Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Secret Wars #4
There comes a point in every crisis where you realized just how fucked you are. Every misstep, every bad decision, and every extra shot of tequila converge in a singular reminder that makes even the biggest fuck-up step back and marvel at just how badly they screwed themselves. It can be a surreal moment of clarity. Like waking up in a Mexican prison with some heavily tattooed tweaker snorting crank off your ass, it gives a fucked up sense of perspective. But no matter how many strange bruises you have or strange phone numbers you find tattooed onto your ass, nothing can be as sobering as finding out that all these collective fuck-ups led to Dr. Doom becoming a god.
This is Reed Richards' worst nightmare that doesn't involve his daughter marrying Wolverine. He was part of the secret team that uncovered the conversion. Despite being the Marvel Universe's premier genius without a drinking problem, he couldn't figure out a way to stop it. Now he and a few surviving members of the 616 universe are waking up in Battleworld, learning just how badly they fucked up. It's got to be the worst day Reed Richards has ever had since the day Fox announced the sequel for the first Fantastic Four movie.
As bad as this day is for him, it also helps bridge the connections between the final incursion at the beginning of Secret Wars and the makeup of Battleworld that has been unfolding ever since. These connections have helped make Secret Wars feel like a cosmic hangover for Reed Richards, but a kick-ass event for the rest of us. Secret Wars #4 threatens to add a few more shots of tequila for Reed Richards. While I feel bad for his liver, I've got plenty of shot glasses prepared.
That's not to say Doom won't need his share of hard liquor to get through this. He may be a god, but even gods need to get drunk after shitty days. And part of that shitty day is already unfolding with the other cosmic ship that Ultimate Reed launched. And his surviving cast included such walking hangovers like Thanos, Loki, and Lady Death. Even with an army of Thors enforcing his will, Dr. Doom has to be more than a little annoyed. These are characters who love to tear the universe a new asshole whenever they get an opportunity. An army of Thors just ain't gonna cut it. That's what makes it feel like a fair fight. It doesn't seem possible in a world where Dr. Doom is god, but these guys don't mind a little blasphemy. The Pope might not approve, but it's the first real obstacle that manifests for Doom.
The other obstacle is still unfolding with Dr. Strange giving the other surviving 616/Ultimate crew a brief overview of just how fucked they are. They're all noticeably disturbed at the mere idea of being in a world where Doom is god. Dr. Strange talks about it like its a Simpsons rerun. There's some great narration and plenty of rich details from Strange in that he firmly establishes Doom's grip on this world. Even though the previous three issues did a damn good job of showing it, Dr. Strange offers a nice, concise Wikipedia entry of the world they live in.
It's still a world with details that would make Reed Richards shit himself. He probably needs even more clean underwear after Dr. Strange tells him how Battleworld got created in the first place. In doing so, he also reveals that compared to Dr. Doom, his scrotum might as well be on the nano scale. He reveals that the incursions were a product of the Beyonders, aka the assholes responsible for the last Secret Wars. So to save their world, they did the most logical thing they could do, at least by Hannibal Lecter's logic. They killed the Beyonders.
This is where Dr. Doom's balls deserve to be encrusted in diamonds here because it turns out by killing the Beyonders, they had a chance to take their power. Dr. Strange's balls just did not measure up. Dr. Doom's balls were more than sufficient. So like a porn audition, he got cast on the spot and now he has the endowment to fuck over everything. It's still a disturbing story for Reed Richards, right up there with Sue admitting she had a one-night stand with Mole Man. But that's what gives it such a great impact.
It's not all Reed Richards busting Dr. Strange's balls though. The other surviving heroes get a chance to voice their disapproval at the idea of living in a world with Doom as a god. And yet Dr. Strange has the balls to claim that there's enough of their world left to still live comfortable. That's like Al Sharpton telling a bunch of grade schoolers that a crack house doesn't have to be all bad. If he were a real estate agent, he couldn't sell a parking lot to a drunk Homer Simpson.
Cyclops, who is still packing Phoenix level mojo, nicely sums up just how full of shit Dr. Strange is. He tells them how a world that's this fucked can't be a world they're content with. If they have the power to unfuck it, then they have a responsibility to loosen their pants, grab some lube, and get up in that shit. He uses more age-appropriate language, but he gets his point across. It's a good thing Dr. Strange doesn't have a chance to argue because arguing with a guy packing the Phoenix Force is like accepting Rob Gronkowski's challenge to an arm wrestling match. It's not going to end well.
In a world where Dr. Doom is god, debates over how fucked this world is tend to have a time limit. Dr. Doom has the kind of power that the NSA jerks off to at night. And with a loyal army of Thors that won't get distracted by prostitutes like some government agencies, he quickly finds out that there's something amiss in this world that he's worked so hard to screw over. One of the Thors who probably just got the business end of Thanos' boot reports to Dr. Doom that something done gone horribly wrong in his heavenly domain. And unlike every ruler in Game of Thrones, he confronts the problem head on and keeps his damn clothes on.
With help from Sue and Valeria, he gets a quick vision of the shit stains that dare to taint his world. First, he sees his Thors taking on the crew of Ultimate Reed's ship. Even though these are the kinds of guys that Doom know can fuck up anyone's day, he's not overly concerned about them. He looks at them the same way professional athletes look at unpaid child support. It's something that might be annoying, but it can be brushed off at least for now.
