Artists: Paolo Rivera, Bill Morrison
Published: February 2003
Issue 2 has two great stories, the first concerning Doctor Doom, the second about the Avengers.
"Masks," the opening story has Doctor Doom enjoying a orchestral performance in Latveria Kingdom Hall. It is here that we meet a beautiful violin player, who just so happens to resemble Doom's former lover. As the story progresses, Doctor Doom introduces her to his world, past and present. He reveals of himself through, what appears to be, sincerity, but quickly blooms into masterful manipulation. In the words of Doctor Doom: "Doom is Doom. As Doom ever was."
Overall I was impressed by "Masks." The story was aloof, manipulated, and pretentious; basically everything Doctor Doom is. The artwork is painted by Rivera, and maintains an air of high class, which adds in a reverse twist to the pettiness and pretentiousness of Dr. Dooms character. In eleven pages Priest and Rivera are able to deliver a complete, haunting, portrait of one of Marvel's greatest villains.
The second installment is by Bill Morrison,entitled "The Roots of All Evil." Morrison is probably best known for his co-founding of Bongo comics, the publisher of Simpsons and Futurama comics. Of the staff for Bongo, Morrison is the best artist/writer able to capture the look and feel of the Simpsons cast.
In "Roots of All Evil" Morrison turns his Simpsons-esque sensibilites to Earths Mightest Heros - The Avengers! The story opens with Loki expressing his desire to destroy Thor. However after a conversation with the Entrantress, Loki returns to his original roots: The God of Mischief. Loki then turns his attention towards the Avengers. The tale quickly progresses to Loki pranking the Avengers. Not only has he returned to his roots, he returns to the roots of pranks: the loose salt shaker cap, flushing while others shower, the burning bag of dog crap, dye in the shower head, hair removal cream, and one of my favorites, a fly in a ice cube, but instead of a fly it's the Wasp! Oh that devious Loki!! As can be guessed, the story ends with Loki getting caught and roughed up, but it does have a little twist, but I'm not going to say.
What makes this tale stand out is the artwork. I'm not a big Avengers fan, but I am a big Simpsons fan (who isn't?), and when combined, I can't help but now enjoy the Avengers on some pseudo pop culture level. As for the story, I don't think in any Marvel publication have we witnessed a bald Thor. Even if the rest of the story was mediocre (which it's not), one bald Thor is enough to propel this story to the upper echelons of Marvel comic history.