Since the end of Secret Wars, the once villainous Doctor Doom has been turning over a new leaf. But in the pages of this week’s Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1 from writer Chip Zdarsky and artists Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, Doom uncovered a secret about the aftermath of Secret Wars that could send him back on the path of evil.
Newsarama spoke with Zdarsky about the events of Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1 and its ramifications for Doom, the Fantastic Four, and the Marvel Universe now that its secrets are revealed. With the issue now on stands, it’s time to delve in deeper to what exactly is up with Doom and Reed Richards, and how the events of this story will affect August’s Fantastic Four relaunch.
And, oh yeah, spoilers ahead for Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1.
Newsarma: Chip, there’s a lot going on in Marvel 2-In-One Annual #1, but the core of the story is about Doctor Doom finding out what Reed Richards did to him after Secret Wars. Moving forward, how is this going to affect Doom’s place in this title?
Chip Zdarsky: Doom’s motivations still hold true, to protect Ben and Johnny because protecting them is what’s right, and what helps the most people since Ben and Johnny are known to have saved a lot of lives over the years. But the fact that Reed was right will haunt his decisions. That without Reed, he would strive to do more “good,” to be a hero of sorts. So, maybe he’s now also looking for Reed to make good on that? To eliminate him?
Nrama: Speaking of Richards, you brought back the Council of Reeds with a few twists. When Doom says the council is going to end the way it did before, is that vengeance or insight talking?
Zdarsky: Doom believes it’s insight. It’s like when someone you know rekindles a relationship with a bad ex. Even when it seems like the ex has changed for the better, everyone around won’t believe it.
Nrama: Rachna and Johnny were elsewhere for most of this annual, but Doom hinted to Ben that Rachna is hiding something – a mystery that’s been building for some time. Can you clue us in on what’s going on with her?
Zdarsky: Yeah, I’ve laid out some clues, but the answer will come in Marvel 2-In-One #7, out on June 27! Rachna’s definitely deceiving our crew.
Nrama: Getting back to that post-Secret Wars flashback scene, what exactly are we witnessing? It looks as simple as Reed fixing Doom’s face and simply letting him forget Richards was still alive.
Zdarsky: Yeah, that’s it. Reed doesn’t want to tamper with Doom’s mind, as that’s a bad road to go down, but this feels like a small thing, which he offsets with the boon of a restored face.
Nrama: You’ve got a habit of defining odd bits of FF lore in Marvel 2-In-One, and in this annual we find out that Reed Richards’ skeleton is also stretchy. Care to comment?
Zdarsky: Ha! Yeah, I actually gave that a fair amount of thought. I had this visual in my head of Reed getting knocked out in previous fights and just lying unconscious in whatever form he had before. So I surmised it would be the same if he died. I mean, I couldn’t find examples of those visuals, so I may ultimately be wrong, but that’s the beauty of using alternate universe versions of the characters! If I’m wrong and some other has him snapping back to normal form upon death, then it’s just this Reed Richards who stays in his stretched form.
Nrama: Declan Shalvey drew this annual, and he told us before it was released that his favorite part was designing some new FF uniforms. What’s your favorite thing he drew for this story?
Zdarsky: Oh man, that’s a hard one. Honestly, his layouts and storytelling were the thing I was looking forward to the most, and he didn’t disappoint. I threw a lot at him and he made it flow so beautifully, I’m forever in debt to him. I will say his Ben Grimm is awesome, and I regret not having more of him in the script! Also, Jordie’s colors elevated everything so much, I was really happy she joined us for this.
Nrama: Johnny and Ben have some more adventures in store with Marvel 2-In-One. What’s coming next for these two, with the return of their family on the horizon?
Zdarsky: Everything goes wrong in issue seven, and they have to confront some hard truths. The Mad Thinker finally comes into play, and yeah, with the FF coming back, we’ll be addressing some simmering familial issues between the four.
Nrama: How long will Doom be able to keep the Richards’ true fate from Ben and Johnny? Will he try?
Zdarsky: I suppose it depends on what Doom has to gain from it. Would he want Reed back? Would he prefer Ben and Johnny give up on their quest? Does knowing Reed is alive out there make Victor worry he’ll be his enemy again? Or is he looking forward to it?
I know I’m, uh, supposed to be answering questions here, but there’s a lot going on with Doom.
Nrama: One of the big questions asked in this annual and your 2-In-One run so far has been about Doom’s motivations and the dichotomy of his hatred for Richards versus his growing altruism. Now that Doom no longer wants to be a god, what does he want?
Zdarsky: He’s redefining himself as he goes, it’s all part of the process. This Annual and issue seven of our main series precede Invincible Iron Man #600, and I think Brian Michael Bendis and I have been trying to evolve what his goals are, and whether or not they’re worth the pain that goes along with playing the “hero.” All of it leads into the new Fantastic Four series, and where Dan goes with the character. A lot of the fun of this book has been finding out Dan’s FF plans and helping to tee up certain aspects of it.