It takes a very special frame of mind to read a Dr. Doom story. Somewhere in-between believing your fingers are evil alien worms trying to control you and losing all ability to comprehend language is probably about right. I recommend you start with slightly toxic mushrooms, work your way through model airplane glue and aerosol inhalants, and eventually reach the stage where you're looking around for some tree frogs to lick. [Kids: Don't try this at home. Use someone else's home.] Then, and only then will you be in that proper frame of mind to understand the sheer, undiminished joy that every one of Dr. Doom's appearances brings to these unworthy pages. He shows up like ten times over the course of the series, and every one is like manna from Heaven.
He has a special (very special, as in "riding the special bus" kind of special) origin page in this issue, and it goes something like this...
Mr. Caption: Victor Von Doom was a scientist, who built a special metal suit.
We flash to Dr. Doom, his face turned from us, molding a piece of sheet metal into his armored chestplate. How is he doing this? With a HAMMER. Not even a sledge hammer, just a little carpenter's hammer. He's already finished the left glove. Ok then Doc, wake me in about 17 years when you've finished pounding this sheet metal into a form-fitting mobile suit of impenetrable armor.
Dr. Doom: The suit makes me Dr. Doom... the strongest man on Earth!
He says this as he smashes through the wall to his own lab. What is it with villains and their obsession with destroying their own secret labs to demonstrate their awesome power to...... absolutely no one? I just don't get it.
Mr. Caption: So strong that Dr. Doom took over a tiny country.
Latverian Prime Minister Dude: We crown you king of our land.
So... a guy in a walking metal suit comes by, with no other powers whatsoever, and suddenly you're forced to give him control of your government? Did you guys try getting him wet and waiting for rust? Or using a giant magnet? I'm pretty sure that would work. Really, there are other things you can do besides declaring him Dictator For Life(tm).(Note: Dictator For Life is a registered trademark of the March of Dimes, along with Walk For Life, Run For Life, Swim For Life, and Pogo-Stick For Life.)
Mr. Caption: But even that is not enough for Dr. Doom!
Dr. Doom: I'm going to rule the world!
He says as he leers menacingly over a five-foot globe. Do you know anyone who owns a five-foot high globe? I didn't think so. I think there's only one store in the entire world that makes them, and it's really owned by the CIA, and if you ever buy any giant globes to menacingly stand over or cackle maniacally around, you automatically get added to their super-villain hit list.
I'm not quite sure how a man who's only apparent super-powers are PREVENT METAL CHAFING and BASIC CARPENTRY is going to take over the world. Though in later issues Dr. Doom has some nifty devices, all he has here is his modified tuna can-armor and the evilest Disco Ball you'll ever meet.
There have been a few great opening sentences in literature. Lines that instantly draw you in, and lines that tug on your heartstrings in an excruciatingly painful and possibly fatal manner. Lines like, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...", "Who is John Galt?", or even "Timmy the Steam-Shovel was a sad little Steam-Shovel."
This is not one of those lines.
Mr. Caption: Little does Spider-Man know this will be... ...THE DAY OF DOOM!
So we open with Spider-Man merrily web-swinging over the mother of all New York traffic jams. Everything is perfectly normal at first glance, except then you notice all the things that demonstrate that, yes, the artists on this story have never, ever been inside an actual modern city, it looks like something Amish parents would invent to frighten their children. First there's the neon green buses everywhere. And there's a tomato red taxi with a yellow trunk. And the fact that all three streets we can see are one-way streets that still somehow manage to connect. And not a single one has any lanes marked at all, despite the fact that the largest street is wide enough to hold eight cars across. And the fact that a New York City street is that wide should also clue you in that the artists have no idea what they're drawing. But by far my favorite piece of insane city life is the brown family station wagon with a flamingo pink convertible top and blood (I mean blood) red interiors.
So some yuppie dude is stuck in traffic in his yuppie girlfriend's car, and he notices Spider-Man swinging overhead. It's a good thing that he dragged his girlfriend out of bed and made her drive, because then he's free to sit there and make witty observations like the following. "He must be the only person in town who isn't stuck in traffic!" And you must be the only person in your How-To-Not-Be-An-Annoying-Prick class to have failed three times! I'm sure his girlfriend likes to be reminded that if only she had web-shooters instead of a '74 Chevy Impala, he wouldn't be so damn late for work all the time...
