Marvel Madness

That Time Doctor Doom Tricked Namor Into Stealing a Cosmic Cube

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It’s no secret that one of my favorite types of Marvel comics are ones that feature Doctor Doom dealing with superheroes who aren’t the Fantastic Four. I also love Doom when he’s dealing with Marvel’s First Family, thanks to decades of character connections and pathos, but there’s just something amazing about seeing the greatest villain of all time hanging out with damn near every other character in the Marvel Universe. When I started talking about these stories, I thought that it was just an odd little thing that used to happen, but as time has gone on I’ve realized that it seemed like some sort of direct mandate. Because There are very few superheroes that I haven’t found a story featuring Doom somewhere in their histories. So far I’ve shared stories with you featuring characters that run the gamut from the X-Men to Luke Cage, from Daredevil to the Punisher, and even to places as weird as Dracula’s castle on the moon and the Champions. Doctor Doom shows up everywhere, regardless of the tone or style of the book, and it seems like the folks at Marvel just were crossing names off a list, making sure he touched everyone at least once. Which brings us to today’s story, a time in which Doctor Doom encountered one of Marvel’s oldest characters, Namor the Sub-Mariner. Now, you may be familiar with the fact that in the early days of the Fantastic Four Doom and Namor were both villains of the FF, leading them to frequently team up. But, Namor was a character whose moral alignment has been in frequent flux over the decades, and this story caught him on one of his more heroic upswings, so it’s less of a supervillain team-up than you’d imagine. But, there’s still plenty of taking advantage of people with amnesia, and a special appearance of one of my all-time favorite weird Marvel characters. Buckle up, folks. This one’s going to get weird.

This story takes place during an ongoing run of a Namor series, and I’m going to be honest with you all, I haven’t read a single other issue from this series, and probably never will. Namor isn’t really a character I have a whole lot of affection for, and I’m here more for Doctor Doom than anything else. So, I don’t have a whole lot of context for this story, other than what I was able to piece together, which primarily takes the form of knowing that Namor is suffering from some severe amnesia, to the point that he doesn’t know who he is, that he has powers, and that he’s an Atlantean. Apparently this is because he witnesses the death of his father, which was so traumatic his brain just erased itself, because if there’s one thing the writers of Marvel Comics understood more than radioactivity, it was amnesia. When this story begins Namor is living in a Tom Waits song, riding the rails on a train, wearing battered clothes, and wondering who he is, when he’s approached by two other hobos, who immediately start to accost him. Things quickly escalate to violence, and the hobos start throwing punches, leading Namor to defend himself, and make a startling discovery.

 

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Yeah, Namor may not know who he is, but he just realized that he’s incredibly strong. So, he’s got that going for him, at least. And, as luck would have it, when the train arrives at its destination and he hopes of the train he gets a little more information about his past. Because a passing police officer recognizes him as Namor, the weird amphibian man who causes so much trouble for pesky land-dwellers, and starts freaking out. He calls Namor by name, at least giving the Atlantean his name, before Namor flees into the night, not looking to be arrested. The cop doesn’t give up though, and chases after Namor, causing the Sub-Mariner to do the rational thing and throw a train at him. The cop doesn’t take kindly to this, and being a cop, gets ready to start opening fire on this man he just encountered. But, before he could fire the gun, it’s mysteriously melted out of his hand.

Namor doesn’t really stop to think about why some mysterious person just saved him from police brutality, and just runs off into the night, leading us to wonder who this benefactor may be. The story then takes a brief break to deal with all sorts of other drama that has to do with the ongoing narratives of this comic, featuring a lot of characters I’m not familiar with talking about stuff I don’t understand, but once that’s done we see Namor running through the streets, encountering a young woman named Cindy Jones. She finds Namor, wounded and confused, and decides to help him. She brings Namor up to her apartment, and does her best to take care of him and the mysterious wound he’s gotten on his arm. The two then start chatting, drinking tea and getting to know each other, when there’s an ominous knock on the door. Namor instinctively knows that it’s bad news, and goes to answer the door himself, much to Cindy’s confusion. And, who does he find on the other side of that door?

 

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Oh, snap! It’s Doctor Doom! What a surprise!

And, I’ll just say this right now, I have no idea why Doctor Doom has “Cosmic Power” in his hand. I tried looking into this, but I really can’t figure out why Doom is able to do some out of the ordinary things in this issue. It goes outside his normal technological and magical abilities he normally uses. But, regardless of that, he’s here to get Namor’s help. And, while Namor doesn’t quite remember who Doom is, he gets some pretty pointed flashes of memory that lead him to believe that Doom isn’t exactly someone he should trust. So, he responds by launching himself at Doom, throwing the two of them down the stairs of Cindy’s apartment, beginning a massive duel.

Doom and Namor then begin tussling in the lobby of the apartment, and it’s actually a pretty even fight. Doom pulls out a lot of tricks, and is able to compensate for Namor’s enhanced strength. Plus, there’s also the fact that Namor is dealing with severe amnesia. But, whatever the reasons, the fight reaches a bit of a stalemate until Namor picks Doom up and throws him into an apartment belonging to some old people. The two continue to fight for a bit, until the old people’s couch lights on fire, and Doom does something surprisingly out of character, and stops the fight in order to put the fire out, feeling it would be chivalrousness to burn some random old people alive.

 

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Namor responds to this strange bit of honor by punching Doom in the face so hard he flies out of the apartment, and down to the street below. Namor follows him, and watches as Doom uses whatever mysterious power he’s obtained to create a cushion of energy, softening his fall. Namor meanwhile just smashes into the ground, stunning him enough that Doom’s able to blast him with energy, finally ending the fight. Which is when Cindy Jones comes racing down to the street so she can pick Namor back up. The fight has gone out of the Sub-Mariner, and he finally agrees to hear Doom out. So Doom, Namor, and Cindy adjourn to the Latverian embassy where they can talk and admire Doom’s Van Gogh paintings.

Doom then begins to weave a web of bullshit around Namor, telling him that he’s a beloved leader of a powerful nation, and one of Namor’s greatest allies. He makes the Fantastic Four out to be horrible villains who he and Namor have defeated numerous times, earning some respect from the amnesiac amphibian. And, it works. Namor starts to trust Doom, and is open to the proposition he originally came to ask. Doom has learned of a secret laboratory off the coast of New Orleans belonging to AIM, the group of super-scientist terrorists that exist in the Marvel Universe. AIM has apparently recently been defeated by Captain America, but Doom believes that there’s something important left behind in this facility, forgotten after the fall of AIM. And he wants Namor’s help to reach the underwater facility and steal it. Namor agrees to these terms, as long as Cindy Jones comes with them. Doom is fine with that, and the trio board a specially designed Latverian craft, complete with a crew of loyal Latverian soldiers, and they fly out to New Orleans to find the base. Which is when they gain the attention of our surprise guest star, and the identity of what Doom’s after.

 

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Hell yes! Not only did we learn that the MacGuffin Doom’s after is none other than the Cosmic Cube, one of the most powerful artifacts in the Marvel Universe, but that it’s being held captive by MODOK! I am personally shocked to learn that this is the first time I’ve ever talked about MODOK on this site, which seems like a crime. If you’re unaware, MODOK is the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing, and was once a normal man who was experimented upon by AIM to become the smartest being on the planet. It worked too well, and MODOK, who is basically just a giant head on a floating chair, took over AIM, using their vast resources and technological know-how to create the Cosmic Cube, a device that’s able to warp reality and make its holders wishes come true. Which is obviously something that Doctor Doom is going to be interested in.

And, when MODOK sees that Doom’s craft has gotten close enough to his base to start worrying about it, he launches some anti-aircraft weapons that are able to bring Doom’s ship down into the swamps outside New Orleans. Which immediately leads to some squabbling. Doom wants to press on, but Cindy is pretty shaken up after being in a plane crash, leading Doom to demand that they just leave Cindy in the swamp and continue on. Which doesn’t really fly with Namor. And, speaking of ‘fly,’ Namor has apparently remembered that he can fly, so he grabs Cindy and takes to the sky, flying her to New Orleans, where she has apparently once lived. Doom sends one of his soldiers to tail them, and we see Namor and Cindy land in New Orleans, heading towards the house of a friend she has there so that she can finally be safe. Unfortunately, it seems like Cindy has had a less than legal life in New Orleans, because when she gets to her friend’s house she comes across a very angry drug-dealer/pimp.

 

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Yeah, so this “Brother Johnny” is basically a sentient red flag, and he’s not too pleased to see Cindy back on his property with a weird man wearing nothing but a Speedo. And Namor is not okay with this strange man brandishing a gun at Cindy, so he puts himself between the two of them, demanding that Johnny stop being an idiot. Johnny responds by shooting Namor in the chest. Everyone freaks out at that point, because Namor still hasn’t remembered that he’s functionally bullet-proof, so it comes as quite a shock when he just gets back up, barely dazed. Namor then responds by beating the hell out of the floor of Johnny’s house, causing some seismic activity that knocks Johnny on his ass, which forces him to accidentally fire his gun again, this time hitting Namor in the head. And, this one takes a little more out of the Sub-Mariner.

Namor is temporarily knocked out, which is apparently the sign to Doctor Doom’s hidden soldier that things have gotten too wacky. He comes flying into the room, on a jetpack of course, and grabs Cindy. The soldier flies away with her, intending to use Cindy as a bargaining chip to force Namor into completing the raid on the AIM base. All of this attention has brought the focus of the police though, who arrive at the house to find pure chaos. They lead Brother Johnny and Cindy’s friend away, and get ready to take Namor away, when the Sub-Mariner starts to get a little mouthy. He insults the cops, which obviously means they immediately take their guns out and get ready to shoot Namor in the back of the head. But, just like before, their guns are melted before they can murder an unarmed man, because Doctor Doom has shown back up. He takes care of the police officers, and carries Namor to a waiting rocket-sled, where he drops the act of being an old friend of Namor’s, and just starts threatening him.

 

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So, with that unpleasant little bit of blackmail taken care of, Namor and Doom fly off into the nigh, locating the part of the Gulf of Mexico that Doom believes the AIM base is hidden under. He then straps a special backpack onto Namor that will sent messages back to Doom’s craft, letting Namor scout the waters outside the base to make sure there aren’t any boobytraps waiting for them. Namor begins swimming through the Gulf, while Doom carefully steers his ship after him, musing about how Namor could have become his new best friend if he hadn’t resorted to blackmail. Which wasn’t really what I was expecting from Doctor Doom, but whatever.

Namor swims through the depths, gradually approaching the underwater AIM base, when he comes across a massive sting ray. And, not wanting to get Steve Irwined, Namor grabs a giant bolder and smashes the sting ray to bits. Which ends up catching the attention of one of MODOK’s defense mechanisms, firing a blast of energy at Namor that knocks him out. Which is good news for Doctor Doom, because while the defenses are focusing on Namor he’s able to float past him towards AIM’s base. But, that’s really starting to frustrate MODOK, who is watching Doom’s progress intently, and is very irritated that he’s going to have to start dealing with Doom. Luckily though, he’s not the only person in this base. AIM may have failed him in a fight against Captain America, but he’s now realized the best option to restaff AIM. Robots!

 

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Doctor Doom and his crew of Latverian soldiers are able to pass through the final boobytraps, and begin to enter the base, by lowering a massive drill to the surface of the base and just smashing their way in. And, while the ship is in the process of entering the AIM base we get a very strange little interlude when one of Doom’s soldiers marches into the brig that they’re holding Cindy in. He then gets ready to sexually assault Cindy, until Doom walks in and beats the hell out of the man. The other soldiers come and take him away while Doom apologizes to Cindy. He’s fine with kidnapping her for blackmail that will eventually let him steal a weapon of mass destruction, but he draws the line at sexual assault. I’m glad Doctor Doom is at least that woke.

While all of this is going on though, we see that Namor has awoken from his temporary unconsciousness, and has found his way to the AIM facility as well. He comes across a secret entrance, and heads inside, hoping to track down Doom and Cindy. But, when he enters the facility he comes face to face with MODOK and his army of androids. The androids immediately jump Namor, and begin having a massive fight. MODOK basically just sits back, heckling Namor while he destroys wave after wave of androids, all until MODOK decides he needs to take matters into his own stubby little hands, and blasts Namor with one of his mental attacks. He then orders his androids to take Namor away, and stash him in the same place they’re keeping the Cosmic Cube, which seems like a weird call.

 

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And, with his own kidnapped prisoner, MODOK decides it’s time to actually start dealing with Doctor Doom. He goes over a loudspeaker that Doom’s able to hear from inside his craft, telling him that he had Namor captive, and if Doom ever wants to see him again they’ll need to have a meeting. MODOK really overestimated Doom’s loyalty to Namor, but it ends up working, because Doom becomes so furious that MODOK is trying to play him that he storms out of his ship to go yell at him, still delivering MODOK exactly the outcome he was hoping for.

