One of my favorite strange aspects of Marvel Comics is the fact that a shocking amount of their principal characters are heads of state. There are a plethora of weird, fake countries in the Marvel Universe, and there has to be people to run those countries, so why not have them be superheroes and villains too? I have talked at length before about my deep, all-consuming love for Doctor Victor Von Doom, monarch of the minuscule Baltic nation of Latveria, but he’s far from the only important monarch to be running around the Marvel Universe. And, logically, these various rulers sometimes come into conflict with each other, both while engaging in their super-antics and in their day jobs. There have been epic wars between many fictional nations, and several of these super-rulers have grown into nemeses, leading to pretty massive geopolitical fallout. For a while now T’Challa, the leader of the nation of Wakanda, has been in a pretty frequent struggle with Namor, ruler of Atlantis, that has led to quite a bit of devastation and war on both ends, for instance. But, one of the weirder ongoing political feuds in the Marvel Universe if between my main man, Doctor Doom, and T’Challa, the Black Panther. Wakanda and Latveria don’t really go toe to toe all that often, but both are secretive countries teeming with technological advancements ran by impressive figure-heads, so it stands to reason that they would occasionally be pitted against one another. They’ve pulled a lot of underhanded schemes against one another years, but when I learned that he once sabotaged T’Challa and Ororo Munroe’s honeymoon, I knew I’d have to share it with you all.
This story takes place shorty after T’Challa and Ororo got married, and became the Marvel Universe’s biggest power couple. Literally. Because apparently the marriage of one of the most powerful monarchs in the world to a prominent mutant who can literally control the weather has kind of put people kind of on edge. Which, hasn’t gone unnoticed by T’Challa. He and Ororo managed to get a couple weeks of peaceful wedded bliss on a mostly abandoned island after their wedding, protected against the evils of the world by a veritable army of aquatic monsters controlled by Namor, something of a wedding gift from a time before he and T’Challa were constantly at each other’s throats. The two seemed to really appreciate these two weeks of peace, no superhuman dramatics at all, but T’Challa ends up ruining it by telling Ororo they have to get to work. Because he has become acutely aware of the world’s fear at what these two immensely powerful people are going to do now that they’re a couple, and he thinks its best for them to travel around the world, going on a good-will trip to placate the world. Because otherwise they’d have to take it over as Earth’s new sexy overlords.
And, their first stop is pretty clear. Because at their wedding none other than Doctor Doom showed up, making an ominous invitation for the new royal couple to come visit him in Latveria. And, T’Challa has decided that they should take Doom up on the offer, to see where he’s currently standing. Because this is from a period in Marvel history where Doom had pretty recently returned from being trapped in Hell, and T’Challa is worried that that trip may have knocked a few screws loose in Doom. It also doesn’t help that the Superhuman Civil War was currently going on, leading T’Challa to worry that Doom will take advantage of the chaos in America to make some sort of power play. So, the newlyweds get into one of Wakanda’s state of the art jets and they take flight to Latveria, earning quite a bit of confusions from the various powerful figures around the world, wondering what this meeting will be about.
The pair arrive in Latveria, after getting briefed by some Wakandan agents that if worse comes to worst their statistical analyses show that Wakanda would come out on top in a war, at the expense of most of Europe. The royal couple strut around the streets of Doomstadt, commenting on the antiquated architecture and the strange sycophancy of the citizens, when they’re approached by the mayor of the small city. He gives the pair a bit of a tour on their way to Castle Doom, while they notice that everyone is gawking at them, potentially because Latveria doesn’t get too many black people. Which, is canon. They are then led into the Castle, where they find Doctor Doom awaiting them, sitting on his throne, and presenting them with a wedding gift, full of metaphor.
After Doom’s heavy-handed gift is given, he begins expounding on the reason he wanted them to come. Because Doom is very interested in the idea of trust, especially in a fragile world. He congratulates the two on finding each other, and trusting one another, but he starts to question their various allegiances. To the Avengers, the X-Men, SHIELD, and all the various other power players in the world, which seems to be rapidly pulling itself apart. Doom mocks the Civil War going on in America, and insists that the superheroes are going to continue burning the world down around them until nothing is left. Unless someone stops them. And, he thinks that he’s going to be that someone, with T’Challa and Ororo’s help that is.
But, T’Challa isn’t particularly interested in this proposition, especially because Doom doesn’t even have the guts to speak to them face to face. T’Challa makes this assertion, at which point Doom does indeed reveal that they’ve been talking to his latest model of Doombot. The real Doom comes waltzing in, curious how T’Challa figured this little puzzle out, especially because this model had been given a heat signature that would fool infrared scanners. But, T’Challa explains that the reason he spotted the robot so quickly was because it didn’t have the sweat and scent of a real human being. To which Doom is impressed, but also tosses out some casual racism, which doesn’t really feel particularly Doctor Doom.
