The forming of The Avengers was one of the premier moments in the history of the Marvel Universe. But in 1964's "Avengers" #6, the team met their equal and opposite reaction in the form of The Masters of Evil, a collection of villains.
Since that fateful day, a multitude of the vilest Marvel baddies have come together to form different incarnations of the Masters of Evil. But what happens when the Marvel U's premier supervillain takes command of the iconic group? Writer Paul Tobin and artist Patrick Scherberger answer that question in "Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil," a new four-issue miniseries kicking off this week. CBR News spoke with Tobin about the project.
For Tobin, the appeal of "Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil" was that the mini gave him a chance to examine one of the richest characters in the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom. "The character has so many dichotomies -- his strength versus his fears, his technology versus his magic, his nobility versus his lack of morality -- that he's always fresh in a writer's mind, there's always some new avenue to explore," Tobin told CBR News.
Over the years, Doctor Doom's scientific acumen, vast cunning, access to resources and tremendous arrogance have made him one of Marvel's more self reliant villains, leaving some to wonder why he's suddenly keen to team-up with others villains in The Masters of Evil. "For sure, Doom isn't a team player, but he doesn't have to be. He's not actually teaming up with anybody, only allowing them to serve him," Tobin explained. "A king doesn't team up with his serfs; he just rules them. In this series, he has a very clear goal he wants to accomplish, and he needs the aid of some others to get the job done, but the others are just tools. In order to drive in a nail, a carpenter doesn't 'team up' with a hammer; he just uses it."
The title of the series may be "Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil," but Doom isn't limiting his recruits to just that team. Over the course of the mini, he'll utilize the services of three other supervillain organizations. "The Sinister Six get the 'honor' of working with Doom in the first issue, but then stand aside to make way for the real Masters of Evil," Tobin revealed. "And also the Circus of Crime in the second issue. In the third issue, the Masters of Evil make another appearance, and then in the final issue we focus on Charles Bukowski and Linda Carter: Night Nurse. No, no, I'm just kidding--I'm not quite yet ready to reveal the featured villain(s) in the fourth issue."
The Sinister Six's constant inability to kill their arch-foe, Spider-Man, means Doom has very little respect for the beleaguered team, but he does recognize their value as a battering ram. "Doom chose the Sinister Six simply because they're a powerful force that can bull their way into a certain area, and retrieve something that Doom wants," Tobin explained. "As far as the group dynamic between Doom and the Six, the first thing Doom does is punch the Chameleon unconscious, so I suppose it could be called a wee bit contentious."
The task Doom charges the Sinister Six with sees the group go toe-to-toe with one of the Marvel U's more inventive heroes -- as well as his surprise ally. "In the first issue, the Sinister Six need to nab something from a high security area of Stark Industries, and that --of course-- means a run-in with Iron Man," Tobin revealed. "No sweat, though, because the Sinister Six knew ol' Shellhead would be there, and are prepared. What they weren't ready for is that Dr. Strange is visiting Tony. Now, that could cause some problems."
The tone of each issue of "Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil" will be as dynamic as the villains featured within. Explained Tobin, "For the first issue, I'm concentrating on action, humanity and personality. For the second issue, I'm concentrating on Doom's nefarious nature, and for the third and fourth issues, I'm concentrating on concentrating, so you can tell my editors that I'm on the job, okay?"
"Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil" is Tobin's second collaboration with artist Patrick Scherberger, following their work on "What If? Newer Fantastic Four." "Patrick is flat-out awesome to the third power," the writer said. "He's got a wealth of storytelling ability. The first issue of this series will also feature work by Jacopo Camagni, who I'm working with on the Dr. Strange material for 'Marvel Adventures: Super-Heroes.' Patrick and Jacopo are splitting the first issue, with one of them illustrating the story, and the other illustrating some flashback material that sets up the story. It's really exciting to see how these guys interpret the characters, and play off each other."
In "Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil," readers see things through the perspectives of the villainous title characters, which made the project especially enjoyable for Tobin. "I'd love to tell more stories from the villain perspective. It's a largely un-mined field, so there's a lot of room to run around and play," he said. "These guys (and gals) have served largely as (failed) foils for the heroes, so often their entire personalities are summed up by 'he's crazy' or 'she's meglomanical' or 'he has an obsession with money' and that's not really fair to them. Think of Spider-Man, for instance. When Spider-Man is mentioned, people automatically start thinking of Gwen, and Mary Jane, and J. Jonah Jameson, and a whole host of other characters. Mention the Sandman, though, and thoughts bottom out after pondering what fights he's been in. He's not a character; he's an action scene. So, yeah, it's fun to make the villains into characters. In many ways, my favorite scenes in the 1st issue are just ones of the Sinister Six walking around Paris together, talking about life."
"Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil" #1 goes on sale this week from Marvel Comics.