Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Don't You Just Love Dr Doom?

For Micah Rueber (The Man in the Gray Metal Suit), the defeat of Dr Doom at the hands of the Fantastic Four is always inevitable. Doom's genius - he's a scientist and a magician - and leadership of an entire country is never enough to face down his enemies, and it's not just because it is always four against one. Doom has all the qualities of the self-made man - he's nothing like Donald Trump at all - but he is a man out of time. Doggedly self-reliant, his individualism shades into arrogance, while the FF work as a team and, in 1960s USA, that's where the power resides.

Rueber regards the Fantastic Four as embodying the positive qualities of 'the organisation': using William Whyte's The Organization Man as a parallel text, he argues that the conflict and conformity between the FF reflects a collectivist effort that had become crucial in the development of American business. Mr Fantastic performs the role of CEO, laying down the law as necessary; The Invisible Girl, between designing costumes and bemoaning her low status, placates the tensions within the team; The Human Torch and The Thing grumble and fight, but find success when they accept their status.

Against this, Doom demands absolute loyalty from his subjects, and spends more time thinking about convoluted plans than going to workshops on team-building. There's even that time that he meets Rama-Tut, suspecting that he might be either his descendant or himself from another time period, and he can't work alongside him.

Or that one where he tells Reed Richards to stop messing with his equations and ends up getting his face blown off. 

Rueber is skeptical that Lee and Kirby intended The Fantastic Four  to be an instruction manual on the value of collectivist, but Lee has made a point elsewhere of claiming that he did intend to present a progressive value-system in The Fantastic Four. To follow the line of Mills, Kirby and Lee rejected the classic USA mono-myth (as represented by Superman, Batman and Dr Doom) for a more inclusive morality that emphasised spiritual values like compassion. 

Still, Victor Von Doom is ace, isn't it? He's like a Shakespearean villain with all his big speeches...

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