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Blog Archive: September 2019

Death Drone
Doom doesn't appear at all in the actual story for this comic, which is an extraordinarily daft episode for the usually-very-daft-anyway Champions where they fight Swarm, The Bunch Of Bees Who Walked Like A Man. Doom only appears in the "next time" box, acting as a warning to regular readers that they'll need to read Super-Villain Team-Up #14 if they want to understand the next issue of this series. It's just one spot illustration, but it raises three interesting points. First of all, this is the very first published depiction of Doctor Doom drawn by John Byrne. A few years from now Byrne would take over The Fantastic Four for a run which many (including me) think of as second only to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's, and a version of Doctor Doom which some (especially me!) think is one of the best, so it's exciting to see the beginnings of all that here.

The second point is that I could very easily have missed it. This "appearances" isn't flagged up by any of the crowd-sourced databases that I used to put my research corpus together.hese databases are great, but they're not very reliable, and I only spotted it here because I wanted to check to see if there was any lead-in to the crossover for when it continues in the next issue of this series.

Which brings me to my final point, which is to say that it's interesting to see Marvel getting the hang of crossovers, explicityly pointing them out to readers and telling them to go out and buy the relevant comics to understand the story. Advance notice hasn't always been given, although I'm not sure how it would have been received by fans at the time who found they had to pay for an extra comic next month. In a few years time, of course, they would be doing this a LOT more!

posted 30/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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When Walks The Warlord!
Keith Giffen channels the spirit of Jack Kirby throughout this issue, not necessarily by doing straight copies of his drawing style, but by using the same science-fiction design flair and dramatic poses. A prime example of this is the cover, which is another example in the long line of covers that show a huge Doctor Doom looming over everybody else. One of my PhD Supervisors has previously noted that there seem to be an awful lot of images of Doom like this, and I think he's got a point!

After the previous issue's thrilling Doom VS Red Skull showdown, this one catches up with The Submariner again. Afetr agreeing to help him free his people from suspended animation, the story this time sees Doctor Doom and Namor heading back to Atlantis to do just that. Before they get there, however, they are attacked by some very Kirby-esque underwater tanks. Initially Doom steps back and observes the battle, but realises that if Namor loses he will be left with his oath to help him unfulfilled. However, rather than intervene in the fighting he simply gets on with what he's come there to do, and releases what appears to be gas pellets into the water. Why he had to come himself to do this I do not know - he could have sent a lackey or just given them to Namor to take back - but whatever the reason they work. The Atlanteans are freed and Doom has fulfilled his promise. This close-up of Doom's eyes glaring from behind his mask is another image that keeps on cropping up!

Most of the rest of the issue is taken up with Namor fighting the warlord Krang, the villain who attacked them in the first place and who is trying to take over Atlantis. There's not an awful lot of story in it, but it looks fabulous thanks to Keith Griffen's amazing artwork which, as I say, takes inspiration from Kirby without necessarily copying him. Krang is defeated, but when he tries to escape he bumps into Doctor Doom who finally gets a bit of action, beating the Warlord easily in a sword fight. With that all done Doom returns to Namor, who is spectacularly ungrateful. I mean, yes, Doom did kidnap him, use him as a slave to attack his own enemies, and betray him on a monthly basis, but then again he has just saved the lives of everybody Namor knows, so his behaviour does seem a little ungracious. I suppose it seems odd because Namor is supposed to be more of a superhero than Doom, and so might be expected to be a bit more civil. The next page shows him being cheered as King by his people, and this also seems oddly villainous. They're hailing him, aren't they? The story ends with Doom slinking away, musing on the fact that Namor's power over his people comes from love, whereas Doom's comes from iron will and power. I'm not sure that's entirely accurate - we've seen on many occasions that the Latverians at least respect him, but perhaps this is something too difficult for Doom to accept. This is the end of Namor's appearances in Super-Villain Team-Up, leaving Doom to share the headline slot with other villains in future, starting next time with Magneto!

posted 27/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Spider-man And Web-man
This story sees Doctor Doom trying to destroy Spider-man in a world similar, but not quite the same, to the regular Marvel Universe ... which is eerily similar to the story we looked at last time, over in the newspaper strips.

