Analogies to Amaze 3: Knights in Dark and Shining Armor
Salutations, to you bold populace of the M6P body politic! I know now that none of you are strangers to the canny comparisons of which we’ve been craftily capable here in the Analogies to Amaze series. Surely you’re unanimously familiar with our profound postulations positing the parallels between the likes of the preeminent Prometheans and prototypical paragons of both the venerated 616 and Distinguished Competition (and if not what are you waiting for? Hit those hot hyperlinks and catch up before you read on true believers!). Perhaps you’ll forgive me if I take a brief break from my usual introductory verbosity to lay it all out plainly. We’ve made cases for mighty Marvel corollaries to both Superman and Wonder Woman in Marvel’s Golden Age greats, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Jim “Human Torch” Hammond respectively. That leaves only one legendary, archetypal figure to be examined among the trinity at the core of that different continuity’s hall of heroes. It’s time to take a moment to ponder precisely if there is a figure who, with that distinct Marvel twist, is an appropriate proxy for the Dark Knight himself, Bruce Wayne, the Batman. Prepare yourself for quite the analytic journey dear readers. We just may have a few surprises and a bonus analogy along the way as we try to solve this one.
Let’s start things off with a bit of house cleaning. Are there obvious Batman knockoff’s in the Marvel Universe? You bet! Just like Wundarr the Aquarian, the Sentry, Hyperion and others are blatant and in a highly superficial way stand-ins for Superman, we have Nightwawk in his myriad incarnations, the Shroud, The Rider of Earth-4290001, New Warriors leader Night Thrasher, Prowler, and Moon Knight. Catering to the obvious isn’t what we do here. Nighthawk, The Shroud, The Rider and Night Thrasher are all pastiche characters, designed from their inception to self-consciously ape the personal background, role and (with the exception of Thrash) appearance of Batman. Prowler doesn’t really have anything in common with the caped crusader other than the whole cape-and-cowl look and his use of gadgetry. Moon Knight has personally themed gadgets (e.g. moon-darts:bat-darts) and vehicles (e.g. moon-coptor: bat-plane) and, in his Steven Grant personality he has a Bruce Wayne-like playboy persona, but all of that is, again, superficial. Even without the whole dissociative identity disorder thing that Moon-y [maybe] has going on, even without the death and rebirth mystic origin, his motivations as a guilt-driven ex-mercenary are pretty divergent from those that underlie the Dark Knight.
With the obvious choices for a Marvelous Batman dismissed we can begin looking at some less direct possibilities. I’ve heard the claim made by fellow fans that Daredevil is Marvel’s Batman, but honestly I think there’s even less there than in a comparison between the Dark Knight and Moon Knight. As an attorney, changed by a chemical spill and driven to work outside the law when it fails him DD has more in common with the Golden Age mystery men like the original Blue Beetle or his logical 616-predecessor Thomas “The Angel” Halloway; upstanding professionals who moonlighted as crime fighters so they could crack the skulls of deviants with money or connections that put them out of the law’s reach in their day-to-day lives. In terms of the Bat-Mythos this puts Murdock a lot closer to Harvey Dent than to Bruce Wayne (bonus Analogy #1!).
Another major alleged Marvel Bat-alogue is T’Challa T’Chakka, king of Wakanda and the Black Panther. While T’Challa is a devastatingly fierce and well prepared combatant, a masterful tactician and an able engineer, I don’t really see this either. He’s got a dark costume with pointy ears built into it and uses a bunch of gadgets and martial arts in his heroing, but that doesn’t make him Batman-like any more than it does Moon Knight. The role of Black Panther is a hereditary position. T’Challa is the very public ruler of a very willfully isolated, almost utopian kingdom with extraordinary technologies at his disposal. This fits in with a lot of pulp archetypes and I think he’s deserving of an Analogy to Amaze someday. It does not fit with Batman, a self-made vigilante superman, born of tragedy with a single-minded devotion to ridding his city of crime. Black Panther is a great character and an impressive hero, but he’s too distinct in terms of background, mission and methodology to be a real analog to the Bat despite some outward similarities.
