Reader, if you’re anything like me you have been feeling physically ill at the distinct lack of Doctor Doom on this site lately. Yeah, we talked about him in a May Marvel Madness post, but that Damage Control issue really didn’t feature a whole lot of the good doctor, more just his looming figure. So, I decided to rectify that situation with my all-time favorite type of Doctor Doom story, one where he’s slumming it with some random other hero of the Marvel Universe! That’s right, we’re crossing another name off our veritable bingo game of “heroes who have interacted with Doctor Doom” with a real odd choice today, Moon Knight! I’ve shockingly only discussed Moon Knight once before on this site, back when I used a strange story of his to tangentially connect with a marathon of James Bond movies I was doing, and that kind of surprised me. Because Moon Knight is an insanely weird character. I’m kind of shocked that he hasn’t shown up in permutation of the MCU yet, even as one of the doomed Netflix shows, because he’s got a pretty catchy premise. He’s essentially Marvel’s Batman, a rich weirdo who dresses up in a costume and fights crime at night utilizing his vast wealth and an array of weird gadgets. But, where he differs from Batman is the whole alternate identity thing. At various times over the character’s history he has either been Marc Spector the amoral mercenary, Moon Knight the viscous vigilante, Jack Lockley the down on his luck cab-driver, and Stephen Grant the charming millionaire, switching between the identities as needed, and eventually coming to the understanding that Marc has some version of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and basically has multiple personalities, all vying for control of his body. So, you take all of that incredible strangeness of Moon Knight and toss it into a story involving Dr. Doom, geopolitical squabbling, and a whole bunch of double-crosses, and you have he makings of something very special.
The issue begins where the last one left off, with Marc dealing with the apparent death of his brother Randall at the hands of the Punisher. That has put Marc into a bit of a weird head-space, and he’s using that strange energy to work out and distract himself. He’s testing out some gadgets and essentially running through his own version of the Danger Room with his right-hand man, Frenchie Duchamp. Marc plays around with his new truncheon, darts, and cape, all while doing his best to avoid actually dealing with the insane things happening in his life at the moment. But, eventually he runs out of things to do, and Frenchie is able to convince him to slow down for a moment. But, before anything remotely therapeutic could begin, Marc gets distracted by an emergency message from the company that affords all of his superheroic shenanigans. Because while Marc has been brooding apparently his employees got a visit from none other than Doctor Victor von Doom, who has invited Marc to a diplomatic gala at the Latverian embassy.
And, while Marc is left to wonder why on Earth he’s been invited to a party at Doctor Doom’s house, and deal with whatever’s going on with his hand, we cut over to the Latverian embassy where Doom is getting the place ready for his big party. His soldiers and robots are doing a thorough check of the building, making sure that it’s as presentable as possible, and as secure as possible, all under the watchful eye of Doom himself. But, while dealing with other matters, Doom requests that his ambassador Lanzer take care of another project they’re working on.
Lanzer then puts in a call to a secret hideout in New York that looks like a goddamn warzone, where five hilariously cyberpunk looking people are scrounging around. They receive word from Lanzer that their plan is a go, and that they are to storm the Latverian embassy during the party. This gang is known as the Sensor Squad, and they’re a group of Latverian freedom fighters who have been given cybernetic enhancements that give them each abilities linked to the five sense. We have Metalslash with his robotic acid-filled tongue, Bloodhound with his superhuman sense of smell and tracking abilities, Impact who has increased strength and durability, Soundbyte with her super-hearing and sonic scream, and Deadeye who can fire lasers and holograms from his eyes. And, yeah, I’m not going to feel bad about the fact that I have occasionally spent time in my life tinkering with a novel that features a superhuman detective known as Bloodhound, because it’s a solid idea, dammit!
And, while the Sensor Squad are getting ready for their evening at the Latverian embassy, so is Marc. And he’s doing so with a thing I really wish stuck around. See, for just a while Marc used his vast wealth to put together an anonymous think tank known as the Shadow Cabinet. None of them know who each other is, and they’re all experts in various fields that Marc needs. So, to prepare for a trip to the Latverian embassy, he calls together the Cabinet to get some info. They tell Marc all about the security specs of the building, gossip about the party, a psychological diagnosis of Doom, and confirmation that Spector’s company has been looking to gain a foothold in Latveria, to no success.
After this little meeting with his brain trust, Marc decides that he’s ready for the party, and suits up and heads to the embassy with the head publicist of Spectorcorp to attend the star-studded gala meant to drum up interest in tourism to Latveria, which is hilarious. Both Doom and Spector begin mingling around the party, schmoozing wherever they need to, before eventually coming together. The two men begin trading thinly veiled barbs at each other, feeling each other out, when the party get crashed by the Sensor Squad, who burst into the room and begin opening fire. Doom leaps immediately into action, and begins attacking the interlopers, immediately killing Bloodhound, and threatening the rest of the Squad.
