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And Time, The Rushing River

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This story sees Roy Thomas use Ray Bradbury's 'A Sound Of Thunder' for inspiration, as The Avengers return from a time travel adventure (using Doctor Doom's time machine) to discover that their actions have had dire repercussions for the present day.

When they return to their own time they discover a world subtly changed, not least by the fact that the original members of The Avengers are still together, and very surprised to see them. After a lot of research using a history-telling device called a 'Herodotron' they discover that in this new reality a mysterious figure called The Scarlet Centurion turned up at the end of The Avengers' first adventure and offered them an end to famine, plague and pestilence, in exchange for imprisoning all other superheroes. The Avengers have a meeting about it and decide to give it a go. After all, if he's lying then The Avengers themselves will still be around to stop him, so no harm done, right? You know, apart from beating up and imprisoning every other superhero, which is precisely what they go out and do. It's all supremely daft, but they think they're doing the right thing and, once every other superhero is overcome they go and duff up all of the supervillains, just to be sure. Doctor Doom, Electro, Doctor Octopus and The Mandarin were the last super-powered beings left at liberty to fight the Avengers, and though we don't see exactly how they were eventually defeated, we are told that they definitely were, with this panel the only mention of them in the issue. They're basically there to show how wrong The Avengers have become, that the Supervillains are now the ones fighting for liberty against super-powered oppression, whereas normally it would be the other way round.

The interesting thing for me here is that Doctor Doom is being used once again as a signifier of super-villainy, grouped with other major supervillains in a very similar fashion to how he has been used recently in Not Brand Echh. This is the first time he's been used this way in the main Marvel universe, even though this is actually an 'alternative' timeline rather than the 'real' one. As discussed previously, it definitely won't be the last time we seeing him heading up a representative group of villains, but it's interesting to see that this was a storytelling tool that was first used in a humour comic!

The Avengers travel back to Doom's old hideout, where his time machine was first demonstrated way back in Fantastic Four #5, which causes one of the team to remark how odd it is that the castle's still there in this reality. This is Roy Thomas using and old Stan Lee trick of pointing out how ridiculous a situation is, in order to get the reader to accept it! They cook up a plan to reset the timeline, which works so well that they themselves forget what has happened, although not before The Watcher turns up to give a brief explanation of who The Scarlet Centurion really is. What the Watcher conveniently omits here is the idea that Rama Tut and Doctor Doom might actually be the same person from different points in time, as mentioned when they met back in Fantastic Four Annual #2. I imagine that The Watcher, seeing all as he does, thought that that was all too confusing to go into here, and I think he makes the right decision. The story ends with The Avengers flying off with no memory of what's gone on, as none of it technically happened at all. It's a neat, sci-fi twist, ending to the story, even if it does make you wonder a little bit why you bothered reading it!

link to information about this issue

posted 18/7/2018 by Mark Hibbett

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DOOMBOT FILTER: an animal that says 'woof' (3)

(e.g. for an animal that says 'cluck' type 'hen')

A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett