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This issue features the 'dream team' (according to me anyway) of Gerry Conway and Gene Colan, with a story titled 'Doomsmasque' as opposed to the 'Deathmasque' promised at the end of Astonishing Tales #8. Clearly Gerry Conway was quite pleased with the word 'masque', even going so far to define it for the readers on the splash page! I didn't realise before, but Conway was only around 19 years old when he wrote that (rather brilliant) story, and by the time this issue rolled around he was working regularly for Marvel across all their titles as one of the wave of new creators who came in during this period. His work here is very much in the Stan Lee style, though concentrating a lot more on the florid descriptions and 'Shakespearean' dialogue than humour for the most part.

The story starts off with Prince Namor on a train, having lost his memory after the shock of seeing his father die in his arms in the previous issue. After fighting off some hoboes he jumps off the train in Chicago and is almost shot by a policeman, only saved by a cloaked figure dissolving the cop's gun before he can fire. Whoever could it be? Namor then meets a girl, Cindy Jones, who takes him into her house. They're sitting having a chat and a mildly flirty coffee when there's a knock at the door. Namor answers it to find - Doctor Doom! The surprise is a little diminished by the fact that he was on the cover and in the story's title, but still, it jogs Namor's memory, reminding him of all the other times they have met. This also reminds Namor of the recent death of his bride Dorma, sending him into a furious rage. He attacks Doom who fights back, but only gently, preferring not to hurt Namor as he needs him alive for whatever plan it is he's working on this time. This is a much calmer, considered Doom than we've seen in the most recent Stan Lee stories, who flies into a rage at the merest perceived slight, as is especially apprent when he decides to allow Namor to throw him around a bit to work off some anger, through the wall into the next door apartment. This is a lovely sequence very much in the early Marvel tradition of mixing the everyday in with superhero antics, featuring Doom setting fire to the elderly couple's sofa and then quickly putting it out again to prevent any further damage (apart from the wall, obviously, and soon the window). Again, we see Doom expressing consideration for others, even if he does insist that it's all to preserve his reputation rather than any deeper feeling. Namor disagrees with even this level of professed feeling, saying "you but masquerade as a man," using a word which, thanks to the definition at the start of the issue, we all know the meaning of.

They fall through the window and out onto the street for more fighting, at which point Cindy Jones appears and begs them to stop. Doom invites Namor back to the Latverian Embassy - although surely, with Chicago not being the capital, this should be the Latverian consulate - and invites him to team-up again by telling a heavily doctored version of their history together which carefully avoids tricky subjects like betrayals and double-crosses. Namor agrees and the pair of them, along with Cindy, hop into Doom's jet and head off for an abandoned AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) base, where Doom hopes to find a "most fantastic weapon". After avoiding some automatic defences, Doom ponders the fact that he might not be attempting this at all if he wasn't convinced that Modok, the leader of AIM, was dead. This being comics we instantly know that Modok must therefore definitely be alive, and the issue concludes with the giant-headed baddy laughing at Doom's mistake and looking forward to fighting him again. But how did Doom get it so wrong? I am comvinced that we will not find out next time!

link to information about this issue

posted 16/1/2019 by Mark Hibbett

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DOOMBOT FILTER: an animal that says 'miaow' (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