Friday, 29 August 2008

Captives Of The Deadly Duo!

Fantastic Four #6, September 1962
(Lee and Kirby)

Today, we look back on a classic moment of Marvel history: the very first super-villain team-up!

The issue starts off gently enough, with a visit to the FF in their headquarters, now identified as the Baxter Building. We're even treated to a floorplan of the building

Note that the FF have been in existence for less than a year, and already have a trophy room. Given their predisposition to blowing things up, I have to wonder what they keep in it. Can't help but think that someone's been looking with an envious eye towards a certain Batcave, what with the vast array of vehicles available to our heroes. I mean, really, why would they bother with the Fantasti-Copter, when they have the Fantasti-Car which has a much more effective range, and which is far more maneuverable? And, actually, considering it's only a few months since the FF made the first manned rocket-ship trip, their technology seems to have advanced pretty significantly: missile ships, pogo planes?

But I digress. The point of this entry is to discuss the coming together of two of the FF's greatest foes (although considering that their third greatest foe at this point is the Mole Man, that's not exactly saying much), Doctor Doom and the Savage Sub-Mariner. Let's catch up with them, shall we?

"Now my subjects, the next maneuver..."

This man regards dolphins as his subjects? He really needs to get his kingdom back. Unfortunately his loyal servants are missing, lost since human nuclear tests inadvertantly blew up most of Atlantis. The Sub-Mariner has sworn revenge against humanity for this, but that's not his only concern.

Yes, despite only having met the team for a few minutes a couple of issues back, the Sub-Mariner has fallen in love with the Invisible Girl, and has even taken the time to get her to pose for a photo, which he drools over whilst sipping margharitas in his undersea home. Creepy guy.

Anyway, Dr Doom, himself sworn to destroy the FF, sees the Sub-Mariner as a likely mark, and makes an alliance with him, agreeing to work together to eliminate our heroes.

Meanwhile, back at the Baxter Building...

Oh for goodness sake! Did Sue and Namor go to the photo-booth together or something? I mean, fair enough, if you were engaged to marry the world's most boring man, you might hanker after someone a bit more flavoursome, but would you really leave his picture lying around?

Anyway, the team are just in the middle of arguing about Sue being hot for the Sub-Mariner, when the fishy fellow turns up in their headquarters, looking to make nice. Needless to say, this is just a ruse, so that Subby can get his mits on the Invisible Girl, but he's not reckoned on Dr Doom's inevitable betrayal...

Yes, Victor von Doom knew all along that Sub-Mariner might pose a threat to his plans for world domination, so he's decided to get rid of him at the same time. His cunning plan? To tow the Baxter Building out into space and suffocate his enemies.

Ah, but now we see the genii that are Lee and Kirby at work. Remember that floorplan of the Baxter Building? The one with the spaceship on it? In an excellent piece of foreshadowing, Stan and Jack have paved the way for our heroes to save themselves from certain death, using the pogo plane to take on Doctor Doom, and - wait, what's this?

Well, arse. Not to worry, because the Sub-Mariner is on the case, jumping across the gulf of space to beat the crap out of Dr Doom.

Job done, the heroes get back to work, and Namor heads back to sea.

The group dynamic has mostly been established by this point, for better or (in the case of the female quarter of the team) worse. Mr Fantastic is remote and intellectual, except when his relationship with the Invisible Girl is threatened. Sue Storm is trusting, emotional, and frequently a bit wet. Her brother is the hotheaded teenager, happy to wind up the monstrous Thing, who broods about his appearance, and who really only enjoys fighting. This dynamic was pretty much set in stone for the next forty years, despite numerous attempts to alter it. Why fix what isn't broken?

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