Monday, June 21, 2010

Giant-Size June! G-S Super-Villain Team-Up #1

Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1 (March 1975)
"Sub-Mariner Rising!" et al.
Roy Thomas-John Buscema/Joe Sinnott (pt. 1),
Roy Thomas-JohnBuscema/Johnny Craig (pt. 2) [reprints Sub-Mariner #20]
Larry Lieber/Roy Thomas-Larry Lieber and Frank Giacoia/Vince Colletta (pt. 3) [reprints Marvel Super-Heroes #20]

Doug: After Karen has led us through our previous forays into Giant-Size June, it's now my turn to serve as tour leader. I'm pretty excited about today's topic. While we've somewhat maligned the Giant-Size format as a short story of new material packed in with one or two reprints, this issue is no different -- but it works.

Doug: Scribe Roy Thomas offers some backstory to the genesis of Super-Villain Team-Up. Seems he was talking with Stan Lee about getting some baddies together when he began to leaf through his bound edition of Fantastic Four comics. Drawing inspiration from the re-introduction of Namor in FF #4, Doom's debut in #5, and their short-lived alliance in #6, he decided to give it a whirl. Now this was transpiring as Giant-Size Super-Stars #1 was hitting the shelves (that title would become GS FF #2), and Stan was excited about the larger page count. Suddenly feeling the need to expedite the process, Roy drew on two stories involving Doom and Namor that he'd previously written and then commissioned Big John Buscema to draw framing sequences. Even though GS SVTU #1 contains only 10 pages of new story, it's really a fun read.

Karen: I wonder if this may be what Roy called a 'super-giant' back in Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1, as it is 68 pages for 50 cents. Of course, it's mostly reprint, which is a bit of a bummer. I'll admit though, that the framing sequence is well done -and the art is gorgeous.

Doug: The basic premise is this -- Doom's body is rocketing earthward, the good Doctor unconscious. This picks up immediately following the events of Fantastic Four #144, where Doom had battled Darkoth the Death-Demon on a space station. Doom's armor protects him from burning up upon re-entry, and he lands with a mighty splash in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Well, well, well -- who should happen by but the Avenging Son himself? Namor, who had been looking for Doom, brings him aboard the Atlantean cruiser and resuscitates him using some high tech defibrillator. Of course, Doom doesn't awake happy, and the shouting commences.

Doug: Namor offers an alliance with Doom, and as Victor ponders it, we segue into a reprint of Sub-Mariner #20. Now I had never read that issue, so I was not in the least offended by its inclusion in this story. I'll go further and say I appreciated Roy's effort at wrapping his new material around the old. Although G-S Avengers #1 dealt with the Whizzer, a WWII-era hero, the reprint included dealt with Cap and the Original Human Torch; a reprint of the All-Winners Squad might have been more appropriate.

Doug: The plot of the Subby reprint is that a de-powered Namor finds himself taking refuge in the Latverian Embassy in New York -- this to evade National Guard troops sent of course to capture him. What ensues is a nicely-spun tale of Doom attempting to subjugate the Sub-Mariner, only to have the tables turned on him. Roy really crafted a great story then, and it serves nicely for the set-up for this Super-Villain Team-Up ongoing series. I especially liked seeing the pencils of John Buscema, separated by a few years and under the influence of two different inkers -- Johnny Craig in the reprint and Joe Sinnott in the "present". I have to say I liked Craig's treatment better.

Karen: I had never read this story before either; I was never a big fan of the Sub-Mariner in his own title, although I enjoy him as a guest star. But now I find myself going back and buying a lot of stuff I passed up back in the day. I could see adding Sub-Mariner to the list. I have to disagree with you on the art though; I like Sinnott's heavier inks.

