As of Marvel NOW!, Tony Stark has been replaced as Iron Man in the Marvel Comics Universe. While the young Riri Williams has taken over as Ironheart in Invincible Iron Man, former supervillain extraordinaire Victor von Doom has donned a set of Iron Man armor in Infamous Iron Man
As Doctor Doom, Victor as the most ruthless foe of the Fantastic Four, and specifically Reed Richards, for years Now, Doom is reaping what he sowed. In Infamous Iron Man #6, Doom will encounter the Maker, an evil version of Reed Richards from the now dead Ultimate Marvel Universe.
ComicBook.com spoke to writer Brian Michael Bendis about the coming showdown between Doom and Richards. Also, be sure to check out the exclusive preview of Infamous Iron Man #4 in the gallery below.
The Maker has been popping up in a lot of places since Secret Wars. What is your take on the character?
BMB: He's a very exciting antagonist. It's very difficult to come up with antagonists on the level of the Red Skull or Magneto, that are veterans. If people put the Wayback Machine on, they’ll remember that myself and Mark Miller actually invented this Reed Richards in Ultimate Fantastic Four. From his earliest moments, I believe he's a baby in the first pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four #1, all the way through to his fall in some of the Ultimate events. We charted his course into villainy and always were playing with that idea that the story of Reed Richards, with everything he's been through, that there really isn't much to argue that he could've gone down a less noble path if not for his family.
Talk about the things just kind of falling into your lap. 10 years ago we make Reed Richards a bad guy. Now he ends up in this universe and then, oh my God, Doctor Doom is set to try to redeem himself, to try to pull himself out of the biggest hole anyone in literature has ever dug for themselves.
To then have his biggest antagonist, which is Reed Richards, on a darker path than he ever was is pretty exciting and it feels like it's just fallen in my lap. We did engineer all the ideas that got us there, but we weren't engineering them towards the goal of evil Reed versus good Doom, but once the pieces are there, you'd be an idiot not to grab them and take them and see where they take you.
It was manufactured, but at the same time, it was a genuine happy accident that as we were developing Doom and developing the story and developing Secret Wars and all these pieces come together, that I was going to end up with a book about a repentant Doctor Doom versus evil Reed Richards. What a great gift that I accidentally gave myself. That on top of the return of Doom’s mother and the connection between his mother and Reed Richards is all pretty fitting. If you’re going to be writing a book about Doctor Doom trying to get his s*** together, what would be more head turning than the return of his mother and then being faced with the evil Reed Richards. I'm so excited about this book in the future, I can't even tell you.
You say it's happenstance, but I’m not convinced you haven’t been playing a very long game.
BMB: It's hilarious. I know some of it feels that way and when the pieces fall so beautifully into your lap, you feel like, "Well I must have planned it this way because look what happened!" And some of it, you can chart and other parts of it, I promise you, it was not the plan until I sat down to outline the ideas for a Doctor Doom series, that you go, "Oh my God, Reed Richards is running around as a bad guy." If I didn't do it, everyone would be furious. You have to do it. It's his goal to fit in there.
The inversion of this great rivalry between Doctor Doom and Reed Richards is going to be of great interest to longtime Fantastic Four fans. What does this story have in store for them?
BMB: I think I've proven with the issue of Guardians of the Galaxy that just shipped this week (Guardian of the Galaxy #15) that my love for the Fantastic Four and those characters are individuals is as high as it gets. I love them so much and I like doing this at a time when there's not a traditional or proper Fantastic Four book, to keep the torch alive through Ben Grimm, through the Human Torch, getting them to tell new stories and getting them to really feel the loss of their family.
It's not enough that there is is no Fantastic Four anymore, but that Ben’s walking around super-bummed that there isn't and missing it terribly and all he has instead is the ability to chase Victor von Doom around, which he should, but it's almost like the only thing he has to connect him to the good old days. He misses his family.
I mean, let's have a character that terribly misses their family, and misses the way it used to be, just like there are parts of the audience that miss the way it used to be, and let's have the character reflect that. That's a normal feeling. Through Ben Grimm and the others, we'll be able to keep the torch alive for the Fantastic Four and we'll see what comes out the other side. Whether it's something completely brand new or a return to a grand, novel tradition, I don't know, but meanwhile, it's lovely to write about characters that yearn for something they used to have and that they wish they still had.