However, where that version of Doom was fairly similarly to the mainstream one, the Doom appearing in Spidey Super Stories is more in line with the characterisation given to him by Luis Avalos on the Super Spidey Stories album i.e. decidedly camp, right from the expanded version of his origin story on the inside cover. It seems strange that the origin concentrates on Latveria, as that has nothing to do with the story and isn't mentioned again. Instead we see Doom using a Mirror to make an evil copy of Spider-man called Web-man who "will have all of Spidey's powers... but none of Spidey's goodness." Web-man jumps out of Doom's Twin Machine and flies off into action... only to slam into a wall, leading Doom to slap his forehead in loving despair. I wish they'd made an audio version of this one too, Luis Avalos would have killed that line!

Web-man tries to rob an armoured car and is stopped by the real Spider-man, at which point a Big Fight breaks out. When Web-man runs off Spidey follows him, all the way back to the original mirror room, enabling Doom to create another twin - Webby 2! As is always the case with Spidey Super Stories, there's a weird dream-like logic to the whole thing, which continues as Spider-man simply jumps through the mirror, into the next door room where he captures Doom. His two creations disappear, leaving Spider-man to finish off the story with the punchline: And that's the lot. It's a very simple, very easy to read story - certified as such by The Easy Reader AKA Morgan Freeman - which sees this version of Doom deviating somewhat from the norm slightly by behaving like a camp mad scientist. There's more to come from Doom in the Spidey Super Stories universe so it'll be interesting to see if he stays that way, but next time we're back to the regular comics to see Doom at his most scheming!

posted 25/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Return To Reality
We're back in the world of newspaper strips this time, and it's very clear that Stan Lee and John Romita have been getting into the swing of it since we last saw Doom here, in the very first series. The recaps at the start of each strip are done a lot more smoothly, the Sunday strips now add information to the stories without being unmissable, and the self-aware sarcasm that Stan Lee is known for is starting to make itself known. There's less repetition on a day to day basis, but an awful lot in the story itself, as Doctor Doom tries to persuade Spider-man that he's going mad by, basically, tricking him again and again in the same way. This wouldn't be so bad in a single comic, but it must have been a bit annoying for readers over the course of three months of three panel strips!

We first see Doctor Doom in Latveria, where a group of peasants grovel as he approaches. In this version of the country it seems that the Latverians are outright terrified of him, and so are surprised when he spares the life of a young lad who wishes to look at him, leaving them impressed by his kindness. We immediately see another side of Doom, howeber, when he sends an unemployed man to prison for begging for help. This version of Latveria is very similar to the 1960s one drawn by Jack Kirby, with medieval castles and a populace dressed as extras from The Sound Of Music. The only difference so far is that the state guards are dressed as policemen, rather than robots.

Doom returns to his castle, where he watches Spider-man through a video screen - another classic Doom characteristic. Doom will remain in Latveria for the whole storyline, never leaving his castle. It's from here that he sends some robots - here called "Mecho-Men" rather than Doombots - to kidnap a noted psychiatrist and bring him back to Latveria. Meanwhile, he uses a special Robot Pigeon, with a two-way video screen in its chest, to follow Spider-man around New York. Spidey is amazed to see J Jonah Jameson standing on top of a bridge, threatening to commit suicide in the hope that Spider-man will get the blame. When he jumps off he falls into a cloud of smoke, generated by the robot pigeon, and then disintegrates, revealing himself to be another robot, operated by Doom. There are, as we'll see, some great sound effects in this story!

