Superhero team-ups are meant to be fun, but when one of the biggest supervillains around shows up in front of you, demands an alliance, and then tells you that oh, by the way, he's totally given up being a villain to take the place of Iron Man? Well, those team-ups are fraught with danger... or should be, at least.
Image: Marvel Comics. Art by Phil Noto, Mike Del Mundo, and Marco D'Alfonso
Today's Avengers #7 -- by Mark Waid, Phil Noto, Mike Del Mundo, Marco D'Alfonso and Cory Petit -- sees the Avengers confronted with Victor Von Doom for the first time since he cast aside his villainous intent and decided to become the Infamous Iron Man. Although Doom uses his magic to banish the interdimensional demon the team is scrapping with as the issue opens, they are naturally incredibly sceptical that one of the greatest foes of the Marvel Universe is claiming to come in peace... all except for one of them. While the rest of the team is ready to tear Victor a new one, newest Wasp Nadia Pym is excited to hear what Von Doom has to say.
Because Nadia spent most of her young life in the Red Room before breaking out to become the Unstoppable Wasp, she doesn't have the history with Doom the rest of Marvel's heroes do. While they know him as a heinous supervillain desperate to rule the world, no matter what he says now, she only knows him for one reason: The fact that he's one of the smartest scientists in the world. Doom leverages Nadia fan-girling over him during the aforementioned cup of chai to earn her trust, much to the chagrin of the other Avengers, who don't believe Doom's switch to superheroics.
But why does a man like Victor Von Doom need the help of the Avengers? Even with his penance, Doom is still as arrogant as ever. The reason is actually quite poignant -- Doom has traced a series of magical disturbances to the heart of New York, but the source is a location he does not wish to enter for several reasons:
1) It's at an all-girls' campsite, which would be pretty difficult for Dr Doom to walk into unnoticed, and 2) it's named in honour of Sue Storm, and the heartsick Victor doesn't wish to stoke an incident that could lead to it being damaged, out of affection for his unrequited love. He needs Nadia to infiltrate and investigate, and the Avengers to provide muscle in the off chance things go awry.
This is a superhero comic, so naturally things do go awry -- Nadia discovers the source of the magical malady is actually a group of teenage girls making a demonic pact with a lunar goddess named Anamelech. As with all good demonic pacts, the girls attempt to sacrifice Nadia as a blood tribute in order to get their heart's desire... good jobs, like being the President of the US or a miracleworking doctor. After all, they are attendees at a leadership camp. They're aiming high!
Both Doom and the Avengers step in to save Nadia, and with her help, Doom seals the magical portal opened by the girls and completes the mission he'd agreed upon with the team -- although Nadia has to remind him not to let the girls' ringleader die for her misguided use of magic. The audience learns, however, that Doom had an ulterior motive in coming to the Avengers for help. He was testing Nadia to see if she was as capable of villainy as he'd been lead to believe by AIM intelligence. Seeing the young hero save the ringleader all but confirmed to Victor that she was worthy of his trust, and it appears the mission's success will lead to the Avengers themselves seeing that Doom is capable of being trusted, too, if the cover art for Avengers #8 is anything to go by:
Avengers #8 Cover Art by Alex Ross
Victor Von Doom and Nadia Pym might have found unlikely allies in each other, but the Avengers might just have found an even unlikelier one. Could Doctor Doom himself be the latest member of Earth's Mightiest Heroes?