Thursday, March 16, 2006

Doctor Doom’s Mailbag

Doom takes pride in answering all of his personal correspondence.

Dear Doctor Doom,

Considering that you are listed as a sponsor for this blog, how do you explain the massive gaps between postings? Most other prominent comics blogs post at least once daily, sometimes more often, but The Hurting often goes the better part of a week without new posts, and often only a random
Mark Trail panel at that. How do you explain these shoddy, unprofessional and downright lazy lapses?

J. Q. Public, Anytown, Latveria

Doom thanks you for your letter, as this is a matter which is of great concern. It is a well established fact that bloggers are a singularly wretched and foul lot, and those who assume the burdens of blogdom take their sanity and health into their own hands. As with many other popular bloggers, the proprietor of The Hurting is racked by a form of dementia that eerily resembles the late stages of syphilis, and in fact can often be found prowling the streets of Worcester late at night, his only companion a half-consumed bottle of the novelty liquor "Thunderbird", half-singing and half-mumbling arias from imaginary John Adams operas. Recent medical scans conducted at the Doomstadt General Hospital indicate that not only should he be dead, but the compositions of his genetic material resembles nothing so much as a semi-evolved wolverine.

In any event, said proprietor was recently diagnosed with a newly-discovered condition which I have minted "Bloggers' Disease". The symptoms coincide with the appearance of a strange rash across the arms and torso of the sufferer that -- for inexplicable reasons -- seems to resemble scars and welts such as one would receive at the business end of a bullwhip, as well as odd purple bruises about the head and shoulders which bear a strange similarity to the kinds of blows one would expect to receive from a heavily-armored foot. Leave it be said that following a speedy diagnosis of "Bloggers' Disease", the sufferer makes a quick recovery and resumes regular posting.

Dear Doom,

Excuse me for stating the obvious, but it seems as if this blog spends far too much time investigating the provenance of the post-Crisis Lex Luthor, and not nearly enough battling the scourge of Endemic Treponematosis. As a figure of great authority in the international community, how do you propose to redress this imbalance?

M. George, The Empire State

One of the worst indulgences to which this blog falls prey is a tendency towards ill-researched and poorly conceived opinion pieces. Whereas most bloggers, sensing the feeble mental capacity endemic to their breed. stay within their areas of expertise, the proprietor of this blog insists on making an ass of himself in a public arena on a regular basis. Whereas conventional wisdom holds that The Hurting is best regarded for the "Photoshopped" comics covers which have brought it international fame and vast wealth, there is still a small portion of the audience which demands a more lively and "thought provoking" brand of content.

The demands of producing this content on a semi-regular basis -- while also maintaining the grueling regimen of foraging for roots and grubs which comprise the proprietor's balanced diet -- are such that occasional corners are cut. Sometimes our legal team fails to run the appropriate fact checks, and the results are often costly. This was certainly the case when, for no apparent reason, The Hurting misidentified Wonder Woman's creator as game show host Pat Sajak, and not, as is commonly attributed, William Moulton Marston. After civil lawsuits were filed, The Hurting issued a public apology that almost climaxed in the perpetrator dousing his body with white gasoline and lighting a match -- before Doom interceded, signaling his satisfaction at the perpetrator's act of contrition. In his gratitude at being saved from certain death by painful immolation, the underling swore to never again make such a ghastly journalistic error. Doom finds such slavering devotion to be useful. In any event, those who serve Doom readily acknowledge that their lives are forfeit, subject to their monarch's every blessed whim. They are the walking dead, having given their very souls over to Doom to use as he may see fit, begging only the opportunity to serve, laying down their very lives without hesitation.

But, as to your other concern, it must be noted that Latveria is the only country in the world that has totally eradicated the scourge of Endemic Treponematosis. Additionally, other crippling diseases which tax the so-called "free" world's impossibly burdened health care infrastructure -- diseases such as AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's and all varieties of hepatitis -- have been banished from our fair country. A cure for these nagging ailments was child's play for an intellect of Doom's caliber -- and in his infinite generosity, Doom has made an open offer to all the governments of the world to give these cures and vaccines freely. But so far, to the eternal regret of their beleaguered populations, no government has yet taken up Doom on his magnanimous offer. Perhaps the nominal, almost trifling fee required for such an exchange -- complete and total subservience to the will and law of Doom -- makes them balk? In time they will live to see the folly of their recalcitrance.

And, as an aside, Doom must ask his constant reader why, if the accursed Reed Richards is supposedly so intelligent, he has so far failed to concoct a cure for so much as a hangnail, let alone AIDS? I notice after years of Richards' diligent effort that the Thing is still a shambling rock-heap of a man, whereas Doom was able to cure Sharon Ventura of a similar condition in the space of an afternoon. I ask you, how could any reasonable observer fail to conclude that Richards is anything less than a lucky dilettante, unable to conjure so much as adequate shielding for a simple rocket-propelled space vessel in the same time period in which Doom constructed a working time machine? It is simply beyond even Doom's infinite patience to explain the disparity of perception that exists even in the minds of supposedly intelligent observers. Bah! In time they will all fall as tenpins before the peerless might of Doom!

