Friday, April 10, 2015

The Many Days of Doomsday!

Of all the fun sales captions that Marvel has slapped onto their covers ("This one you DARE NOT MISS!!" ... "You won't believe this issue's SHOCK ENDING!" ... et al.), there was one word that probably got more exposure than it should have:

Whoops! Not that Doomsday, of course, though this creature can't help but spring to mind. Maybe we should let a Marvel character take it from here:

"Doomsday" is generally regarded as a term describing the day that the human race--and, perhaps, everything--will be wiped out by some man-made force or natural disaster, a day which will see no hope, and no survivors. Yet, with all due respect to the good Doctor, you'd be surprised at how often Doomsday has come and gone in Marvel comics. Even Superman came back from his Doomsday, which should tell you something about how watered down a concept it could become.

The dramatic aspect of Doomsday lies in its prevention--in warding it off. We all know how resourceful Marvel's heroes are, but criminy! Has Marvel overplayed its hand with its use of this dreaded word on its covers? Let's find out.

We can first take a look at a character that had "Doomsday" as part of his name. Both Ms. Marvel and the Silver Surfer have battled a construct named the Doomsday Man:

Created by the U.S. military, the government realized that it had sanctioned the creation of a robot that could neither be controlled nor destroyed, and so entombed it in an impregnable bunker. Naturally, all hell broke loose when the robot busted out, and the Surfer managed to deal with it. The robot later fell into the hands of Advanced Idea Mechanics, becoming somewhat sentient thanks to being merged with an A.I.M. weapons manufacturer, and it later battled Ms. Marvel as well as the Avengers independently. Definitely still a tough customer, but the Avengers managed to pretty much disassemble it with the timely help of Justice.

Moving on, two other covers seem to have Doomsday front and center:

In Cage's case, a bomb which would destroy all of New York isn't exactly "Doomsday," though for NYC residents it'll probably do. As for the Human Fly issue, I'm not sure how Copperhead was going to bring on Doomsday, since he was really only interested in robbing a museum.

And, granted, any situation where you find yourself shackled to J. Jonah Jameson might make you think that Doomsday can't be far behind. But this turn of events doesn't signify "Doomsday" so much as a tragic end that's on the horizon for two individuals:

One cover that comes close in hitting the mark on Doomsday would be Marvel Two-In-One #4, and a story which describes the human race being all but eradicated by alien conquerors in the 31st century:

And while the Asgardians have certainly experienced Doomsday in the form of Ragnarok, in this case it's only Thor's destination that's been so named:

The "Doomsday Star" is the site of a dying race that has taken Odin captive in order to power their world. Thor, understandably, takes offense at the thought of his father being used as a living battery.

Doomsday takes on a more literal form in the pages of X-Men, where the insidious (and somewhat hyped) Factor Three is making plans to devastate the Earth in nuclear conflagration:

No, the X-Men don't seem like they're leaping and juggling to prevent nuclear war here, do they? And aside from the word being present, it doesn't come across as Doomsday. Ah, well.

It looks like Iron Man has faced his share of Doomsday scenarios:

One of them takes the form of the new and improved Ultimo;  while another features a missile aimed by the Mandarin:

Unfortunately, it took an entire Iron Man annual to show us that a "doomsday chair" doesn't quite cut it as Doomsday:

In contrast, I would say Eternity destroying the entire planet would qualify as Doomsday:

But it looks like the Fantastic Four top the list in facing Doomsday, several times courtesy of Doom himself (or his proxy):

The first was part of a story where Doom stole the power of the Silver Surfer. We'd probably have to chalk up "Doomsday" in that case as a term of vanity, as Doom's goal was to conquer the world to rule it rather than to destroy humanity. In the story with Tyros (formerly Terrax, the fallen herald of Galactus), Doom re-powers Tyros with cosmic power, only to face the alien in battle when Tyros turns against him. As Tyros' artificially-created power soon consumed and destroyed him, "Doomsday" would again apply to Doom's hopes for triumph in his plan of revenge against the FF. Revenge is also on the mind of young Kristoff, Doom's former ward, who believes himself to be Doom and attempts to destroy the FF by taking another shot at destroying their headquarters.  Doomsday, in this case, arrived only for the Baxter Building:

While Galactus, of course, has almost always deserved an association with Doomsday:

Two other FF issues made Doomsday their cover focus--and while their respective stories weren't on a par with Doom or Galactus, they still tried to instill a feeling of Doomsday:

Obviously, not many of us would care about Doomsday happening on the moon, which is already a dead and lifeless rock. In this instance, the danger came from a Kree sentry on Earth which activated a device to awaken a deadly mass beneath the moon's surface that would destroy the first Apollo moon landing:

In the other story, a frost creature named Ternak has constructed a "climate cannon" which would indeed bring Doomsday to the Earth in the form of a global ice age:

Ease up, Ternak--we've got climate change covered, buddy!


Anonymous said...

It's curious how Dr. Strange's face is a skeleton but his hand is just a bit shrivelled. I think we'd care about a doomsday on the moon if it was destroyed - the moon's gravity keeps Earth's 23 degree tilt stable and controls the tides but on the plus side there'd be no more werewolves. In 1066 William The, conquered...England and in 1086 he conducted a census called The Domesday Book (pronounced Doomsday Book) - it's the most famous census in British history but it's a bit of a mystery why it was given that portentous name, there are theories but nothing's been established as far as I know :)

Comicsfan said...

My take on the Strange cover, Colin, is that his hands look more shriveled than skeletal because his gloves are covering the bones, and the fabric gives the hands a more wrinkled look (like his outer garment around the arms and legs).

Anonymous said...

Oops - I forgot about him wearing gloves. I've been watching 'Beneath The Planet Of The Apes' on YouTube and the bomb is called the "Doomsday Bomb" which is well named I suppose as it blows up the whole world (apparently Charlton Heston demanded that or he wouldn't take part in the film). Of course, Marvel did an adaptation of 'Beneath' so it's OK to mention it here :)

Anonymous said...

And a bit of googling reveals that "Adventures On The Planet Of The Apes" #11 (the final issue and the final part of "Beneath") has a cover featuring Taylor and General Ursus facing each other with a mushroom cloud in the background - it would have been the perfect opportunity to legitimately use the word "doomsday" on the cover but it's not there. D'oh !!

Comicsfan said...

Well, Colin, since this is the Planet of the Apes, I suppose you could make the argument that Doomsday for humanity had already happened. What's another mushroom cloud between doomsdays? :D

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