Category: Comic Geekery

They call him DOOM

Here’s the thing: I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who was commenting on my Doctor Doom T-Shirt (favorably, of course) and we got to talking, as geeks do, about which villain in the comics is the best. He suggested the Joker.

Okay. He MIGHT be right. I mean, come on, the JOKER! He’s amazing! He is the only guy who faces off against the Batman without even blinking. He freaking killed Robin and in one version of DC’s future he even killed Lois Lane just to piss off Superman. We’re talking a guy with testicular fortitude on an epic scale! I’m exceedingly fond of the Joker. I could write articles about the man.

Instead, however, I’m here to talk about Doctor Doom. He may or may not be cooler than the Joker, but for my money he is, hands down, the greatest villain in the Marvel Universe.

Say what you will about Marvel Comics (I’ve been known to have a complaint or two myself, but honestly, I love them) but if there’s one thing they really know how to do, it’s allowing the characters to evolve.

Let’s take Victor von Doom as an example. When he first showed up in the pages of the Fantastic Four, he was just a dude in gray armor who was holding a mysterious grudge against Mr. Fantastic. Boy, howdy, did that ever change.

Let’s take a quick summary. Once upon a time Doom and Reed Richards, also known as Mister Fantastic, went to the same college and were rivals after a fashion. In the standard as told by Richards, they were equals, but Richards found a flaw in the schematics and equations that Doom was working on and tried to warn him. Doom failed to listen and was hideously scarred in the resulting explosion.

Expelled for performing unauthorized experiments, Doom left and sought other sorts of knowledge.

That’s Reed Richard’s version of events. According to Doom, Richards made alterations to his equations in a fit of jealousy at Doom’s sheer genius and those alterations led to the devastating explosion and resulting expulsion from school. I leave it up to you to decide who told the truth.

Doom went on to seek mystical knowledge. He already knew a good deal because, well, his mom was a witch and she had some serious mojo going on.

Okay, from humble beginnings, right? Victor von Doom was born to Cynthia and Werner von Doom, both of whom were gypsies. Cynthia dabbled maybe more than she should have, and wound up possessed by a demon. That demon didn’t really possess her so much as send her on a rampage against the Baron of Latveria, whose soldiers tended to do whatever they wanted to do when it came to the gypsies. That meant stealing from them, beating on them and doing what despots have done to women for far too long.

One of the soldiers got lucky and managed to kill Cynthia.

Not too much later, Werner suffered the consequences of not successfully tending to the baron’s child. That left Doom an orphan who was taken in by his gypsy brethren.

It also left him about as solidly vengeful as Bruce Wayne. Wayne became Batman and declared an unending war on the criminals of Gotham City (Sorry, wrong universe, but you get the idea.)

Doom took a different path.

What was his motivation? First, revenge on the Baron. Eventually he got that and from that vengeance he maneuvered his way into being the king of Latveria. That was just part of his trek, of course. Because there’s lots of revenge to be had out there.

See, the thing is, Doom was a bit of a momma’s boy. He took it personally that his mother’s soul was ragged down to Hell when she died. A gigantic portion of his motivation was to get her back from Hell. Eventually he succeeded, but that’s not the purpose of this particular essay.

What is the point? Evolution of character.

Seriously, few characters have changed as much over the years as Doctor Doom. But as much as he’s changed, he remains mostly the same: a powerful arrogant and impressive force to be reckoned with. Listen, mostly he’s survived stuff that would have killed anyone else and he’s done it by sheer force of will combined with a mastery of technological skills that rivals Reed Richards and Tony Stark alike. That would be Mister Fantastic and Iron Man respectively, folks. He’s gone toe to toe with both of them on numerous occasions, by the way, and currently, he’s outlived both of them, but it’s comic books, so you never really know.

