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With Foes Like These...

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Today we're looking at yet another single panel flashback appearance by Doctor Doom, and once again it's all to do with Secret Wars.

When this issue came out it was about 18 months since the last issue of the original "Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars" series, but its importance to the shared Marvel storyworld is clear from the way it keeps on popping up, explaining costume changes, changes to team line-ups and, as here, the introduction of new characters. A big chunk of this story is about the relationship between Titania, who got her powers on Battleworld, and long-time Thor villain The Absorbing Man. We've looked at stories about quite a few couples recently, like Cloak & Dagger, Dazzler and The Beast, and Volcana and Molecule Man, and they have been pretty much universally awful, as if they were written by a very angry alien teenager who had based all their knowledge of human relationships on daytime soap operas and furious poems about how they're happy on they're own so please stop asking if I've got a boyfriend/girlfriend. In many cases I've expected to see an editorial note clarifying the point that they never asked to be born, GOD YOU'RE SO BORING.

However, Tom deFalco manages to write this pair, and all the other relationships in the issue, as if he's had at least a nodding acquaintance with human beings and how they work, while the art looks very pleasant in a late 80s/inked by Bob Layton sort of way, not least because it's inked by Bob Layton. We find ourselves thrown into the middle of several stories all going on at once, as seems to have been the trend for continuing series at this point, with Flash Thompson on the run from the police, Titania and The Absorbing Man arguing about their attempts to go straight, Peter Parker's ongoing work problems and weariness with superheroics, MJ's career in modelling, and the ongoing mystery of The Hobgoblin. There's a LOT going on, also including a guest appearance by The Wasp, a Policeman With A Secret, and a big fight at an airport. It's all very nicely written and drawn, but dipping into so many stories without much explanation and with no resolutions at all feels rather alienating. Jim Shooter was very keen on the idea that every comic was somebody's first comic, and should be written with that in mind, and though this is very much not my first comic it does feel as if the only way to get anything out of it would be to read the entire run of the series for a couple of years either side, and there's nothing interesting or exciting enough to make me want to do so.

To put it another way: this comics feels like another harbinger of 90's Comics!

Doom's appearance comes in the obligatory Secret Wars recap, this time focussing entirely on Titania's origin. It's interesting that this is all done in a single panel, with a note just pointing out that it happened in Secret Wars, as if that's all the information that's needed to explain what's going on. There's an expectation that anybody reading this will know what Secret Wars was, and so no further explanation is necessary. I guess that was probably true, and to be honest I didn't notice this assumption at all the first time I read it. I'm not always onboard with the idea that you HAVE to explain every single thing in a story, as sometimes it's exciting to be thrown into a fully functioning fictional world and have to work out what's going on for yourself, but here it feels more like a lack of concern for anybody who's not already on board. As I say: here come the 90s!

That's the lot for Doom this time, but stand by for more Doom in a single text than I think we've ever had before, as next time we finally get to "Emperor Doom"!

link to information about this issue

posted 25/6/2021 by Mark Hibbett

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DOOMBOT FILTER: an animal that says 'to-whit to-whoo' (3)

(e.g. for an animal that says 'cluck' type 'hen')

A process blog about Doctor Doom in The Marvel Age written by Mark Hibbett