At the end of the last version of the Marvel Universe, Dr. Doom became something like a hero. He snatched enough power from near-omnipotent beings to stop the end of the multiverse and saved portions of various multiple realities. Now that things are back to normal, he's evil again. Or is he?
Two weeks ago, Victor Von Doom showed up at the end of Invincible Iron Man #1, looking handsome and unencumbered by armour. Today, the former leader of Latveria gets a big chunk of the spotlight in the latest issue of Tony Stark's new series and it seems like the changes might run very deep indeed.
The armoured Avenger does what most heroes would do when confronted with Marvel's alpha nemesis: he tries to take him out right away.
When energy attacks don't work, Tony uses his fancy new shape-shifting armour to try brute force. He doesn't get any satisfaction there and finally agrees to hear Doom out. The archvillain explains that Madame Masque stole something that she was told was very powerful.
Doom's partnership with Iron Man to deal with Tony's evil former paramour is an interesting shift for the character. Once upon a time, he'd have been the one snatching up powerful artifacts for his own secret plans. Here, he's helping a good guy retrieve them. And while it's almost certain that Doom has his own agenda here, he's not operating the way he used to. No feats of technological showmanship, no grandiose bluster... just slick, knowing negotiation with just enough magical defence to show that he can hold his own.
It makes a weird kind of sense that Tony Stark and Victor Von Doom are being set up as rivals. So far there hasn't been any sign of Reed Richards in Marvel's post-Secret Wars comics and part of Doom's core motivation has been to show how his genius trumps anyone else. With Mr. Fantastic absent, Tony Stark becomes a natural foil for Doom. And magic's always been tricky for Iron Man to handle. This could be the start of a re-alignment of antagonism for two of Marvel's biggest players.