Monday, June 13, 2011

X-MEN/DR. DOOM '98 - December 1998


Credits: Jorge Gonzalez (writer), Aaron Lopestri (penciler), Art Thibert & Jaime Mendoza (inks), Shannon Blanchard (colors), Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear (letters)

Summary: In the past, Dr. Doom learns of the coming of Onslaught from the mystic Seer. Suspecting a connection to Magneto, Doom travels on his Time Platform with the Seer to secretly spy on Magneto at various points in his future. At one point the Seer makes telepathic contact with Onslaught, leading the duo to investigate Professor Xavier’s life. Eventually, Doom battles the Magneto of the present day, before finally reaching the moment of Onslaught’s creation. As the darkness inside Magneto invades Xavier’s consciousness, Doom tries to steal its power with his absorption module. The nascent Onslaught entity responds by sending Doom and the Seer back to the past. Doom is satisfied with the knowledge he’s obtained, and kills the Seer to keep it for himself.

Continuity Notes: The framing sequence of this story takes place shortly after Magneto invaded Santo Marco in the original X-Men #4. At one point in the issue, Doom arrives in the “Days of Future Past” timeline. The presence of the Sentinels inspires him to create his own robots.

Review: It’s always a dodgy proposition when creators predict the future of their characters, especially in corporate-owned comics. The writer doesn’t know if he’ll be on the book three months from now, let alone twenty years in the future, and there’s no way of telling which new cast members will join a series, or which characters will be killed off or resurrected by editorial fiat. There’s a reason why Stacy X isn’t on one of those posters behind Wolverine on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #141, aside from the fact that everyone hates her.

Gonzalez escapes this trap by setting the story far in the past of Marvel continuity, guaranteeing that his visions of the future are absolutely accurate, since they’ve already happened. As much as fans might’ve complained about the “Onslaught” crossover, within the context of the Marvel Universe, it’s entirely feasible that Onslaught’s the type of omnipotent entity that would give a mystic soothsayer fits. It’s not like he’s going to predict the dawning of the Age of Humbug, after all. Gonzalez has selected a series of “greatest hits” from UXM, mainly hitting on the Claremont issues, which will likely please most longtime fans. There’s always a chance that referencing an old story can make yours look weak in comparison, but Gonzalez writes an entertaining Doom and Lopestri’s art is strong enough to compete with the original stories.

The continuity issues are danced around by allowing Doom to remain cloaked during most of the adventures, with only Phoenix and Onslaught making brief detections. The official line used to be that time travel is supposed to automatically create an alternate reality in the Marvel Universe, but even if this trip didn’t alter reality, there’s no impact Doom’s presence could’ve made on the time periods he visited. The only question now is why Doom didn’t go through with the promise he makes at the end of the story to use this information to his advantage. If we’re to believe that the Dr. Doom of the mainstream Marvel Universe knew of the coming of Onslaught years in advance, why did he so rarely interact with Xavier and Magneto? Why was he so unprepared for the emergence of Onslaught? Why couldn’t he prevent his own sacrifice, which helped to destroy the entity? I realize that erasing Doom’s knowledge of the future at the story’s end would’ve been a cheat, but allowing him to keep the information creates its own set of problems.


Jeff said...

So it looks like the 90s X-Offices are now running DC Comics. Have you seen the creative teams? Bob Harras and Jim Lee just picked all of their friends for new creative teams. This relaunch is starting to sound awful.

G. Kendall said...

It doesn't surprise me that Jim Lee would put together a line-up that resembles '90s Wildstorm, but I was taken aback by the sheer x-tremeness of many of the books.

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