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The Day Of Doom!
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"Spidey Super Stories" was a regular sketch feature on "The Electric Company", a TV show made by the Children's Television Workshop for children aged 6-10 i.e. the next age group up from kids who'd watched "Sesame Street". Spider-man would interact with a range of characters, often from other aspects of the show, in short comedy skits. Marvel didn't charge a licensing fee for this, most likely because they saw it as a way to draw children towards the comics, and this series was a tie-in designed to do just that, featuring adaptations of existing sketches plus new stories featuring other Marvel characters (none of whom ever appeared on the TV show).
The adaptations of existing sketches are pretty weird, as they stick with the actors and designs of the TV show, making some of it look a bit queasy. The art is gorgeous though, drawn by DC veteran Winslow Mortimer, and it's written by Jean Thomas, wife of Roy Thomas and author of "Night Nurse" around the same time. The stories are very straightforward but are not hugely different from regular Marvel comics, although they do have a distracting habit of splitting up sentences into seperate speech bubbles which makes it seem... like everybody talkes like ... William Shatner. The story starts with a potted origin of Dr. Doom, and it's immediately obvious that he has been simplifed a LOT for a younger audience. Interestingly he's still the King of a foreign country, and the image chosen to illustrate this does look rather similar to previous stories in 'Astonishing Tales', with his briefly glimpsed army reminiscent of Latverians seen in the same series. Doom himself is visually very much on-brand, drawn in exactly the same style as that set out by John Buscema a few years ago, although in this version he does seem to wear a wrist watch over his armour. The storyline is very similar to the Hanna Barbera version of The Three Predictions Of Doctor Doom, with Doom trapping the United Nations inside a force field, and refusing to let anybody leave until they've all given him their countries. J Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are also trapped inside, and there's a lovely running gag about Jonah thinking Doom was "peace loving". Spidey watches from outside the force field, and realises that it must be powered by electricity, so he writes a message using his webs to tell the team from The Electricity Company to pull the power. A character called "Easy Reader" (played by Morgan Freeman) uses the mighty power of literacy to read it, and the kids go off unplugging everything they can find. Duly defeated Doom tries to flee, only to be knocked out by Spidey, who's been able to get in now that the force field is down. It all ends with the police leading Doom away, and J Jonah Jameson still looking annoyed that he was wrong about Doom's character. It's an elegantly done, really rather delightful story that, apart from aspects of the origin, is surprisingly close to Doom's usual characterisation!
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posted 24/5/2019 by Mark Hibbett
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