Doom mastered science to the point that little Latveria is one of the wealthiest countries around based solely on his patents. He mastered magic well enough that he’s also been known to go a few rounds with Doctor Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Seriously, the man gets around. He’s basically fought every hero and every villain you can think of in the Marvel Universe and some of them on multiple occasions. In one storyline DOOM 2099, he even traveled to the future and pretty much fixed all the stuff that was going wrong. Maybe not a superhero at that point, but certainly a repairman with an attitude and the power to back it up.

Doom tends to fixate on Reed Richards a lot. Many of his schemes over the years have involved A) Killing Reed Richards (No success) b) Wooing Susan Richards, wife of reed (A surprising amount of success considering the horrible disfigurement) and putting an end to the Fantastic Four. Well now, the comic book has gone the way of the dodo bird, and while a few characters are still around, I’m gonna have to put that in the “win” category for the good Doctor.

In his time Doom has been a villain, a monarch, a dictator, a conqueror, a mad scientist, an evil overlord, a master sorcerer and, oh yeah, a god. That’s right. Once upon a time (actually more than once) Doom actually beat ALL the good guys and a lot of the bad guys, too. He became Emperor Doom and reshaped the universe in his image.

Here’s the thing. Doom is a megalomaniac. He doesn’t think he should be in charge, he KNOWS it. Currently, by the way, he has also added superhero to his resume. In the comic book THE INFAMOUS IRON MAN Victor von Doom is working toward redemption for his many past sins. There are a lot of them. He’s killed a lot of people and he’s tortured, beaten and vivisectionalized whomever he felt it was necessary to take care of. He’s even taken on Loki and a few other gods and that was before he became a god himself. Don’t worry too much. He’s still a megalomaniac and an arrogant bastard. Some things do not change easily.

Now he’s doing redemption. I don’t think it’ll last, but, hey, you never know, Currently his face is unscarred and he got his mom back from Hell. Might be he’s just relaxing for a while. Only two issues in and I’m enjoying the ride.

Want to know what else he did? He got imitated. According to George Lucas, Doctor Doom was a very heavy influence in the creation of a bad guy named Darth Vader. Imitation is the finest form of flattery. Seriously, horribly scarred wears battle armor, controls magic (or the Force, call it what you will) and is feared by all who come across him. Vader has Storm Troopers. Doom has Doom Bots and mechanical imitators who take care of business for him while he’s locked away in his castle and brooding, and experimenting, and considering what else he plans to do with the world that has offended him on so many levels.

And they say megalomaniacs never have any fun.

JAMES A. MOORE is the author of over forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Blood Harvest, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) Cherry Hill, Alien: Sea of Sorrows and the Seven Forges series of novels. He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President.

Never one to stay in one genre for too long, James has recently written epic fantasy novels in the series SEVEN FORGES (Seven Forges, the Blasted Lands, City of Wonders and The Silent Army). He is working on a new series called The Tides Of War. The first book in the series The Last Sacrifice, is due out in January. Pending novels also include A Hell Within (a Griffin & Price Novel) co-written with Charles R. Rutledge and an apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel tentatively called Spores. Why be normal?

Being a confirmed Luddite, he is working up the nerve to plunge completely into the electronic publications age.


Adventures in Babysitting, But More Mutants

A long time ago, in a neighborhood not-to-far away…

I was riding my bike and a new family was moving into the neighborhood. By habit and training from my mom—the top Avon Lady in the Pioneer Valley being one of her many jobs—I welcomed them to the neighborhood and chatted them up to see if anyone would be interested in Avon, Tupperware, getting morning or afternoon paper delivery, had any pets they needed watching, or—with my shiny new certificate back home on my desk—babysitting.

“You babysit?” the gentleman, who I’ll call Mr. D, asked after politely nodding through my list of potential goods and services my family could hook him up with.

“I do,” I said proudly, and then faltered a little when he asked about age and experience. I hadn’t actually babysat before…but I was certified for first aid and CPR for children!

A few months later, I got the call. My first babysitting job!

To this day, I still look back on those kids fondly and with a lot of love. When I started, though, I was in over my head.

Way, way, way over my head.

