Sunday, February 21, 2016
Duets Of Doom!
Essential Super-Villain Team-Up fulfills the promise of these relatively cheap phone-book reprint volumes as well as any I can think of. What we have here is really a Doctor Doom book, which takes some care to reprint his series appearances (not in the FF or as villain elsewhere for the most part) and assemble them in one handy volume.
Doc Doom had rumbled around for quite a while, the most popular Marvel villain by a good margin and even rated a solo story or two over the years.
When Marvel decided to revive the split-comic format (which I loved by the way) they begat Amazing Adventures which showcased The Inhumans and Black Widow and Astonishing Tales which presented us at long last Ka-Zar stories alongside the evil Doc Doom. (For the record Ka-Zar is the one hero who really needed this Essential treatment too).
Wally Wood, a great talent was tasked with bring Doom to the page and he does a magnificent job briefly before he needs to be replaced by the less polished but more dynamic and much more reliable George Tuska.
Doc Doom is seen being a dictator in Latveria, battling revolutionaries who themselves are severely flawed folks. By confronting Doom with enemies who are as bad as him does allow him to function, at least nominally as the protagonist in these stories.
We get several issues of Doom trying to stave off those who want to bring a new order to Latveria.
The the Red Skull shows up and Doom has an adversary who being tied to ultimate comic book villain Hitler again lets Doom appear to the be the lesser of two very significant evils.
Pitting Doom against the Black Panther was a smart move as the notion of the two monarchs who are also super characters is a natural.
And T'Challa with his technical prowess alongside his fighting skills is an exceedingly worthy foe for Doom. Both of these great characters are products of Stan and Jack's FF heyday and it's neat to see them tee off. Gene Colan steps in to offer up delightful artwork.
But things change as Doom's series comes to an end. We get though one of the best Doom stories to date, when we explore more about his origin, especially the occult heritage he has due to his mother.
Doctor Doom then goes back to his old business of being a super-villain, mostly in the Fantastic Four. It is in the finale of one of those conflicts that he finds himself seemingly killed as he falls out of space to the Earth. The debut issue of Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up (which might win for most hypens in a single title) picks up the story of what happend to Doom after his fall and his current conflict with the Fab 4 then playing out in that title. He ends up in the ocean where he is found by his one-time ally Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner.
The two argue a bit, but then go down memory lane allowing the editors to reprint the battle between them from Sub-Mariner #20, which featured some fantastic John Buscema artwork.
We also get a good look at Doom's other solo-adventure, from the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes by writer and artist Larry Lieber. This face-off against Diablo is one of my favorite Doom stories. The frame story for these reprints was drawn by John Buscema.
In the next issue of the comic we get a new story and a new artist as Mike Sekowsky (of significant DC fame) steps in and offers up some juicy work as Doom and Namor battle an evil android who it turns out has some ties to Doom's past.
When the title converts to a regular size it appears to take the place on the schedule which had been occupied by the Sub-Mariner's own recently cancelled comic, and the stories take a decidedly Atlantean turn as Doom and Namor battle Attuma and Tiger Shark.
The two fight together.
And they fight each other, both monarchs angling to pick up leverage on his rival.
Namor had recently lost his natural hybrid ability to live out of water which is the reason he'd been wearing the neat black armor suit. Doom had promised to help him as had Mr.Fantastic, and soon Subby is restored.
The battle shifts to Latveria as Herb Trimpe steps in to handle the artwork.
A new mysterious hero called The Shroud appears to offer a threat to Doctor Doom's dictatorshp.
And old villains show up to give both Namor and Doom a fit, though the Circus of Crime always seemed to bite off more than they could chew.
A crossover with The Avengers sees the battles in Atlantis reach their peak as the Assemblers, Namor and Doom all battle each other and the forces of Attuma as well.
Then it's time for the Red Skull to reappear.
Subby loses his billing as Doom and the Skull become the "Super-Villains" who team up.
But he's not gone for long and soon returns as does Warlord Krang. Keith Giffen handles the artwork.
Magneto joins up with Doom to take on The Avengers and the Champions.
The story crosses over into one of the final issues of The Champions.
The fifteenth issue of the run is a reprint of some classic stories from the earliest days of Astonishing Tales.
And when fresh material appears Doctor Doom is absent for the first time, his place taken over by the Red Skull joined this time by the Hate Monger.
Arnim Zola arrives to add some technical expertise to this Nazi axis as the series runs its course.
Ironically the final issue of Super-Villain Team-Up does not feature either Doctor Doom or Sub-Mariner, neither of whom would get a title shot again for a long long time.
But it was a good run for a bad guy.