The Massive is my next big, multi-year, creator-owned comics series, published by Dark Horse, and its a topical, socially-aware action story about environmentalism and the end of the world. Find out more here.
This came out today and Jeff Lemire just fucking nails it. Deepens the mythology while at the same time throwing in a Grant Morrison-esque moment with Buddy Baker (our current Animal Man) and Jacob Mullin (the Animal Man of 1894). I’m really digging this idea of “Into every generation an Avatar of the Red, the Green and of the Rot is born…” But it’s not just a one shot, it’s a primer for the throw down that’s to come and it also makes you go, “Hmmm. Bu-wha-wait a minute there!” Get it. Then go get issues 1-9 if you haven’t yet already.
But not only that, these two lovely gems came into my collection today. They are right up there next to my Sandman #1 (first edition, first printing thank you very much).
The first appearance of Buddy Baker and his origin story. September 1965.
And also his first appearance in costume in July of 1966.
The more crossover events you have, the more your popular characters are going to be wrapped up in situations where they’re running, gunning and fighting, and not living, growing, and BEING. Eventually, all that starts to matter is their power sets.
It is absolutely NO coincidence that the overwhelming majority of Marvel Comics’ best stories over the past several years have centred around esoteric, “unimportant” characters operating on the very outskirts of Marvel society. Vegas, the Runaways, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Multiple Man, Nextwave, Starlord, Bucky Barnes’ Captain America — the list goes on. In the eyes of the creator, anonymity begets freedom; these characters are lucky enough to NOT be chained to the albatross that is Marvel’s now ever-expanding crossover event continuity, and are thus free to live and grow as PEOPLE. They make bad decisions, they go on lunch dates, the operate however they see fit, and — most importantly — they remain vulnerable. The reader invests, and the stakes remain as high as they possibly can.
the mystery of what’s really behind doom’s mask has been one of marvel’s great (largely) unanswered questions ever since this panel from fantastic four #10 (1963) was printed:
as far as i know, there’s never been a canon, earth-616, full-frontal shot of his unmasked face. but there seems to be three schools of thought on what’s under his metal face-plate.
first of all, there’s the simple explanation that his face was hideously scarred in the explosion he was caught in whilst he and reed richards were in college. it’s a straight-forward enough origin for doom, and probably the most widely known one, but it’s obvious that it wasn’t what jack kirby (at least) had in mind.
that much is clear in this unpublished portrait of doom by jack kirby. his idea for the character was that the accident during college only left him with a slight scar; but due to his perfectionist nature he viewed himself as monstrously deformed. this is what i’ve always assumed is the case, because it highlights the twisted, hyper-critical viewpoint that doom has on the world.
but after seeing this panel from the fantastic four annual #2 (1964), i’ve come to realize that neither of the origins that i’ve previously described are fully accurate:
doom actually puts the red-hot mask on his face before it cools down. which leads me to believe that he, as kirby intended, received a minor facial injury in the explosion he was caught in during his college years. but the grotesque burns that he is implied to have are actually self-inflicted, caused by the scalding hot metal mask.
“but why would a guy as smart as victor von doom not be able to have the patience to wait five minutes until the mask cools down?”, you may ask.
well, from a psychological viewpoint it could be said that doom wanted to align his external appearance with his inner, negative view of himself. i don’t think it’s a coincidence that his suit is very similar in appearance to the iron maiden, a medieval torture device:
by scarring his face in such a manner, doom was torturing himself for what he believed to be his unacceptable imperfections.
would you like a couch to lie down on, victor? tell me about your mother…