Wait! Before you start reading!
Alright, this is a project of mine I felt like doing, because I'm really more into DC at the moment for the following reason. Lately, Marvel Comics have been about one thing and one thing only. Watching bad things happen to good people. I don't believe that's what superheroes are for. Superheroes are there to inspire us and give us hope, not to show us that everyone suffers and we should all be depressed. For this reason, and because Marvel has many characters who, with little or no modification, could be truly great, I now present the Marvel Universe Neo; the Marvel Universe reinvented for those who, like myself, still read comic books in the way a child would; looking for something or someone totally awesome to look up to, or better yet, to look up AT.
Basically, the Neoverse, as I like to call it, is a different, ongoing marvel continuity, in which many things differ, while some remain the same. I will be messing with the ages, character traits, personalities, skills, histories, and even the powers of many of Marvel's finest characters in these stories, so if you're an original-continuity loyalist, you don't have to read, but I certainly hope you can keep an open enough mind to read this stuff. At first, I was worried it wouldn't work out, but then, X-Men Evolution was fairly successful, and it did pretty much the exact same thing I'm doing here. This will be an ongoing series (at least one each month, like real comic books,) as will its counterpart; the Xavier Institute Neo. I'm not sure how long I'll keep doing these series. As long as I still enjoy it, I suppose. Anyways, I hope you enjoy Marvel Neo's first story and will keep reading for more.
Tales from the Marvel Universe Neo
Alan Jules frowned as he pulled up to the border posts. There were quite a few border guards, considering what a relatively short distance it was to the next border gate and how comparatively small the country was that they led to.
"Excuse me, sir." the border guard said, and for a moment, Alan was worried he'd ask for a passport, even though it was quite obvious that the Latverian borders recognized no passports from any other country.
"Yes?" Alan asked, "Is there a problem?"
"Well, sir, you seem to have taken a wrong turn." The border guard said, "This road here leads to Latveria."
"I know." Alan replied, "That's where I'm going. You see, I'm writing a book on famous..."
However, Alan didn't get to finish his sentence before the guard interrupted him, "Sir, I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Latveria is one of the few remaining self-contained sovereign states left in the modern world. It participates in no alliances, signs no treaties, holds no significant diplomatic relations with any other countries at the moment, and recognizes no international laws."
"That's right." Alan replied, "That's where I'm headed."
"It's also ruled by one of the most iron-handed dictators on Earth." the guard said, "Once you're in there, his will is the only law there is. He could do anything he wants to you and you wouldn't be able to appeal to any outside authority. Do you understand the risk you're taking by even approaching these borders?"
"Yes, sir. I do." Alan replied, "There's a risk involved. I'm aware of that. But I've made my decision."
"Alright." The guard said, looking back and forth a couple times, then waving to the others, who hesitated for a moment in surprise, so he had to wave again, before the gate opened.
"I guess I can't stop you." he said, "But if you ever make it back out of Latveria alive, don't blame me for not giving you fair warning."
Then, with those last words, clearly intended to scare him off, the guard stepped aside and Alan, after only a couple of seconds hesitation, stepped on the gas and entered Latveria.
As Alan drove through Latveria, he found that there really wasn't much to look at in the place. Aside from the large, metal border walls and heavily-guarded gates, the most exciting things Alan saw as he drove across Latveria were green fields, trees, small lakes and marshes, and a few wild horses that fled when they saw his car, which clearly meant that visitors were a rare sight in Latveria, but Alan had already made the decision that mattered. He was in the country. Whatever else he did there, the danger wouldn't grow any greater.
However, after driving for about fifteen minutes, Alan found himself approaching a village. It wasn't very big, or very rich-looking, and it certainly wasn't the sort of place where large amounts of business are conducted in a hurry. In fact, people in that town seemed to largely be either talking, or trading small objects with one another, which Alan couldn't determine the nature of from a distance, but which looked like they were made of metal. One man was outside, playing a fiddle to impress two young ladies, and another was stepping, as Alan watched, into a nearby building. Everyone seemed to be either moving from one place to another, or else talking, or generally having a good time. He was surprised that such a place could be considered the territory of an "iron-handed dictator."
Alan parked his care next to a nearby building that seemed to be open to the public and grabbed his pen and notebook out of the glove compartment, then stepped out of his car and closed the door behind him, intending to get a few opinions out of the people there.
"Excuse me, sir." he said to one man who was leaving the public building he'd parked his car next to, "I'd like to talk to you about something."
"Alright." the man said, "What would you like to talk about?"
"Well, I was wondering how life is treating you here in Latveria." Alan said.
"Oh, an immigrant!" the man exclaimed, his smile broadening, "Well, I'd say life's just about as good as it's ever been around here, and a great deal better than it was when I was younger."
"Really?" Alan asked, growing interested, "What was it like in Latveria when you were young?"
"Well, it got very hard at times." the man replied, his smile fading, "Winters were a lot colder, summers a lot hotter, and we didn't always had enough to eat, besides which, most of our days were spent in extremely hard work. Oh, we still have work today, of course, but it mostly amounts to maintaining the master's machines, which isn't at all hard once you've gone through the master's training process. It's rather a simple job, but it keeps us from losing our focus, and reminds us we're still part of something much bigger. I can't imagine a better life."
"Really?" Alan asked, "What about the children? Do they still work?"
"Actually, believe it or not," the man continued, "the master has been allowing the children to attend his training lessons. He says they'll be more brilliant as adults if they're allowed to learn as young people. I suspect that's true."
"How do you feel about the master?" Alan asked.
"Oh!" the man exclaimed, still smiling, "The best thing to ever happen to Latveria, in my mind. He's fixed up just about everything that was wrong about the place since he came to power. Everybody I know loves him, and he's so just and generous. Every time I see him going for a walk, or making an announcement, or rendering judgment for the people, it really makes me respect him even more. Do you understand what I mean? I mean, there's always such brilliance and wisdom to his decisions. He's... Well, when he first came to power, a lot of us were worried, because of the way he looks, but... Well, these days, I actually think he looks kind of handsome. I mean, the master has pretty much given us everything we have. I don't think I could be repulsed by him after all that, even if he had an even number of heads."
"So you don't feel the least bit resentful that you have no choice over your destiny?" Alan asked, amazed.
"No." the man said, his persistent textbook knowledge of language and grammar continuing to make it difficult to really sympathize with him, "To be honest, I'm kind of glad I don't have a choice. If I did, I'd probably mess things up like I always do when I make a big choice. It's kind of a breath of fresh air to know that as long as I keep doing what the master wants me to do, he'll make sure it works out for the best. Plus, there's never any confusion about what needs to get done. It's a simple existence, but full of success and joy like nothing I ever saw when I was younger."
Alan finished taking notes, then said, "Thank you for your time, sir."
"Ah, not at all." the man replied, "It's been a pleasure."
Then, sure he'd gotten as much as he could out of the average guy on the street, Alan stepped into the building that the man had just left.
The building, which Alan had at first thought was some kind of hospital or police station, actually turned out to be a social club. Some people were eating, some drinking, but it wasn't like any kind of food or drink that Alan had ever seen. The drink was of a strange, light purple hue, but with bubbles in it like soda, and most of the food was either oblong-shaped or cubical, but it seemed to please the people drinking and eating it, respectively. It also seemed that the social club was one of the few places in town where people's speech tended to not sound so formal.
"Get outta town!" one man exclaimed to another loudly from nearby, causing Alan to jump in surprise for a moment as he entered, "Well, that's great! That's just great! Let's have a toast!"
They noticed Alan at that moment, so he gave them a short salute, to show he wished them well, and they saluted back in the friendliest manner.
"To Vernon" the man who'd proposed the toast said, "and his bride to be."
Then he, his friend, and at least three others nearby raised their glasses and drank simultaneously.
"I'm not so sure if I can drink to that myself." another man nearby said, "I barely know Vernon."
