I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.
When I started reading superhero comics, I immediately decided that the Fantastic Four was my favorite group of characters. Even though it took several issues of their before their chief adversary appeared, I immersed myself in the Fantastic Four’s fictional history with enough fervor that I flatly knew that the imposing monarch of Latveria, Victor von Doom, was such an integral part of the sprawling ongoing story that he was practically the fifth member of the team (and, on rare occasions, he took on that role more explicitly). I knew that I needed to be devoted to Dr. Doom as clearly as I was to Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl (as she was still known then), the Human Torch and the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing. So even though I had little direct experience with the character when I saw him on the dynamic cover of Iron Man #150, I knew I had to buy the special double-sized anniversary issue.
Written by David Michelinie and drawn by John Romita, Jr, with Bob Layton helping out with both the plotting and art, this was the second installment of a two-part story that pitted the armored avenger against the despotic Dr. Doom, the previous issue ending when the tussling twosome tumbled into the Latverian’s fully operational time machine. The beginning of Iron Man #150 revealed where they landed.
Yep, Iron Man vs. Dr. Doom in Camelot. This is the wildly imaginative stuff great comics are made of. Even Ol’ Shellhead seems stunned by the turn of events.
It’s always fun to watch Dr. Doom refer to major titans of the Marvel Universe with humiliatingly diminutive, dismissive terms. As he notes in that panel, this particular journey across the timescape was somewhat orchestrated, part of his long-standing effort to retrieve his sorceress mother from a torturous banishment in the afterlife. To that end, he seeks out Morgan le Fay, the figure from traditional Arthurian myth who’d already spent a little time facing off against more modern superheroes. Convinced that she alone has the mystical power to rescue mother von Doom, the villain agrees to attack King Arthur to win her assistance.
To help with the mission, Morgan le Fay raises an army of the undead to back him up, leading to the wondrous image of Dr. Doom leading countless legions of zombies into battle.
Again, I wasn’t especially well-read in superhero comics at this point, but I knew this was the makings of greatness. Iron Man does battle with Dr. Doom and his combative cadavers before figuring out that his best strategy is to go after Morgan le Fay, whose powers are actually animating the army. While she momentarily trips him up with a dragon (leading the hero to mutter about how much he dislikes magic), Iron Man quickly bests her, the army collapses into rotting heaps and Dr. Doom finally decides to work with his adversary to try and find a pathway to their home time. Since these are a couple of scientific genius equipped with technology-laden suits of armor, they’re able to cobble together a contraption that does a number on “the gossamer fabric of time.”
I only read Iron Man sporadically in subsequent years, usually lured in by highly-touted, seismically important storylines, but I loved my initial exposure to the title. Dr. Doom? Camelot? Dragons? Time machines? How could I not?
Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Contest of Champions by Bill Mantlo and John Romita, Jr.
Daredevil by Frank Miller
Marvel Fanfare by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Paul Smith
Marvel Two-in-One by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson
Fantaco’s “Chronicles” series
Fantastic Four #200 by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard
The Incredible Hulk #142 by Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe
Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Godzilla by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe
Giant-Size Avengers #3 by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas and Dave Cockrum
Alpha Flight by John Byrne
Hawkeye by Mark Gruenwald
Avengers by David Michelinie and George Perez
Justice League by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
The Thing by Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito
Nexus by Mike Baron and Steve Rude
Marvel Premiere by David Kraft and George Perez
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck
Micronauts by Bill Mantlo and Butch Guice
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
What If? by Mike W. Barr, Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito
Thor by Walt Simonson
Eightball by Dan Clowes
Cerebus: Jaka’s Story by Dave Sim and Gerhard