Shrouded in Mystery, Part 2 -- Super-Villain Team-Up 6
Super-Villain Team-Up #6 (June 1976) "Prisoner!" Steve Englehart-Herb Trimpe/Jack Abel
Doug: Last time I wrote about my feelings toward the storytelling (words and pictures) in SVTU #5. I have to say, all are still valid as I re-read (for the first time in almost 35 years -- egad!) #6. Englehart's script continues to remind me of a Larry Lieber-style story, and Herb Trimpe's art is stiff. I'll have a specific remark concerning the depiction of Namor coming up.
Karen: I think the Trimpe-Abel team is even more uninspiring than the Trimpe-Perlin team from last issue.
Doug: At the conclusion of our preceding installment, Namor had been forced to pledge his allegiance to Dr. Doom. Doom had ruined Namor's ability to process oxygen, and was holding the antidote away from him. The splash to this issue has Namor behind bars, trapped in a chamber of Castle Doom. He makes no bones about his displeasure, screaming Doom's name and echoing it throughout the castle. Doom finally bursts into the room to chastise his fellow monarch. In a scene straight out of a Mel Brooks movie, Doom reports that he's been spying on Namor through the eyeballs of a portrait on the wall! Doom makes it clear that he is indeed in charge, and storms out.
Karen: Oh man, that thing with the portrait was just terrible -Mel Brooks indeed! I don't know how a talented writer like Englehart could come up with such a stereotypical portrayal of Doom. There are no nuances, no subtleties -he's a complete cartoon villain here.
Doug: Once back in his control room, Doom notices that the Fantastic Four have arrived to rescue Namor. In a much-too-long 4-page battle, the FF are confronted by various defenses to Doom's castle. Finally defeating an android army, our heroes move toward their target. During this spread Johnny spies a black, bird-like jet swooping low and wonders if it might belong to the Shroud. He deduces that it might because the plane is the same color as the Shroud's costume -- now how's that for detective work? Well, it is the Shroud and Namor spies him as well from his cell. Karen: For a guy who is all about stealth, the Shroud sure gets seen a lot. And deducing that a plane belongs to the Shroud because it is the same color as his costume -which is black I suppose?-...oh boy.
Doug: In the midst of all of this Doom is meeting with a shadowy figure who seems very intent on learning more of Doom's technology, specifically his military technology. They seem to be bargaining, and Doom is told that he may yet achieve superpower status. Who is this guy? Not only is his identity hidden, but Doom addresses him as an equal. No, check that -- Doom almost seems to be on his best behavior because he wants something from this man. But the negotiations, if that's what they are, are suddenly interrupted by one of Doom's lackeys. "Bela" bursts in and tells Doom that the FF are almost to the castle. Wasting no time, Doom finds a nearby monitor and summons Namor to attack!
Karen: As a kid I would have had no idea who Doom's guest was; this time around I was able to figure it out, based on his silhouette. Englehart did like to get political!
Doug: I mentioned a quirk in the art at the top of this post. If you'll notice the panel below (found on story page 15), tell me that Jazzy Johnny Romita didn't draw Namor here?! This style is not found anywhere else in the story. I'm not sure what Trimpe/Abel turned in, but it obviously wasn't up to snuff and I'd imagine that as the printing deadline drew near, JR Sr. in his position as art director did the necessary doctoring-up. Anyway, the FF take Namor down relatively easily. But when they finally enter Castle Doom, who is there to greet them alongside the Doctor but our Secretary of State -- Henry Kissinger! Dr. Kissinger and Dr. Doom had just concluded a non-aggression treaty! Wow -- shades of Stalin and Hitler, and we know how that turned out! But waiting in the wings, literally, is the mysterious Shroud, who seems about to make his presence known. To be continued...
Karen: I could see there might be some 'correction' there, although it doesn't scream Romita to me. Romita definitely re-drew both Reed and Sue's faces on the Starlin/Weiss cover though, and maybe the entire figure of the Torch. It seems like Starlin was always being subjected to having his covers re-touched.
Karen: I'm really not sure where any of this is going. I did read it years ago, but my memories are dim, except for the stuff regarding the Shroud and his origin. Let's hope the next issue is a bit more enjoyable.
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