Over the past few years, a recent comic trend has been to replace established characters with new versions. There’s been a female Thor, a female Hawkeye and even an Asian version of The Hulk. A new character taking on an established identity doesn’t always work, but when it’s done right it can offer an intriguing story. This is the case with Brian Michael Bendis’ Infamous Iron Man series, with Doctor Doom taking on the role of Iron Man. Spinning out from the events of Civil War II, Tony Stark is in a coma and Victor Von Doom is out to show the world he can protect it.
The graphic novel begins with a flashback of Doom as part of The Cabal and The Hood asking him if he really saved his mother from a demon. Doom uses a spell to transport him to India, demonstrating he’s touchy about the subject. In the present, an unscarred Doom tracks down the minor villain Diablo and saves Maria Hill’s life. Then, Doom breaks into an armoury and is confronted by Tony’s digital AI consciousness. He tells Stark the world needs an Iron Man and flies off with his armour. Meanwhile, The Thing has been tasked by S.H.I.E.L.D to bring Doom in and causes a ruckus in Latveria.
Doom continues to bring in criminals by subduing the Mad Thinker. He pays a visit to a woman he has a connection with called Doctor Amara. She accidently shoots him and while she’s cleaning him up, The Thing arrives and battles Doom. The new Iron Man teleports himself and Amara to safety, though the doctor continues to be afraid of him.
“Maybe that is what all my time as ‘Doctor Doom’ was preparing me for. I knew who the monsters were, where they were and what they were capable of. I could right so many wrongs quicker and more efficiently than anyone else because I was once the worst of them all. I came to Tony Stark because I admired him. I always looked at him and saw another version of me. And when he fell, I knew the Elders of the cosmos were telling me what form my penance would need to take. I would be Iron Man.” – Doctor Doom
The Thing continues his search and is confronted by Doom’s long lost mother Cynthia. She comes close to killing him, but Doom demands she spare his life. Doom attacks her in rage, believing her to be an imposter. His mother tells him she was gone for so long because she was ashamed of what he’d become, but was proud of his change of heart. Cynthia disappears and it’s revealed that an alternate version of Reed Richards is manipulating the reunion between Doom and his mother.
Bendis’ pacing is as controlled and calculating as Doctor Doom himself. He captures all of Victor’s arrogance and self-importance. There’s one point where Amara calls him out and says the only reason he’s trying to be good now is because being a monster wasn’t as fulfilling as he thought it would be. Even with all of his narcissism, Doom shows his honourable nature, which Bendis is keen to emphasise. Doom has always been a complex character and the relationship with his mother has never been explored in-depth until now.
The art is handled by Alex Maleev, who has a crisp, clean style. The detail on Doom’s armour is spectacular and it combines elements of his classic costume with Stark’s technology. Maleev uses a lot of murky backdrops to highlight the morally grey area that Doom is operating in.
If you’re fan of Doctor Doom, then Infamous Iron Man: Volume 1 provides new challenges for the character, but also stays true to what’s come before. It’s available on Amazon.