Dear Dr. Doom,

I've noticed an annoying tendency on the part of many comics bloggers to spend their time lambasting certain "uncool" comic books in microscopic detail. It seems to go in cycles, with certain books becoming popular targets of scorn, prompting dozens of invective-filled, increasingly shrill and supposedly "humorous" take-downs until another controversial book comes down the pike to distract their attention. Why is it not enough for people to simply say they don't like certain books, perhaps briefly explaining their reasoning in a rational tone, and then move on to the discussion of things they do like? It seems as if all the "cool kids" in the blogoverse are nothing more than bees that swarm the weak, playing a pointless and relentlessly negative game of one-upmanship in their pursuit of the ultimate pithy put-down. Why can't they just devote more time to writing about how cool Wildcat is? Because really, Wildcat is the coolest super hero ever, and if there was a Wildcat comic book I'd probably buy ten copies of each issue, minumum.

Yer Pal,
D. Wright, Sunny Southern California

Ah, the relentless negativity of the Internet . . . one of those strange phenomena that cannot be explained, only exploited. One day, perhaps, Doom shall devise a manner in which to harness the collective hatred of the internet -- with such power at his disposal, surely Doom would be unstoppable!

But as to the meat of your question, take solace in the fact that Doom also finds the never-ending stream of negativity to be occasionally baffling -- if highly amusing. After all, it must be considered that those with nothing better to do than produce panel-by-panel dissertations on the foulness of certain Frank Miller comic books surely live a life of precious little joy. This is, of course, a totally different matter than those who take comic book pages and insert funny dialogue into preexisting caption bubbles -- that, certainly, is a valuable and well-considered way to occupy one's meager time on Earth.

But even if Doom shares your exasperation at the endless wastrelry of certain online commentators, he can only throw his hands up at your preoccupation with a third-string comic book superhero such as Wildcat. Surely this is a joke, and, as the youth of America would say, I am being "punked"? This reminds me of a similar letter I received from a man claiming to be the number one Swamp Thing fan in the world -- as if such a thing were worth bragging about! He lived in Southern California as well -- perhaps you might even know him. It is inevitable that social outcasts -- such as anyone who would publicly admit to having read a DC comic book -- would band together for protection against predators, so it is conceivable you may have met him in your travels. Perhaps you can find others of your breed, perhaps there are even bloggers who may possess a rare affection for Aquaman, say, or the short-lived Justice Leaguer Vibe.

But then again, probably not.

Hey Doom,

I heard tell that you did some advertising work in the seventies, particularly for the Milk Duds candy cartel (possibly a wing of Hydra). What's up with that, man, I thought you had more integrity than that!

K. Church, Boston, Purgatory

Although Doom usually considers it a wise policy to avoid discussing such embarrassing matters, the resurfacing of certain incriminating artifacts from the 1970s has forced his hand. But while it behooves Doom to say that his image was used in the 1970s to advertise certain industrially manufactured confections, there were mitigating circumstances.

It all began, as so many of these stories do, at the Playboy Mansion. Doom was playing blackjack with Jimmy Caan, Lorne Greene and the drummer from Foghat when the subject of the Latverian tourist industry was broached. Apparently, and much to Doom's surprise, the perception of Latveria in the industrialized West was nowhere near as glowingly positive as could be imagined -- a sorry state of affairs for which Doom must blame himself. After all, tourism is predicated on public relations, and in his never-ending quest to bring about world peace and destroy the accursed Richards clan, Doom had neglected to properly burnish Latveria's image in the world press.

As Caan's suggestion, Doom later signed a contract with a noted Los Angeles public relations firm, as well as the then-fledging CAA, with the goal of raising Latveria's esteem among the tourist classes, and perhaps counteracting certain pernicious lies that have long lingered in the Western imagination as to the disposition of our wonderful country. Accordingly, I dispatched a Doombot to conduct the more menial details of this campaign, and returned my attention to more pressing matters.

Which was, in retrospect, a mistake. Somehow -- probably during a brief bout of fisticuffs with short-lived "Champions" of Los Angeles -- the Doombot malfunctioned and began to sign ill-advised contracts and make indiscriminate television commitments. There was an appearance on an episode of "The Pink Lady and Jeff", as well as a short-lived run as the center square on the original Hollywood Squares. The errant Doombot also appeared in the aforementioned candy ad, as well as a number of promotional spots for a malted liquor beverage named "Schlitz". By the time the activities of this errant Doombot were brought to Doom's attention, serious damage had been done to the image both of Latveria and Doom himself.

Whereas, historically, Doom has been reticent to confirm or deny the activities of his Doombots -- for security purposes -- Doom has gone on the record many times to explain that, any time Doom was seen to hawk inferior goods, it was not Doom but a robot duplicate who signed the regretful contracts. Although the temptation exists to use his time machine to travel back to the 1970s and ensure that James Caan would never give Doom such a misbegotten notion, the results of eliminating Caan from the timestream cannot be predicted. Even Doom bows before the preeminance of temporal causality. But one day Caan shall yet feel my wrath.

Enough! Doom tires of this never-ending parade of imbecility.

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