Iron Man: Doomquest Review – Doom Magic Doom
Iron Man Doomquest
Written by: David Michelinie and Bob Layton
Art by: John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton
Colors by: Bob Sharen
Published by: Marvel Comics
While I know some books came out this week, nothing really jumps out at me, so instead I’m reviewing this classic, two issue tale I’ve just read. Despite the fact that the MCU made Iron Man one of the most popular superheroes ever, there actually aren’t that many famous Iron Man stories.
Extremis, Demon in a Bottle, the Matt Fraction run, maybe Armor Wars, Doomquest and… Yeah, that’s kind of it. I’m not saying there aren’t good Iron Man stories beyond these, but I am saying that the popular consciousness never really absorbed them as they have, say, a lot of Spider-Man stories. Still, as premises go, I could think of worse ones then “Iron Man and Doctor Doom land in Camelot”. Is it any good though? Well, first, the plot.
When a Stark International employee sells weapons to Latveria, Tony Stark goes after its deposed ruler, Doctor Doom, to have a chat about things (under his Iron Man guise, naturally). However, during their confrontation, a man with a grudge against Doom sends both of them through time all the way to Camelot! Will Iron Man be able to trust Doom? Or will his thirst for power throw him into the arms of the evil sorceress Morgana Le Fey?
I think the first thing to really admire about Doomquest is how compact it is. 2 issues of The Invincible Iron Man, #149 and #150, the second one double sized and that’s it. If it was today, this thing would be a 6 part event with tie-ins probably. And to Michelinie’s credit, he’s a real brief writer.
Nowadays, with the popularity of decompressed storytelling, it’s almost strange to go back and read something that feels so complete, but not overstuffed. Unlike, say, Scott Snyder’s Justice League, where it feels like he can’t let every issue just breathe, Michelinie has that old school ability of packing in story while still leaving you asking for more.
And how is the actual story? Well, I am bit mixed on it. While I do compliment the way in which they were able to pack a lot in so little space, some of that “lot” is kind of in the middle of bigger happenings in the Marvel Universe. This isn’t bad, but it does make for harder reading, years on, when I haven’t the foggiest who Bethany Cabe is, or why Doctor Doom got deposed (although they do have some friendly captions to inform us, which are very appreciated).
The first issue mostly deals with figuring out what Doctor Doom is planning/ the initial confrontation between the two and then the double sized one deals with the Camelot stuff. The problem here really is that the whole “What’s going on with Doctor Doom” bits aren’t very interesting, and the story only really gets going when we get to Camelot.
Now, to be fair, once we get there, we see basically everything we wanted to see. We meet King Arthur, we meet Morgana Le Fey, there’s an army of the dead (one could almost say it’s an Army of Darkness), there’s magic flying about and even the motivation for Doom is actually pretty well done. The reason Doom’s time machine was calibrated to go to Camelot was because he’s training in powerful magic to go and rescue his mother from, in here it’s hell, but later on (in Doctor Strange/ Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment, which I have previously reviewed), Mephisto.
This little moment actually ends up becoming important later on because this is clearly the only Iron Man story that Bendis ever read and he expounds and develops Morgana’s and Doom’s relationship, something that is still being touched upon in the current Doctor Doom miniseries.
I guess what I wanted was just more of that, meaning I probably want something between hard decompression or the double sized issue. I guess a four issue arc? It’s just such a cool idea that I wish I got to see more of it. Maybe the sequels are good, I don’t know, I haven’t read them. Still, for what it is, the writing on this is pretty good (it also helps that Michelinie doesn’t have that overwriting problem that affected a lot of people from his era, like Chris Claremont).
The art, much like the writing, is pretty good and mostly workman like. It was drawn by John Romita Jr. (with finished by Bob Layton, who also co-plotted the story) and his style still fits very much within the Marvel Standards. I think there’s only one panel in this book that reminds me of his art, this profile of Morgana Le Fey that looks exactly like the character profiles he does now.
I will say, though, this book has a lot of fun action and, interestingly for the time, double page splashes. I honestly can’t remember other books from around this time with images like this and it really helps to portray the scope of things. It’s kind of awesome, honestly.
Overall, Doomquest isn’t mind blowing, but if you have some nostalgia for this era of comics and you’re up for something light and fun, it’s a good choice. It has plenty of well done action to keep you entertained, the plot itself is a bit silly but works and if you’re sick of the modern tropes and complications, this is a nice and breezy breather.