Monday, November 4, 2013

Doom 2099 #33: "Fall"

One of the nice things about this issue is that you don't have to be a regular reader of "Doom 2099" to understand the events that occur in it, since Doom himself is equally clueless about their origins.  The mysterious John Herod launches a multi-front attack on Doom that gets more and more spectacular in scope as it progress:  from possibly causing an earthquake in California, to raising "Captain America" from the dead, to knocking "EMPs" from the sky over New York, to destroying Libera Cielo, and finally to slaughtering the Latverian population.

This issues clearly moves Doom to a new status quo, laying him low at a time when he believed himself to be at the pinnacle of his power.  The attacks on California and New York will hurt his standing in the short term, since he lacks the resources to respond to them sufficiently (particularly since Herod has also blocked him from the Net).  The resurrection of "Captain America" is a more long-term problem, since, after the dust settles, he'll still have an anti-Doom rabble-rouser running around the place.  The destruction of Libera Cielo and Latveria, however, are more personal, showing that Herod isn't just aiming to destabilize Doom as President, but to attack him directly as a person.  As a result, we have a lot more questions than answers:

1) What motivates John Herod?  He tells Doom that he's paying for his mistake of not dismantling the corporations and their infrastructure, where he (Herod) exists.  In that way, it's unclear if he's pro-corp or anti-corp.  Is he mad at Doom for essentially making the corps subservient to him?  Or, is he mad at Doom for not using his power to dismantle them?  Moreover, why is he so mad?  After all, he essentially commits genocide here, destroying the Latverian population.  I find it hard to believe that he loves or hates the corps so much that he's willing to eradicate an entire country just to punish Doom for his treatment of them (either pro or con).  Something else is clearly at work.

2) Why did Doom's assistant want to "sniff around" the "Chicago Arts Labs?"  It seems pretty clear that they would have a connection to the Chicago Reserve, Herod's HQ, but how did she know that?  I'm guessing that it's the one question connected to something detailed in a previous issue of "Doom 2099."

3) Who is "Captain America?"  Doom is convinced that it's not Steve Rogers, since "Cap" tells the world that Doom had previously conquered America (or came close to it) during his time and Doom says that such an event never happened.  One of the most interesting parts of that mystery isn't just its connection to the story at hand, but also the idea that history in the 2099 world is so like "1984" that the American population wouldn't know whether Doom had or hadn't actually invaded around the new millennium.

Beyond the story itself, perhaps the most fascinating part of this issue is the implications of the use of the various weapons of mass destruction that had previously been banned:  the wave spiders, developed to fight guerrilla warfare but banned in 2064, now used now to disrupt computer systems and allow for the sneak attack on Libera Cielo and the White House; the air cavalry, salvaged from a "timequake" in 2081 but unusable since a 2049 accord banned the use of future weapons, now used to attack Latveria; and, most hideously, the necrotoxins, used by America to reduce the population of Makhelastan to "protein-rich sludge," now used to do the same with the Latverians.  On one hand, the list of bans and treaties implies a level of governmental power that seems counter to the corporate-dominated culture that we've seen so far in the 2099 world.  It raises all sorts of questions for the political-science major in me.  But, it also addresses something that's been in the back of my mind since I started reading 2099 series, namely the fact that you'd think that such an advanced society would have better weapons of mass destruction and, as a result, be under threat of their use at all times.  Here, as we see them unleashed, you begin to realize the answer to my previous questions, why even corporation-dominated governments would seek to ban certain weapons.  Even weapons manufacturers would have to know that you're unlikely to have return buyers if everyone necrotoxined each other.  But, as far as I'm aware, we still haven't really seen the world beyond America, Latveria, and Mexico.  This issue reminds us that a whole other world (and history) exists out there and makes me wonder how much more of it we would've seen had the 2099 line continued.

I'm excited to see where we go from here.  Spidey's only in this issue for a brief moment, but I've got at least one more "Doom 2099" issue coming in my remaining "Spider-Man 2099" project, so I can't wait to see how Doom responds to this affront.

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