Then the next panel shows Spidey swinging away from the traffic jam. And then Mr. Sound Effects says "HONK! HONK!", presumably to represent some kind of noise coming from the cars and taxis. Except that of all the places in this half-page panel that they could put this sound effect, they choose to put it right next to Spidey's butt. Now I'm not one for the scatological humor (unless done in a socially acceptable Farrelly Brothers movie), but weren't young boys the original target audience for this comic? If there's anything, anything at all (especially in books or things promoted as 'safe for all ages' like this) that seems like a veiled reference to farting, young boys will go insane. As an example: I recall when I was seven years old and it was storytime in second grade and Jason Cole, who was so quiet he never spoke unless actually threatened, let out the longest and loudest fart I can ever recall hearing. The teacher actually had to stop reading to us and wait for him to finish. All the boys in the class were laughing so hard, it was if God himself had descended and filled our stomachs with an especially ticklish species of caterpillar. We laughed 'til we hurt, we laughed 'til the tears were pooling at our feet, and WE COULDN'T HELP IT. For the next two weeks, every time class got quiet someone would made that buzzing/fart noise with their lips, and the entire hour would be shot, every boy would collapse in laughter. I think Jason Cole had to transfer schools. It's not an especially proud part of my past. But just remember ladies, without exception all of your husbands and boyfriends would have done the exact same thing as seven year old boys. I guarantee.
And I'm sure young boys back in the 70s felt the same way. I'm equally sure there's some kind of cave painting in France with a nicely drawn Wooly Mammoth with crude fart lines coming out of its rear. So I think this is probably the first time in the history of Spidey Super Stories that they had something that their target audience of young boys would actually think is funny. Maybe that's why this issue is so hard to get (it is), all those 70s boys have grown up and become CEOs, but kept this issue in their desks anyway and when no one's looking they pull it out, turn page 2 to and go, "HA! Spidey's Butt-Honk!... HONK! HONK! hahahaha". Then they fire people.
Anyway... way, way back in the actual story, Spidey thinks, "Everyone has come to hear Dr. Doom speak to the United Nations." And when Spidey says "everyone" is at the U.N., he's not kidding. We see lines of people three blocks long waiting to get in. Traffic is backed up for half a mile in all directions. I mean, I don't recall the last time the president of Luxembourg or a similar dinky European country spoke to the U.N. I'm pretty sure he didn't attract more fans than a Van Halen reunion. And since when did the U.N. become an entertainment venue, anyway? We see people lined up with their tickets, waiting to go through turnstiles, just like a baseball stadium. Does the U.N. have snack bars and those horrible multi-person latrine urinals as well? This is just not inspiring my confidence in world government.
And then Spidey cuts into a line and stands there for a few minutes. Then he realizes, "I must take pictures for the newspaper... Oops! I'm still wearing my Spider-Man suit!" The best part of this is that for-this-panel-only Spidey is shown carrying his camera around in a little pink Fanny-Pack. Heh. If there's anything more gay than a man wearing pajamas and a pink fanny-pack, I don't think God has invented it yet. Our hero.
Then our hero, using the same genius-level smarts he used to develop his web-formula, decides "Oh, but I can change back to Peter Parker once I'm safe inside the U.N." OK.... except then he tries to go in, and a security guard stops him and asks for his press pass. Spidey thinks, "My press pass says Peter Parker... not Spider-Man!" Like duh. Maybe at this point it would've been easier to NOT walk into the U.N. dressed as a costumed menace instead of Peter Parker. So then Spidey decides that the guard would surely let him in if he can just convince him that he's the real Spider-Man. So then he wastes an entire page doing acrobatic stunts and things. He shoots a webline up to the Italian flag (the artists actually remembered that there's a bunch of flagpoles in front of the U.N.), then hangs off the flag, then walks up it, etc. demonstrating he's really Spidey, and as an added bonus, desecrating the symbol of the people of Italy! How about that, in front of the U.N., no less. The cop ignores this, but he still won't let Spider-Man in because he doesn't have a pass. Spidey doesn't seem to understand this, for some reason. "But look, officer, I'm the real Spider-Man. Could a phony Spider-Man do... this?" "Ok, I believe you, but you still don't have a pass." "But I'm the real deal! Accept no substitutes! Could a phony do... THIS?" "Yes I understand, but..." It's just sad when rent-a-cop security guard completely outsmarts our hero.
Inside the U.N., J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are waiting for Peter to show up.
JJJ: Where's that kid with the camera?
Robbie: Don't worry. Peter will make it.
JJJ: He'd better not miss the great, peace loving Dr. Doom!
I just don't understand where JJJ gets these wacky ideas. His name is Dr. Doom, for chrissake.