Spider-man is horrified, and distraught when he dives into the river and is unable to find a body. He's even more upset when he goes into the Daily Bugle the next day to find Jameson his usual grumpy self. Back in Latveria Doom interviews the psychiatrist he has kidnapped, Karl Lazlo. When Lazlo refuses to help him destroy Spider-man Doctor Doom remarks that he hates violence... while smashing a wall. Again, classic Doom action! There's more to come, as he takes off his mask to show the horrified psychiatrist his true face. He does this an awful lot, so when he tells Lazlo "None but you... have ever seen my naked face" it rings somewhat hollow.

Having done that he puts Lazlo into a Scientific Device which drains all the scientific knowledge from his brian and records it in a computer, which Doom can use later on. Meanwhile Spider-man finds himself questioning his sanity when he faces Doctor Octopus - a character he knows for sure is in prison. Doc Ock is a hologram created by Doctor Doom, unbeknownst to Spider-man, so when the baddy disappears a confused Spidey takes this as evidence that he's going mad. This impression is only added to when he switches on the telly to see a psychiatrist who just so happens to be talking about Spider-man, and how he's likely to lose his mind at any moment. Things carry on in this vein, with Spider-man facing Kraven and then the actual Mayor of New York, both of whom are actually robots, both of whom are destroyed before Spidey can work out what's going on. This does feel like Lee and Romita are treading water, so it's a relief when they finally move it all forward, with Spidey going to see the TV psychiatrist. During the session - which he's getting for free because he's so interesting - he sees another hallucination, and leaves even more convinced that he's going bonkers.

Things get even worse when he starts to lose his powers - caused by a tiny disc which Doom has attached via Robot Pigeon to his back. After another terrible session at the psychiatrists he discovers the disc, but when he takes it back to show her he's not paranoid Doom destroys it by remote. It's all a bit much for poor old Spider-man, so when the psychiatrist tells him the only cure is to abandon his superhero life and reveal his true identity he's ready to go along with it. Just before he pulls the mask off, however, he spots the pigeon and (somehow) recognises it as one of Doom's robots. With the jig up the psychiatrist reveals that she's a robot too, and the traditional Big Fight ensues, watched as ever by Doctor Doom so that, when the robot looks like it's going to lose the fight, he decides to bring the whole thing to an end by using the same method he's employed throughout. And that's the end of the story, with the strip very swiftly moving on to a scene where Aunt May gets threatened by muggers ready for the next storyline.

On the whole this has been an enjoyable, if rather repetitive, storyline, which has been especially interesting for the way it's allowed Doctor Doom to be the baddy for three months without ever even being in the same country as Spider-man. He's also displayed a lot of the traits we associate with the 616 Universe version of the character - something that can't be said for the next version of him that we'll encounter, over in Spidey Super Stories!

posted 20/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Deadly Is The Doctor Called Doom - The Album
This time we're looking at - or rather listening to - an audio story which appeared on the 'Spider Super Stories Album'. It's one of eight adaptations of stories which originally appeared in the 'Spidey Super Stories' comic book, which was in turn based on the version of Spider-man seen in 'The Electric Company' show, which was a further adaptation of the original comic character. If that isn't transmedia then I don't know what is!

This particular story is based on Spider Super Stories #19, and sticks extremely close to that storyline, with almost every single world being read out and only a couple of additional descriptions inserted to alert the reader to scene changes, all read out very clearly by none other than Morgan Freeman! It reminded me of the Power Records adaptation of Fantastic Four #126 in how closely it stuck to the comic, and I wonder if the idea was for the audience to read along as the record plays, similar to the Power Records one, in order to help them learn to read? If so, it doesn't seem to have come with a comic included.

It also reminded me of The Fantastic Four Radio Show, if only for the way that certain lines get said as quickly as possible by the actors, as they don't really make any sense at all without the visuals. The section where Doctor Doom imagines a future where he has a Spider Army is particularly confusing!

