In the early ’90s, an issue of What If? featured Doctor Doom as a pediatrician, among several other short, comedic tales.
Marvel’s classic What If? series is known for imagining new worlds, with even wilder outcomes and possibilities than the mainstream Marvel Universe. Scenarios such as Daredevil joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and Wolverine killing the Hulk are only a couple of drastic changes from Earth-616 which What If? has brought to the table. In the early ’90s, What If? released what was likely its wildest issue yet, featuring Doctor Doom as an evil pediatrician.
Doom took up this wildly different occupation in 1992’s What If? #34, in a splash page by Ian Akin, Brad K. Joyce and Tom Vincent. This page is only one in a whole issue full of short, humorous tales which subvert the usual What If? formula. The basic premise of Doctor Doom becoming a pediatrician is never fully explained, instead being put on display for comedic effect. The page sees Doom standing over an examination table, with various torture devices pointed at a young child.
Unsurprisingly, Doom turns out to be quite the cruel pediatrician, with lasers and blades pointed straight at the child, who is crying out in anguish. In a humorous statement, Doom tells the child, “don’t struggle, this isn’t going to hurt one bit!”
As a whole, this page is very befitting of Doctor Doom’s character. Victor Von Doom usually acts out of self-interest, even though he typically hurts others to accomplish his goals. The premise of Doom becoming a pediatrician is of course, ridiculous. Still, Doom’s actions line up perfectly with his character, torturing a child for his own scientific curiosity.
The scene is very reminiscent of all the times Doom tortured the Fantastic Four, making the concept itself all the more in-character for Doom. The imagery in the scene is also perfect, as Doom has a stethoscope around his neck, a head mirror on his forehead and a lollipop in his hand.
This imagery is comically unusual for Doctor Doom, especially when the ordinary doctor’s equipment is juxtaposed with Doom’s usual suit of armor. Clearly, this tale doesn’t take itself seriously at all, which is perfect for the scenario. This Doom story fits right in with the rest of the issue, which is primarily focused on comedic tales.
Another notably ridiculous scenario occurs when Thanos turns Galactus into a human. The world-devourer then becomes an Elvis impersonator, in a rather unexpected yet comical twist. The rest of this issue is full of other humorous tales, which exist mainly to poke fun at the “What If?” concept and the Marvel Universe as a whole. Many ideas are thrown at the wall, such as Wolverine entering hibernation, the Punisher becoming a hall monitor, Storm becoming an air traffic controller, and several others.
If a villain like Doom is indeed a doctor, it would be pretty funny to see him become a pediatrician. Another humorous thing to think about is whether or not Doom is really a doctor. In 1964’s Fantastic Four Annual #2, by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chic Stone and Sam Rosen, it was revealed that Doom was kicked out of State University.
With this in mind, it’s highly uncertain whether or not Doom ever earned his actual doctorate, making the idea of Doom as a pediatrician all the more concerning, yet amusing. Playing off the characterization and tropes of so many well-known Marvel characters, this issue of What If? spawned several fun ideas which made for a great comedic issue.
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