Anyone who knows kids knows that if you’re supposed to be “in charge,” you really need to earn their respect. And if you’re only a few years older than they are, they really need good reason to listen to you. And if they’re particularly smart and creative, then, well, you better damn well give them good reason to listen to you.

These kids were wicked smart and creative.

I felt like a failure for the next few weeks… Fortunately, no one died (Though there was a sliced open arm from racing through the breezeway and falling through a glass door. Yay first aid?) I don’t know why Mr. D didn’t fire me. I was getting really scared of this job—and kids know when you’re scared.

About this time in the history of childhood and entertainment, the X-Men cartoon was part of Saturday Morning Cartoon rotation—an important part of my life, as well as the lives of my charges.

They were debating about the relationship between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine.

“Well, in the comics…” I began.

“What comics?” They asked.

“You don’t know the comics?!”


We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. To save money, my mom dragged us out, every possible weekend, to go to “Tag Sales.” (Yard sales, for those of you not from Western Mass.) I learned to love tag saling, because there was always at least one good sale with boxes and boxes of books. My mom was thrilled because she could buy me hours of entertainment at such cheap prices.

On one of my tag sale treasures was a giant box of comics. X-Men comics, primarily. I’d found it a couple of years prior to my first babysitting adventure.

I must confess to hypocrisy…

When I saw them, I was like, “There are X-Men comics?!” because all I knew about X-Men was the cartoon, and all I knew about comics were the Sunday paper “funnies.” It was a whole new world of literature for me, and it did change my world.


When my school year was over, Mr. D asked me if I’d be interested in working out a summer schedule between the kids’ camp and family visits. The kids cheered when I said “Yes.”

You see, we had become a team saving the world at this point. The world needed our new generation of mutants to fight of other newer, dangerous mutants.

I was the leader and mentor for these adventures; I’d earned that spot.

I was also the lead director when we had to put together and act out scenes we’d written for our feature movie we were totally going to make with our next generation of mutants. (This was waaaaay before superhero movies got popular.) And I was the art and writing director of the new sets of comics we were writing that we were absolutely sure Stan Lee would somehow discover and pay us great money for. (We never actually shared them with anyone but Mr. D., but it totally could have happened!)

We consulted my growing collection of comics to create our own “next generation” of X-Men—a combination of biological and adopted children from of existing characters with our own powers. We didn’t want to mess with the comics as they were; we wanted our own mostly-original mutants with our own adventures.

“Literally” in our storylines (which lasted through another school year and another summer—until they moved away), we were “The Children of the X-Men.” And, in a real life sense, that was true too. We were all gifted students who didn’t quite fit in at our schools with “normal” people; so were these super-awesome heroes! Our gifts came in our ability to tell stories, to draw, to act, to direct, to design costumes (yes, we did, indeed, design costumes for ourselves). If it wasn’t for having the X-Men in our lives, we wouldn’t have developed the relationship we had. We developed confidence, the ability to work as a team, and we all ended up honing our own talents and learning a lot together.

Basically, comic books saved my babysitting job. More than that, they made me a better babysitter—and a better person, because I learned a lot from trying to be the X-Men leader of my two charges.

I still have the comics. Some were too tattered to take out of their boxes bags to photograph, but just looking at them brought me back and reminded me of the lessons they taught. They’re always there to remind me of the importance of creativity, teamwork, good leadership—and how to never give up hope when it comes to saving the world or saving one person in need.

May comics continue to inspire people to do the impossible, to do better. Excelsior!

Trisha J. Wooldridge writes grown-up horror short stories and weird poetry for anthologies and magazines—some even winning awards! Under her business, A Novel Friend (, she’s edited over fifty novels; written over a hundred articles on food, drink, entertainment, horses, music, and writing for over a dozen different publications; designed and written three online college classes; copyedited the MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Stormreach; edited two geeky anthologies; and has become the events coordinator for Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester. Because she is masochistic when it comes to time management, she created the child-friendly persona of T.J. Wooldridge and has written three scary children’s novels, too. Most recently, she is proud to be part of the New England Horror Writers’ anthology Wicked Witches and has released the novella “Tea with Mr. Fuzzypants.”


