Spencer on Teen VICTOR VON DOOM: 'He's a Little Brat'

Nick Spencer on Teen VICTOR VON DOOM

VICTOR VON DOOM Canceled Before Release
VICTOR VON DOOM Canceled Before Release

For nearly 50 years, Doctor Doom has been characterized as unflinchingly egotistical, diabolical and megalomaniacal. So just imagine that guy as a teenager.

That's the underlying appeal of Victor Von Doom, a four-issue Marvel miniseries debuting in November from the team of writer Nick Spencer (Ultimate X-Men, Morning Glories) and artist Becky Cloonan (Demo, American Virgin). It's essentially "Doctor Doom: The College Years," picking up with the title character fresh from Latveria and participating in an accelerated learning program with the goal of creating new weapons for the US government.

Set early in Von Doom's rivalry with the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, the series expands on the familiar story at the center of the iconic villain's origin: traveling to Hell in an attempt to rescue his deceased mother. Though readers may already know the outcome of this mission (spoiler: it fails, as made clear in the solicitation for issue #1), Spencer assures that there are plenty of surprises on the journey.

"It's a story about a kid who lost his mother," Spencer said in a Skype interview with Newsarama. "The idea of going and getting somebody back from the dead, that's just the starting point for him in this. He has broader ambitions. "

The road to Hell turns out to contain more laughs than one might expect, according to Spencer, who calls Victor Von Doom his most openly humorous work since Jimmy Olsen.

"The character has always been a great tragic figure, and he's always got this sort of pathos to him that everybody loves, but he's also a character who is hilarious in his pompous way," Spencer said. "Everybody knows the whole, 'Doom will do something;" those amazing third-person lines and the insults that he hurtles out. We made an early decision that stuff should be very much intact at this stage in his life."

Doctor Doom and

Namor sketch by

Becky Cloonan,

from her Tumblr.

Spencer said he hadn't thought about working on the character until this series — and with it, the opportunity to collaborate with Cloonan — surfaced. Spencer cites the artist's work on the Brian Wood-written AiT/Planet Lar series Demo as a major influence on him as an aspiring creator.  

"When you're at that point when you're starting to look at this as a career, one of the first things that you do when you're reading is say, 'This is the kind of book that I'd like to be a part of. This is the kind of artist that I'd like to work with,'" Spencer said. "Becky was at the top of that list."

Though Cloonan has worked for Marvel before on a story in the original Strange Tales anthology, this marks her most extensive work at the publisher to date. In 2009, she spoke of her fondness for Doctor Doom in an interview with Marvel.com, citing the Roger Stern and Mike Mignola graphic novel Triumph and Torment and Ed Brubaker and Pablo Raimondi's miniseries Books of Doom as her favorite stories starring the character.

"This is her definitive Marvel statement," Spencer said. "To be a part of that is really flattering."

For his side of the series, Spencer said he's exploring Doom's "youthful arrogance," a theme he sees himself dealing with frequently in his comics. But he's not taking Doom's bluster at face value.

"Victor will be the main character in our story, but he's not going to be our narrator," Spencer said. "He's not going to be the one who decides what we get to see and don't see. And that makes it a lot more fun. Obviously an egomaniacal guy like Victor, when he tells you what happened to him at the age of 16, he's going to omit all of the painful details, he's going to omit all the things that made him look bad, he's going to omit all the moments of weakness. It was fun to call bullsh*t."

While there are plenty of recognizably Doctor Doom-esque attributes already on display in Victor Von Doom, Spencer related that what the character is lacking at this point is also significant. Namely, he's not yet the long-reigning monarch of Latveria — and is, in fact, simply the weird kid in school.

"He's just that kid who's dressing in black all the time, and mumbling to himself, and kind of creepy and mysterious to some of the girls, and annoying and dickish to the dudes," Spencer said. "That's a big part of the fun. He's a little brat."

Every supervillain needs to start somewhere — and for Doom, it starts in a dorm room.

"Can you imagine being Victor Von Doom's roommate in college? He's got lab partners," Spencer said. "He's got girls that he's gone on dates with. He's got professors. He's got all these people who haven't realized who he is yet. He hasn't put on the mask, he hasn't ruled a country yet. He's just this weird, creepy kid." 

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