Here's a YouTube clip of the whole story so you can judge for yourself:



Doctor Doom is played here by Luis Avalos, one of the regulars on 'The Electric Company' who performs the role as a rather camp mixture of Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. In the context it works surprisingly well, coming off like a rather creepy uncle - I guess the usual vocalisation of Doom, as a forbidding, deep voiced menace, wouldn't really work when his main plot is to kidnap a bunch of school children in order to lure Spider-man to his castle to steal his spider powers. It's also quite close to Stan Lee's early 70s version of the character as a wheedling, self-pitying, deluded dictator, so it's a pity Avalos didn't get the chance to use his particular performance on one of those stories too - I think it would have worked, but maybe it wouldn't have been as much fun for the Electric Company's target audience!

It's a very interesting way to play the character which, I'll warn you now, has the unfortunate side effect of getting into your head, so that Doom will continue to speak a little bit more camply forever after, notably in his 'Spidey Super Stories' appearances, but in the mainstream universe too!

posted 18/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Death Duel!
As we've seen before, one really easy way to make Doctor Doom the sympathetic lead character in a story is to pit him against someone who is clearly, unequivocally, much worse than he is, and they don't come much more clearly, unequivocally evil than The Red Skull.

The story here carries on shortly after the previous issue of this series, with The Red Skull on the moon ready to fire a hypno ray and Doctor Doom (accompanied by The Shroud) heading into space to stop him. There's a lot of minor plotholes getting explained and characters moving into place during the start of the story, and initially I thought that Bill Mantlo (who writes this one) had been brought in as "The Fill-In King" to sort it out, but no, he wrote the previous issue too. Maybe this sort of fix-it scriptwriting becomes a habit?

One early example of this is when Doom and Captain America discuss what's happened since last time, and why it's Doom in the spaceship. This is the kind of recapping/explanation that usually happens in the first few pages of superhero comics from around this time, and Mantlo achieves it with some excellent Doom dialogue. Dolt! There's a bit more plot mechanics as Namor decides to leave the others to it and head back to Atlantis, and then Doomn ejects The Shroud into space so ge can guard the Hypno-Ray satellite. Having read quite a lot of The Shroud lately I am entirely in favour of him being ejected into space, and I really like Doom's reaction to his traditional superhero dialogue here. There's also a great, brief, explanation of Doom's entire motivation for saving the world - it will, after all, all belong to him soon! Next comes a brief interlude during which The Skull demonstrates his villainy by horribly murdering members of his staff for disagreeing with him (Doom rarely does this - he'll slap them in the face, but doesn't usually kill them) and then reveals that he was the mysterious bidder who's been buying Doom's technology in the distant sub-plots lately. He also does a recap of his recent history and explains that being teleported to the moonbase means that the firing of the Hypno Ray has had to be delayed by an hour. It's a tour-de-force of This Kind Of Comic Writing by Mantlo, getting a whole heap of information over in an exciting way (thanks to Bob Hall's illustrations) while demonstrating character and, on top of all that, setting a countdown timer before the end of the world! I am honour bound as a Middle-Aged Superhero Fan to say "That would take an entire issue nowadays".

It's then time for action, as The Skull fires missiles at Doom's approaching space ship. I was going to say that it all loooks a bit like Star Wars, but of course this came out before the film, so Doctor Doom being blasted into space comes at least a year before the same fate befell Darth Vader. You don't think..?

Doom escapes the destruction of his ship, sealing off his armour and jetting down to the lunar surface, where The Red Skull (with swastika clearly displayed) arrives on a space jet ski, intent on killing him. A Big Fight then takes place in which the two supervillains have a go at each other, both using Doctor Doom's own devices. At first it looks like The Skull is going to win easily, but then Doom produces what looks like a massive bread knife and cuts a hole into the underneath of the skull's space cycle. The Red Skull falls into the mines that he himself had set, and as Doom approaches we get a great character moment, showing the difference between the two once more, with Doom enjoying the game and the Skull absolutely terrified. The Red Skull shows fear whenever he's in danger, a villainous trait which Doctor Doom rarely if ever demonstrates - another sign that we are supposed to be see him in the role of hero.