Moving along, I’d love to be able to round out our analogous Trinity with Marvel’s third golden age great, Captain America, but it just doesn’t work. Steve Rogers is a weak kid possessed of a definitive moral compass of a great generation who was empowered by an arcane process to be the best humanity had to offer. He’s a moral role model and a soldier, but not a terror to criminals born of tragedy. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately, and honestly I’m not certain that Steve Rogers is analogous to any of the archetypal cornerstone characters over at DC or anywhere else. Believe me, if I come up with anything you’re going to read about it, but for now it’s enough to know that Batman he ain’t.
We’re running out of Marvel heroes to consider here . . . What about Tony Stark? Could Iron Man be the Marvel equivalent of the Batman? It has been said that Tony Stark was conceived as Bruce Wayne-like in his demeanor as a freewheeling playboy. Aside from being gadget based in their approach to super-heroics, however, I don’t think they’re a close enough match for Iron Man to be seen as a Batman variant even through the flawed-hero lens of Marvel-style superheroics that you and I have come to appreciate. I think Tony Stark bears some further examination because I sincerely believe he’s analogous to another significant figure over in that discordant continuity and I believe that it’s very important. Buckle up comics fans because we’re about to move into some really interesting territory here.
There’s no better place to start than with Tony’s own humble origins. Like Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark inherited his wealth and is known publicly as a dashing, jet setting playboy. That, and the aforementioned equipment based approach to heroic feats are about the limit of their similarities. Tony Stark’s parents were lost during his youth just as Bruce Wayne’s were, but while Thomas and Martha Wayne were brutally gunned down before the very eyes of a pre-adolescent Bruce to traumatic effect, Howard and Maria Stark died in a car accident when Tony was already approaching adulthood. The differences in parentage and childhood don’t end there. Thomas and Martha Wayne were loving parents and philanthropists who treated Bruce with kindness and encouraged a sense of noblese oblige in the young boy, a sense of responsibility to help the less advantaged with the family wealth and his professional pursuits as Thomas did in his role as a medical doctor. Howard Stark was an ambitious and driven man, a brilliant scientist and weapons engineer and a brilliant businessman. He was also an out of control alcoholic who set very high expectations for his son, encouraging an ambition to achieve in business and industry that Tony could never really satisfy. When Bruce lost his parents he developed a pathological devotion to the eradication of crime, and determined to make himself the ultimate nemesis of crime, using his trust to travel the world and hone his mind and body. Bruce worked hard and familiarized himself with scientific techniques, occult lore and a myriad of martial arts to make him a master detective and unparalleled combatant, the ultimate crime fighter. When Howard and Maria died, Tony, who had been admitted at age 15 to MIT, had nearly completed a master’s degree in engineering and was eager to succeed his father as the head of Stark Industries and to prove to stockholders that he could out shine his old man on all fronts. Tony didn’t become Iron Man for any altruistic reason, he took on the role to save his own life, to escape a prison and protect his heart from a situation that he had created with his weapons by developing a new weapon.
When Tony Stark took over his father’s company he invested his talents and assets heavily into weapons development, a decision that would come back to haunt him. To Tony Stark’s credit he did start the philanthropic Maria Stark Foundation. However, it also bears mention that this was not introduced until the Iron Man character had been appearing regularly for almost 2 decades (1982). Furthermore, aside from providing Tony with an obvious tax shelter, the activities of the Maria Stark Foundation have never been elaborated beyond their providing funding to the Avengers teams directly under Stark’s purview and licensing the Avengers name to teams he approves of. By contrast, the Wayne Foundation associated with Wayne Enterprises has been noted as combating the roots of crime and injustice by providing funding for medical relief and innovation, the arts, education, tolerance promotion programs, homeless relief and assistance, hunger relief, and families in need. There’s even a REAL WAYNE FOUNDATION inspired by the comic book Wayne Foundation that works to combat the exploitation, enslavement and sex trafficking of children. As for the business side of things, rather than delving deeper into defense contracting, Bruce Wayne’s first act upon returning to take up the reigns of his family’s company was to cancel all contracts explicitly for weapons development and refocus those assets into other, non-lethal fields (information technology, medical tech, aerospace engineering, etc).
