Monday, March 28, 2005


Essential Super-Villain Team-Up

Essential Super-Villain Team-Up Vol. 1
Writers: lots
Pencillers: lots

There are no words to describe how much I love this comic. It’s so amazing and stupid and in no possible way Essential. The fact that Marvel is putting out things that are clearly not essential in this format is awesome though. Tomb of Dracula, Luke Cage Power Man, Defenders: none of these would get traded any other way, but its fun stuff.

This collection is huge and includes over twenty issues of comics and is over 500 pages long. It’s a lot of bang for your buck. In fact I’ve spent ages reading this comic because it’s so big and I can only take so much of Namor at one time.

The book starts with the Dr. Doom bits from Astonishing Tales issues 1-8, the main reason these are included is, I believe, because the Doom bits from issues 5-6 were printed as SVTU #15. They’re about Doom in Latveria and start off with this awesome bit where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin find a “perfectly round and obviously man-made” sphere on the moon. They bring it back to earth where it’s given to the president for some reason and Doom is like “you’re screwed! But not today.” The rest of these issues deal a lot with attempts to overthrow Doom by the prince he overthrew and you sort of see a problem develop that continued through SVTU. Doom can’t win and take over the world, or even Wakanda, but he can’t lose either. Every issue pretty much has to end as a stalemate. It’s still fun though, and there’s some awesome stupid ideas (Doom goes to the Riveria! He “had hoped to find some small amusement at this far-famed resort! But the antics of the idle rich have only bored me!” I’ve just realized that everything Doom says end in an exclamation mark or a question mark. “How quiet and serene the realm is!”) and visuals (Doom’s iron clad head overlooking Latveria).

The first issue of Giant-Sized Super-Villain Team-Up (triple hyphens!) reprints a couple of earlier issues where Doom teamed up with Namor and Diablo. While the print quality of some of these pages isn’t the best I was impressed to see at the end of the book two pages that had not been included in this earlier reprint and the cover of the issue of Marvel Super Heroes reprinted. The only thing not included is the cover of Sub-Mariner #20 (it’s here if you want to see it). But still, I really commend Marvel on the completeness of this collection.

The second issue is basically the lead into the Super-Villain Team-Up series which featured Namor and Dr. Doom teaming up. The only reason I can really understand this is because they’re both monarchs (as the comic keeps pointing out) and Fantastic Four villains. They spend more time fighting and double crossing each other then actually teaming-up. So it’s not really the best alliance.

Generally the first few issues of this series are pretty fun, loads of other super-villains show up (Tiger Shark, Attuma, and so forth) and a number of super heroes. At one point the Fantastic Four defeat Dr. Doom, only to be told by Henry Kissinger that because Latveria and the USA have just signed a non-aggression pact with Latveria the Fantastic Four can’t do anything to Doom. Awesome!

However, following this is probably the series’ low point. The Shroud plays a fairly major role and he is, to me, an incredibly stupid character. Also the Crime Circus shows up. In Latveria. For some reason I can’t figure out. While I’m sure the Crime Circus is an idea that can be used perfectly well, this is not the place for it.

Thankfully there follows a crossover with Avengers which is much better and features some pretty awesome captions where the writer (Gerry Conway) just talks about how great the art (by George Perez) is.

After the Avengers cross over the series seems to go into “resolve all subplots for immanent cancellation.” Yes once again, as has happened several times already (and it’s only issue 10!) there’s “A dynamic new direction.” Bill Mantlo writes several issues where Doom teams up with Captain America to defeat the Red Skull (in space!) and resolves all the subplots created in the series (including freeing the Atlanteans). These issues were actually pretty good, and waaaay better then what was going on before the Avengers cross over. Anyway these issues feature Dr. Doom and Captain America being shrunk down to tiny size by Doom’s own “Rainbow Missile” and fighting a snake.! I couldn’t make this stuff up. These issues also feature probably my favourite panel from the entire collection. It’s totally bizarre, so I’ve scanned it in.

What on earth is going on?

It’s at this point the series gets a bit weird. There’s another issue written by Mantlo that crosses into the Champions (which he was also writing), then (judging by the cover dates) a year later there’s another issue of SVTU that reprints old Dr. Doom and Red Skull appearances from Astonishing Tales. Then six months after that there’s a two parter featuring the Red Skull and some other characters. It’s pretty bad and is presumably only included to have all the issues of SVTU.

Generally the artwork in this collection is at least bearable, though there are a few issues that are pretty bad. The best art by far comes from the Avengers issues included, George Perez drew them, and so you can sort of assume the art’s going to be pretty good. The issues of SVTU following the crossover feature some art by Keith Giffen and Bob Hall that’s pretty good too. Generally the loss of colour doesn’t really affect these comics very much, the only time I really noticed it was when one character got excited when she saw the Vision because he was also red. I hadn’t realized the girl had red skin at all. But as this is barely mentioned it doesn’t really matter that much.

Overall this collection was pretty awesome, if you want fun, old, goofy Marvel comics about Dr. Doom this is probably a pretty good place to start. It just makes me want to start picking up a bunch of the other Essential collections as well. If only Marvel would put out everything in that format.


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