Marvel’s Jessica Jones – Not a Hero Because of Powers

Marvel’s Jessica Jones dares to tackle hard issues while remaining a thoroughly entertaining and action-packed superhero show.

I’ve often said that fiction gives us a safe place to deal with difficult issues. The fact that the characters are not real, and in this case have special powers, may make the issues raised in Jessica Jones more easy to view and discuss.

1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition (NAMI), 1 in 6 women will experience stalking, and 1 in 5 women will be raped at some point in their lives (National Sexual Violence Resource Center).

Despite these statistics, men and women dealing with rape, stalking, and mental illness remain dismissed, trivialized, stigmatized, and misunderstood. Discussing rape, stalking, and mental illness helps friends and family understand the complexities, challenges, and reality of these issues. This is why it’s important for writers to include these topics in their fiction, opening up discussion that can enable awareness, empathy, and understanding.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones explores:

  • Death, Loss, and Grieving
  • Parental Abuse
  • Partner Abuse
  • Stalking
  • Gaslighting
  • Rape
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction
  • Torture
  • PTSD

In the past, I was led to believe that a superhero was “super” because of his or her strength (of body and will), moral compass, and physical attractiveness. Aside from superior physical strength, Jessica Jones has none of these traits.

Jessica Jones is a rude, selfish, slovenly, mess of a human being. She drinks, vandalizes, and stoops to the same stalking behavior as her abuser. She makes terrible life choices. She is broken and hurting. She is real. And, in the end, she struggles to do the right thing.

To me, Jessica Jones is hope. Not the fantasy of rainbows and pixie dust, but the embodiment of something good rising from the ashes of abuse, violence, and heartache.

Want more about Jessica Jones? Check out my DragonCon Panel Discussion.

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS’ GUILD urban fantasy series, and the upcoming WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

In addition to 15 speculative fiction books, E.J. has written two how-to guides on self-publishing and book marketing. She also owns the award-winning blog, From the Shadows.

When E.J. isn’t at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Join the E.J. Stevens newsletter and learn about news, events, and ghosts. Monthly news updates, tour photos, and exclusive reader perks (FREE reads & giveaways!). Learn more about E.J. at


What Comics Taught Me

My father called them funny books.

He was a lot older than my friend’s dads. He grew up as a child of the depression, and I was born late in his life. When he called them funny books I used to chafe at that name. The phrase ‘funny books’ sounded silly and childish to me then but now… I think it’s cute. Of course I’m 40 years old now, married with a daughter, so some things change.

But seriously. Funny books. Pissed me off.

Didn’t he know that the mutants had to fight to preserve their rights in a world that wanted them gone? There’s nothing funny about that. Didn’t he know Frank Castle’s family had been killed, and that Frank couldn’t move on until he found a justice that he never would? Didn’t my dad know The Tick and Arthur needed to be friends to conquer the ninjas?

Maybe that’s why he called them funny books. He saw my Tick collection.

What my dad did know, was that reading each comic sent his son to a different world for half an hour, sometimes more if I read them and re-read them. He also knew that if he told me I could earn money to buy more funny books of my own, I would do almost anything, whenever asked. So he asked.

I started mowing the lawn. I did the dishes, I helped with laundry. I did everything asked of me at first for the quarter, then because I wanted to. My dad knew that eventually I’d realize that the things he asked me to do he needed help with. And if he needed the help, I didn’t really need the quarter.

Through my voracious appetite for Moon Knight, Punisher, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the X-Men, X-Factor, Spawn, Aliens, Predator, New Mutants, and a hundred more titles, my father taught me that a hard day’s work netted me the enjoyment I deserved. He taught me that when I did good things for others, I had a good time.

