Waiting for the Trade Dr Doom vs the Avengers

Waiting for the Trade

Emperor Doom

by David Michelinie
and Bob Hall

Why I Bought This: So
this is an original graphic novel from the 80s that I had never seen or even
heard of until about a year ago when something on the Internet referenced it
and I was like that sounds interesting. I eventually tracked it down on Amazon
in fair condition for $15.

 

The Plot: Dr.
Doom successfully conquers the world by releasing a mind control contaminant
into the atmosphere. Wonder Man, who is made of living energy and doesn’t
breathe, proves to be immune. He has to find a way to get through his Avengers
teammates and save the day.

Spoilers below:

 

Since this is an original graphic novel there are no chapters/issue breaks but here are the
main beats:

 

Purple Man—a street level villain with a pheromone based
mind control power–is doing his thing when he is abducted by an unseen hand.

Namor, at this time apparently still an outlaw, meets with
Dr. Doom in a NY restaurant. Doom proposes renewing their partnership (from the
70s comic Super Villain Team Up). He
explains he has channeled Purple Man’s power into an amulet and proposes to
power up a larger version to conquer the world. He offers to let Namor rule the
oceans in return for his help (Namor apparently has been exiled from Atlantis
again). Specifically wants Namor to attach control discs on artificial life
forms that are immune to Purple Man’s power. Namor agrees.

At the West Coast Avengers compound Tony Stark puts Wonder
Man into stasis for 30 days so they can better understand his ionic energy
makeup.

At Avengers Mansion Namor attaches a control disc to Vision
after he uses the small amulet to threaten Wanda’s life so that Vision
surrenders. However Vision is able to get an SOS off to the West Coast team
beforehand.

Namor subsequently tracks down Machine Man and Ultron and
attaches discs to them as well.

The West Coast team storm Doom’s island where he holding
Purple Man but are unable to defeat him before he powers up the larger crystal
and takes control of their minds as well as the planet. Doom also betrays Namor
by using the smaller amulet he’s been wearing to fight the robots to take
control of him too.

We see what the Earth is like under Doom’s rule. Generally
he improves things including solving the famines of Africa,
brining an end to war and crime, ending apartheid and increasing prosperity for
many.

Thirty days later Wonder Man wakes up. He is kind of shocked
to see Tony and Cap talk about the honor of serving the “emperor.” When he sees
Doom leading a parade in New York
he attempts to alert his teammates and they attack him. He narrowly escapes
only to become a fugitive across the entire world with mobs of citizens hunting
where he goes.

Doom meanwhile has grown bored of ruling a world of people
who never question him and hopes Wonder Man will provide with a diversion.

More time passes as Wonder Man has been wondering the land
disguised as a drifter. He seriously considers letting Doom rule considering
that people seem happy and things seem to be improved. But a chance encounter
with a blind woman in the woods reminds him of the value of freedom and he
decides he has to bring Doom down.

He subsequently investigates and discovers how Doom did it
and that Daredevil and Kingpin proved in the past that those with exceptional
willpower can shake off Purple Man’s power. With that knowledge Wonder Man
decides Cap is his best bet and indeed armed with video footage of Doom’s past
misdeeds Cap frees himself. Cap suggests Hawkeye, Wasp and Iron Man are the
only other teammates that are likely to shake off Doom’s spell because all of
their powers on heightened concentration. His faith is rewarded thought Tony
proves a little harder to convince than the others. Hawkeye disobeys Cap and
tries to free his wife but she sends out an alert to Doom.

The five heroes quickly storm Doom’s island and fight his
way through various robots. Wasp sneaks into where Purple Man is held but Namor
catches her. However she is able to blast a nearby aquarium and being doused
with water frees Namor as well. Doom has a chance to flood the room with
knockout gas but decides not to because he is bored running this world. Namor
smashes the crystal killing Purple Man in the process. Doom flees before the
Avengers can stop him. As the world reverts to normal (i.e. war, crime, discrimination
and poverty) the Avengers debate whether they did the right thing.
 

Critical Thoughts: This
is a decent but not great, and I feel like it had the potential to be better. 

I was always a big fan of the West Coast Avengers book so it is nice to see them featured with
the East Coast team in the supporting role. This is also a nice reminder of how
Wonder Man was presented as an A-list player back in the 80s. He’s an
interesting character choose for the man alone against the world plot because
he is not the inspirational leader or scientific genius or even the maverick
many of the other Avengers are. He is really is something of an everyman in
terms of personality. His power-set is strong enough to fight these odds but
he’s not the guy you would typically call on and that shows in his doubts in
the middle on whether the world is better under Doom.

The 30 days in stasis and waking up to complete changed
world is also a good plot device. In fact the Avengers Assemble cartoon lifted it for an episode only with Vision
in Wonder Man’s place, and it worked there too.

I think plot with Doom being bored with victory, while
somewhat in character is sort of the easy way to go. It’s not a completely
original idea either as I’ve see it played out in other genres. I’m just not
sure I fully buy it for Doom because he has ruled Latveria for years so he
should be used to a certain amount of day to day administrative decision making
already. I also did not like Doom betraying Namor as there is a longstanding
portrayal of Doom as a man who keeps his word. It also makes the fact that
later writers have kept the Doom-Namor alliance intact kind of absurd.

I’m not familiar with Namor from this era but his brutality
is a bit surprising as he seems willing to kill a hostage in the scene with
Vision. I also feel like there has to be more than just three robots to
override on the planet—if it’s the 80s I would think off the top of my head
Warlock and Nimrod are wandering around the X-books but I understand this is an
Avengers story hence why even the FF don’t appear despite their obvious
connection to Doom, so that’s just a quibble.

Of course I like that Cap is the first one to shake off
Doom’s effects. I think it’s interesting these same Avengers are ones Busiek
chose when he did the “Morgan Conquest” arc where she conquered the world by
magic and only a few heroes had the stuff to see through—although in that story
Iron Man is the one hero unable to shake it off.
 

Grade B-. It
didn’t fully live up to the potential of the concept but overall it is worth
reading.