While this is going on The Shroud decides to ignore Doom's orders to wait and watch the satellite and instead try and disable it himself. This, of course, goes wrong (because The Shroud is rubbish) and he's knocked unconscious. Luckily for him (if not the reader) Captain America trundles by in the SHIELD spaceship and picks him up. Shame.

Back on the moon, Doom and The Red Skull are having a proper punch-up, which leads to Doom's armour being pierced so that his air supply starts to leak out. He solves this problem by using the freeze-unit in his glove to freeze the oxygen, sealing the hole. Um... it doesn't work like that, does it? Anyway, the fight continues until Doom manages to trap The Red Skull under an avalanche. Just as Doom is enjoying his victory, the Skull points out that his henchman are approaching to free him, but Doom, rather brilliantly, stays where he is and uses one of his major, unacknowledged, super-powers on them: persuasion! I love the fact that all of the henchmen say "Sod this" and clear off! The story ends with The Red Skull trapped under rubble, about to suffocate when his air supply runs out, and Doom in his spaceship heading for home. For all his heroic tendencies, that's one thing you'd never catch an actual superhero doing!

posted 12/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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The Time Of The Terrorist
Doctor Doom makes his way into yet another media format this time, appearing as the villian in the first storyline in Spider-man's newspaper strip. This strip began in January 1977, written by Stan Lee and drawn (beautifully) by John Romita Sr and, with various other artists and ghost writers, would run for over forty years, only ending shortly after Stan Lee himself died.

The strip makes for mildly frustrating reading at first, as each three panel storyline is constructed so that the first panel is usually a recap of what's happened before, and the Sunday strip generally being unnecessary to follow the story, so that readers who could only follow it in a daily edition wouldn't miss out. This was, and probably still is, standard practice for an adventure-style comic strip, but in it does mean that there's an awful lot of strips which start or end with J Jonah Jameson leaning out of a window, angrily shouting the story so far at Spider-man!

Spider-man himself is slightly different from the comics version - here he's seen as a frightening, creepy individual by New Yorkers, while his alter ego Peter Parker is rather hairier and more matinee idol. It's as if Lee and Romnita are merging the Spider-man of Ditko's early run with the Peter of their own run shortly afterwards. Doctor Doom doesn't appear in person until the very end of the second week of strips, with the precediing fortnight concerned with introducing the reader to Spider-man's supporting cast as they all wait for Doom to arrive. He's been invited by J Jonah Jameson to - wait for it - address the United Nations! What is it with Doctor Doom and the United Nations? He's been there in the regular comics, Spidey Super Stories, the cartoon and now here, to the extent that it's almost as much a part of his world as his castle and the Latverian embassy!

One small difference here is that Doom is the actual King of Latveria, rather than just the "Lord" as he's usually termed. It doesn't make any difference to the story, so I assume this was done to make it easier for new readers to understand in the quick three panel version of the Marvel Universe. We do still get a brief, yet fairly complete, version of his origin in the Wednesday to Friday strips on week six, which sticks pretty closely to the regular comics version, including some near swipes of that version. The only big difference, in fact, is that Reed Richards doesn't appear!

When Doom finally arrives in New York he's very rude to an ingratiating J Jonah Jameson. He holds a press conference where he stops a crate from landing on some news reporters, which he blames on Spider-man, thus happily reinforcing the Daily Bugle-promoted view that Spider-man is a menace and Doctor Doom is a hero - just as was the case when a very similar story played out in Spidey Super Stories #9. Here, as there, Doctor Doom is speaking to a meeting of the UN - a smaller sub-committee in this case, although it does contain some very familiar faces. Does Henry Kissinger have a non-aggression pact with Doctor Doom in this universe as well? Either way, the assembled dignitaries are very wary of Doctor Doom, refusing his offer of taking full control of the world's security services to destroy terrorism. Maybe our universe is the only one where the UN DOESN'T have the power to decide policy in all member states? Doom doesn't take kindly to this and locks the world leaders in the room with him, apparently as part of his plan for world domination. This makes little sense, but luckily Spider-man bursts in for a fight during which he is knocked out and, for some reason, dreams the aforementioned precis of Doom's origim.

