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It's Iron Man's name on the cover, but it feels like he's only there to highlight how much more interesting a character Doom is. All the way through the two are contrasted, and at each turn Doom comes off as more dynamic and interesting. I know that this may be due to the fact that I'm about two thirds of the way through reading several hundred Doctor Doom stories, but I'm pretty sure it would feel that way to someone who hasn't read so many!
The story begins where the last one left off, with the two characters falling through time and landing in a place that turns out to be ... Camelot! Doom quickly works out what's happened - he was planning to use the time machine next to visit Morganna Le Fey for advice, and so that was where it was set to take them when Hauptmann switched it on - but before they can deal with the situation they're apprehended by a bunch of knights on horseback. As we'll see throughout this story, this is a story where an awful lot of characters are wearing expressionless masks! The knights tell them to kneel and Doom, obviously, refuses. A big fight breaks out between him and the knights, which is only broken up by Iron Man pointing out that allowing themselves to be captured will at least get them into the castle. Here they meet a rather grumpy looking King Arthur, who challenges them to demonstrate their "magical powers". Iron Man responds with the old "reverse magnetic field" trick to raise Arthur's throne into the air (which I guess must be made of iron somehow?), whereas Doom refuses to have anything to do with such showing off and simply presents his credentials as a fellow ruler. That's good enough for Arthur and so the two men are sent away to their respective rooms. We first of all see Tony Stark, who is visited in his room by a fair maiden who tells him that "In Camelot, royal guests are provided with companionship during their stay." It's pretty clear that she doesn't mean someone to play Ye Olde Scrabble with, and Stark is delighted. Was there ever a time when this was anything other than massively dodgy? Before it can get any worse we switch to Doom's room, where he is visited by another maiden. The previous page was so very sleazy that it almost seems better when Doom decides to hypnotise her, forcing her to tell him where Morganna Le Fey is. Once he's got that information he blasts a hole in the wall, zaps a passing guard, and carries out one of his signature moves - flying out of a window! Next morning King Arthur tells Iron Man what's happened, filling in some Arthurian Legend Backstory about his sister Morganna and her fights with Merlin. At the same time the maiden who Doom hypnotised is shown to be still under his spell - this is done, I guess, to remind us that Doom is the villain, and that the character who has spent the night enjoying the "companionship" of a woman under orders from her feudal owner is the hero.
While this is going on Doom arrives at Morganna Le Fey's castle, which looks quite a lot like his own. It's worth noting that we're getting a lot more pages featuring Doctor Doom in this story than the nominal hero, and this continues as he works his way past various traps and ends up flying into Morganna Le Fey's castle, where we meet an extremely 1980s version of the legendary character herself. Doom explains that he's come to ask for her help as part of his ongoing quest to free his mother from hell, and relates the story of his annnual attempt to free her through a battle with demons, as first mentioned way back in Astonishing Tales #8. Le Fey in turn tells him that she's trapped in her own castle, and the pair make a deal for Doom to lead an attack on Camelot for her, in return for some Magical Training. Before you know it Doom is heading back with an amry of undead knights behind him. This is spotted by a sentry, who I think reacts as we all would. Boring old Iron Man tries to talk him out of the attack but Doom, of course, refuses, and a Big Fight breaks out between King Arthur's knights, a load of zombies, Iron Man and Doctor Doom. Thanks to John Romita Jr and (especially) Bob Layton it all looks gorgeous - everything is so shiny!
Eventually Iron Man works out that Doom has never previously had the power to raise the dead, so somebody else must be doing it. He zooms back to Le Fey's castle which he's able to find because "King Arthur gave me its general location during our talks yesterday", which is handy. Here we finally get a few pages of the lead character in action, as he fights some mystic shadows and a dragon, which he defeats using a previously unmentioned tube of freon which he just so happens to keep in his... shoulder? Also handy! This allows him to confront Morganna Le Fey who is not happy at all. "Ohhhh, you make me hate you", she says, and then disappears in a mystical huff, causing all of her zombies to suddenly collapse on the battlefield. Doom works out who's responsible and how he's done it and flies back to the castle ready for what Iron Man expects is going to be another punch-up. However, Doom points out that things have changed, and that they'd be better off working together now in order to get home again. Iron Man (who is meant to be one of the world's smartest men) is taken by surprise, and when he asks Doom how he can trust him we get a Classic Doom response. again, Doom is playing the lead role in all of this, with Iron Man simply reacting - it feels like David Micheline is enjoying writing him a lot more!
There then follows several pages of what would be, in a movie, a Working Together Montage, as the two men take their own suits of armour to pieces in order to build a device to send them home. They're both impressed by the skill of the other but, of course, would never say it aloud. Just before they switch the device on they agree a twenty four hour truce for when they get back, to give each other time to get home, then back they go in an oddly Ditko-esque splash of time travel. And that's pretty much that - all that's left is a one page "epilogue" which sees them arriving home, agreeing to have a Big Fight when they next meet, and then going their seperate ways. As I've said (repeatedly) this has very much felt like a Doctor Doom story, and it's one I've thoroughly enjoyed. I'm extremely aware of the fact that we're getting very close to looking at comics that I bought when they actually came out, and that's probably why I'm starting to enjoying the reading process so much. Everybody knows that the comics you read when you were eleven years old are the best comics you'll ever read, and there's some right crackers coming up on the horizon. Before that, however, we've got a whole heap of cartoons to watch, starting next time!
link to information about this issue
posted 12/3/2020 by Mark Hibbett
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