The first good friend I made when I moved to the town I lived in from 8th grade to graduation liked comics too. Courtland and I would have sleepovers where I’d bring my white comic box, adorned with a hundred stickers my local comic shop gave out, and we’d read everything. We did this multiple times over years. He and I would walk the five miles all the way to that comic shop in the cold of late fall with five bucks burning a hole in our pocket just to pick up a couple new issues, or a bag of polys, or a package of boards. We’d laugh and joke, and be young and happy the whole way.

We didn’t feel our fingers or noses for days, but you gotta break eggs to make an omelet.

Through long, late nights and action-packed weekends reading, my friends taught me that the artwork and stories inside the comics we loved brought me friendships. My friends and I built memories, hundreds of memories. Days and nights where through our shared love of comics we grew vulnerable and genuine until we reached a point where we knew we’d crossed that threshold from friend to new family member.

I’m a meticulous collector. It all started with comics. My dad told me, “Better take care of your funny books, Chris. The old ones are worth a lot of money now, and who knows what your books will be worth when you’re older.”

I listened. I loved the idea of having something special, and keeping it in good condition. I was the guardian. The protector of sacred geek knowledge. I would be the adult who kept his comics in pristine shape so one day I could pass them along to my children. I bought bags and boards, comic boxes and scotch tape. I kept them dry, out of the sun, and I only read them flat on tables, protecting the spines with my life.

I’m writing this in my office. Against every wall but the one my back is to, there are comic boxes. (Wouldn’t do to have me roll back in my chair, and hit a box, ya know.) New comic boxes, because that white cardboard doesn’t hold up to multiple moves over 30 years, no matter how well you handle them. Same comic books inside. Not a one has been sold since my childhood. I’m thankful that at some point my love for collections moved on to other things and back again.

Through patience, a need to preserve the past, a willingness to be excited for the future, and a sense of a job well done, collecting taught me satisfaction. It taught me to take care of things. It taught me about gloss paper, newsprint, and the 24 point thickness and relative acidity in the right kind of cardboards. It taught me to plan for purchases. It taught me that value can increase over time, and it taught me how to find a good deal on something I’ll treasure forever.

Or at least until I pass it all off to my kids.

You know, the more I think about it, the less comics may have taught me.

No, wait. Comics taught me how to read. Or at least, how to read things I love. I struggled to read anything resembling a book for a long time. Teachers and family put novels and stories in front of me that collected dust. Page after page filled with boring words (NO PICTURES!) about boring people doing boring things. But if you stuck a drawing of a hero in… and let my brain fill in the blanks, boy could I devour some comics. And once I started to love the story being told with the words just as much as I loved the artwork that bridged the gap, my love for comics grew into a love for books.

A love I maintain to this day.

A love that’s grown into a love for writing. Writing that’s good enough to pay my bills, and give me a career. Writing that’s good enough to feed my family, and give us a home to live in (and store comics, priorities, people) and give me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I never truly dreamed could happen.

Come to think of it, comics taught me a lot. A whole lot. The more I think about it, the more I realize.

And maybe one day, they’ll help me teach my daughter a few things too.

I’m saving my quarters.

Chris Philbrook is the creator and author of the urban fantasy series The Reemergence, as well as the dark fantasy series The Kinless Trilogy and the post apocalyptic epic Adrian’s Undead Diary.

Adrian’s Undead Diary, the story that got Chris on the literary map now has all eight titles available in print, eBook and audio. In order, they are Dark Recollections, Alone No More, Midnight, The Failed Coward Wrath, In the Arms of Family, The Trinity,and Cassie.

Chris’ first book in print was The Wrath of the Orphans, the initial book of The Kinless Trilogy, set in his Elmoryn fantasy world. You can get it here on Amazon in print and for the Kindle as well. Book two and three are The Motive for Massacre, and The Echoes of Sin. All three books are available via Audible Studios.

Tesser: A Dragon Among Us is Chris’ first foray into the world of urban/contemporary fantasy. It’s the story of an ancient dragon that is misplaced somehow, and wakes up underneath the city of Boston. The sequel, Ambryn & the Cheaters of Death is out.

Chris is the owner of Tier One Games LLC, his game development company.

