Doctor Doom is one of the greatest villains in the history of comics. He’s taken on The Fantastic Four, Avengers, battled aliens and monsters and even ruled the Multiverse as an all-powerful god. So, what happens when he tries to make up for all the wrong he’s done in his life? You get Infamous Iron Man Vol 2: The Absolution Of Doom. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the graphic novel follows Doom as he takes on the Iron Man identity to make the world a safer place. The second volume feels like it has higher stakes than the first because of the introduction of the evil Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe. Traditional roles are flipped and Doom finds himself in a situation where even he doesn’t have all the answers.
The story kicks off with The Wizard calling a group of villains together to tell them that Doctor Doom has gone straight. While they’re debating on what to do, Doom arrives and captures them all for SHIELD. Sarah Carter and The Thing still don’t believe Doom’s change of heart is genuine, but it doesn’t stop Doom from breaking into The Thing’s apartment to apologise over their past battles. After Doom leaves, Mister Fantastic appears to tell Ben that he needs to do whatever is necessary to stop Doom, even if that means killing him.
Meanwhile, Riri Williams, Tony Stark’s successor, confronts Doom in Latveria about the Iron Man legacy. The conversation ends with Doom asking Riri to attack him so he can go on a vision quest in order to see the future. The vision that Doom sees involves an elderly Tony Stark stating that the future is lost if Doom remains Iron Man.
Doom is taken into custody by SHIELD, only for his mother to appear and rescue him. Doom leaves his mother’s company and returns to SHIELD so he can commune with Doctor Strange. The meeting is interrupted by Mister Fantastic, who turns out to be Mephisto in disguise. Mephisto set up an elaborate game by creating a manifestation of Doom’s mother and he planned on dragging Doom’s soul to hell. After a destructive battle, Doom and Strange manage to banish Mephisto. SHIELD still plan to take Doom into custody, though he escapes and The Thing is forced to admit that Doom turning over a new leaf might actually be a possibility.
For me, Bendis can be a very hit and miss kind of writer. But when it comes to his characterisation of Doom his writing is highly entertaining. Even as a hero, Doom has lost none of his arrogance because he believes only he knows what’s best for the world. His interactions with The Thing and Doctor Strange are highlights of the story. I found the inclusion of Mephisto to be a clever twist, but it would have been more interesting to see a heroic Doctor Doom vs an evil Mister Fantastic.
During the final battle, there’s a scene where Mephisto breaks the fourth wall and seems to address the reader directly. He revealed that by creating a fake version of Doom’s mother that it would be an even greater punishment than if he dragged Doom to hell. Doom has outsmarted Mephisto before and you could make an argument that psychological warfare from a demon is to be expected. But I thought it undercut a lot of the drama and came off as lazy writing.
The story might stumble in places, but the art makes up for it. Alex Maleev draws stunning panels that create a colourful, noir setting. My favourite art occurs during the battle with Mephisto, where a kaleidoscope of red, orange and yellow is used for some brilliant action scenes.
Infamous Iron Man Vol 2: The Absolution Of Doom has a lot of great character moments but the ending could have been better. You can buy it now on Amazon.