Thursday, December 15, 2016
QUICK DOCTOR DOOM COMMENT
I recently defended Marvel's Doctor Doom from the imputation of racism on a CBR thread. I won't bother to cite the thread, since it's so freaking long no one who might read this will bother to seek it out, but here's the gist of my defense, referencing a two-part ASTONISHING STORIES (scripted by two separate authors, Larry Leiber and Gerry Conway) in which the master villain encountered the Black Panther and made some politically incorrect remarks about Panther's subjects being "vicious primitives:"
I think the author is trying to say that Doom recognizes in the Panther the image of nobility that he himself has internalized. It's true that he has no respect for Panther's subjects, but keep in mind that he also has no respect for his own Caucasian subjects. Doom is generally portrayed as a supreme egotist: he resented the Latverian nobility not because they tyrannized his people but because they tyrannized him and his family. Lee and Kirby, focused on writing exciting adventures for juvenile readers, probably wouldn't have wondered why Doom never put his former people in positions of Latverian power. Yet the way Doom's (admittedly limited) psychology is constructed, it makes total sense that he wouldn't. Being a villain of almost solipsistic proportions, he cares only about his own suffering, his own ideology of success-- which means becoming an icon of aristocratic tyranny, like the nameless aristocrat who causes the death of Doom's father. Yet he also wants to believe that he's not a petty man. That's why he spares the Wakandan from further torture, not because he cares about the man's sufferings, but because gratuitous sadism lessens the majesty to which he aspires. In the Over-Mind arc, Lee memorably has Doom say that "many demons" rule him, but "not those of pettiness or fear"-- or for that matter, racism, which would also diminish his sense of personal majesty.