Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Doomlord was a comic strip published in the British comic book Eagle (comic) during the 1980s, and also the name of several characters thoughout. First appearing in Eagle's Issue 1 on March 27 1982, and appearing nearly continuously until 1991, it was written by Alan Grant and John Wagner. Initially an experiment in publishing science fiction/horror in photographic strip form, and evolving into drawn superheroics drawn mostly by Eric Bradbury , Doomlord was a saga beginning with an alien judging humanity's right to exist, and failing in his attempt to execute mankind. A replacement ruled in favour of Earth and eventually became its protector, fathering a son. After many adventures, the strip abruptly ended in mid-story arc.
Original 'Doomlord' strip
The strip originally appeared as a 13-part story in the first 13 issues of Eagle, and was science horror in tone. Local news reporter Howard Harvey and his policemen friend Bob witnessed an apparent meteor falling into local woods. Upon investigating, they discovered the meteor was really a spaceship, containing a sinister robed alien, who described himself as "Doomlord – Master of life, Bringer of death!" Doomlord then killed Bob by seemingly merely holding his head, and knocked Harvey unconscious, who recovered to find himself alone. At the local police station, he discovered Bob alive, joking at his friend's 'dream' – however, Bob was wearing the alien's "energiser ring". 'Bob' arranged a meeting with a local MP and then disappeared. Over the next several issues, Harvey used his reporter skills to piece together what was happening- Doomlord had the power to murder people by absorbing their memories and personality (throughout the entire run, there was no indication that the victim's soul was absorbed, or even that souls existed at all). He would then disintegrate their corpse with his "energiser" and then use another alien ability – to shapeshift (or "warp") his form to resemble his absorbed victim, and impersonate them flawlessly. In this way, he could move freely amongst human society, leaving only a trail of missing persons as he abandoned each identity for a new one.
Harvey futilely attempted to stop Doomlord, but in the atmospheric tradition of horror stories, only the reader knew that Doomlord was real and not a delusion on Harvey's part. Doomlord also appeared invulnerable to harm, although Harvey managed to fatally shoot him in human form. However, Doomlord exhibited another alien ability-to pass his "life force" to another, and then parasitically grow inside and eventually take them over as if he had absorbed them. Doomlord trapped the unsuspecting Harvey, and explained his "dread mission" as a "Servant of Nox"- he was to act as judge, jury, and executioner on humanity's right to exist, and using the identities of prominent businessmen, politicians, scientists, and other members of society's "elite" as stepping stones, using their memories and experiences as his evidence. If Doomlord judged humanity as unfit of stewardship of Earth's millions of other species, or to pose a potential risk to the larger interstellar community , he would destroy humanity – the individuals he had killed were inconsequential, as "The fate of the individual is unimportant when the survival of the species is it stake." He viewed Harvey's attempts to stop him as an amusement. Doomlord delivered a verdict of guilty, and pronounced a sentence of death upon mankind. He hypnotised Harvey to accompany him to a germ warfare establishment, to hopelessly watch as he constructed a virus to kill humans but leave other species unaffected. However, Harvey managed to overcome his hypnotism through strength of will, and stabbed Doomlord in human form. Doomlord infected Harvey with his life-force, who then sacrificed himself by releasing the virus within the sealed laboratory. Harvey's last act was to inform the dead Doomlord that humanity had the right to decide its own eventual fate, even if this were to affect other lifeforms.
Doomlord was portrayed as an extremely ruthless, even fascistic, 'space vigilante' who would think nothing of murder as long as it assisted his mission. As Alan Grant put it:
"His philosophy is Platonic, socialistic and fascistic at the same time--the fate of the individual is unimportant, only the fate of the species matters. This makes it right and inevitable that an elite will arise to supposedly safeguard the rights of the majority (and keep them in line). And you can see the logic in his conclusions--mankind is polluting Earth to death, we're slaughtering each other with ever bigger bombs, we're on the threshold of space travel with ships bearing nukes. Shit, if I was a Doomlord I'd be putting the kibosh on the species too."
Like many of the early Eagle strips, it appeared in photographic form, requiring an actor in a custom-made rubber mask and hands and special effects. However, budgetary constraints often resulted in a slightly unconvincing effect.
The Doomlord strip was a "breakout" strip that was extremely popular, even more so than Dan Dare who was supposedly Eagle's main attraction. The strip returned in Eagle issue 21, titled Doomlord II, and was considerably more science fiction in nature. It confirmed that "Doomlord" was a generic name for one of many "Servitors" from the planet of Nox, who had taken upon themselves the task of species-level eugenics for the common god of the galaxy. The rulers of Nox, the Dread Council, had noticed the disappearance of Doomlord (or Servitor Zyn) on Earth, and dispatched the novice Servitor Vek to investigate and possibly carry out Zyn's judgement.
Vek's experiences of humanity were different from Zyn's – taking the identity of commercial traveller Eric Plumrose, and without someone like Harvey to inconvenience him, Vek stayed at Mrs Souster's bed and breakfast in Bradford whilst he determined Zyn's fate and recovered Zyn's energiser ring. In contrast to Zyn's absolutist judgement, he concluded that humanity's problems were mostly social rather than inherent; humanity's leaders deserved the focus of blame, the vast majority guilty of only apathy, ignorance and powerlessness. Vek petitioned the Council for a review of Zyn's judgement, who gave him one year to secretly influence humanity for the better, with execution to be carried out (as per Zyn's original judgement) if he did not succeed.
The strip therefore shifted in tone to that of Vek trying to secretly interfere in human affairs to make them pass the Servitor's judgement, and became more political in line with Alan Grant's personal views. Over a story arc lasting several months of publication, Vek hypnotised the wealthy to place hundreds of millions of pounds of funds in an environmental group called Alternative Earth, increased political activity amongst the general public, and fooled the American military into launching a nuclear strike with the missile diverted to the North pole, gambling the resultant shock would lead to nuclear disarmament. A memorable sequence involved Vek assuming the identity of the chauffeur of a multinational industrialist prior to a television interview about industrial waste dumped into rivers; hypnotised into saying 'only the truth', the industrialist not only agreed with the interviewer's charge of wanton pollution, but also reeled off a long list of unethical actions by his company, and then stating that "the best thing I can do for those watching at home is this", committed suicide on live television by drinking the supposedly 'clean' river water.
After the year had elapsed, Vek had apparently succeeded in 'fixing' Earth's course, and the Dread Council congratulated Vek on his initiative, and the "Doomlord II" strip ended in issue 40.
However, "Doomlord III", beginning in issue 49, began by showing these improvements were seen to be temporary. For example, an Arab state launched a nuclear missile, escalating a small-scale conflict and causing the world's powers to re-arm, and Alternative Earth's funds were embezzled by its director. Vek, temporarily trapped on earth as the nuclear missiles diverted to the North Pole had destroyed his orbiting ship, realised that human nature may have been a larger factor than he realised. Vek concluded desperate measures were required, revealing his existence to Humankind and taking an open stance in his attempts to manipulate mankind, pointing out the sentence of death hanging over it if it did not reform.
Doomlord set himself up as an "open figure" and granted audiences with anyone who requested one, in order to best influence mankind. A powerful theme in this phase of the strip is Vek's inherent passive behaviour in the face of bungled attempts at assassination, coercement, and propaganda by the British Government, combined with his simple message of cosmic judgement - "mature as a species, or I (or another Doomlord, if you kill me) will euthanise you to protect the other life on Earth". At times, he was almost portrayed as a Ghandi-like figure – albeit one who would disintegrate timewasters . Eventually, Vek was tranquillised whilst in human form, and was kept imprisoned underground, where, as he required ultraviolet light for sustenance, he starved to death and his corpse was triumphantly paraded as a trophy. However, he had transferred his life-force to a sympathetic scientist named Denby, and upon becoming Vek once more, produced a small-scale virus agent to kill the town of Prattlewell as a demonstration of his willingness to execute mankind if it did not reform.
This was also a demonstration of his intent to the Dread Council, who had placed him under sentence of death for revealing his existence. They sent another Servitor, Zom, to execute mankind and bring Vek back to Nox. Vek was forced to murder Zom. 'Doomlord III' ended in Eagle 67, with Vek realising that he and mankind now shared the same fate, and vowing to be humanity's protector.
Ongoing drawn strip
Eagle was then relaunched in issue 79, with all the photo strips either replaced or changed to drawn format. The strip began once again, called simply 'Doomlord', where it would run as a continuous saga until 1991. Initially pencilled by Gary Compton and inked by Heinzl , and later for a more extensive period pencilled and inked by Eric Bradbury , the strip was now unrestricted by budget or special effects constraints – the first page shows Vek warping into a bird and observing a road crash from aloft.
By this point, Vek's energiser ring could also levitate him, project force fields, as well as other abilities as the script required. Vek had also been humanised to quite an extent – still staying at Mrs Souster's boarding house, he had become a husband/father figure for her and her children Pete and Mike, who had been hypnotised into seeing him as Eric Plumrose (Alan Grant described this "softer side" as "his Coronation Street-type soap opera existence").
The Dread Council sent a trio of assassins, the Deathlords', to kill Vek, even as he was compiling a Report on Mankind to persuade them to lift the sentence of death. Vek eventually killed the Deathlords, who slaughtered most of the population of Leeds to get his attention, and kept their more advanced energiser rings, which enabled him to teleport.
Vek appeared on world-wide television and explained the Noxian ethical code and the Deathlords, pointing out that he was all that stood between humanity and execution, and how he had rebelled against Nox to protect them. This marked a turning-point in human attitude towards Doomlord, and as he repeatedly protected Earth from various threats, Vek became an ally of the British government through Cabinet minister Douglas Reeve, and even a respected and admired hero. Shortly afterwards, Vek was taken to Nox by a fail-safe device in the Deathlord's ship when he tried to use it to rescue the Space Shuttle, where he convinced the Council to lift the sentence of death from Earth, but was returned to Earth in exile.
For some time, the strip took the form of Vek undergoing several loosely-connected adventures, including:
- Repelling the Geminid Plague, genetically-engineered parasitic insects used by the robotic Populators of Pollux to wipe out a planet's higher lifeforms in advance for use as a breeding ground; Vek destroyed both the Geminids and the Populators themselves
- "The Doomlord Show", where he would kidnap various public figures, connect them to lie detector which would shock them if they lied in order to reveal criminal or unethical behaviour, punish criminals with political connections who could avoid conventional justice, and people with grievances would phone in, so he could teleport directly there and resolve them directly through intimidation
- The inadvertent revival of Doomlord Zyn through stored tissue samples from Howard Harvey, who resumed his attempts to execute humanity until Vek absorbed his life-force
- The galactic carnival of Tibor, who captured Mrs Souster's sons to lure Vek as an exhibit
- Combating S.M.O.G. , a terrorist organisation that had previously appeared in the Eagle strip Manix
- Requiring a Noxian lodestone to recover from a serious illness after a passionate plea by Douglas Reeve on the nature of Noxian justice
- Being manipulated into freeing the Noxian mystic Orak, by Lord Kev and Lady Shal
- Becoming leader of the Dread Council to fight off an attack on Nox by the Reptilans
- The building of an 'isolarium on the moon, recognition of the character's Superman overtones
A lengthy plot introduced the character of Enok. Vek decided to become a father to further his understanding of humans, so used his bioengineering knowledge to artificially produce and rapidly grow a human-Noxian hybrid called Enok . Inevitably, Enok's human emotions and flaws led him to delinquency, eventually murdering Vek despite his fatherly love and protection from the Noxian Flamelords who sought to kill Enok due to his 'impurity'. Enok then wrecked havoc on Earth that resembled adolescent frustration more than true evil. Douglas Reeve injected himself with a stored sample of Vek's blood, thus becoming Doomlord, and, stopping short of murdering his own son, abandoned Enok on an asteroid (although in another adventure involving a parallel timeline, he did indeed murder an alternate Enok)
Reversal of heroic roles
Eventually, Vek had to undergo a psychological ordeal on the mystical Realms of Death to ensure their dedication to the Cold Blue Flame of Noxian justice. As such, he was purged of his human emotions, became a Servitor once more, and returned with a burning hatred of humanity charged with their execution (this was contradicting the strip's continuity in parts, however Eagle was entering a general period of decline).
Fearing the results of his ordeal, Vek had priorly brought Enok back to Earth, and had placed him in his final 'growth cycle' under a South American waterfall, gambling that this would mature Enok and improve his disposition and foster a love of Earth, which it did. In effect, Vek and Enok had switched roles – Enok now protected Earth whilst Vek wished to destroy it. Vek had been given a new energiser ring which allowed him to both animate objects (such as getting a chimney to fight for him) and travel through time, resulting in him destroying the advanced civilisation of Atlantis.
When Vek returned, he murdered Enok, so the Souster boys deliberately ate his blood as Vek tormented the Earth; the older brother managed to return as Enok, and facing Vek in combat, their energisers interacted to render him permanently intangible, whereupon he retreated into hiding inside a mountain. Enok then continued in Vek's role as Earth's now unwanted and resented protector, fighting a "pollution monster", alien mind parasites, and – in an admission the strip had now shed almost all of its science fiction aspects – a 'rival superhero' created by the siphoning off of part of his life-force. At the same time, the younger Souster boy also became Enok, but with unexplained vampiric qualities.
The first Enok was killed fighting the rival superhero possessed by the mind parasites, leaving the second Enok as to whether protect humanity or feast upon it, in an unexpectedly abrupt end to the strip.
Doomlord continued in reprint form for a short time, but was dropped completely for Eagle's last revamp.
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