nomadicwriter: [Doctor Doom] Victor Von Crankypants (gleeful Doom)
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The issue opens with Cynthia von Doom conducting a ritual before the mysterious voice of her companion interrupts, telling her she needs to see what's happening with her son.

What's happening is the continuation of last issue, as Doom and Ben Grimm fight. Doom says Ben doesn't need to do this: "Things are not as they were." Ben is unimpressed with both that and Doom's new Iron Man style armour. Amara looks on in horror as they start to fight- and then wakes up in an isolated mansion somewhere else. Doom is meditating - and levitating - outside, gratuitously bare-chested (no sign of any remaining bullet wound from last issue, though, in a nice touch by the colourist, he still has a visible purple bruise).

Doom tells her she's in Switzerland, and has slept for 14 hours. She accuses him of trashing her house and kidnapping her; he counters that he defended her home and rescued her from any harm. (I love their expressions in this bit. Doom just doesn't quite get why she's so upset; Amara has the best sceptical face ever.) Doom tells her she's free to go, but warns that SHIELD are now convinced they're connected. She asks again why he's no longer Doctor Doom and suddenly wants to be Iron Man instead. He finally answers: "Because I was God."

Yup, we finally have canon confirmation that Doom remembers the events of Secret Wars! We see things recounted in an absolutely gorgeous sequence of pencil-sketch style pages. Doom tells Amara that he had all the power he wanted, but wasn't content, and so that made him decide that if conquest wasn't his calling, maybe he should try the opposite and help people instead. (In true Doomish style, of course, he also decides that the likes of Tony and Reed are his "true peers" and that having been Doctor Doom made him so familiar with supervillains that he can "right so many wrongs quicker and more efficiently than anyone else".)

As for why Iron Man? "I came to Tony Stark because I admired him. I was always- I always looked at him and saw another version of me." (There is much fun to be had imagining all the different ways Doom might have been planning to end that sentence. You were always what, exactly, Victor? Envious. Impressed by his giant brain. Hoping they could be best buds. Secretly in love with him.) He took Tony being conveniently dead at the moment as a sign that becoming Iron Man should be the form of his penance.

In a nice twist, Amara neither disbelieves this speech nor is impressed by it, but instead attacks him for the fact that he's only trying to be a good person now because being a monster wasn't as fulfilling as he expected it to be. Doom thinks his motives don't matter: it's the result that counts, and he's trying to do better. Amara thinks it all matters, and asks to go home. He teleports her away before she can finish her sentence.

Cut to Latveria, where Ben is looking for clues to where Doom might have gone - but instead he encounters Cynthia von Doom. To be continued...

Great issue! For a start, we get the one big thing I was most hoping for - the reveal that Doom remembers everything that happened in Secret Wars. It's really the only thing that could have explained his sudden change of heart, but it's fantastic to finally get it explicitly confirmed. Even better, we get an encouragingly nuanced take on why his new quest for "redemption"; it's not that he's seen the light and realised what he was doing before was wrong, just that he achieved his dream of ultimate conquest for long enough to find it didn't change anything, so he's latched onto becoming a hero as a replacement quest instead.

The Doom/Amara interactions continue to be great. She's not swayed or won over by his conversion to the light side, but unlike Ben and the other superheroes who knew Doom before she's still willing to actually listen and take his explanations as sincere, even if she's unimpressed by them. I don't know if this is setting up an eventual friendship/romance or just her being the continued voice of conscience puncturing his self-justifications, but by this stage I'm pretty on board for any combination of the above.

Also, Cynthia von Doom! I was expecting her to be lurking in the background making mysterious pronouncements for at least about the first twelve issues, so I'm very encouraged to see her being brought directly into play this soon, even though I'm still nervous about what kind of explanation Bendis is going to come up with for having brought her back to life. (If it's really even her; she certainly seems to believe she's Doom's mother, but she could easily be the unwitting creation of somebody out to manipulate Doom.) The "Prodigal Son" teaser for the next issue even hints we might get a meeting between her and Doom this early, though I've been burned by plenty of next issue teasers before.

I feel like Maleev's already great art is hitting new strides in this issue. His look for Doom is really starting to grow on me now - some fab, subtle expressions during Doom's conversation with Amara - and as I mentioned, the 'pencilled' double-page spreads recounting the events of Secret Wars are absolutely spectacular. Just gorgeous stuff all round.

Really excited for issue #4 now!
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