As for the whole playboy persona, with Batman it is just that, a persona. It’s come to be broadly accepted that Bruce Wayne is the mask that Batman puts on so that he can interact directly with the world, the child that suffered the trauma of witnessing his parents’ senseless murder grew into a man driven by a desire for justice to wage a crusade against crime. The lecherous, shallow, high spending, jet-setting dilettante, party boy with at least one woman on each arm is a mask that Bruce Wayne wears to protect his friends, family or employees from those fiends that might strike back at the Batman through these others. Tony Stark, however, can barely be bothered to maintain a secret identity at all. In the comics the conceit that Iron Man was his body guard was abandoned quite some time ago, and hasn’t been a consistent feature of the character for much of his publication history. Heck, Tony couldn’t even make it all the way through his first feature film without gleefully gushing to the press that he’s Iron Man. No, the gleefully self-promoting, pleasure prioritizing, thrill seeking, womanizing Tony Stark is the real deal. He behaves basically the same in the Iron Man armor, except his thrill is the thrill of battle, not the thrill of chasing a new woman, hosting a big party, or turning a big profit. While Batman has been reluctant to legitimize his power, lest he undermine the infrastructure of the police or become perceived as an instrument of oppression, Tony has proven time and again a profound willingness to become a formal player in the power structure through turns as first the Secretary of Defense and later as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s not been shy about making decisions for the world outside of national and multi-national government structures either, having at least twice organized an enlightened secret society of super powered beings to deal with perceived threats to the world. (I know it could be said that both Batman and the Iron Man are guilty of this through their affiliation with the Justice League and Avengers respectively, but both of those are public groups with an active relationship with at least the US government if not the UN or NATO so I think it’s reasonable to consider that a null-sum situation.)
When the masks do go on the way that Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne do things couldn’t be more different either. The Bat-shark-repellent era notwithstanding Batman tends to rely on his intelligence, both his wits and thorough preparation, his physical training, and a few very simple, non-lethal tools to win the day. Iron Man tends to go charging in with the assumption that he will overpower his opponents, relying on improvisation if this default strategy doesn’t work. Tony’s form of preparation is to invest in new suits of armor after a challenging battle that come with better protection, longer lasting power supplies and more and more dangerous weapons than his last version.
It’s past time we departed from Batman for a bit and really focused in on Tony Stark. To recap Tony is a man who put himself in harm’s way only when circumstances demanded it and came to love the thrill of victory in this arena as he loved it in his conquests of technical innovation, financial achievement and women. His so-called heroics have been motivated primarily by self-interest, with many of his foes being either political or industry rivals. As Iron Man he relies on his money and his technology to achieve victory, striking with hubris rather than wisdom and little regard for the larger consequences of his actions (the Super Human Registration Act and his actions with the Illuminati). This same hubris applies to the world’s civil structures which Stark has been enthusiastic to take part in when they served his ends (as a defense contractor, US Defense Secretary, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Leader of the Initiative) and equally pleased to ignore when they were at cross-purposes to his immediate goals (the Armor Wars, his actions with the Illuminati). He treats his so-called friends in the Avengers as tools to achieve his ends to a degree bordering on the sociopathic. He regularly uses women to satisfy his ego and his physical desires (e.g. manipulating his fellow Avenger and alleged friend Janet “the Wasp” van Dyne into bed when she was at her most vulnerable following her initial harsh split with his other alleged friend Hank Pym, casually sleeping with many of his other female teammates, employees, etc.) never forming any lasting emotional connections His arrogance and ego is boundless. Tony Stark is an ego-maniacal, self-serving, chauvinistic, misogynistic, nepotism-benefiting, war-profiteering, politically conniving, plutocratic, morally ambivalent, hypocritical, dry-drunk, bully, technocrat. I challenge you to read that sentence over and over again and think about it in the context of the paragraphs preceding it. Do this and you may find yourself realizing, as I have for some time, that Tony Stark is very analogous to a major figure over in that distinct continuity, and that it is decidedly not Bruce Wayne. No, Tony Stark isn’t the Batman of our beloved and marvelous Earth-616, far from it. Tony Stark is our Lex Luthor.
“Hold on Durmin!” I can imagine many a reader and fan cry out as they finish that last paragraph, “Foul, we cry! Foul! Iron Man’s a good guy . . . isn’t he? ” Is he? I’ve always struggled with Tony Stark as a hero. Maybe it’s just me, I’ll admit I’m being subjective here, but when I realized the parallels between him and Luthor everything seemed to click together. They’re both very ingenious men. They’re both highly motivated by profit and self-interest. They both covet relationships with women but tend to treat them more as trophies or conquests than as people. They’ve both functioned as executive level government office holders (Stark as Secretary of Defense and Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luthor as President of the United States). They’ve both been on the wrong side of the law too and formed clandestine world shaping organizations (Stark forming and re-forming the Illuminati, Luthor the Secret Society of Supervillains the Injustice Gang, and more). They’re both captains of industry (or robber barons depending on your point of view) and ingenuous inventors with a strong record of weapons development. They also both have a history of saving their most potent inventions aside for personal use. Frequently those personal super weapons are manifest in the form of an armor they wear into battle. Both men had terrible relationships with their fathers, and both of them managed to lose their parents in a car crash leading to an inheritance by which they launched their careers.
Both Luthor and Stark fancy themselves heroes, the greatest men of their generation who pursue their conquests under the auspices of the law whenever possible. Stories published recently as of this writing have even blurred the hero/villain line for both figures with Lex Luthor now a key member of the Justice League, and Tony Stark becoming increasingly brazen in his profiteering in the pages of ‘Superior Iron Man’. Lex Luthor’s avarice and self-seeking schemes have been repeatedly identified and thwarted, his abuses and misdeeds carried into the light by a popular champion in the form of Superman, undermining his perception as a hero in the public eye however. This is truly where he and Stark diverge because Tony Stark has very rarely been challenged by anybody with better PR than himself in playing the hero, receiving the accolades he believes he is due, and securing the public trust. While Tony Stark was busy establishing the popular conceit of Iron Man and Tony Stark as heroic figures (at first separately before revealing himself as the man under the armor) there was nobody who stood ready to challenge him in this. How could there be? If only Superman was capable of exposing Luthor for the villain he is how could Marvel’s most genuine analog to the Last Son of Krypton, Namor the Avenging Son of Atlantis, possibly be trusted to expose Stark as a villain when misunderstandings and mistakes borne of his own anger had already cast him as an anarchic terrorist to the public. If the people of Earth-616 could not recognize or accept their Superman how could they be expected to see past Stark’s golden sheen of self-promotion, his claims of heroism?
Am I saying that we should disavow Tony Stark as one of the most sinister villains of the Marvel Universe? Or, am I saying that those of us reading Justice League right now should give Lex Luthor the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance to be the hero he thinks he is? That choice is up to you my fellow comics-fans. I certainly have an opinion on this matter (*cough* Stark’s a complete dirt bag *cough*), but I will readily admit that this is largely informed by my personal values. Whether these men are to be admired or reviled is, I think, up to the reader. They are both complex enough characters to defy a simple black-and-white dismissal or acceptance. They just happen to be fundamentally the same figure, and I believe how they are understood in their fictional universes says more about the respective worlds they inhabit than it does about the characters themselves. An entire text could probably be dedicated to this subject, but in broad strokes I’m referring to the common conceit that the DCU has come to operate with a more mythic and archetypal tone whereas Marvel is populated by heroes that are characterized by flaws and villains that have been struck by tragedies that mark them as all too human.
