For this week’s Comic Sunday Speculation, I welcome this blog’s first ever guest contributor: Eric Mendes from the Mewe community. He is going to talk about a Doctor Doom key that is currently under looked.
Editor notes: I wrote part one of Doctor Doom key comics in 2017. These comics have since appreciated so their profit potential is not as high as I stated prior.
This piece was originally written as part of the infamous T La Ross’s Comic Survivor speculation competition (exclusively on the little social app that could, MeWe). It is republished here with revisions.
It’s the fourth round of Comic Survivor season 1 and I couldn’t be more honored and excited to compete! For my Final Four entry I present to you an appropriately spooky book for this Halloween weekend, namely Astonishing Tales #8 (publication date Oct. 1971). The last Astonishing Tales issue to feature a solo Dr. Doom story (the other story being a Ka-Zar tale, as evidenced by the cover), this issue’s Doom feature is entitled “…Though Some Call It Magic!”
Date of Publication: 1971
Key strengths of this book
1. First appearance Cynthia Von Doom
2. Greatly expands on Doom’s origin and magical abilities
3. Humanizes Doom
In terms of significance for Dr. Doom’s characterization, this story is third in importance only to Doom’s first appearance in Fantastic Four #5 and his origin in Fantastic Four Annual #2 — it is, in fact, a fleshing out of Doom’s origin as shown in the latter.
While the Stan Lee-scripted origin story in Fantastic Four Annual #2 establishes that Doom found his mother’s magical effects as a boy and that, following his disfigurement, Doom journeyed to Tibet to study the “forbidden secrets of black magic and sorcery,” Stan Lee otherwise never made much of Doom as a magic user. These days, of course, Doom is regarded as a sorcerer who can give even Dr. Strange a run for his money, feared by men and demons alike.
So what changed?
In 1971, Gerry Conway dialed the black magic and occult badassery up to 11 with this story in which the full extent of Doom’s mystical powers are laid bare as he summons Satan (later retconned to Mephisto) to challenge his chosen champion to a battle for the soul of Cynthia Von Doom, Doom’s dead mother, who sold her soul to the Devil in exchange for power and was consequently damned to Hell. This issue also establishes that Doom does this every freaking year.
The thread this story introduces has been pulled over the years by writers such as Roger Stern, Ed Brubaker, and Brian Michael Bendis, so much so in fact it’s now canon that Cynthia Von Doom’s death and subsequent damnation are what lead Victor Von Doom, college student, to construct the machine which scars his face upon its explosion — a machine designed and built to allow Doom to contact the “nether world” in an attempt to free his mother’s soul from Hell.
In other words, the events first introduced into canon in Astonishing Tales #8 set Doom directly on the path to becoming Dr. Doom, which is significant in its own right. They also inspired one of the greatest Dr. Doom stories ever, the Dr. Strange team-up Triumph and Torment, in which Doom enlists the help of the Sorcerer Supreme to storm Hell on a mission to free his mother’s soul once and for all.
This book is appealing from an analytical perspective as well. As of this writing, there are
- a total 67 universal graded copies on the CGC census. Of those 67 copies, only 6 are graded 9.8 (an 8.96% 9.8 to total submissions ratio, which is quite low).
- By comparison, Astonishing Tales #6 (the first appearance of Barbara Morse, aka Mockingbird, and a historically more sought after book from the same run) has a total 163 universal graded copies on the census with a 9.8 to total submissions ratio of 1.83% (3 of 163), which is exceptionally low.
This suggests that, while fewer copies of Astonishing Tales #8 have been submitted to CGC for grading overall, the number of graded 9.8 copies will likely remain relatively low. This makes affordable, high grade raws very attractive, if you can find them, but even midgrade copies could be good investments considering the rises seen on midgrade copies of Fantastic Four Annual #2 in recent months.
In summary, Astonishing Tales #8:
- First appearance Cynthia Von Doom
- Greatly expands on Doom’s origin and magical abilities
- Humanizes Doom by introducing the tragic element of his ultimate motivation being to free his mother’s soul from Hell (before this he was considerably more one-dimensional, i.e. motivated purely by ambitions of world domination, destroying Reed Richards, etc.)
I suspect this last point will be significant when Doom eventually comes to the MCU. If the MCU is trending toward horror, I can think of few things more potentially terrifying than a stroll through Hell with Dr. Strange, as in the Triumph and Torment graphic novel — but it all begins here.
Thanks to all for reading, and to Aaron for allowing this humble write-up to grace his venerable blog! Comments welcome below.
Thanks to Eric for such a wonderful write up. If he writes here regularly, I am sure he will build up his own fan base pretty soon!