35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
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It may be surprising that the editors at Marvel even bothered to release this collected edition, but I'm very glad that they did! The Essential Super-Villain Team-Up is one of those rare gems that will remind you of a time when Marvel routinely dared to try different concepts.
The first section of the book is devoted to the Dr. Doom solo stories from issues 1 through 8 of Astonishing Tales, from 1970 and 1971. Doom shared the pages of AT with Ka-Zar, but the jungle hero's tales are NOT included in this volume. (Maybe they'll publish "The Essential Ka-Zar" in the future.)
Originally published erratically from 1975 to 1980, Super-Villain Team-Up began as two quarterly "Giant-Size" special issues in 1975. Sales warranted a bi-monthly series, which ran for 17 issues from 1975 until 1977. It was later "revived" for two issues in 1979 and 1980. All of these are collected here, with the exception of SVTU #15, which was just a reprint of two of the AT stories.
Filling out the volume are three issues of The Avengers (#154-156) and one issue of The Champions (#16), all of which were crossover issues with SVTU in 1976 and 1977.
Although the cover of this trade paperback only features Dr. Doom and the Sub-Mariner, you will find several other venerable Marvel villains, including the Red Skull, Magneto, Attuma, Diablo, Arnim Zola, and Satan himself! Plus guest stars like the Fantastic Four, the Shroud, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, and even Adolf Hitler!
This book has a lot going for it, from the stunning art of Wally Wood on the first four Astonishing Tales, to the single greatest Dr. Doom tale ever ("...Though Some Call It Magic!", by Conway & Colan, AT #8), to the death of the Sub-Mariner's first love Betty Dean, to the bizarre yet compelling alliance of Nazi villain the Red Skull with Hitler himself!
If this Essential volume has any weaknesses, however, one may be that the stories do not flow together as well as in other volumes (ex., Essential Amazing Spider-Man) simply due to the nature of the original publication. Although the comics reprinted here were "starring roles" for Doom, Subby, etc., SVTU was more about action and treachery than characterization. The early AT stories and the Doom/Namor alliance saga are exceptions, but the last 1/3 or so of the volume seemed very hit-or-miss to me.
Likewise the art is inconsistent. You have some great work by Wood, Colan, George Perez, Sal Buscema, but I also had to sit through a couple of real stinkers where the pencil work looked like a teenager's try-out samples. However, if you enjoy seeing a variety of artistic styles, especially in the "mighty Marvel manner" of the 1970s, this might not bother you at all.
All together I would rate The Essential Super-Villain Team-Up as a solid 85 out of 100, and I'd recommend it to any fan of superhero comics. If only for the opportunity to experience what Marvel was like in the '70s --- either as a younger reader who never had the chance to own these obscure issues, or as a long-time fan wishing to read them again and again!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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This one compiles a lot of little known classic work of Roy Thomas, Tony Isabella, Bill Everett (Sub Mariner creator) and most of all we get to see Wally Wood's version of Dr. Doom! Also Incredible Hulk artist Herb Trimpe's art is in a few issues.
That made the book a real treat. We get to see what he might have done if he were the artist behind one of Marvel's great villians. It features an unlikely team of two of Marvel's most misunderstood characters. Sub Mariner; who played villian and hero on and off depending on the writer, and Doom who was such an interesting personality. Both of them have to ironically fight nemesis like the Red Skull who want to conquer and overthrow their territory.
This title never became what the hero inspired Marvel Team Up with Spider-Man became. It would have survived if Doom had teamed up with other villians than the ones in this volume. Perhaps a team up with Doc Ock from Spidey might have helped?
With all the old Marvels of the sixties and Seventies making a re-appearance this one is a must buy. So much so that I hope that this is the start of new revival of the Doom legend.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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There have been lots of Team-Up themed comics over the years. DC had "The Brave and the Bold". Marvel had "Marvel Team-Up" and "Marvel Two in One". But in the mid 70s, Marvel had the idea of doing a comic that was all about teaming up Super Villains. The concept was tried out in "Astonishing Tales" before finally graduating to its own title...Super-Villain Team-Up.
