competent, something I feel like he’d almost never do with the FF. I don’t think that there are any other Doctor Doom stories hidden in the Acts of Vengeance event, but if I come across them I’ll certainly spotlight them, because we always need more Doctor Doom in our lives.
Punisher #28-29 were written by Mike Baron, penciled by Bill Reinhold, inked by Mike Farmer, colored by John Wellington and Gregory Wright, and lettered by Ken Lopez, 1989.
Categories: Marvel Madness