And, while Doom is playing the hero, Marc has run off to change into his Moon Knight duds, which gets the attention of Impact and Soundbyte, who apparently have been ordered to specifically find and detain Spector. They follow Marc into the parking garage where they assume he’s fleeing to, just in time for Marc to suit up and get ready to attack. He automatically controls his car to leave the scene, letting everyone think that Marc Spector fled in terror, and starts fighting the Sensor Squad with all of his Moon Knight gadgets.
Mark begins fighting with Impact and Soundbyte, making short work of the two villains who seem relatively new to their powers, and not quite used to utilizing them properly. Plus, they don’t speak English, so Marc is able to mock them all he wants. The battle lasts quite a bit longer than Marc was probably anticipating, but even though they aren’t exactly used to their newfound powers, they’re still fairly potent, and they put Marc on his heels, fighting against the two supervillains. He’s eventually able to bring the two villains down at the same time that Metalslash and Deadeye have decided their fight with Doom is over. They throw a grenade into a crowd of visitors, and Doctor Doom straight up pulls a Steve Rogers, leaping on to the exploding grenade.
Doom obviously survives this, since he’s wearing a suit of super-armor, but Metalslash and Deadeye used that momentary distraction to flee the embassy, apparently stopping to grab Impact and Soundbyte on their way out. Doom begins talking to the few people still standing around, including Marc Spector who strolls in wearing his suit pretending like he has no idea what has happened. Doom makes a cryptic remark about Moon Knight coming to his rescue, explaining that he has drones keeping tabs all around the embassy, and then requests that Marc join him for a talk.
So, even though the embassy is literally still on fire in some places, Doom and Spector go wandering off to have a nice chat, stopping at a warm fireplace to drink some brandy and talk about the fact that Doom thinks the Sensor Squad came here specifically to kill Marc. Apparently at this point in time Doom was kind of on the outs in Latveria, and that has caused instability which Spectorcorp hoped to utilize. But, Latverian locals had no interest in international investors, leading Spectorcorp to instead purchase land on the border of Latveria. Which, is still an issue, because apparently there are some, Doom included, who still consider that land part of Latveria. Specifically, Doom explains that some artifacts found on that land should belong to him, and he demands that Spector turn them over. And, maybe just because he’s a dick, Marc refuses to give Doom the artifacts, even though they were appraised to be worthless, and leave Doom to mope in front of a painting of his mom.
However, Doctor Doom’s little pity party is ruined when Ambassador Lanzer approaches, letting Doom know that he’s needed elsewhere. Doom then follows him into a room where the remaining members of the Sensor Squad are waiting. Gasp! They’re working with Doom! Which, is fairly obvious, but whatever. Doom appraises their performance as pretty lackluster, but still tells them that they’re going to continue with the mission, which is now explicitly to destroy Marc Spector.
The Sensor Squad then depart the Latverian embassy and head straight for Spectorcorp’s headquarters in Manhattan. And, once there, they break inside and begin trying to pull a heist, getting into a massive safe in Spector’s office. Unfortunately, the only person who sees to be aware of this attack is a random security guard, who they jump and prepare to throw out of a window. But, luckily for that random dude, Moon Knight has also gotten the call that a bunch of home-made supervillains have been trying to steal his stuff, and has gotten there just in time to save the guy.
Moon Knight then swings into the building, ready to take down the Sensor Squad. And this time, since he knows what they’re capable of, he does much better. Primarily by using their various powers against each other. He uses some adamantium gloves to grab a hold of Metalslash’s acidic tongue, and uses the acid to burn through Soundbyte’s bionic vocal chords, taking her out of the picture. And, when her bionics short circuit they end up electrifying Metalslash, and knocking him unconscious, all because Doctor Doom seems to have skimped on the quality of their bionics.
This only leave Impact and Deadeye to contend with, which does take a little more time. Deadeye is able to trick Marc a little with some holograms, but he’s eventually able to get his head straight and just unleash a barrage of darts from his gauntlet that are able to push Impact into the path of one of Deadeye’s laser beams, taking the big guy out of commission and letting Mark take down Deadeye at his convenience. Mark then happily leaves the Sensor Squad to the police before returning to his base to have a chat with the Shadow Cabinet. Because, it turns out this all has been going to Marc’s plan. He put a notice in the media that Spectorcorp was housing the Latverian artifacts that Doom asked about, and ended up proving that Sensor Squad were working for Doom. Which leaves him with one question. Why does Doom want these seemingly unimportant artifacts?
So, as you can probably surmise, these artifacts have some sort of significance with Doom’s mother, and Victor von Doom is nothing if not a massive momma’s boy. Marc then decides to press the psychological warfare by finding out that he has a real issue with Reed Richards. Which means that Marc’s next trip is to the Baxter Building. At this point Moon Knight had fairly recently been made a member of the Avengers, so using his official identification card as clout, he’s able to get a meeting with Reed Richards himself. And, it’s not just information on Doom that Marc’s after. Because he apparently ripped the cybernetic eye of Deadeye out of his head, and has brought it to Reed to examine.