That’s not great. And, Doom doesn’t let up. He begins needling T’Challa about how sensitive he is about the racist jab, and starts to imply he has a chip on his shoulder from being Captain America’s sidekick. But, T’challa pushes aside these ideas, explaining that he’s proud of his partnerships and friendships with the various heroes. Which, makes him fall into Doom’s trap, because the villain begins mocking everything about the American heroes, and all the chaos they constantly spread, pointing out things like the Civil War, banishing the Hulk to Sakaar, Namor’s constant aggression against the surface-dwellers, and the fact that the Inhuman’s have apparently left the planet and declared a Cold War against it.
And, in the face of that chaos and uncertainty, Doom believes that now is the time for an alliance. He offers his hand in friendship to T’challa and Ororo, forming a partnership to help steer the world through this period of turmoil. But, T’challa and Ororo aren’t falling for it. They refuse Doom, which immediately causes him to fall into a fit of fury. He begins insulting the two, while T’Challa and Ororo try to explain that they are just more principled than Doom. Which causes Doom to command T’Challa to “control his woman,” at which point things pop off. T’Challa and Ororo prepare to storm out of the Castle, and Doom responds by summoning an army of Doombots to stop them. Cue “Ballroom Blitz.”
T’Challa and Ororo begin beating the hell out of Doom’s army of robots, until Ororo decides to go full Storm, and summon a bolt of lightning that rips through the ceiling of the Castle, striking Doom. But, he kind of prepared for such an encounter knowing that he could potentially be going toe to toe with someone who can command the weather, and it doesn’t do much to phase him. At which point they decide to change things up a bit. Ororo begins focusing on the Doombots, while T’Challa activates a hidden set of armor in his costume, suiting up in a high-powered look that’s ready to kick Doom’s ass. The two trade some juvenile quips about what age they both developed their first set of light-armor, and promptly begin punching each other.
Doom is preparing to take the pair down, sending some more Doombots to neutralize the Wakandan jet, when T’Challa activates a secret weapon in the jet. An EMP device is triggered, sending a wave throughout Latveria that shuts down all electrical systems, including Doom’s armor. And, it’s not just Doom’s toys that are taken down. It also shut down the various defensive technologies that Doom has placed around his borders, protecting Latveria from the various other countries that wish him harm. Doom freaks the hell out, and begins pummeling T’Challa in pure fury, wanting to end the fight so that he can get his defenses up and running again. Until Ororo strikes him with another lightning bolt, saving her new husband. Which, really pisses T’Challa off, making it look like he needed to be saved. But, that lightning bolt really did a number on Doom, since his suit isn’t as powerful as it was just a few moments ago. Doom is just crumpled up on the ground, acknowledging that this little battle is over, while also mocking T’Challa for apparently having trouble in paradise. The pair are then allowed to leave Latveria while Doom repairs himself and his defenses, the Wakandan royal couple unsure of where they stand with each other after T’Challa’s little outburst. But, they quickly patch things up, and continue on their goodwill tour of the world, hopeful that things couldn’t possibly go worse than they did with Doom.
Black Panther is one of those characters that I often find myself struggling to find stories to feature on this site. A lot of Black Panthers stories are very solid, but they tend not to be as outlandishly weird as the ones I typically highlight here. I’ve had luck in two avenues, when he’d show up in goofy 1970’s team-up books, and some of his more modern stories that are just kind of badass. I’ve already talked about a time where he and Storm fought an army of Skrulls, and it’s great seeing this couple do crazy shit together again. I was quite a fan of the pairing of T’Challa and Storm, and while the stories that have happened after they’ve split up have also been good, I still have a soft spot for when they were Marvel’s hottest couple. Plus, I’m always up for talking about more stories featuring Doctor Doom. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to talk about the exploits of Doom, and it was time to have fun with him again, and seeing him spar with T’Challa and Storm is a genuine delight. There are some weird elements to the story, primarily Doom’s rather out of the character sexism and racism, but I generally like the idea that Doom assumes their class and aristocracy would outweigh any other past problems with each other, assuming that they would be up for a secret alliance to take over the world. Poor naive Doom. Although, you’d think he would have realized that this would have been a tricky situation since he’s already tried hitting on Storm in the past. Which…we’ve also talked about before. God, I’ve talked about a lot of insane comics.
Black Panther 19 “World Tour, Part 1: Holiday in Latveria” was written by Reginald Hudlin, penciled by Scot Eaton, inked by Andrew Hennessey, colored by Dean White, lettered by Randy Gentile, and edited by Axel Alonso and Daniel Ketchum, 2006.
Categories: Marvel Madness