The fight carries on, with Doom burning through Spidey's webbing but then getting trapped by a specially prepared web-fluid which causes his armour to short circuit. Doom thus has to fight back using only his "super strength" until he's caught by a judo throw which, accoring to the world leaders, means Spider-man is the winner. Doom is so disgusted in the world leaders for siding against him that he storms out, refusing to have anything more to do with them, rather like someone who angrily quits their job five seconds after being sacked, much to the dismay of his biggest fan. And there this first foray into newspaper strips ends, with the story's attention immediately switching for the story beginning the following day with Doctor Octupus. It's been a very faithful rendition of Doctor Doom for the first part, and oddly similar to the version seen in Super Spidey Stories. He will return to the newspaper strip very soon, but before then we've got the thrilling conclusion to Doom's battle with the Red Skull - next time!

posted 10/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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My Ally, My Enemy!
Last time I was bemoaning the fact that this series was claiming "a dynamic new direction" while doing nothing of the sort, but maybe I was being unfair. Until now "Super-Villain Team-Up" has actually been just "Namor And Doctor Doom" every issue. The main "Marvel Team-Up" series almost always had Spider-man as lead, it's true, but they did swap around the guests a bit.

However, I now realise that this issue, and the previous one, actually did have a change, with The Red Skull sharing the top billing instead of Namor. It does make more sense of the title, although Namor is still there, as is The Shroud, and Doom and The Red Skull don't so much team-up as fight each other throughout.

The story begins where the last one left off, with The Red Skull having shot Prince Rudolfo, who was disguised as Doctor Doom. The Shroud tries to fight the Skull but is quickly overwhelmed by a Goon with a spanner. The Shroud is rubbish.

The Red Skull then drags him over to a video screen, where we see that his Doomjet had not, as depicted last time, disappeared, but instead has been hit by The Rainbow Missile and is now crashing.

We also FINALLY get a reveal about the mysterious "buyer" Doom was talking about so long ago - it was The Red Skull, conning Doom into building him a Hypno-Ray! We then cut to The Doomjet as it crashes, with Doom and Captain America discovering that The Red Skull has used some of Doom's own technology against them, and shrunk them "to the size of field mice." There's a reference to Astonishing Tales #5 when Doom similarly shrank The Red Skull and The Exiles down to the same size... except that he totally didn't - it was Hypno Gas that made them think they'd been shrunken! I'm all for an obscure callback, but come on Bill Mantlo, if you're going to do that at least get it right!

The pair fight their way through a range of over-sized obstacles, including a grass snake and the castle's moat, with Doom remarking how well they work as a team, and Captain America being sensible enough to see exactly how that would work out. Again, I very much like Bill Mantlo's take on Doom here - arrogant, self-assured, but also enjoying himself and keen to behave honourably - or at least to his own ideas of honour. This characterisation continues when Doom discovers that his old friend Boris has been captured, all of which surprises Captain America. Clearly Cap has not been reading this blog!

The shrunken pair discover that Namor has arrived, and is arguing with The Red Skull and The Shroud in Castle Latveria's throne room. This enrages Doom who leaps into action and shoots the Skull... up the bum? The Skull grabs Doom, who orders Namor to save him - in theory Namor has sworn an oath to do whatever Doom says, so should do it anyway, but Doom sugars the pill by promising to cure the people of Atlantis. Namor does as he's asked, Doom and Captain America return to normal size, and then it's time for a Big Fight between the heroes and The Skull's forces. In this context Doom is very much a hero, trying to save the world, although The Shroud doubts this, believing Doom will use the weapon for himself. In a weird turnaround, Doom shouts for Captain America's aid, and he leaps forward to help. The Shroud, understandably, is shocked by this! Despite Doom and Captain America's efforts, The Red Skull manages to retreat inside a force field of Doom's own making - other people using Doom's inventions against him is a characteristic of these stories almost as much as him watching people via a remote viewer!

