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Twlight Of The Hunted!
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A willingness to negotiate and think of others is unusual for Doom, to the extent that one of his henchmen, Franklin, remarks upon it as he's sent off to watch over Namor. There'll be more of this this sort of thing throughout the story, as well as more henchmen with names that sound like they work for a bank. Before that, however, we follow Namor to New Orleans, where he has decided to return Cindy for safekeeping after all. Franklin watches as they enter Cindy's old home, which appears to be a commune ruled over by a startlingly realistic pusher called 'Brother Johnny'. There's a big fight, during which Franklin kidnaps/rescues Cindy and Namor is knocked unconscious, only to be awoken by police and thrown into another fight. At this point Doctor Doom appears to rescue his friend, much to the relief of the local cops who suggest that he takes Namor away to save them some paperwork. Doom tells Namor that Cindy is his prisoner, and that he must do exactly as he is told to secure her safety. Namor agrees and is soon being dropped off closer to the base, while Doom indulges in some self-reflection. This is distinctly unlike the Doom we have come to know, although not entirely out of character. We very rarely get to hear Doom's thoughts, so it's quite possible that, for instance, he's been remonstrating with himself on a regular basis while simultaneously acting like, well, Doctor Doom. Here, for instance, in the recent Incredible Hulk #144, could he really be thinking "I've messed this up so badly with Valeria, please don't leave me alone so I have to talk to her"? Or maybe in the classic The Power And The Pride, rather than being supremely arrogant, is Doom really desperately hoping that people will like him? All right, maybe not, but it's an interesting way to look at the character, possibly reflecting the inner workings of Gerry Conwway who is, after all, only 19 years old and so (if he's anything like most teenagers I've known or indeed been) he's probably plagued with very similar self-doubt.
Back in the comic, Doom's introspection is cut short here by a signal from his bank of machinery which jolts him back to his normal self, although we only see his spoken words, so beneath the bluster he may still be riven with doubt. The ship dives into the sea, becoming a submarine, and we see a bunch of henchmen busy at work. One of them asks his chum Orson if he's seen another colleague called Kenner lately, who was sent off to get some coffee and never came back. It's all very office-like, and entirely unlike the East European thugs we've become used to seeing in Doom's employ - a fact that will pay off a bit later.
Meanwhile Namor is swimming towards the base, fighting automatic defences on the way. Similar defences shoot at Doom's ship, but despite this Doom remains sure that Modok is dead. There's then a brief interlude during which Modok watches his enemies approach and reminisces about how he survived - he had a secret underground railway and robot army ready, just in case he was ever caught in a collapsing building, which is only sensible if you happen to be a supervillain living in the Marvel universe - before we return to Doom's ship, where Cindy Jones is being visited by the office creep. Luckily for Cindy, but less so for Wilson (another very American name, along with Orson, Kenner and Franklin), his boss Doctor Doom turns up and flat out kills him. Cindy, oddly, tries to excuse Orson's behaviour, saying "he was only.." before Doom cuts her off, saying he has no time whatsoever for that sort of behaviour. It's another example of Doom being shown in a good light, clamping down on sexual harrassment in the workplace, even if some would argue that his methods are perhaps a little harsh. The message is clear though: even world-conquering dictators disapprove of sexual harassment.
The issue ends with Namor fighting his way into the base, only to discover Modok waiting for him (as we all knew he was, so again the big surprise splash isn't much of a surprise). A bigger surprise, perhaps, is the revelation that the "weapon" Doom had come here to steal is actually... a Cosmic Cube! This is a McGuffin capable of changing reality and giving the user power over reality itself, as well as being utterly meaningless to anyone who hasn't read Marvel comics much. Ending with this reveal as the cliff-hanger demonstrates how much Marvel was relying on its readers having an in-depth knowledge of the storyworld during this period, and hopefully it'll work here in the 21st Century to bring you back next time to see how the story concludes!
link to information about this issue
posted 18/1/2019 by Mark Hibbett
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