In all this analysis of Iron Man and Lex Luthor we’ve come some distance from our primary mission of the day; confirming which captivating character corresponds most convincingly with DC’s caped crusader, Batman. As we revisited the defining characteristics of tycoon Tony Stark, what say we get back on track by doing the same for batarang-brandishing billionaire Bruce Wayne? Batman was born out of the tragic loss of Bruce’s parents before his very eyes. Bruce’s father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, was a healer who raised his son with a clear sense of right and wrong and a strong sense of responsibility to those less fortunate than himself. As Bruce’s tragedy gave life to Batman he set out to transform himself. He was aided in his global travels and in maintaining his household by a loyal friend to his father, Alfred Pennyworth. Bruce trained to achieve Olympian physical fitness and master myriad martial art forms. He filled his mind with a knowledge of science and the arts make himself the world’s greatest detective. He honed his skills with illusionists and masters of the occult to become masterfully stealthy and to learn how to combat otherworldly foes. He shares the secrets of his techniques and true-self only with his most trusted allies and protégés. In his crusade against crime Batman is governed by a precise and exacting personal code of ethics. He is a self-made soldier, employing tools of his own design. None of these tools or skills is more invaluable, more integral, more essential to Batman’s efficacy, however, than his intelligence and his absolute mastery of the art of intimidation. With a talent for instilling fear in his enemies unparalleled in his world, Batman transcends his mortal origins to become a seemingly supernatural force in his guerilla war against crime and injustice in his domain, his kingdom if you will, Gotham City. And it has been stated time and again, by countless handlers of the character that Batman, always, always, has a plan, a strategy in his back pocket to deal with any scenario, any challenge with which he might be presented. He is the guy to beat, the champion to whom all others are challengers. When I review all this, there is one individual in the Marvel Universe who stands head and shoulders above all others as a perfect match for the Batman. In terms of personal history, in terms of training, in terms of strategic brilliance, and mastery of the art of intimidation, even in terms of their ultimate mission there is only one who truly reflects the way of Bruce “Batman” Wayne: Victor Von “Doctor” Doom.
If you have doubts about this allegation, then I can only assume that I’m obliged to provide a point-by-point review of Doom’s background and methodology to back up my claims. Yeah, we all know the story of the experiment where Doom’s device blew up in his face and he blamed Reed Richards for it and blah, blah, blah. But that’s the story of how Doom and Reed Richards became enemies, not Doom’s actual origin story. Y’see, Victor Von Doom was born to Romani (gypsy) peasants Werner and Cynthia Von Doom in the small Kingdom (or Territory or Barony or Principality or Duchy depending on who’s telling the story and when) of Latveria. Werner Von Doom was a leader of their tribe and a doctor who practiced traditional Romani medicine in service to his impoverished community. Cynthia Von Doom was a mystic who practiced the magical arts. Cynthia sought to protect her people from the abuses of the Baron who ruled over the territory where the von Doom’s tribe made their home. When Victor was little more than an infant Cynthia made a desperate pact with a demonic force with misguided hopes of founding a safe homeland for the Romani. When she confronted the Baron, however, she was overwhelmed by the dark power she had contacted and was mortally wounded by the Baron’s soldiers. Cynthia fled and died in Werner’s arms as her infant son slept. Werner raised his son to succeed him as a leader and healer. However, when the Baron of Latveria’s wife fell ill with a rapidly progressing cancer he ordered Werner arrested and ordered him to save his young bride or die with her. Werner did all he could, but the young woman died. As the Baron’s soldiers hunted for Werner, the Von Doom’s old friend Boris created distractions that allowed the healer to escape with his son. In hiding, the overwhelming cold eventually overtook them and Werner used his coat and his body to keep Victor warm and help him weather the storm. By the time Boris found them Werner was mortally ill. Victor witnessed his father’s death and heard his father beg him to “protect” with his dying breath.
Victor never knew just what his father was telling him to protect, but he was stricken with a profound fury at the injustices perpetrated against his people. Injustices at the hands of corrupt and abusive rulers who had cost him his family. It wasn’t long after becoming an orphan that young Victor discovered a trunk full of magical artifacts that had been owned by his mother and began to familiarize himself with mysticism. Self-taught and with an innate talent for modern they mystic arts as well as science and engineering Doom began to construct techno-magical tools to protect his people. He became a skilled combatant and utilized his unique array of tools to wage a one-man guerilla war against the unjust oppression taking place in his homeland.
Doom’s amazing inventions attracted the attention of Empire State University in the United States and they offered Victor the chance to receive a formal doctoral education. It was there, singularly focused on completing his mastery of the academic realm that he encountered Reed Richards and Ben Grimm for the first time and that his experimental attempt to contact his mother from beyond the grave (for guidance in his quest to protect the downtrodden of Latveria) went awry. This brings us back to the origin of Doom’s relationship with the Fantastic Four with which I’m sure you’re all quite familiar. This also brings us to Doom’s defining flaw (because every Marvel character of merit has at least one flaw), his pride. Pride that convinced him he couldn’t benefit from Reed Richards assistance. Pride that made him ashamed of his now scarred face. Pride that would lead him into self-defeat in many a master plan. Pride may have waylaid Doom in his quest to help his people achieve security, but it also led him to the end of his quest and to the metal mask that would transform him from the ambitious, retribution seeking Victor von Doom, into DOCTOR DOOM!
Having undergone his transformation into Dr. Doom, Victor returned to Latveria, a master of myriad disciplines, and began a one man civil war against the rulers of his home. Latveria’s civil war was brief and ended when Doom captured and executed the tyrannical King Vladimir (because apparently Latveria was actually a kingdom this whole time). Realizing that Latveria had no precedent or infrastructure for any system of government other than absolute monarchy Dr. Doom did the responsible thing; he stepped up, now a living legend among his people and asserted his authority as the autocratic ruler of the land. A tyrant only in the classical sense, Doom set about reforming Latveria as a rather pastoral country, a safe haven for Romani peoples and the settled population alike, providing universal employment and protection in the form of his robot armies. He has even begun grooming a successor in Kristoff Vernard to take his place and rule govern the country capably in the event of his death.
Methodologically speaking Doctor Doom’s approach to achieving his goals is fairly similar to Batman’s. Doom fundamentally operates by utilizing his training in numerous fields and unique devices to efficiently dispatch his enemies. And as with the Bat the most dangerous weapons at Doom’s disposal are his profound genius and his terrifying reputation. Those few prospective foes who have overcome their fear to dare challenge Doom fare even worse when they are confronted by his intelligence. They also both function with an extreme sense of honor. Doom is thoroughly honest with ally and enemy alike. If Doom makes a promise or a threat, you can bet that he will make good on it. Finally, like Batman, Doom always has strategies and contingency plans in place for every possible tribulation or setback. To paraphrase the man himself, “Doom is prepared for every eventuality”.
So reviewing their histories and methods, Doom and Batman both experienced the tragic loss of their parents at a young age. Both of their fathers practiced medicine and their parents were significantly influential on their moral codes and ideology. Being orphaned sent them both on a transformative personal journey motivated by the desire to combat and eradicate a perceived injustice. They were both aided in their respective apotheoses from traumatized children to Nietzschean polymath supermen by a loyal family friend and surrogate father (Doctor Doom: Boris, Batman: Alfred Pennyworth) who would continue to loyally support them in their future careers. For both of them this mission included explorations of both science and mysticism (N.B. in Batman’s case the latter was never really put into practice beyond basic obfuscation and sleight of hand, whereas Doom has developed his magical skills extensively). They both have designated heirs (Doom: Kristoff and Valeria Richards, Batman: whoever Robin is at the moment and possibly Batgirl depending on the version of continuity you’re looking at) who they have done their best to raise and train as effective replacements when they can no longer continue in their work; squires to these respective knights. And for all the wealth and technology at their disposal it is really the intelligence, preparation and reputation of these mightiest of mortal men that makes them able to best virtually any threat.