Faced with the prospect of a world mind-controlled by The Red Skull, a wounded Prince Rudolfo decides he prefers rule under Doom, and activates a device which he hopes will defeat The Skull. Sadly for all concerned this turns out not to be a bomb or something equally useful, but a teleportation device which sends The Red Skull to the moon, where he can activate his world-dominating hypno ray by hand! This is spectacular bad luck for Doom and co, but a great way to end an issue in which Doom has, fairly successfully, been cast as the hero against an even greater villian. Will he win in the end? We'll have to wait a while to find out, because next time we're off to another version of Doom in another media altogether - the newspaper funnies!

posted 6/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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The Sign Of The Skull!
It's been at least three issues since we last had a "Dynamic New Direction" for this series, so thank goodness this one starts off with the promise of exactly that! Another recurring theme at the moment is chucking the reader into what appears to be a different comic to the one advertised on the cover. This one starts with Captain America in action and a note at the bottom of the page promising that "We'll explain as we go along pilgrims - hang in there!"

In the previous comic, Avengers #156, we saw Cap wander off to investigate something, with a promise that we'd find out what in Super-Villain Team-Up #11, yet here we are in Super-Villain Team-Up #10 with him telling (not showing) his colleagues that he went off and followed a trail from Hydrobase to the Latverian Embassy in New York. It's all a bit confusing, especially if you're reading these comics as a continuous block, rather having a month's gap in between!

The first four pages here see Captain America fighting his way through the Latverian Embassy's defences (apparently unconcerned about the non-aggression pact his country recently signed with Latveria) until he finds... Doctor Doom! Captain America is surprised because he was expecting to find the Red Skull (though he never mentions him by name), and presents Doom with a sceptre that he found back on Hydrobase. We then cut away to Namor, who has returned to Atlantis to find some miners about to destroy the city under the orders of the mysterious "Orbiter". All we know about this person is that "he's working out of some third-world country called - Latveria!"

I don't think Eastern Europe is, techically, the third world, but we all make mistakes when being violently threatened by undersea monarchs. We then head over to Latveria itself, where The Shroud and Rudolfo are leading a pack of peasants through the castle. Rudolfo is in disguise as Doctor Doom, and is finding it all a bit too warm. Unluckily for him, a bunch of guards burst in at that exact moment and a fight breaks out - or, as The Shroud calls it "a good old American Free-For-All". Latveria isn't in America either - Bill Mantlo's geography is all over the place! During the fight the pair make their way into Doom's throne room and are attacked by a Mysterious Figure. Bob Hall's art is great throughout this issue, but it seems like a very odd decision to keep the Mysterious Figure's face in shadow, especially when the edges are coloured red, his voice is so accented... and The Red Skull is on the front cover!

Meanwhile Doom and Captain America are on their way back to Latveria in a Doomjet, which Captain America is very impressed by. Doom, however, is unmoved. I do like this characterisation - he understands that a compliment is being given, but refuses to take it because it's so foolish.

The issue comes to an end with the ship being hit by "the rainbow missile", and then a cut back to Latveria where the villian is revealed as... The Red Skull! Just as promised on the cover! Characters have studiously avoided mentioning his name throughout, but still, it's hardly a surprise, nor is the fact that Doom is announced as returning in the next issue. I'm not sure why this is called "a dynammic new direction", as it continues the previous storyline with one of the regular writers, but it's been enjoyable nonetheless, even with one such as I who has the incredible detective skills needed to work out who the baddy's going to be!

posted 4/9/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett