Doctor Doom is again cast as the hero in David Annandale’s newest Marvel novel, The Tyrant Skies. This time Doom is pitted against his old enemy, the Red Skull.
The Red Skull has found himself some new allies, billionaires who assume they are better than everyone else simply because they have money. He plans on using that money to bring the fight right to Doom’s door and overwhelm him. Will Doom figure out The Skull’s plan before it’s too late?
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Aconyte for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of The Tyrant Skies contains some spoilers!]
Suspicions without proof in The Tyrant Skies
Wolkenland is a brand-new nation. The one percent of the one percent have taken an island from the North Atlantic and moved it to the Mediterranean. Then they declared themselves a country and even petitioned to join the United Nations. Their spokesperson, Lance Diffring, insists that they are just a normal group of people looking to enjoy a little privacy. He’s made a living out of selling people dubious investments and the world is happy to accept his claims about Wolkenland.
But Doom isn’t buying his story. He’s highly suspicious of this new country, but so far he can’t find anything specific to support his instincts. Latveria votes against accepting Wolkenland into the United Nations, but the rest of the world disagrees.
As soon as Wolkenland is officially accepted by the UN, it disappears from all surveillance! Doom feels like his suspicions are confirmed but he can’t find Wolkenland anywhere to try and figure the puzzle out further, and the rest of the world accepts Diffring’s platitudes that the billionaires just “want their privacy”.
Increasing oddities for the people of Latveria
While an entire country suddenly disappearing for months is enough to set off alarm bells, Doom cannot figure out where it went or why so he’s left actionless.
Meanwhile, the people of Latveria are starting to fall sick with some very odd symptoms. Some are having dizzy spells, others are becoming clumsy, and still, others are suffering from depression, similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder. And the younger generation is complaining about how they haven’t been able to get a tan all summer long. Doom realizes that these things must all be connected somehow but he still can’t quite connect the dots.
Suddenly Latveria is rocked by terrorist attacks. The perpetrators all die before they can be questioned, but not from any visible wounds. Doctor Doom brings his favorite neuroscientist, Dr. Orloff, in to study the bodies. Her work leads to an ID of the person behind the attacks.
Then a voice calls to Doom from out of the past. Valeria, someone he thought he had lost forever, sends a transmission over an old rebel channel. It is simply her voice calling him “Doom”. A single word but it is enough to draw him into hours of searching.
Finally, he comes to a conclusion that is as impossible as it is terrifying. He knows who is attacking Latveria and he knows where they must be, he just has to figure out how to stop the Red Skull before he can destroy Latveria and Doom.
Doctor Doom depicted as a hero again
Annandale once again makes the choice to cast Doom as the hero in The Tyrant Skies. It’s a jarring choice, but less so than it was in Reign of the Devourer. This is because this time around the threat facing Latveria is (arguably) not a result of Doom’s own selfish plans. The Red Skull is way more horrible than Doom.
After all, Doom is controlling and selfish but he does have an underlying principle of wanting the world to be a happy place. Just happy by his definition. You could argue that the Red Skull wants the same thing but the difference is that the Skull’s definition of “a happy place” is one of white supremacy, with all other races and creeds that don’t meet his superior criteria either wiped out or enslaved.
Doom doesn’t want to commit genocide, he just wants complete control. I’m not saying Doom is a good guy, but he’s certainly the lesser of the two evils here. Especially in The Tyrant Skies.
For once Doom is just involved in running Latveria and not working on any nefarious plots. Then the Red Skull decides that he’s going to destroy Latveria just to ruin Doom’s day. He’s been plotting for a long time and he’s thought of every contingency. The Skull is certain he knows what Doom will do and has adjusted his traps to account for Doctor Doom’s victories and his ultimate defeat.
An important character flaw for Victor von Doom
Doom has a very important character flaw (besides his control issues) that I’ve noticed. This flaw is usually what leads to his defeat over and over again. He suffers from overconfidence. To put it simply, he thinks he’s always the smartest one in the room. So he rushes into situations, especially developing ones, without giving his enemies credit for their own abilities and plans. Usually, he actually has missed something and ends up walking right into a trap.
The Red Skull uses this fault to great advantage multiple times in The Tyrant Skies. In fact, he acknowledges this tendency is Doom’s greatest weakness and counts on it in his planning.
Now to be fair, Doom often is the smartest one in the room. His arrogance is not the unfounded conceit of someone who’s been coddled but the hard-earned swagger of someone who has proved their worth over and over. Still, because he’s unwilling to admit that someone might be able to trick him, he gets tricked. His raw ability and unwavering confidence do usually save the day, but only after getting him in trouble in the first place!
Doctor Doom vs Red Skull: a clash of tyrants
Both Doom and the Red Skull are tyrants. Neither one is someone who would normally be rooted for in a battle. But when Annandale pits them against each other it’s clear that the Red Skull can’t win. It would be disastrous not just for the citizens of Latveria, but for the entire world.
So once again we find ourselves in the odd position of cheering for a bad guy and loving it. There’s something perverse and exciting about wanting Doctor Doom to win. Annandale does a good job of making Doom likable enough to cheer for and relatable enough to hope for his redemption.
Marvel fans should definitely stretch their imaginations by seeing Doom as a good guy. If nothing else, it stretches your own empathy when you find yourself caring about Victor von Doom.
My Rating: 8/10
The Tyrant Skies: A Marvel Untold Novel by David Annandale is available May 2nd! Are you interested in reading the novel? Let us know on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review of The Reign of the Devourer!