There is the matter of fact that Doom is the monarch-for-life dictator of his home country, and has ambitions of extending his rule over the earth. In this way he seems to depart drastically from Batman, however, I’m going to challenge the assessment that this genuinely separates the two men in any significant way. If anything, I’d venture to suggest that this indicates Doom may actually be slightly more successful in what he does than Batman has been. Batman is still waging an uphill struggle against the principal sources of injustice in his kingdom-of-sorts, Gotham City, crime and corruption. By contrast Doom won the battle against the sources of injustice that haunted Latveria’s populace in his youth, the old Latverian nobility, even before we were introduced to the character in the absolutely classic Fantastic Four (vol.1) #5. What we see of Doom is the aftermath of his success. We see him functioning as an absolute monarch to maintain stability in his country after the existing power structure was eliminated. His various models of Doombot are incorruptible law enforcement agents that protect the peace and enforce the law without prejudice. The people of Latveria seem to live comfortably, be healthy and lack any real impetus to leave their country or affect a change. Whenever we see Latveria there’s never any evidence of crime, never any evidence of poverty, never any evidence of ill health even. One would think, if Doom were a bad ruler or didn’t care for his people such ills would be rampant, as they were under the rule of his predecessors, and as they are under the thumb of many real world dictators. Instead Latveria is a virtual utopia and even though the punishments for breaking the law may be harsh as long as the citizenry lives in accordance with that law life in Latveria seems to be pretty pleasant. The most dangerous threat to the wellbeing of the average Latverian comes in the form of collateral damage from extra-national superheroes waltzing into their country and raising a ruckus. Having had such success in his own land why wouldn’t Doom think it makes sense to export the orderly comfort in which the Latverians live their lives by conquering the rest of the world.
Would Batman ever go to these same lengths to sustain a victory over crime and corruption in Gotham? Certain creators might plead against Bruce Wayne taking such measures, but I can think of at least two high profile presentations of a triumphant dark knight where he did precisely that. The more recent among these that comes to mind is the Justice Lords iteration of the character that appeared in the Justice League animated series. This incarnation of Batman from a world where the Justice League had taken over the world utilized extensive global surveillance methods to combat potential crime (including dissension). Another, perhaps more accepted, alternate Batman who had seemingly won his crusade in Gotham City appeared in the instant classic Kingdom Come mini-series. This Charlton Heston lookalike Batman was outwardly opposed to the efforts and methods of that story’s Superman, Wonder Woman, and others to reign-in their world’s out-of-control younger superhumans. Despite, this the Batman of Kingdom Come is introduced utilizing a comprehensive surveillance network to oversee a squadron of crime-fighting Bat-bots. Even as this Batman dismisses a request from his world’s Superman he directs the Bat-bots to close in menacingly on a small gang in crime alley. These methods, employed by both versions of the character as seen in a triumphant scenario are little different than Doom’s.
So there we have it. A new person born from a child’s tragic loss of their parents to senseless injustice. A metamorphosis into a self-made superman. The both extensively employ technology and wealth to aid a core methodology that incorporates intelligence, preparation, and fear as the principal tools of success. A figure shrouded in mystery and reputation known only to a small inner-circle of trusted confidants, and principal among these a surrogate-father-cum-aide-de-camp and a ward-and-heir. These core characteristics, these essential traits could be used to describe either Victor Von Doom or Bruce Wayne in equal measure. Heck, Doom’s most recurrent, dependable and (arguably) valuable ally is even the individual I’ve already argued is analogous to the same figure who fills that role for Batman. As the Sub-Mariner is to Superman, so too is Doctor Doom to Batman. In closing I think it definitely says something about heroism that the figures analogous to the Villain (Lex Luthor), the Dark Hero (Batman), and the Bright Hero (Superman) of DC’s more archetypal, mythological universe of stories, are, when cast through the humanizing focus of flawed and fully-formed personages true to the mighty Marvel mold, recast as Hero (Tony Stark), Villain (Doctor Doom) and Anti-Hero (Namor the Sub-Mariner) respectively. What does all this mean? For Marvel’s World’s Finest should we be turning to Super-Villain Team-Up? I like to think it means there are new ways to look at the Marvels and tales yet untold. It may also say something about the distinguished competition and their limitations. For me it means that I have the opportunity of a new way to savor stories of superheroism surpassing superficial scanning of the subject. That, body politic, is what the Analogies to Amaze series is all about after all.
Who would have thought, at the introduction of this piece, that Batman could be illustrated to be comparable, to rival, Doctor Doom?
. . . well, okay, poor choice of words.
Please click here to learn more about the real Wayne Foundation or to make a donation.