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When Doom wakes up Modok tells him he's captured Namor, and summons him for a meeting to discuss terms. Doom goes and, along the way, indulges in some more self-reflection, wondering why it is that he is acting to save Namor. Could they be... friends?!? When Modok mocks him for coming, Doom replies that he has done so because he is a man, "and men have feelings... and yes, have loyalty!" Again, this is most unlike the Doom of old but very much in tune with the tortured character that Conway is now writing him as. Previously Doom would have denied any such perceived weakness and claimed he was only acting out of devious self-interest, but here he's proud of his emotions. There's another big fight, which expands out to Doom's ship, where his delightfully normally-named henchmen wonder what's happened to that twit Kenner while they launch an attack on the AIM base. Meanwhile Namor manages to trick some androids into giving him a tube of water, which he splashes all over himself to revive his superpowers. I must admit I've always found Namor to be a bit of a rubbish superhero - his secret weakness is getting dehydrated, but he can be easily revived by a tap - but it does lead to a rather brilliant Gene Colan illustration of him bursting out of his chains. Namor heads off to a radioactive chamber where he discovers the Cosmic Cube in a handily labelled container, not unlike the sort of thing you'd see on the Batman TV show. The container opens and Namor sees something horrific, but we don't find out what it is because we briefly flip over to catch up with Cindy Jones. She's decided to try and escape, and is doing so by... er... flashing some leg. The guard seems utterly delighted by this turn of events, which is a bit odd bearing in mind that the last guard who took a lewd interest in Cindy was instantly executed by his employer. Perhaps he feels safe because Doom is out of the office, in Modok's control room getting into a proper Big Supervillain Fight, during which he proudly talks about his root to power as a demonstration of his unwillingness to give in. This is yet another example of Conway writing Doom differently to recent portrayals, harking back to the idea that he's a working class revolutionary, as used so effectively in his earlier appearances. Doom beats Modok only to discover that it was a robot all along, with Modok watching via TV screen. Using a robot while watching the action on a TV set? Modok is totally ripping off Doctor Doom, as well as being unforgiveably snobbish! Doom ignores this and goes in search of the cube, along the way revealing his true purpose - he wants to use the Cosmic Cube to cure his facial disfigurement, so that he can be the man he once was and be at peace! I keep saying that this is a very different version of Doom from what we've seen lately, because it is. This is a Doom back to the nuanced, sympathetic, properly motivated character of the origin and mid-sixties, rather than the deranged dictator of more recent times, and I have to say I prefer it. Unfortunately though, before he can get the cube, the long-running sub-plot about the minion called Kenner comes back, as he is discovered to be an assassin placed on the ship in order to get closer to the Sub-Mariner and kill him. He surprises Doom and knocks him unconscious, but we don't find out who has sent him here, or how he knew that Doom and Namor would be teaming up, as he immediately becomes entranced by the Cosmic Cube and destroyed by it.
Doom is left beside the glowing cube, moments away from destruction, but is rescued by Cindy - she was let out of her cage by a randy guard who gets a well-deserved bonk on the head with a spanner for his troubles. She drags Doom away from the radioactive cube, only for him to try to fight his way back towards it when he wakes up. It's only when Namor turns up and tell him it's a bad idea that Doom is persuaded to leave it be, and even then he has to pause a moment to think about what might have been. They escape into Doom's ship just in time to fly away as the cube explodes, taking the whole base with it and, presumably, irradiating the ocean for miles around. We next see the trio in New Orleans, saying goodbye. Doom tells Namor what he knows about the plot by Kenner to kill him, and then disappears into the mist, saying "you've gained a friend." And there the issue, and the story, comes to an end. As so often happens, Doom has more or less taken over another character's book and been by far the most interesting part of it, especially now that Gerry Conway is trying to return him to his tortured roots. It'll be interesting to see whether this characterisation sticks!
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posted 23/1/2019 by Mark Hibbett
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