"Well, then drink to God." the man who'd raised the toast said.
"Or else to your country." another man said from nearby.
"I'll drink to the victory of Lord Doom." the previously-objecting man said.
"Well, I think that's something everyone here can drink to." Vernon said with a smile, "Except maybe our new friend by the door there, who doesn't have a drink. Are you new in town, friend?"
"Just arrived today." Alan replied as softly as he could, while still being heard over the noise of the club.
"I think you're going to like it here. I hope you decide to stay." Vernon said, downing his drink after only a moment.
Suddenly, there was a commotion from outside, and everyone put down what they were eating, drinking, or dropped the subject they were talking about, and headed for the club's exit.
"Sounds like it's the master." Alan heard one of them say, and when he heard that, he started to get worried. Had Doom been alerted to his presence already, and if so, how would he react?
Indeed, the figure who walked through town purposefully as Alan left the club, accompanied by a crowd of people who were also leaving, really was Victor Von Doom, or at least, it looked like him. Every part of his body seemed to be covered in metal, including his face, which was concealed from view by a metal mask, except for his eyes, which looked rather larger and more bloodshot than most human eyes, but there was a calmness in those eyes, regardless. Over Doom's armor was slung a green cloak and hood, with a gold-colored rope holding it onto him, and shining golden buttons about as large as the tops of tin cans on either side, over the top of his chest. The strange thing was that whenever Alan had seen a picture of Doctor Doom before, in newspapers or on television, he'd always seemed like a man who was very angry at someone or about something, or else cold to the point of seeming like a robot himself. However, the Doom that Alan saw there was an entirely different sort of man. As he walked by, people bowed at the waist, not speaking, and he nodded back to them. Not like the bows they were giving him at all, but just enough of a nod to show that he recognized their thankfulness and loyalty, and appreciated it.
However, there was one person there who wanted to show something other than mere thankfulness. A small boy ran up to him and spoke in a hurry as his mother rushed out behind him in pursuit.
"Master!" the boy exclaimed, "Please, master!"
Doom stopped for a moment, then looked down at the boy with his observant, intelligent gaze, and for a moment, it looked as if he might react suddenly or cruelly, but it was an illusion. Doom's mask kept others from seeing the expressions on his face, however, so many such illusions were inevitable.
After only a few moments of looking at the boy, Doom shot his mother a glance that said he clearly intended for her to stay where she was, and bent down to look into the boy's face.
"Yes?" Doom asked in a voice that sounded truly young and compassionate, despite the metal it had to pass through to reach Alan's ears, "Do you have a problem?"
"I'm hungry." the boy said, "I didn't get to eat lunch today... I was wondering if you might give me some,,."
At that, he trailed off, clearly unsure how his request was being perceived. Swiftly, Doom stood back up to his full height, his armor clearly doing nothing to impede his range of motion, as he looked to the boy's mother and said, "This child has not eaten today? What happened to his rations? I gave stern orders that everyone in this town was to have sufficient rations distributed to them each day."
"They... they were taken from him after one of the academy classes, master." the woman said.
"By whom?" Doom asked, seeming merely curious.
"A bully. An older boy." the woman replied.
"Milady, I will pardon you this one time." Doom said, "But in the future, when I use the word 'whom,' I expect to be given a name."
"Samuel Ferdon." the woman said in a hurry to cover up her mistake. Doom merely nodded in reply, then faced the child again.
"I will make certain that Samuel faces justice for what he has done." Doom said to the boy, "He'll do that to you no more. In the meantime, be comforted by this."
As Doom said that, he produced from the folds of his cloak a small disc made of metal and glass, and turned its base in front of the boy, causing a large, green cube to appear from the top, which the boy eagerly took, holding it close to him as he looked up towards Doom.
"Thank you, master." The boy said, smiling.
"A trifle." Doom replied, then turning to the crowd of people gathered there, he said "This boy has great courage to come to me in his need, and I have rewarded him for it. If there is anyone else here who has suffered an unfairness, an injustice or a serious need while under my rule, they may come to me for help, and justice will be theirs."
