Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 29

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Doctor Doom is a character who feels his obvious greatness must be recognized by the world. He’s his own biggest cheerleader (his ‘man alone’ persona and mom being in Hell makes that something of a necessity, I suppose) and his hardest-working press agent. Doom’s greatest source of publicity is his own voice, and that’s a deal; everyone listens to Doom and what greater thing could Doom speak of than Doom himself? Doctor Doom referring to himself in the third person is the perfect message for the perfect media.  In his head of course. Doctor Doom’s staggeringly massive ego is easily his most defining trait. The funny thing is that it even outpaces his prodigious intelligence, giving him a human flaw and a reason to, despite numerous advantages, fail, and despite numerous failures, carry on. Doom is unrelenting because what he does he does on principle (a warped, selfish principle) and failing to relent is a basic heroic attribute. Batman doesn’t give up. Superman doesn’t give up (mostly).  Spider-Man…sticks it out for a really long time (no pun or double entendre intended).

I don’t think anyone would call Spider-Man relentless. He’s tenacious, but he certainly relents at times before he comes back. In fact, the occasions that Superman and Spider-Man occasionally take a break from superheroing or at least ease up on it (see the latest Superman story where he walks across America to reconnect with average people) is because they’re human and they want to have a bond with the people they save. I don’t think it’s necessarily for appreciation, but just because they are social animals and need that social interaction to be part of the community. They are part of a community, they just serve an unusual role in it. Batman and Doctor Doom have their isolation from society expressed through the fact that they don’t really call off the game for petty, human concerns. It definitely tips them onto the wish fulfillment side of wish fulfillment/relatablility balance.
Art by Giorgio Comolo.

Isolation from society probably isn’t a foreign concept to most comic book readers.  Just by reading the form, they’re moving towards the fringes of mainstream culture (god forbid you write a novel-blog about them). That Doctor Doom and Batman are so popular right now (with about eleven Batman titles out each month and Doom getting regular coverage in Avengers, Dark Avengers, and even his own miniseries event , “Doomwar” in the past few years. Granted, “Doomwar” was about Wakanda and the X-Men versus Doctor Doom, but hey, the guy’s name was in the title [yes, I realize by that logic, it was also a big event for Warpath, the oldest “Who’s that guy?” X-Man in existence], which isn’t to be confused with my Doom/Warpath slashfic that uses the word “tomahawk” way too much, and never, ever in the way you wanted it used.). Anyway, Spider-Man is going through a marriage/demonic pact-based revamp and Superman is going through a soul-searching story arc that has him putting out fires and saving kittens out of trees, so maybe it’s just easier to keep up with the adventures of characters who have the decency to be ‘on’ that one time a month we check on their hijinks.
Doom is just that one petty part of people that wants others to know how great we were while we lord over them mercilessly. Well, with some mercy, in that giving someone a glimmer of hope before crushing their soul is “merciful.” Hey, they had that glimmer of hope, didn’t they? Despite everything that makes Doom like Batman, it's that smallness of character that stands out when they're put side by side.

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