Robbie: Dr. Doom doesn't want world peace. I think this speech will prove that Dr. Doom is EVIL!
Dr. Doom walks up to the podium at the U.N. carrying with him a scientific device that can best be described as a "Ruby-Red Disco Ball". Because that's exactly what it looks like. It's a big rotating sphere that has all these shiny panels on it like a disco ball, and it's all red and sparkly like Dorothy's slippers. I'll give Dr. Doom points for hiding his evil device in plain sight, because I don't think anyone in the 70s is going to suspect that a disco ball is capable of pure evil. But I have the terrible feeling that this was not an intentional thing on Dr. Doom's part, he just liked creating evil devices shaped like disco balls.
So Dr. Doom begins his speech. Spider-Man is still outside arguing with the security guard.
Dr. Doom: My friends...
JJJ(to Robbie, as if explaining to a small child): See, I told you. Dr. Doom is a good guy!
Ok... then. Man, it must be nice to live in JJJ's blissfully ignorant world where everything anyone says is automatically true. Also, you could really mess with his head. That's what I would do...
Me: Hey JJJ, remember that $700 you owe me for the erotically shaped chocolates?
JJJ's thoughts: "You know... I don't remember spending $700 on erotic chocolates, but if he SAID it, it MUST be true then..."
Dr. Doom: It is time for me to tell you why I asked to speak to you.
Can you really do that? Could you book a speaking gig at the U.N. and not even tell them what you want to speak about? What if Dr. Doom wanted to discuss his horrible metal rashes with the world? I'm very disappointed in the U.N.'s quality control here.
Dr. Doom: *presses a button on the disco ball, which starts emitting red light* Now I have you trapped! No one can get out!
Onto "Part 2: Dr. Doom's Dirty Deed!" And no, it's not as interesting as that sounds like it could be. Still pretty awesome, though.
Spidey has (finally) decided that the best way to get into the U.N. is maybe to change into Peter Parker and use Peter Parker's Press Pass. (Try saying that five times fast... and if you actually stopped reading and tried doing that, well, that's just sad.) Right as Peter tries to run into the U.N. a giant red force field slams down in front of him, causing Peter to slam into it head-first and rebound a full six feet. (Mr. Sound Effect: BUMP!) Hahahaha. You'd think maybe his Spider-Sense would warn him about the giant force field that was about a half-a-second away from slicing him in two. Ah, but you know, I bet his Spider-Sense thought that letting him slam into the wall was as funny as I did.
Peter:*sitting on the ground with little stars orbiting his head* A force field! It must be around the whole United Nations. And if I can't get in, the people inside can't get out!
Jeez, I wonder if Peter "Master of the Blindingly Obvious" gives this little speech every time he closes his bedroom door. "But if my door's closed, then I can't go out, and ladies can't get in!" Not that any would want to.
Peter:*hugging the force field* They're all trapped by Dr. Doom! Only Spider-Man can free all those people. I'd better change back into my Spidey Suit.
Which we just spent three pages waiting for him to change out of. Also, he says the line about his Spidey suit as he runs past the guard he was earlier trying to impress with Spidey antics and has just a minute before shown Peter Parker's Press Pass. Is there anyone in this comic who Peter hasn't blurted out his secret identity to?
Mr. Caption: Inside the United Nations building, Dr. Doom explains his plan.
Now begins one of the better speeches in all of Super-Villain history. Trust me, this is one that will be studied by super-villain scholars for years to come.
Dr. Doom: The Red Rays from this machine put a force field bubble over the building. *points dramatically at a blank wall* No one can save you!
Dr. Doom: The only way out is to let ME, Dr. Doom, rule the world!
Dr. Doom: *slams fist into the podium at the U.N.* Now... give me your countries!
Hehe. I just love that line. I went around all yesterday answering any questions people asked me with, "Now... GIVE ME YOUR COUNTRIES!" If you're curious, I found out that it goes over even better with a fake South American accent. And it works still better if you add the line "ALSO YOUR WIMMEN AND CHIL-DREN!" Yes, this is what I spend my free time experimenting with...
Some random guy wearing a kimono stands up.
Random Kimono Guy: I will never let you rule my country!
Dr. Doom: *presses another button on his disco ball* This will teach you to say "NO" to Dr. Doom!
Suddenly a Red Ray flashes out from the Disco Ball and surrounds Kimono Guy, and then... that's it, we don't know, we never see if this is somehow evil or something. He's calmly sitting back in his seat a few pages later, though, so it couldn't have been too evil.