As soon as everyone in the crowd was certain that Doom had finished speaking, they all bowed to him again, saying, as one "Hail, Doom!"
Alan, however, could barely speak. He'd never seen anything like it. Here was a self-contained country with a single, undisputed monarch of a decidedly unscrupulous sort, and yet, his people worshiped him almost like a God, and why not? He did for them more by far than the ancient Gods had done for the pagans, and more than, some said, God himself did on their behalf. He gave them peace, justice, rich, rewarding jobs and more. He could do so much that people had once looked to a God for. Watering the crops, standing beside them to face an enemy, helping to heal their injuries and cure their diseases. There was no freedom, but... But Latveria was a paradise.
"Now for the reason I came here to begin with." Doom said, turning to face Alan, "We have a guest to welcome into Latveria; a guest who came without an invitation, but who, nonetheless, is welcome to share in the responsibilities and benefits of life in Latveria. Welcome, Alan Jules."
Alan was absolutely flabbergasted that Doom knew his name, but was, in truth, far more surprised by the warm, if guarded welcome he'd just received. He hadn't expected Doom to even be civil towards an outsider like him, much less generous and warm, as it seemed he was being.
Alan was just about to say something, when Doom stepped further forward, towards him, and Alan heard two more words escape his mouth in a hushed mutter.
So Alan closed his mouth, and Doom beckoned him further on, towards the place where Alan had parked his car. It had since vanished, but that wasn't too surprising. What was surprising was that a small, flying vehicle had been parked in its place. Doom motioned for Alan to take a seat in the back, as he himself rested his metal-clad hands upon the cockpit controls in the front seat, and soon, they were flying through the air at such a fantastic speed, that Alan clung to his seat for fear of falling out, at first, until he noticed a seat belt, and put it on. Doom seemed to need no such device to ensure his safety, however.
"That was incredible." Alan exclaimed over the roar of the wind in his ears, "I never expected such a warm welcome."
Doom laughed at that point; a genuinely mirthful laugh, amplified by some odd device within his suit, then said in an equally-amplified voice, "You are no threat to me, Mister Jules. I have no reason to be hostile towards you. In fact, I've read several of your books, and I admit, you have some talent. Still, I'm surprised that a man such as you would take the risk of entering the territory of the most dangerous man on Earth."
"I thought it might be worth the risk." Alan shouted back.
"So it will be, if you conduct yourself correctly." Doom replied, "You may find more here in Latveria than merely people who are fulfilled and secure, though that's all a sane man should need."
By that time, the craft had landed in a hangar in a large, stone castle, though many of the walls, floors and ceilings inside were lined with other substances, like wood, brick or metal. Once the machine had been turned off, Doom stepped out of it, and Alan knew by that point that he was intended to follow.
Doom led Alan through hall after hall in Castle Doom, passing by many dozen rooms on the way down to the lower floors, until they reached the ground floor, and Doom opened one of the closest doors to the staircase they'd just descended by. There, Alan was surprised to find a lounge, of sorts, although it had many books arranged in bookshelves near the walls. Doom closed the door as soon as Alan had entered.
"I'm certain that what you really want is a profile on who I am." Doom said at last, "Well, I am the absolute monarch of this country, to start with. Here, my word is law, and it is by my will that the people of Latveria live happy and fulfilled lives, as I'm sure you've already noticed, so I won't reiterate those points any further."
"I was surprised by that." Alan remarked, as Doom pointed out a chair to him, to indicate that he should sit. Doom himself sat in another chair, just across the room from that one.
"Oh?" Doom asked, betraying no emotion with that single half-word.
"Well, on the outside world, people don't view you as being benevolent in any capacity." Alan explained, "It's a side of you that's been well hidden."
"That doesn't surprise me." Doom replied, "Those in power over the world outside my country are the ones who decide what should and shouldn't be hidden, and every single one of them is my enemy."
