Super-Villain Team-Up #14 (October 1977)
"A World For the Winning!"
Bill Mantlo-Bob Hall/Don Perlin/Duffy Vohland
Doug: Hi, kids -- here we are with a second chance for Super-Villain Team-Up. If you recall, the last time we visited this book, the Herb Trimpe art was only slightly worse than the Steve Englehart words. So it's only fair if we check in again a bit later to see if the series improved. Additionally, this one's a two-parter with a fave 1970's book of ours, The Champions. So buckle in, and stop back by next Monday for the conclusion.
Karen: Before we get started, I have to say, I've always loved that Byrne/Austin cover!
Doug: We open on the streets of Latveria. It cracks me up that everyone is always in traditional native costume -- or at least look a few decades out of time! Magneto, in full costume, strides the capital byways, looking to cause some trouble. He has come to Latveria to meet Doom -- but can't seem to get to Castle Latveria. The monarch has decreed that all in the kingdom must celebrate his victory over the Red Skull in the previous storyline. Magneto, quite put-out by the lack of attention, succeeds in toppling both Latverians and an enormous statue of Doom. Then he takes to the magnetic waves (yeah, whatever that means -- this story will require a suspension of disbelief in regard to the realm of physics) and rides them toward Doom's domicile.
Karen: You know, I never even considered how ludicrous those 'villagers' looked until we started doing reviews. Between Marvel and the old Universal monster films, I guess I'd been conditioned to think that all small towns in Europe looked like that!
Doug: Inside the castle, Doom gloats over a plan that Reed Richards knows nothing of -- a plan that's already been executed. Suddenly Magneto bursts in through a window, and seems surprised that Doom recognizes him. Say what? Why would Bill Mantlo write such a thing? I thought it was silly -- even in real time, the Marvel Universe would have been 16 years old -- Marvel time, that's at least probably 6-8 years. And Magneto thought someone of Doom's caliber wouldn't have known him? He's further amazed when Doom asks him to recount his recent rejuvenation from his infant state. Magneto's somewhat humiliated, but ends his story by saying how the X-Men ran from him. Not quite the way we reported it here on the BAB!
Karen: Hmmm.... is this actually the first meeting between these two? I can't think of another before this, not off-hand. But then, I haven't read every 60s and 70s Marvel comics. At this stage, Magneto was still not raised quite to Doom's level as a top tier villain. But he wouldn't have to wait long.
Doug: Doom reveals his plan -- cannisters of neurogas have already been released into the atmosphere, essentially making everyone his obedient slave. To prove himself, he works Magneto like a puppet. After enlisting his friendship, the two toast. But Doom has laced Magneto's goblet with a drug that knocks Magnus out. He next finds himself on the streets of Latveria. So, thinking that if he himself is to conquer the world, he's got to break Doom's grip. So he does what any of us would do -- he goes to Manhattan and attacks the Avengers!
Karen: I suppose even if Magneto had knocked politely, there was a good chance the Avengers would have attacked him! But yeah, this is definitely the 'obligatory fight scene'. Still, I enjoyed it on some level.
Doug: It's a four-page conquest, but Magneto makes quick work of the Avengers. I found it odd that the Vision could be subdued so easily (really -- synthetic blood would have iron in it?), as could the ionically-powered Wonder Man. Oh well -- guess it was necessary to the plot. Then to prove his point, Doom holographically appears in the middle of Avengers Mansion and, using the effects of the neurogas, forces the Avengers to bow to him. Then it gets even more unbelievable. Magneto decides that the Beast can aid him in allying with other heroes who can bring down Doom. He takes the Beast to a quinjet, and then magnetically affects the iron in Hank McCoy's blood, controlling his brain activity in a bid to negate the effects of the neurogas. That's right -- why didn't you think of that? Magnetic mind control. Oh, and in case you thought Mantlo made that up, go back and check Avengers #111 -- that's when Mags did this to the Scarlet Witch.
Karen: Although I like the idea of the neurogas and the whole subversive nature of it, I have a hard time believing that beings like Thor, the Vision, and Wonder Man could succumb to it. But if I was Magneto, I do think I might have chosen Thor or maybe Iron Man instead of the Beast as an ally!
Doug: After striking out at the Baxter Building and at Westchester's School for Gifted Youngsters, the Beast decides that they have one more shot at help -- Los Angeles and the Champions! So away they go; I'll bet the conversation on that cross-continental flight was fun! The note at the bottom of the last story page states that this is the final issue of Super-Villain Team-Up (although I did have issue #15, which was a reprint of a Doom/Red Skull battle), and up until a couple of years ago, I thought that it was! But lo and behold, there were actually more issues -- over the next three years! I have no idea why it became so sporadic. Does anyone else know?
Doug: I've intimated that Mantlo's script leaves a bit to be desired. He has all of the proper speech patterns down for the most part; I thought the plot was just silly. As we mentioned back when we looked at this book before, it just seems to be written like some monster movie from the 1930's (and don't get me wrong -- I liked those!). And what of the art team? Well, it's a huge improvement over Trimpe's output earlier. But Perlin's and Vohland's inks tend to be heavy, as I've seen Bob Hall look better than he shows here. So, cancellation? Even though I was fond of this book as a child, I'm feeling that it for the most part doesn't "hold up" on the re-read 30+ years later. Other opinions?
Karen: Mantlo seemed to get put on a lot of titles in the late 70s/ early 80s, but while he usually did a good enough job, I can't think of anything that knocked my socks off. But with SVTU, I think it's a very limited concept to begin with, and not necessarily an easy task to keep it both interesting and making sense. While I enjoyed this as a kid, I would agree, reading it now it has been somewhat disappointing.