Robbie:(to JJJ) And you said Dr. Doom was such a good guy!
Dr. Doom:(pointing to Robbie and JJJ) Silence! Or the same will happen to you!
I'm pretty amazed that Dr. Doom can hear them, since Robbie and JJJ are sitting in their own private balcony booth in the back of the U.N. (don't ask), and plus Dr. Doom's ears are encased in two inches of solid steel. And "the same will happen to you" is really not much of a threat, considering all his machine does to you is to cause a warm red light to pleasantly surround you for a few seconds.
Peter finishes changing back into Spider-Man and tries some good old brute force before he's forced to painfully use his tiny, randomly-connected brain to form some kind of actual idea. So he tries kicking the force field a few times, that doesn't work, and then he sits down, stumped. "There's no way I can get through this thing... But I can climb up it and see what's going on inside." So Spidey climbs up the side of the force field, and looks through a conveinient window and sees Dr. Doom and his Glowing Disco Ball of Mayhem. Spidey then has a revelation. And he honest-to-God says, "I get it! Dr. Doom's machine makes this force field!" Right... as opposed to what, Spidey? His dapper personality makes the force field? His chest hair? His live-in girlfriend? His recipe for Clam Chowder? What did you THINK it was? I mean, if you see a skyscraper-sized force field in the Marvel Universe, pretty safe bet it's produced by some kind of evil super-villain machine.
Ah, but this is the astonishing concept that leads Spidey to get an incredibly stupid idea, that inevitably ends up being the key to defeating Dr. Doom. This idea is even stupid enough that the lightbulb appears over his head. By now, you've surely come to recognize that this is never a good sign for your sanity. Or the human race in general.
Spidey: That machine must run on electric power! If someone pulled its plug... the machine wouldn't work! And if it didn't work... it couldn't make the force field!
And if it couldn't make the force field... people could get out! And if people could get out... they'd all call for taxis! And if they all called for taxis... there wouldn't be enough! And if there wasn't enough taxis... the people would revolt! And if the people revolted... I would become their God! Hey, my train of logic is certainly no worse than Spidey's.
Yes, the key to defeating Dr. Doom that Spidey comes up with is to pull the plug on his machine. But before we get any deeper into uncharted realms of the depraved human psyche, I'd like to point out that in all six panels Dr. Doom's machine appears in, we don't seen any kind of cord at all. There was nothing attached when they wheeled it in, he didn't stop to plug it in, we can see the whole thing clearly and there's absolutely no cord. Plus if you invent a giant force field Disco Ball that can run on wall socket standard 120 volts, you have probably mastered the difficult concept of "batteries".
So Spidey decides he has to share his brilliant revelation with the people inside. So then he writes on the outside of the force field in Web-letters thirty feet high, "PULL PLUG!". It's nice that Spidey took the time to write that thirty foot exclamation point, otherwise the U.N. ambassadors trapped by the evil dictator may not have known to try and escape now instead of next week.
And then... well, and then we discover much to our horror and dismay that Easy Reader and the Short Circus are trapped inside the U.N. along with everyone else. I don't know if it was a 'Learning-Disability Kids Learn About Government' field trip or what, but I have no idea how the hell they got in. Maybe one of Easy's 'clients' is a U.N. ambassador, and he was able to blackmail it out of him. So while all the ambassadors are staring dumbfounded at Spidey's hyper-complex plan, it's up to Easy and his Rock `N` Roll mutant schoolchildren to save the day... after they spend two entire pages trying to figure out what Spidey's plan is.
Easy: Whatever Spider-Man can write, Old Easy can read!
Easy: It says "Pull Plug!" But... what does Spidey mean?
Gee, Easy, I don't know, maybe he's telling you that after a long hard battle with cancer, you should let your grandmother pass peacefully into... WHAT DO YOU THINK HE'S TRYING TO TELL YOU? Idiot.
Duane-Afro-King: The machine must run on electric power.
Well, since all power is either electric, gravitational or chemical, that's probably a safe bet, unless you see some kind of stomach attached to the Disco Ball that I don't. And I'm sure by now you're all sick of me pointing out how every sentence they utter is something obvious even to passing geese. But only a few pages left, hang in there...
Then Easy Reader comes back with an equally stupid rejoinder:
Easy Reader: To cut off the power, we must pull the plug. But... *looks mystified* ...how do we do that?