"Why?" Alan asked, feeling a little surprised by what Doom had just said.
"How disappointing." Doom remarked, and for a moment, Alan was worried he might sentence him to death, or some such thing, but after about a second, Doom merely said, "To even ask such a question proves that you are not as bright a man as I expected, but so be it. I will answer."
"Look out there." Doom commanded, pointing to a nearby window, and Alan obediently did so. Doom then continued, saying "Latveria is not a very large country, but over five hundred thousand people live in it, and they are happy and fulfilled, protected and made useful by me. Thanks to Doom, they live no longer in oppressive poverty, or unfair workloads. Thanks to Doom, they are safe, so long as they continue to obey my wishes. Thanks to Doom, they never need to feel useless or unhelpful, because each knows that they contribute to a cause greater than themselves, and the vast majority of them believe in that cause. Thanks to Doom, the people of this country live without despair, or hate, or futility. Have you ever seen such a thing anywhere else on Earth? Well? Have you?"
"I admit," Alan replied, "I haven't."
"Precisely." Doom said, leaning forward slightly in his chair as Alan left the window to take his seat again, "The brilliance of Doom has made all this possible. It is a unique and wonderful thing that people can still live in this way anywhere. Now, imagine if everyone on Earth could live in such peace and tranquility..."
As Doom said that, he opened both hands, and held them out in front of his chest, about a foot and a half apart, as if in illustration of what he was talking about; one planetary nation under him.
"People don't just accept that sort of thing overnight." Alan replied with only a moment's hesitation.
"Exactly." Doom said, seeming to feel as if he'd made his point, "That is the answer to your question. That is why I have so many enemies."
"You have plans to rule the planet." Alan noted.
"Ruling a country is not much harder than ruling a town or city, with resources such as mine." Doom explained, "Ruling a planet might be a bit more complicated, but not by much. It is not the ruling that presents a challenge, but the task of finding a way to rise to power."
"So, that's really it?" Alan asked, hardly able to believe it, after all the horrible things he'd heard about that man, "You mean all of your plans for global conquest have been basically... an errand of mercy?"
"An attempted errand of mercy, unfortunately." Doom replied, "I have been routed too often."
"Amazing." Alan muttered, really astonished by the news, "You know, I have to say, I don't really think I'd mind living in a place like Latveria, from what I've seen. Even the guards at the border made you sound like such a monster, but you're not, are you?"
"Only to those who oppose my will." Doom replied, "Like all human beings, I am a mixture of light and dark. However, I have never given of my inner kindness to those who stood in my way, nor showed my wrath to those who look to me humbly as their lord. This, above all else, I think it important for you to understand. My will, like all else about me, is strong, and my ambitions great, but in the end, I'm truly not so different from any other decent man. Others have merely given up on making the world a truly good place to live. I have not, and I never will."
"I understand." Alan admitted, "But this is certainly a lot different from what I was expec..."
Just then, a light began to blink on Doom's left gauntlet, and he looked at Alan in worry, then said, "Excuse me. Pressing matters. Your car is in the main garage. One of my servants will show you the way. You may leave my castle, and my country, whenever you wish, or stay as long as you please; even for the rest of your life, if that is your desire."
Then, Doom opened the door leading into the hallway, and left at a good stride, but as Alan left the room only a few seconds later, he could hear that voice, so gentle during their entire conversation, shouting in anxious enthusiasm.
"Have the fourth sector motors put back into place at once and activate them on my mark! He's a bigger fool than I thought to face me in my own domain! Activate all the traps in sector four and prepare them to retaliate to every move he makes using Adaptation Grid Epsilon!"
Alan had heard enough, however. One of the servants did indeed show him to his car, and he left the castle and the country within three hours, never once looking back.
However, some part of what he'd seen in Latveria truly did have a deeper effect upon Alan, because he never made an entry for Doom in his book about modern and recent dictatorships.
"People only want to hear about the darker side of famous people." he reasoned, "I'm not sure how they'd react to a scoop like this."