Mr. Fantastic takes a look at the eye, and is able to extrapolate some data from it to help create a device Marc can use to mitigate the Latverian embassy’s security measures. He just needs to get the eye inside the building first in order to gain full access. Luckily, Marc has a member of the Shadow Cabinet seemingly built just for this purpose. A young woman with a missing eye is able to gain entry into the embassy posing as a delivery person, with Deadeye’s eye inside her skull. She spends the adequate amount of time in the building for Reed hack to do its job, and then flees to give Marc the information. Which is just what he needs to break into the embassy that night.
Moon Knight uses Deadeye’s eye to get through the worst of the embassy’s defenses, but finds that there are still plenty of measures waiting for him. But, he’s able to fight through them, avoiding certain death several times before smashing his way into the embassy. And, as you’d expect, this certainly gets the attention of Doom, who prepares for battle. But, what he doesn’t prepare for is the sudden appearance of his archnemesis, Reed Richards, who suddenly appears in his living room taunting him. Doom is baffled by the sudden appearance of Mr. Fantastic, and when Reed starts showing off the little artifacts Doom wants so much Doom just flips out and launches an assault on Reed.
But, Doom has only allowed himself this momentary lapse in calm demeanor because he knows full well that this is not actually Reed Richards, and that he isn’t destroying the actual artifacts. He recognizes the holograms that he put into Deadeye’s eye, and realizes that this is all a scam. So, Moon Knight drops the illusion, and Doom demands that he be given the artifact, which is a belonging of his mother. But, Moon Knight continues to antagonize Doom, and announces that the real artifacts are already in Avenger’s custody, and will remain so until the legal case of the land deal that started this whole thing get s figured out. Which Doctor Doom accepts rationally, choosing to let the American court system give him justice. Oh, wait, no, he flips the hell out.
It’s now clear that this whole situation is only going to be settled with a brawl, so Moon Knight goes all out. Unfortunately, it turns out that the Shadow Cabinet kind of dropped the ball. They told Marc that Doom’s personal force field wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and ensured him that his new exploding darts would be enough to get past it. Which turns out not to be the case, embarrassing Moon Knight and putting him on the defensive. Which is when Marc decides to try something pretty risky. So, as Doom prepares to blast him with another volley of energy, Marc grabs a nearby painting and uses it as a shield.
The only problem is, that painting is of Cynthia von Doom, causing Doom to absolutely lose his mind. Doom rips the painting out of Moon Knight’s hands, and starts firing all sorts of weaponry at the superhero, slowly shredding his costume. And, while Moon Knight sits there, largely exposed to the world, Doom makes a startling realization. Marc is dealing with some terrible physical ailment, which is disfiguring his body. And, since Doom kind of has a soft spot for physical disfigurement, he agrees to a stalemate. Doom then drops the insanity, and explains to Moon Knight that the artifact is a personal belonging of his fathers, and that he’s just really like it back. He even offers to trade it for some medical aid to help Moon Knight. But, all Marc apparently wanted was a human interaction with Doctor Doom, and decides to pass on the offer. Moon Knight gives Doctor Doom back the artifact, which is basically just a locket with his father’s portrait in it, and leaves, taking some time to worry about his own personal health.
This is such a ridiculous story. To the point that when I first read it, I really struggled with what in the world Marc’s motivation was. And, to be honest, I think I only kind of get it. Because I totally understand what Doom’s whole deal is. He learned that Marc Spector accidentally obtained something that Doom felt was his, and decided that the logical course of action was to stage a gala where Marc Spector would be invited and then assassinated by a quintet of weird abominations that Doom himself created. That makes sense, n a very Doctor Doom sort of way. But, I kind of struggled figuring out why Marc didn’t just give Doom the artifacts. They meant nothing to him, and it just felt like he was kind of being a dick for no reason. For a while I assumed it had something to do with his failed land deal in Latveria, like he was going to use the artifacts as a bargaining chip, but in actuality I think it ended up being something far more tragic. I mentioned in the beginning that the previous story to this involved Marc having to watch as the Punisher killed his evil brother, which sort of tied into the strange physical ailment Marc is struggling with in this issue. And I think that Marc acting the way he acts in this issue largely because of what a traumatic experience he’d dealing with. Weird family drama and his own mortality have made him lash out at a famous psychopath, only to give up when he realizes that underneath all of his gadgetry and bluster, Doctor Doom is just a regular guy dealing with his own familial insecurities. Doctor Doom is a character who can hold the fate of the entire universe in the palm of his hand, and he’s still riddled with mommy and daddy issues, to the point where it can derail his entire life just to learn that someone currently owns a painting of his dad. And, seeing that, seems to jostle something lose in Marc, making him realize that he’s acting insane, and that it’s time for him to deal with his own problems. And of all the weird things I’ve seen Doctor Doom do to the various heroes of the Marvel Universe, making Moon Knight realize he maybe needs therapy certainly ranks as one of the strangest.
Marc Spector: Moon Knight #39-40 were written by Terry Kavanagh and Ron Garney, penciled by Gary Kwapisz, inked by Tom Palmer, colored by Christie Scheele and Ian Laughlin, lettered by Ken Lopez, and edited by Joey Cavalieri and Sarra Mossoff, 1982.
Categories: Marvel Madness
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