What, now you need Spidey to give you detailed directions on how to pull a plug? Do you even know what century you're living in? How Easy got to be defacto leader of this group, I'll never know, considering all his ideas consist of rephrasing whatever he was just told in the form of a question, and waiting for someone smarter than him to come up with a plan.
So Dopey-Eyed Asian Girl takes charge and orders all the Short Circus to "Spread out and pull every plug you see." Then comes two pages of utter madness as the Short Circus decides to pull completely random plugs from random outlets inside the U.N. The best of these scenes has one of the Short Circus kids visiting the U.N.'s yellow-and-lime colored bathrooms, and pulling a plug that stops the vent fan from working. This is the ceiling vent that every bathroom has. It's kind of a strange sight to see it plugged directly into the bathroom wall.
As you read these scenes of blood-curdling frustration, you'll invariably want to shout at the stupid kids, "LOOK AT HIS MACHINE! TRACE THAT CORD TO THE WALL! PULL THAT PLUG! ARGHH!" as they go right on pulling random plugs, turning off random lights and appliances. I'm at a loss as to how people this stupid have not already been sold to rich people for spare parts.
By sheer, unbelievable coincidence, Easy Reader eventually finds the unlocked United Nations fuse box and is able to figure out how to throw the switches. It's a good thing he found a fuse box, since he didn't know how to "unplug" a normal plug anyway. So he plunges the whole building into darkness and (somehow) also knocks out the force field from the (not-plugged-in) Sparkly Red Disco Ball of Death. Super-proud of himself, Easy exclaims "Easy DOES it!" Yeah, I'll bet his ladies hear that one a lot...
Turbanio, the ambassador to the mythical Land of All-Turban-Wearers: Look, the force field is gone!
Dr. Doom: Oh no! My plan will be spoiled! I must get away!
So Dr. Doom runs away from the podium, abandoning his machine, being totally unprepared for this. So what was he going to do in an hour when the FBI cuts off all power to the building as part of SOP during a hostage crisis, just like they did in the smash hit Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis as a New York cop visiting his wife in L.A. when the building is taken over by terrorists (or are they?), and he's forced to wage a one-man-war of justice to reclaim the building while the police and FBI are helpless, except for one lonely cop who has a last chance to redeem himself... Sorry, I get distracted when talking about Die Hard, one of my all-time favorites.
So then Dr. Doom runs into the U.N. lobby(?) which has a giant pendulum (? I give up) in the center. Now Spider-Man makes his token heroic effort as he webs up the pendulum, waits for Dr. Doom to run down the stairs, and releases it at just the right moment so it ponderously swings over and goes "CLANG!" into Dr. Doom, knocking him out. What, you somehow missed the massive pendulum slowly swinging towards you, Dr. D? Your metal eyeholes too tiny?
Then everyone runs outside so they can congratulate Spidey on his awesome plan.
Kimono Dude: You saved all the countries of the world.
Turbania, the other ambassador to the mythical Land of All-Turban-Wearers: Thank you, Spider-Man!
Sometimes, I don't think there's enough intelligence in this comic to run a goldfish.
You know, I'm really curious to know what Dr. Doom and the ambassadors were doing while the Short Circus kids ran around the U.N. looking for outlets. They all saw the giant "PULL PLUG!" sign. It took the Short Circus two pages to decipher it, and they're morons, so I would hope the ambassadors representing the best of their home countries were a little more able. They probably just spent their time writing and voting on U.N. resolution 239: "Spider-Man is probably not instructing us to 'PULL' on Turbanio's goatee, despite the fact that it's really a hair plug. Also, we're still condemning Iraq for some kind of terrorist acts, we think." If you're curious, the bill was separated into two smaller resolutions, and the Iraq one passed, but the 'Turbanio act' failed because of Soviet opposition.
And in a blunder sure to offend all the major ethnic groups, every single member of the U.N. is colored pasty-whiteboy white. The turban wearers, some guy who wears that little middle-eastern hat that looks like it came from a Shriners convention, even the Kimono dude, who rules some country where they wear kimonos a lot, are all as white as Peter Parker. The Short Circus's own Dopey-Eyed Asian Girl looks like she just got back from the monster truck rally so she could throw some corn fritters on the grill. When it comes to inventing car colors that they don't even have a name for, the colorist is all over that, but when it comes to coloring people something other than white, well, that's just too hard. The only people of color in the whole story are Robbie Robertson and some of the Afro-clad members of the Short Circus, both definitely NOT U.N. ambassadors.
4.5 webs. Kid musical group saves United Nations from evil genius dictator by unplugging random appliances? Sweet!