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By Arune Singh
When it comes to Marvel's greatest villains, few inspire more fear than Doctor Doom, the Fantastic Four's mortal enemy, who has come close to defeating the entire Marvel Universe at times. But…what if he did
triumph over the world's greatest heroes?
Enter WHAT IF? SECRET WARS, coming from writer Karl Bollers and artist Jorge Molina on January 2, as the seminal Secret Wars event returns with a twist—namely Doom retaining the power of the god-like Beyonder!
Contacted by editor Justin Gabrie, Bollers found himself enthralled by the idea of using a classic moment to launch his alternate reality story.
"I've always loved the idea of alternate realities," explains the writer. "Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' is one of my all-time favorite movies exploring the subject. Who hasn't wondered, 'What would have happened if I made this choice instead of that one? Made one decision instead of another?' It's so basic to human nature, how could you not? I think that's the simple appeal of What If and why it's had several series over the past 30 years. It's a fascinating premise that creators and fans can't help but revisit. And as long as great stories keep being made, there will always be a treasure trove of material."
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Faced with so many possibilities from Marvel's storied history, Bollers could've been overwhelmed, but instead he zeroed in on what he felt made the best What If stories so successful: focusing on some of the biggest events in comic history.
"What's the biggest, classic event you can think of?" Bollers asks rhetorically. "There actually was a WHAT IF? issue published back in the 90's [about Secret Wars], but it asked, 'What If the heroes didn't get off Battleworld?' and, set 25 years after the war, concentrated on their descendents. Our [story] jumps directly off a pivotal moment within the Secret Wars mythos as opposed to telling a tale of an alternate future. I had actually submitted a list of possible ideas and 'What If Doctor Doom Had Won the Secret Wars?' was just one. I had a feeling before I turned them in that Doom was going to be picked. It's just a story you know people want to see. It was a definite turning point and mainstream comics have never been the same. From the moment I saw the promo ads as a kid, I knew I had to have it."
Having not written Doctor Doom in the past, Bollers took time to research the character and get inside the mind of the layered super villain.
"I've experienced a lot of FANTASTIC FOUR," relates Bollers. "Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby]. John Byrne. Walt Simonson. Mark Waid and the late Mike Wieringo. The
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recent Bryan Hitch and Mark Millar stuff. Hanna-Barbera, even. So I know Doom. He's their quintessential villain and I like him, but I couldn't relate to him. That was the real challenge in approaching the character. But writing this story, writing him for the first time, I really started to connect. By the end of it I was cursing Reed Richards! I can finally relate to Doom's character, but only on the pettiest of levels. I'm actually inclined to think we all have a little more Doom in us than Mister Fantastic."
If the name "Karl Bollers" rings a bell, it's likely because of his fan favorite EMMA FROST series in 2003, which explored the titular character's hidden history.
"I miss her," Bollers reminisces of his one-time leading lady. "I took some off from writing and worked as an editor in children's book publishing for a period of time, then worked on staff at Marvel for a brief period, but I'm very excited to be writing comics again."
The scribe's also excited to be working with Jorge Molina and gushes that that he's, "One of those artists that when you see his work, you feel like Wayne and Garth from 'Wayne's World,' [going] 'We're not worthy! We're not worthy!'. He's just that good. The book looks beautiful. Jorge provided the pencils, inks and colors and did an amazing job. He was receptive to all the changes that were asked of him from the layout stage to final color. Working with him was a great experience.
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"From depicting a simple, predawn funeral to capturing the majesty of a battle with the Celestials on the moon, Jorge had the versatility that the story needed. He rendered quiet moments and the action scenes alike with flair and dynamism. This is not hype. I repeat: This is not hype. Jorge Molina is a creator to look out for and I can't wait to see what project he lands next."
As Bollers re-enters the realm of comic book writing, he's got some exciting projects lined up, including one he can reveal now:
"I have another WHAT IF? slated, this one featuring a certain blind protector of Hell's Kitchen, his former college sweetheart turned heartless assassin and a mythical ninja order bent on controlling the world."
Experience Doom's triumph on January 2 with WHAT IF? SECRET WARS. You can also experience the original SECRET WARS right now on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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