Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Doctor Doom's Mailbag

I noticed recently that you sided with that dastardly fiend the Red Skull in one of his many attempts to destroy the United States and crush Captain America. I was wondering, since you have a long history of enmity with the Red Skull, just why you decided to help the ex-Nazi.

S. Rogers, Washington, D.C.

This is a very good question, and one which Doom sees no harm in answering in as frank a manner as possible. It is well-documented, after all, that Doom and the Skull were hated enemies for a very long time. Considering the many times that the Skull has tried - obviously unsuccessfully and futilely - to kill me and conquer Latveria, it might seem incongruous that I would stoop to aid my most bitter enemy in his latest futile scheme to conquer the United States. Yet I trust that my reasoning is not overly opaque to anyone with so much as a modicum of sense.

To put it as succinctly as possible: the Red Skull is an idiot. It is true that he can be dangerous under certain circumstances. There are few creatures so wretched on this world as the Red Skull, and the depths of his hatred towards every living being are truly astounding. But this monomaniacal focus on spite and loathing leaves him fatally blinkered, unable to see beyond the limited realm of his obsessions and fixations. He was once a Nazi, and remains very much the product of the Third Reich's institutionalized state torture regime. He is a ruthless, capable killer who no doubt rejoiced at every tear shed by my gypsy ancestors as he oversaw the mass exterminations at Buchenwald and Chelmno. But he has long since abandoned any pretense of remaining faithful to the discredited racial paranoia of Nazi Germany. He is no longer a German Nationalist, as he has been anathematized and disowned by a country that now rightly sees him as a deeply humiliating reminder of their most shameful history. He is a man without a country and without ideals, a creature born only to foment distress and promulgate his vision of the world as a barbarian arena of endless cruelty perpetrated against the weak.

But the important question remains: given all of this information, has the Skull ever actually achieved anything of importance? Hasn't he been defeated time and time again, either by the superior cunning of his foes or the misery of his own hubris? Is there any doubt whatsoever that he is one of the the most hated men on the planet, aided only by a small coterie of like-minded thugs who are relentlessly undone by their own sniveling devotion to such a pitiful figure? He is, not to put too fine a point on it, a joke. It does not help matters that his sworn arch-foe is one of the few so-called "super-heroes" whose competence and courage earn the admiration even of Doom. Captain America is a man with whom to be reckoned, and so long as the Skull remains fixated on the Captain he will remain a hollow, impotent figure, easily checked by his betters.

So why give aid to such a loathsome figure? As a self-identified villain, the Red Skull is quite simply a tool par excellence. He can dependably be counted on to sow chaos and destruction in his wake, while just as dependably self-destructing before ever truly causing irreparable damage. Why not give him passive aid and encouragement, supporting his plans inasmuch as they are certain to inconvenience my own enemies and potentially achieve some degree of salutary success? The Skull could never represent any real threat to Doom. There is no profit to be gained in actively working towards his destruction while he can still be useful. Given enough time the Skull will always destroy himself. And for so long as he remains active, it costs Doom nothing to humor him, to allow him to cherish the misconceptions that we are in any way equals and that I have forgotten his past transgressions, all the while gleefully toasting his inevitable humiliation and well-deserved defeat.

Dr. Doom,
Something I've been wondering for quite some time - please forgive me if you've heard this one before - but who is more dangerous, you or Lex Luthor?

C. Kent, Metropolis

If there is one subject - besides the accursed Richards! - which Doom detests above all others, it is surely the incessant comparisons to the Lex Luthor that have plagued me for decades. The very idea is simply too absurd to seriously contemplate. Yet, since the subject recurs with an annoying regularity, I will address it once again in the hopes of finally putting a rest to this most insipid of subjects.

Lex Luthor is a fool. His supposed brilliance is the product of a lifetime's theft and cunning. His skill, if it can be called such, is simple ruthlessness: he is nothing more than a petty criminal with delusions of grandeur. Whatever rudimentary intelligence he might possess is perpetually wasted in his rivalry with the alien Superman. If he were sincere in his desire to devote his life to the supposed "benefit" of humanity, it would be a simple manner to surpass his petty resentments in order to truly devote himself to these lofty, if foolhardy, ideals. But he remains fatally fixated on his inability to overcome one single vexing opponent, and this unconscionable fixation is the unambiguous source of his repeated defeats.

Setting aside these embarrassing neuroses, his personal abilities are barely adequate. As a scientist he is an excellent businessman, by which I mean that without a great deal of money with which to buy the finest scientific minds, he would have no means with which to replenish the stock of superior weaponry with which he vexes the Kryptonian. It is no great matter to be a plutocrat in the industrialized west. Money can buy many things but it cannot purchase strength. Where in Lex Luthor is any strength to match the will of Doom, the same will that cowed the mighty Beyonder? The same might that humbled great Galactus? The same courage that awed malefic Mephisto? Shorn of his stolen wealth and bought weaponry, bereft of the underlings whose uncertain allegiances he has purchased and the "allies" who seek only to betray him at any sign of weakness, Lex Luthor is merely a weak, bald man.

Stripped of armor and naked, Doom could still crush Luthor to death with his bare hands, raze his ostensible "empire" to the ground and pour a glass of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 over the smoldering ashes.

Dear Doctor,

I was wondering who would win in a fight between you and Lord Voldemort. I bet you could take him.

H. Granger, London

Although I cannot but admire Voldemort's ambition and foresight, he nevertheless poses little in the way of a threat to Doom. As with most of his wizard brethren, his dependency on physical wands in order to channel his power renders him highly vulnerable without this tool. Additionally, his almost total disdain for "Muggle" science makes him easy prey for any number of strategies outside the realm of magic. While it is true that with his wand he is a formidable foe, a disarmed Voldemort would die like any other human if you shot them in the head. The ability to speak to snakes will avail you little when you have been bound and gagged by the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, helpless at the tender mercies of Doom.

Enough! Doom grows weary of this unending avalanche of idiocy.

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