Best of 2020 Interview: Christopher Cantwell's 'Doctor Doom'
Dec 28, 2020
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
He's megalomaniacal. He's a tyrant. He’s the most fun of all the evil dudes. He is...DOOM!
In 2020, writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Salvador Larroca brought their DOCTOR DOOM maxi-series to its bombastic conclusion. Part-political thriller and part-supernatural adventure, this 10 issue run caught fire (all the puns intended!) with fans quickly. And for good reason. On Cantwell's watch, the not-so-good Doctor was always on his heels -- which is NOT something he’s used to. But because he is DOOM, you better believe he doesn’t balk at opposition. He takes to it!
In the following interview, Christopher Cantwell gives a glimpse into the creative thought process behind DOCTOR DOOM, how 2020 impacted the series, and more!
PREVIEWSworld: So for those people discovering this for the first time, what is your run on DOCTOR DOOM about?
Christopher Cantwell: This run of DOOM is about what happens to this man when you first strip him of everything and then begin to tease him with a future life that could be the opposite of what he has now. I think the book is about going through a crucible of radical reinvention, one that Victor must go through or else risk being annihilated. This Doom is in an identity crisis. This book ultimately asks how we’re supposed to envision some noble goal but then actually get to it when we look how far away we’re standing from it in reality. It’s also about what our reality is in terms of its true moral compass. There are plenty of stories where characters get glimpses into alternate realities that are very dark, like the Mirror Universe in STAR TREK or "Pottersville" in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. This book turns that on its head. What if WE’RE the ones living in the Mirror Universe? What if we are the dystopia of another better place? What if we are the damned? That’s the reason the first issue of the book is called “Pottersville” and the last issue is called “Bedford Falls.” Perhaps Doom’s perfect world looks nothing like the one he lives in.
PREVIEWSworld: How did you get involved with the series? How did it come about?
Cantwell: I was introduced to Wil Moss by Karen Berger, whom I was working with on a couple of indie books at the time. Wil asked me to do a ten-page short story about Doom and his experiences during the WAR OF THE REALMS crossover event. So I wrote about how Doom was defending Latveria from the elves, etc. It was very Hitler’s bunker but also how Latverians see Doom as a true benevolent god. Marvel liked the story and soon after Tom Brevoort asked me to pitch on a full Doom book.
PREVIEWSworld: Have you always been a fan of Doom?
Cantwell: I had his SECRET WARS action figure when I was young and I reread the 350th issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that has the great Doom/Spidey cover from Erik Larsen over and over and over. But to tell you the truth I was over reading every Spider book and X book when I was a moody middle-schooler. NOW I’m a huge fan. There is so much you can do with Doom.
PREVIEWSworld: For you, what has been the highlight of your run in 2020?
Cantwell: I really love Issue #6 because I got to tell this kind of Bob Hope / Bing Crosby story with Doom and Kang, and show that these adversarial self-serious dudes could perhaps even get along in their own way. I even called the issue “Road to Latveria” in homage to all those Hope / Crosby movies. I also really love Issue #9 because to me the story is so simple but potent. I tried to distill Doom and Reed’s rivalry down into a single scene, to show how Reed can worm his way into Victor’s head so easily. I think it also leaves readers wondering if Reed did it on purpose. I’m very proud of both those issues.
PREVIEWSworld: How has 2020 been for you outside of comics?
Cantwell: Fucking terrible. My wife’s teaching job imploded. My older son is now remote learning from home and isolated from all of his friends. My preschool boy was at a wonderful preschool for approximately a semester and a half before it shuttered and is now gone completely. That one hurts a lot. He has zero direction and doesn’t get as much attention as his brother does because of schooling. We have no child care. Our writers room for PAPER GIRLS had to suddenly go remote on Zoom right towards the back third and it was hard to finish. Nor could we shoot in the summer as planned. I consider myself extremely lucky to still be employed and so far we’ve all stayed healthy. But we’ve had family members who have had bad bouts of COVID that have done permanent damage to their minds and kidneys. The 1st AD from the pilot of HALT AND CATCH FIRE died from it. I guess we could say the election results were a bright spot but even that is all encumbered with bullshit. I went from adamantly reading the news to not being able to at all. These are bad times. The only things I’ve been able to do to stay halfway sane is to write comic books, buy toys for my office, and drink too much.
PREVIEWSworld: Damn. Sorry to hear about all that. I'm glad you at least found that writing comics got you through it. Have the events of the year influenced your story at all?
Cantwell: No. This ten-issue arc was always the story I was going to tell. I had it pretty well mapped out from the beginning. I knew the ending very early on. I am excited for people to read the conclusion this month. I also think that they’ll be able to go back and read it again and see what we were setting up all along. I don’t know if we’ll get a full hardcover but that would be awesome.
PREVIEWSworld: Who on DOCTOR DOOM’s creative team has been a clutch player in 2020? Who deserves a shout out?
Cantwell: I mean it has to be Salva. His art is so incredibly original. He brings a real world vibrance to what he does, so when we put Doom more into the reality we know as regular people, it worked so well.
PREVIEWSworld: Finally, what would Doom’s New Years' resolution be?
Cantwell: To do away with any and all of his hollow and inefficient niceties, which merely suggests a weakness he does not actually possess.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.