The two villains then meet up in the AIM base, and begin threatening each other. Doom is very clear that he’s here to just steal the Cosmic Cube, and MODOK is also quite open about the fact he just wants Doom killed. Which is why he lets a flood of androids attack Doom. The good doctor begins fighting all of the androids while everything in the facility starts to pop off. The Latverian soldiers start fighting some androids as well, while Namor begins struggling to escape his confines. Unfortunately the androids have held him under some sort of heat-lamp, drying Namor out, which apparently takes his powers away. But, Namor does luck out, because the androids are also quite dumb, so when he requests some water he’s able to convince the androids to give it to him, since they were ordered to keep him alive. The water then returns Namor’s strength and he’s able to rip himself out of his confines and attack him some androids.

 

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Namor begins to piece together that MODOK has something up his little sleeves, and is planning on using the Cosmic Cube on him for some reason. So, he starts investigating and ends up stumbling upon the actual Cube, whose very presence starts to freak Namor out. But, a lot of stuff is going on in the story at this point. We’ve learned that one of the Latverian soldiers is actually some sort of double agent, seen Cindy attempt to trick the sleazy guard to tried to assault her into letting her go, and we see Doom destroy enough of the androids that MODOK stops ordering them to attack. The two villains have a bit of a showdown, and start using their various technological devices to attack one another, until MODOK uses a flash to distract Doom long enough for him to zip across the base using a secret passageway.

Doom then loses interest in whatever subtly he was using, and whips out a little laser canon that he uses to just start burrowing through the ground of the base, heading directly towards where he thinks the Cube is being kept. He gets within inches of the Cube’s hiding place, when he’s suddenly attacked by the the Latverian double agent, who is actually working for MODOK. I think? Regardless, the man is able to knock Doom unconscious with a lead pipe. But, after finishing what he was intending to do, the man almost instantly lights on fire and is turned to ash from the pure strength of the Cosmic Cube, but Doom isn’t affected because of his suit. But, Doom is saved by an unlikely source. Cindy Jones!

 

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Cindy and Doom then head towards Namor, MODOK, and the Cube so that they can get the hell out of the AIM facility. Meanwhile, MODOK has arrived in the room with Namor and the Cube, and this has obviously led to yet more fighting with androids. Which is when we find out what exactly MODOK has been planning this whole time. He apparently was playing 3D chess, and knew that Doctor Doom would take advantage of an amnesiac Namor, thus bringing Namor into MODOK’s clutches so that he could then use the Cosmic Cube to put his own mighty intellect into Namor’s strong and virile body, making him an unstoppable being who can take over the world. And, Namor responds to this news by picking MODOK up and slams him into a wall, breaking some equipment that was keeping the Cube stable.

Namor then runs through the facility and comes across Doom and Cindy just in time to stop Doom from opening the case that’s shielding the Cube. Namor explains that the Cube is going critical, and if they were top try and take it they’d all die. Doom isn’t really a fan of this outcome, since he really, really wanted the Cube. But, he doesn’t want to die more, so he agrees to flee the facility with Namor and Cindy. They pile into the Latverian craft and flee from the base right as it explodes. The trio then land in New Orleans where they debrief over their failed little exploit. And, as is custom, Doctor Doom then ends his encounter with one of the many heroes of the Marvel Universe by complimenting them, before walking off into the night, leaving a still partially amnesiac Namor to hang out with a girl he met like, four hours ago.

 

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Excessive android battles aside, this story is a whole lot of fun. I just love these types of stories so much, and it was nice to see Doom in a more collaborative role for this story. Like I said, I’ve never been much of a Namor fan, so going into this story I was more interested in Doom than anything else, but I kind of loved the interaction between the two. It makes sense that as two people who at various times have fought the Fantastic Four that they’d have a bit of a connection, even though Namor was on a more heroic kick at this point in his history. So, seeing the two of them team up to fight one of the Marvel Universe’s weirdest villains was quite a treat. Yeah, there were certainly some parts of the story that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, like why Doom seemed to have unexplained powers at the beginning of the story, who exactly that double agent was working for, and how much MODOK really knew about their plan, but the story is fun enough that you’re able to push those questions aside and just enjoy the sheer goofiness of this tale. I mean, we got to see Doctor Doom trick Namor into thinking they were best friends in order to steal a Cosmic Cube from MODOK so that he could use it to fix his face. At least, that was the first example he gives of what he’d do with the Cube when he got it. That’s so insane, and kind of par for the course for these Doom stories. Plus, over the course of these Marvel Madness posts I’ve been able to confirm that Doctor Doom is not okay with racism and now sexual assault. So, that’s nice to know.

 

Sub-Mariner #47-49 were written by Gerry Conway, penciled by Gene Colan, inked by Mike Esposito and Frank Giacoia, and lettered by Sam Rosen, Art Simek, and Jon Costa, 1972.

 

 

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