But then Valeria updates some of those visions. Like a competent Fantasy Football player, she tries to assess how some heroes could spread these shit stains to other parts of Battleworld. That's when he sees Reed Richards. And just like that, all that godly power just isn't enough. Like the Koch brothers getting a letter from the IRS, it's a powerful moment where Doom finally sees something he can't just brush off like any self-respecting god would. And rather than explain it to Sue and Valeria, he finally decides to get involved. That alone makes him more proactive than any God since Zeus, minus the paternity suites.
Doom transports himself right into the middle of the battle between the 616/Ultimate survivors and the Thor Corps. An army of demigods just ain't gonna cut it now that Reed Richards is involved. Dr. Doom has to be there to rub his god-powered dick in the faces of everyone who opposes him. Admit it, you'd probably do the same thing.
It leads to a confrontation that couldn't have come fast enough. It doesn't end up being the most detailed confrontation, but all the right feelings are conveyed. Nobody is at all surprised that Dr. Doom used the power of the Beyonders to make himself a god. Hell, they would've been more surprised if he used that power to turn Castle Doom into a Playboy Mansion. As always, he's there to prove his superiority and for once, he actually has the credentials to back that shit up. He's not entirely wrong in that he did save the world from complete annihilation. Maybe he didn't have to make himself a god in the process, but if he had the chance then why the fuck not? Even Thanos doesn't disagree, but he questions just how divine Doom's authority is.
It's a debate that could've taken on so many philosophical and personal undertones. But seriously, where's the fun in that? This is supposed to be a fucking war. This isn't an episode of the West Wing. It's a fucking Rambo movie and Cyclops makes sure it stays that way when he decides to turn the debate into a fight. And since he's packing cosmic power, he's the only one that stands a chance at actually annoying Dr. Doom.
And damn it, he succeeds. For the first time, someone fights Dr. Doom and they manage to wound his horribly disfigured ass. Redheaded and blonde telepaths may need to change their panties after this because Cyclops puts the Phoenix Force to good use in wounding Doom. He even has the audacity to do it with a little swagger. The problem is, even cosmic power can only make someone's dick seem so large.
As powerful as the Phoenix Force might be, it's a power that came from a world that's long dead. Dr. Doom is still the god of this domain. That means he has the home field advantage and as the ball boys who work at Gillette Stadium understand, that goes a long ways. Dr. Doom is able to gain the upper hand on Cyclops and in a moment that's sure to make everyone's assholes clench just a little, he snaps Cyclops' neck and effectively stops his cosmic shit storm.
Now don't start flooding message boards and Twitter feeds with nerd rage. Remember, he's packing the fucking Phoenix Force. When has that thing ever stayed dead? Plus, Cyclops does show up in other tie-in comics so step down from the cliff and enjoy the moment for what it is. Cyclops dared to challenge Dr. Doom and he manged to really hurt him. That's the first time in this conflict that Dr. Doom's god-like power has been undermined. And it couldn't have happened in a more appropriate way.
And it isn't all for nothing either. While Dr. Doom is dealing with Cyclops, Dr. Strange finally discovers that he has a nutsack after all. And with the aid of a little magic he's been holding back, he helps the remaining survivors of 616 and Ultimate escape. It's not the same as giving them the location of the Ultimate Nullifier, but it gives them a fighting chance. His balls can only expand so much.
This leads to another powerful moment where Dr. Doom shows that he's still the same asshole he was before he became a god. When Dr. Strange dared to question whether a world where Doom was god was the best possible world, Dr. Doom responded the same way he would've responded to anyone who claimed Reed Richards could kick his ass. He fucking murders Dr. Strange. Yep. He's that kind of god. It's not entirely shocking, but it sends just the right message. Dr. Doom is a god, but he's still one petty motherfucker who can't handle a world that he can't dominate. And now that Cyclops has proven that his ass can be hurt, the battle lines are drawn and the situation doesn't seem quite as fucked.
Going back to my earlier rant about perspective, this issue did something important in terms of that perspective. It revealed that even with god-like power, Dr. Doom is still in a never-ending dick-measuring contest with Reed Richards. And when faced with concerns about the dimensions of his dick, he'll revert to old habits. He doesn't have to and he definitely has the power to try a different, more refined approach. But where's the fun in that? The message is clear and more satisfying than a blowjob and a cold beer. Dr. Doom is fallible.
Reed Richards and the surviving crew of 616 and Ultimate can say something that Richard Dawkins only wishes he could say. They confronted a deranged god, spit in his face, and survived. Sure, it cost Dr. Strange his life, but it's the first meaningful thing he's done in Secret Wars that didn't involve polishing Doom's ass. What he does escalates the war in that now Dr. Doom has to deal with a true insurrection in the patchwork clusterfuck that is Battleworld. Even a god can get annoyed with that shit. Add on top of that the heated personal drama and this issue kicks all the right asses in all the right ways. I give Secret Wars #4 a 9 out of 10. So now we can question Doom. We can have a reformation. So long as we avoid inquisitions and suicide bombers, I think there's hope for these anti-Doom heretics. Let's just hope there's no Rick Santorums or Mike Huckabees in Battleworld. Nuff said!