Super-Villain Team-Up was basically centered on Dr. Doom. Most stories centered around his attempts at world domination naturally, but sometimes his efforts warranted his teaming up with villains such as Red Skull, Magneto, Hate Monger, Arnim Zola and others. The always angry anti hero Submariner also teamed up with the Latverian dictator when it suited his plans for his Atlantian kingdom. More often then not, one of these super villains would ultimately pull some sort of double cross and there would be a huge battle to destroy each other.
They weren't exactly complex stories, most "team up" comics never were. They followed a predictable formula for the most part. But in the 70s, the idea of a comic book centered completely around and about nothing but villains was fresh and original and intriguing. When heroes fought villains, we knew basically who was going to win and what each characters motive was. But villains battling villains had an element of surprise to it. Even though the series centered around Dr. Doom, it wasn't always clear who would win if Doom battled Red Skull or Magneto. That's what made it interesting in spite of being formulaic. We also see the introduction and origin of a new superhero in this series, The Shroud. He was a mysterious figure clad all in black that seemed to be a perpetual wrench in the works in the plans of Doom and Submariner.
Essential Super-Villain Team-Up contains Astonishing Tales 1 thru 8, Avengers 154 to 156, Champions #16 and Super-Villain Team-Up issues 1 thru 14 and 16-17. Issue #15 is not included as that is a reprint of Astonishing Tales issue 4. There is art by Wally Wood, Bill Everett, George Perez, Gene Colan and John Buscema. I'm rating it 3 out of 5 stars basically for the formula writing. They are fun stories albeit a little dated. However, the concept, the art and the fact that the entire series and all related issues are in one volume warrants purchasing this Essentials volume. It's a nice book for completists to have and an enjoyable read. It would make a nice addition for anyone's collection, but I can't suggest putting it at the top of your "to buy" list.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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When Marvel tried a few things out in the 70s, they had some interesting ideas. But they also didn't always plan things out as much as they should have. The net result is this book, which is a great idea, but is not executed nearly as well as it should be. The majority of the book revolves around a puzzling relationship between Namor and Dr. Doom. Other characters come and go...
The biggest problem is that they seemed to want to stick to this idea that villains are so intrinsically evil that they are always looking to overthrow their partners. This isn't a bad idea, but it makes the book get stale pretty quickly. I'd be much more interested if betrayal weren't a given.
The uncertain way that the story has been plotted, in combination with the story that hasn't been tried before, makes the book a very unique experience.
Like another person stated, the last two issues are definitely the best of the book. It's a shame that more stories weren't plotted as tightly as those ones were.
And Kissinger's cameo is fantastic.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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There are two sides to every story. Sure, the Red Skull always seems like a bad guy, but isn't that really because we see him in stories about Captain America? If we read a story featuring him in a story, would he come off looking better? Actually, no. The Red Skull is a villain no matter how you look at him. But that doesn't mean he can't star in a story every now and them. In The Essential Super Villain Team-up, we get to see him and other villains as the stars of the stories instead of supporting characters.
Actually, the title is a bit of a misnomer. For one thing, the majority of stories feature only two characters, Dr. Doom and the Sub-Mariner, and, misanthropic as he may be, the Sub-Mariner is not really a villain. Secondly, the characters are only intermittently teamed up; typically, they are at each others throats. Any alliances we see among any of the featured villains are purely a matter of expedience and will lead to betrayal at the first opportunity.
Misnamed as this collection may be, it does feature a few good stories. My personal favorite is an ironic two-parter featuring Dr. Doom and Magneto. The story opens with Doom having achieved his goal - he has taken over the world - and he is instantly bored, which will precipitate his eventual defeat. Interestingly, however, most of the stories are not all that thrilling; while the writing is okay, these super-villains lose their aura of mysterious evil when they become the protagonists and are thus diminished.
Perhaps the best that can be said for this collection is that demonstrates that not all villains are equally evil. The Sub-Mariner isn't really evil at all and Doom is driven more by arrogance than pure malice. At the other end of the spectrum, the Red Skull is wholly unredeemable. For fans of the Marvel Universe, this is a relatively minor book, definite three star fare. Intriguing as the title may be, this should not be your first choice for an Essentials book.