Doug: Back in the cruiser, we see Doom and Namor continuing to negotiate. Doom wonders to himself if another alliance is a good idea, as he reflects on another time when he joined forces. The next reprint is from Marvel Super-Heroes #20 and features Diablo the alchemist. This one's not as good a story, although it does benefit from Thomas' hand in the production. But Larry Lieber's art is more of a throwback to the Silver Age and is offsetting to Buscema's work. The highlight of the story is a partial retelling of Doom's origin from FF Annual #2 and a plotline involving Doom's childhood love, Valeria. There's a nice resolution at the end, making this issue not a total loss.

Karen: I'll admit it: for this review I only skimmed the second story. As you say, the art is off-putting. Besides, I never cared for Diablo. The origin sequences were interesting though.

Doug: This one closes out with more fisticuffs between Doom and Namor, and Doom's sudden departure from Namor's presence. Determined, Namor heads to open seas where he proclaims, "Go - try your own schemes - and when you have failed, you shall see that our twin destiny is written in fiery letters across the cosmos: The Sub-Mariner and Dr. Doom shall fight again, side by side -- and they shall topple the World!!"

Karen: The fight at the end of the issue is fantastic - I especially liked the panel where Doom is choking Subby! You really feel like this is a fight to the death, unlike so many other comic fights. These guys are both bad guys, or at least in Namor's case, more of an anti-hero -so the rules of conduct go out the window!

Doug: The next issue is actually Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #2, and then it moved into the regular-sized ongoing that would be a favorite of mine throughout it's lifespan.

Karen: Yes, I loved that book too. Come to think of it, I think GSSVTU #2 also connected to Roy's previous work on Doom, by including the Doomsman from Astonishing Tales. The ongoing
series was one of the more free-wheeling books out there, where you never knew what to expect. There were lots of guest-stars, like the FF and Avengers, and new characters, like the Shroud. I always wished it had run longer than 17 issues.


Edo Bosnar said...

Loved STVU as well, even though I had only picked up a few issues back in the day (thank goodness for Essentials!) Even liked those last 2 issues with the non-Doom/Subby Red Skull story. And I also liked the way the reprinted stories in this issue were integrated & combined into the larger narrative.
Your somewhat critical comments about reprinted stories in these GS posts are interesting, though; I don't know if you covered this is a previous post somewhere, but to me one of the charms of comics reading in the '70s and the very early '80s was all of the reprint titles and reprinted stories in Giant-sizes, digests, etc. It was a great and relatively inexpensive way for the young comics junkie to get up to speed on silver or golden age "continuity."

Doug said...

Edo --

Ah, the memories of reprints...

When I was a child, a friend who was a year older than me often said, "Put that back -- it's a reprint and it won't be worth anything!" Being impressionable, I thought there was something inherently wrong with reprints (perhaps he didn't consider how well-loved my "new" comics were becoming, what with the dog-eared covers, cut-out Marvel Value Stamps, etc. -- "won't be worth anything" for sure!!). I also knew that I didn't care for the art of Jack Kirby as compared to Rich Buckler, John and Sal Buscema, Ron Wilson, Ross Andru, George Perez, et al. Kirby had those blocked fingers, and everyone had a facial expression that looked like they belonged on Speed Racer.

So I turned up my nose at Marvel's Greatest Comics, and even to an extent at Marvel Tales (even though I liked Romita's work). You mention Silver Age continuity -- I can honestly report that when I was around 7-10 years old that I had no idea these characters had been around for some 15 years. I think my eyes were first opened to the value of reprints, and to the bigger picture that was the Marvel Universe, when the Origins of Marvel Comics series started coming out. Then my elementary-aged brain started to wrap around Marvel's rich history.

But specifically as to the reprints in the G-S issues as well as the Annuals: I guess even then I felt I was paying for new, in-continuity material, and to have my mom shell out an additional quarter for that magazine, it had better have twice the material in it. The reprints just didn't feel like that sort of a reward.

Now, however, reprints are all that I buy, and I love them! I no longer buy new comics, and don't very often buy back issues. So I live in the world of reprinted material and am quite happy to do so.

Thanks for setting me off on that long dissertation -- we'll see if a forum develops out of this!

Best to you,


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