If you are a Marvel or Fantastic Four fan, Victor von Doom, or Doctor Doom, is eerily familiar. He also goes by numerous other aliases but is better known as the arch enemy and rival of Reed Richards and the rest of Fantastic Four. But in this story, there is much more to Doctor Doom than we thought. Nerds and Beyond was fortunate enough to get an advanced reader’s copy of The Harrowing of Doom: A Marvel Untold Novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Bringing this Doctor Doom story to life is David Annandale. He is a Canadian university lecturer, author, and co-hosts the podcast Skiffy and Fanty. Annandale combines science, enchantment, despair, suffering, science fiction, and an in-depth look at a better-known character for being vindictive rather than something other than evil.
Annually, Doom tries to rescue his mother’s soul from Hell by battling Hell’s champion, ending the same way each time, defeat. But not this time; he will be sure of it. The new plan that he comes up with to thwart the champion, and win his mother Cynthia von Doom’s soul back from Mephisto’s grasp, is filled with risks for himself and the people of Latveria where he rules. What fans do know of Doom still stands true, which is that he doesn’t tend to let people’s opinions or objections stand in the way of what he wants. This is no exception.
But first, a little history lesson of how Doom got to the predicament of fighting for his mother’s soul. Cynthia von Doom wanted to save her people and defeat Baron Vladimir Fortunov, who was trying to overthrow her and become King. She made a deal with Mephisto to gain power so she will be victorious. Of course, in making a deal with Hell, Mephisto would never make a contract Hell would ever lose. The power was too much for Cynthia, and it resulted in the death of a village-full of innocents, propelling her soul to Hell. So, Fortunov became King of Latveria.
Fifteen years later, Victor von Doom is the ruler of Latveria after taking leadership back from the Fortunov family – something that Rudolfo Fortunov has never forgotten. He has been biding his time to take his throne back with the help of those still loyal to him and his family. Doom is aware of this, but his main focus is on crafting the Harrower. The Harrower is going to be a device that can go into the abysses of Hell and rescue the soul of his mother.
The majority of the story takes place in Doomstadt, the capital of Latveria, where besides Doom, we are introduced to other diverse characters. Helping Doom create the Harrower is his mother’s closest friend Maria von Helm, a sorceress. There’s the captain of Doom’s palace guard and Doom’s right hand Kariana Verlak and her neurosurgeon wife, Elsa Orloff, who is also transgender. Then there is Father Grigori Zargo, the priest of the church in Doomstadt who wants nothing to do with mysticism and is allied with Rodolfo Fortunov. In one way or another, all these characters have a part to play in Doom’s plans.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like I was reading a very in-depth script to a Marvel movie I would enjoy seeing. Fans get to witness a side of Doctor Doom that is not commonly seen. Regarding Doom, I know that he is a villain, but this story and his journey give fans a more, dare I say, sympathetic look at him. He wanted to save his mother’s soul, he did want the best for Doomsadt, and Doom believes that what he was doing is the right thing. Under his rule, Latveria had free healthcare, free education, and resources that everyone can live comfortably. But he is still a dictator, or as Doom calls it, an “Enforced Monarchy.” I believe fans will enjoy reading a story that you know the protagonist is a villain, but at the same time, you gain some understanding of the psyche of this character.
The Harrowing of Doom written by David Annandale is available now.
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