As you mentioned, Ben Grimm has already been a part Infamous Iron Man. Will he be sticking around through the Maker’s arc?
BMB: He is fully part of the Infamous Iron Man book. He is the Tommy Lee Jones to The Fugitive. He will be pushing that story forward, for many issues, no matter what happens.
Remember, this is Victor von Doom, so if evil Reed Richards shows up, does Ben think that's real or does Ben go, "All right, Victor's f***ing with me." You don't take everything that happens with Victor in the room at face value.
What can you tell me about the events that bring Doctor Doom and the Maker into conflict?
BMB: I think I don't want to reveal too much, but The Maker has had one up on Victor this whole time.
Victor didn't know about The Maker, but The Maker knew about Victor or at least what he’s up to. It's hard to imagine that if Victor says, “I'm going to, do my best, to be the best person I can be,” that the person that's going to try to stop him is Reed Richards. Even Victor's brain won't go there right away.
Is there a chance we’ll see the Human Torch meeting and reacting to the evil Reed Richards?
BMB: There's a lot of chances for a lot of things. How close can I skate to the sun with these characters? We'll see.
I’ll tell you that when I'm writing it, it feels exciting and dangerous and new and there's a lot on the line and you definitely feel, with the state of the Fantastic Four being so dire, that something bad could actual happen to either Ben or Johnny or anybody related to it. There's a real sense of danger around the characters that is really, really exciting that even the most “been there, done that, seen that” fan doesn't know what's going to happen in Infamous Iron Man, and the mail that I've gotten over the last month has been very reflective of that from die hard Fantastic Four fans and die hard Marvel fans.
Someone wrote to me that out of all the books they’re reading this is the one where they have literally no idea what's going to happen. That is a very exciting feeling because even just writing the few issues I have, and having plotted it out pretty strongly, the characters are so strong and so surprising that it's the book I work on where the characters are surprising me the most while I'm writing them. Victor can just be a big surprise. Hopefully, that will reflect going forward for many issues.
I've got to say, of all the books I'm writing, the one I'm most relieved that people are buying into it is Infamous Iron Man. Riri and Jessica and Miles are all very easy to root for. They're trying very hard to do something that needs to get done, whereas Victor is a tougher nut to swallow and I'm enjoying the reaction to him, which is a surprise more than anything I'm working on right now because it's a bit tough to swallow and a challenge and those who are reading it are enjoying that feeling a lot and that's very cool.
How different, really, is a repentant Doctor Doom from an unrepentant Doctor Doom? We’ve seen that he’s still willing to vaporize people who need vaporizing. Does it come down to goals justifying the means?
BMB: It's also about the way he's wired. My favorite thing to write about him is that there's a woman that he cares a great deal for and he's trying to be calm and normal about her and then every once in awhile he'll say something very Doom-like. He's wired to say, "Unhand me". He's very arrogant and very self-involved and the wiring that made him this way is still there. He's just trying to act normal even though inside him is the Victor von Doom that talked about himself in the third person. Every once in awhile, that person comes out in dialogue and that's a lot of fun.
The guy is still there. He could snap at any minute. That's the other fun part is that he doesn't need some trauma to have him snap and become Doctor Doom again. He could just decide, "F*** this shit," and be Doctor Doom again, But we're rooting for him not to and that's an interesting thing. There are some people rooting for him to do it. There are some people honestly reading the book to see when he's gonna put on the face plate and that's a lot of fun too.
I'll tell you, there's always, inside his arrogance, some nobleness. He became the leader of his people because they needed a leader. He chased after his mother through the underworlds and the netherworlds because she needed saving. It's always been him being kind of a genius and saying, “leave me alone, let me be a genius.” Inside the mania and the madness, there have always been bouts of stuff to root for with him. That's why he's been such a successful antagonist for so many decades. It's interesting to unpack the noble part of him and seeing if there's enough there for him to crawl out of the hole he's dug for himself.
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