You know, I figured if anyone could find the fun in seeing Doctor Doom trying to rehabilitate his image as (The Infamous) Iron Man it’d be Mark Waid. The man has a great handle on knowing how to respect a character’s history and subvert it which he demonstrated to regular and frequently excellent extent on his “Daredevil” run. So imagine my surprise when I see that Waid wasn’t the sole writer on the two issues in which Doom guest-stars in this volume. Jeremy Whitley, writer of “The Unstoppable Wasp,” co-writes these two issues and… they’re fine.
Rather than dig into the long-standing grudges that have undoubtedly built up between Doom and the members of this current Avengers lineup most of these two issues focus on something else. That would be the odd-couple pairing of Doom and Nadia Pym, the current Wasp. Doom’s button-downed arrogance clashes amusingly and predictably with Nadia’s exuberant fangirlishness as they team up to take down a founding Avenger turned villain and investigate some supernatural shenanigans at a girls’ camp named after Sue Storm. I’ve certainly read worse superhero stories as far as these two tales go. Phil Noto’s washed-out art does them no favors either. Yet, it really feels that there was a missed opportunity here to do something interesting with Doom’s current status quo.
The three remaining issues all touch upon the events of “Secret Empire” to varying degrees of success. We get to find out where Thor was banished to and see her go on an adventure to help overthrow its merciless ruler with one of its citizens in the first issue. It’s a decent enough story of friendship overcoming impossible odds and Mike Del Mundo makes it all look pleasingly weird. As for the final story, it’s a stock-taking issue following the crossover as the current Avengers roster comes to grips with what they’ve been through. This one was a little better as it plays to the kind of character interactions that have always been one of Waid’s strengths.
The real standout of this volume is the middle of the three tie-in issues. This one focuses on the motley Avengers team that Hydra Cap set up when he was running the show. Not only does it have Doctor Octopus leading the team, but the rest of the team consists of Deadpool, Odinson, Taskmaster, Black Ant, the Cthon-possessed Scarlet Witch, and the re-programmed Vision. They’ve been tasked with investigating an outpost that helps to power the planetary shield keeping aliens out which has suddenly gone dark.
If you think that putting all these characters on the same team would make for a very dysfunctional group, you’d be right. This setup also allows Waid to summon some of the cynical edge he brought to “Irredeemable” and it makes for a darkly comic experience that’s the highlight of this volume. After reading it, I wished that the entire volume had focused on the exploits of this ersatz Avengers team so we could see what other entertainingly awful things they got up to during the crossover. Like most of this volume it’s just another missed opportunity.