Ed Brubaker’s Fantastic Four: The Books of Doom is the latest exemplar of the recent trend toward retelling origin stories. Whether it’s Straczynski’s Dr. Strange, Straczynski’s Spider-Man, Straczynski’s Fantastic Four, or the entire (non-Straczynski!) Ultimate universe, it’s origin story after origin story these days. So now we get Dr. Doom’s origin story, retold in a multi-volume hardcover.

And it doesn’t add a damn thing to the six-panel version we already knew from recaps in old comic books. He was raised by gypsies, his mom was involved in dark magics, she died, he went off to the U.S. and got involved in science where he was a rival with Reed Richards, fucked some stuff up, scarred his face hideously, went off to live with some mountain monks, and built himself a fancy suit of armor. Sure, Brubaker gives Doom a gypsy love interest, and mixes him up with the military — but it doesn’t matter. Those things don’t significantly change the story, they’re just irrelevant details hanging off the side.

Here’s my new rule for origin story retellers: You’d better change something, and that change had better lead to 1) a more interesting story than the original, and 2) a deeper understanding of the character, both as he is now, and as he was then. If you can’t do that, don’t bother. Mr. Brubaker, that means you and this completely unnecessary volume.


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