“Doom: Part 5”
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Stuart Immonen (p), Wade von Grawbadger (i)
So, the UFF come face-to-face with Ultimate Doom. Finally, the issue we’ve been waiting for since #1, right? Well, not quite. The Four’s trip to Denmark is further stretched out in a manner that would put Reed Richards to shame, with the first half of the issue covering the build-up to the anticipated clash of arch-nemeses that will end this arc. A nice scene in the Fantasti-car is replete with fun details, whether it’s Johnny and Ben’s body language or wisecracking, or the nice touch of Reed’s stretchy sight and romantic “scenic route” over the Atlantic, and a look in on Dr. Doom fills us with the sense of a huge impending clash. Unfortunately, time is running out for the creative team to make the impact of this first Doom v FF match really memorable.
Whilst the excellent character work is enjoyable and definitely has its place in the family-based title, there’s a sense that Ellis has left himself with too much to squeeze into the final issue-and-a-half. The opening of the Doom battle had been brilliantly built up with Victor’s Hitler-esque rallying of support in Latveria, so it was a disappointment – in more ways than one – to see him dispatch three quarters of the team in such a simple and single-handed manner towards the issue’s end. Regardless of the changing nature of Latveria and Doom’s lack of an imposing, almost regal status, I was won over by the early scenes this issue (and throughout the arc) which have shown a new, modern spin on the concept of Latveria as a self-determined dictatorship of a state. It was therefore sad to see this element play no apparent part in the first Doom/FF clash – let’s hope it comes into play next issue. Doom’s powers and the nature of his transformation are also becoming markedly more different from those of his regular MU counterpart with each issue of UFF, and I can’t say I feel that the change is for the better. His organic metal Carnage-esque spikes and silly gas breath certainly make him a creepier, less predictable character, but they don’t provide the same air of quiet terror and grandeur that is such an enjoyable part of the old Dr. Doom. We are therefore left with a shrieking, deranged metal freak bringing down our super-team with a couple of out-of-character new powers and a bazooka – and that’s not an interpretation of Doom I really care for.
There is still potential in this arc – Victor’s revelation at Reed’s powers is yet to be played out, and the military and inhabitants of Latveria are still likely to come into play eventually – but it all has to be crammed into a single twelfth issue. Less setup and more payoff would have been nice. All in all, the entire title so far has been something of a let-down for me, and Ellis is going to have to pull some kind of spectacular finale out of his hat for me to continue to buy this series. Still, the little kid on the train who caught a glimpse of my comic-reading this week seemed attracted to this book above all the others, so maybe that says something about its colourful appeal to young readers (or maybe it was just the candy adverts). It is definitely pitched fairly low and certainly isn’t sophisticated enough to satisfy readers of the other Ultimate titles, but the sense of fun and solid, thick-lined and bright artwork that we are treated to would maybe make it a good starting point for the younger comic book enthusiast.
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