Chris calls the wonderful state of New Hampshire his home. He is an avid reader, writer, role player, miniatures game player, video game player, painter and procrastinator. He and his wife welcomed their first daughter Willow to the world in April of 2016.


Comics Aren’t Just for the Boys: Girl Power

Hi. My name is Amanda and I am a closet comic fan and all around Nerd Girl.

I remember when my love of comic books began. I was in Harvard Square. The comic book store was dark and I was terrified that the cave-like interior would reject me with some type of forcefield as in: GIRL ALERT!! GIRL ALERT!!! EXIT THE STORE IMMEDIATELY!!! The middle-aged guy behind the desk barely spared me a glance. I assume he thought I was headed for Archie or something light, but I was a goner for superheroes. My dad raised me on Bruce Lee, Superman, and Batman, who kinda made me weak in the knees. Michael Keaton used to be pretty hot. Am I right?

No. Keep focused here, fanchildren. I was young, okay?

I write romances, I should probably out myself about that as well. I like to write supernatural fiction with a romantic thread.

I really liked comics I could afford so I tended to stray near the new and weird. Still, man I had a fascination with mythology, Stan Lee and a decade later… Scotland.


But dear, dear illustrated awesomeness, I love you with a fiery passion. I love legends. I love your color and action and the movie-book marriage that you manage to contain while still being a genre all your own. I love your pages and your serial stories and I really love the culture which surrounds. Comicon? Good lord. I can only dream of going… and then one day, my love of all things legendary and illustrated AND Scottish combined…

Enter Saltire. Who? Saltire. Scotland’s badass legend from the mind of John Ferguson. Did you know it is co-created by Claire Roe and Lauren Knight? Pretty rad, eh? I wondered why I had never considered my hand at illustrated hero fiction?

But here is the thing… as a mother, writer and educator the question came to my mind, and sadly I had not considered it previously, but where were all the female authors? I mean, half naked ladies with ridiculously eye-popping bosoms, mostly contained was definitely appealing to the target readers, right? Except I am a reader and I… kinda pass on all that. I don’t mind it- I mean, I have the same physical attributes, but the women seemed passive or evil and definitely they are being objectified. So… wouldn’t a female author avoid that? Or perhaps- let’s be real, folks- a female illustrator, at least? When I was so kindly invited to guest blogging stardom, I was given free rein on topics and this… this was the question that I wanted to answer. Where were the lady authors? And secondly, could they create some respectable main lady characters? What follows is what I found.

I have not been the only one wondering this question. And also… I am late to the party.

Also, just google searching produces an amazing array of female authors, colorists, illustrators, etc. and they are from all over the world. I admit also that I am a total novice and I am a bit ashamed to not have more knowledge as a self-proclaimed Comic fan. Still, according to Gendercrunch the percentage of female creators with DC Comics comes in at 19.7% overall. Oh. Wow. Same blog listsed numbers slightly less in other wonder universes. Do yourself a favor and look these creators and illustrators up.

Here is the real question- does it matter? Have we come far enough as women that we no longer need lists of females in certain fields? I suppose I can only answer that from my limited perspective as a child born in an era where Staying At Home was both admired and belittled. A time when my parents were more concerned with the boys that I might marry and less concerned about my career choices. The question of female authors matters to me because I still remember when certain professions seemed more appropriate for men than for women. And we didn’t complain. I seek out fellow female authors like I seek out inspiring female characters- particularly in the comicverse- because these women reinforce who I am. So, yes. I want to know where the women are in this world and what they do and I want to see a badass hero who is fit but not naked all the time because… I want a super mirror for my inner badass hero. Don’t call me a heroine. I just want to both identify and escape. Doesn’t make sense to you? Oh, that’s okay… you’re probably a man.

Nerd girl out!

This is a great resource:

Amanda P Minaker blends romance and history to bring strong female characters to life. Her debut novel, Nora Waite was a winner of the NaNoWriMo 2013 Challenge. Her follow-up novel, Jade Thomas is currently in the works.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Amazon