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Captain Marvel vs. Doctor Doom

Avengers 60th Anniversary
by yo go re

Whisked to another planet by the mysterious Beyonder, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) joins forces with fellow heroes in Secret Wars to stop Doctor Doom from becoming an all-powerful being.

Yeah, good luck with that girl, you keep us updated on how it's going.

Monica Rambeau first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, because that used to be the way to give a new character a cold intro. She showed off her powers, then we got a flashback to her origin, then demonstrations of how strong she is by going to see the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, then it's a promise she'll appear in future issues. Unlike most such characters, though, that came true! For a time, she even led the Avengers (in case you didn't know).

Fittingly, this Monica uses the same body mold as the previous version. Considering that she was originally based on Pam Grier, they could have used a larger one, but this works. They did give her some substantial thighs, at least. She's got new boots, and new arms to deal with the cape-wings attached to her sleeves.

Since she was created in the early '80s, it's no suprise Captain Marvel debuted with an afro - in the '90s they gave this poor woman beaded braids! This is the tightly curled and cropped style of the era, rather than the bigger, fuller cuts we've seen in recent years. It falls down around her ears more than being a giant sphere around her head, basically. Still, it may be time for an Electric Company Spider-Woman custom!

In her first appearance, Spider-Man specifically describes Captain Marvel's costume as "silver and black," but it's sure never been drawn that way! From the get-go, she's always worn white and black (though silver would make sense for something initially cobbled together from Mardi Gras costumes). Like we said, the figure's arms are new, because she had a cape growing right out of her sleeves. These are done like so many winged characters, with stiff plastic that has to try to account for multiple poses you might put the figure in. That never works great. Captain Marvel's sleeves look fine as long as the pose you want is "elbows straight, arms held 45° out in front of her," but anything else and you'll have to get creative. Because remember, these aren't just sleeves, they're part of a cape that goes all the way behind her back - kind of like Storm's poncho (but then, nobody can get that right, either). The material of the wings has enough flex that you can probably find a pose you like. The figure's only extras are alternate fists to replace the open hands.

Secret Wars was Mattel's idea: when DC announced in 1982 that it was looking for licensees for its characters, they tried for that; losing out on the pitch to Kenner (who famously began the Super Powers collection), they approached Marvel in 1983, offering to make a toyline if Marvel agreed to publish a tie-in comicbook. Also, their research had shown that kids loved the word "secret," so if that could be in the name, even better.

Marvel basically had free rein to do whatever they wanted within those parameters, but Mattel did have one specific request: that all the characters they picked for the first series of figures be in the comic, and that Dr. Doom's costume would change. Since Mattel was just looking for a flanker brand for Masters of the Universe in case He-Man's popularity started to wane, they weren't willing to put much effort or money into the toys (which is why tiny Kenner was able to beat them for the DC license), meaning no action features and only a few different molds shared among all the characters. Dr. Doom's tunic and cape would never work with that style, so he would need to be redone.

Since they were each working separately, Marvel and Mattel's versions of Doom were only similar in the broad strokes: you can compare them on the Minimate, but Mattel gave Doom inset panels of tech, while Marvel just focused on straight lines. This figure copies the latter, possibly because the comic is more readily accessible, but possibly because Hasbro didn't want to risk copying Mattel's work? Amusingly, Matty's design of Doom was done in part so he could reuse the arms and legs they'd made for Iron Man, and now here we are four decades later, and this Marvel Legend uses exactly the same idea!

Doom's head is the same as the "classic" head on the FF Legend, with a smaller, tighter hood enshrouding it. The mask is a brighter silver, matching the limbs, but the hood doesn't match the body: Hasbro opted to give the trunk a metallic sheen (with plastic thin enough that light shines through it - is that an attempt to show the way he was glowing with power when he adopted this armor, or just bad manufacturing?), but the hood is solid.

The first thing Dr. Doom does whenever he gets godhood is fix his face, so this set includes a fully bare Victor Von Doom head. We don't even mind that it doesn't match the last one we got, because it's based directly on Mike Zeck's art in the book: a generically handsome guy with brown hair. Like Ty Burrell with Henry Cavill's jawline. Considering it's been (at minimum) years since he's actually seen his face, what are the odds that any of these "unscarred" faces actually reflect what a healthy Victor would look like? We all carry a mental picture of ourselves in our head, but it's drastically simplified from reality; the most recent image he could possibly have would be a photo of himself from college, so any adult version would be a full invention. No wonder he can't decide!

In addition to alternate hands (fists or wild gestures), this figure includes a loose hood to drape against his back when he's unmasked, and a separate mask accessory, something we haven't seen since ToyBiz. If you're paying attention, though, it does underscore how oversized the human head is: the mask is smaller than the face it's supposed to be covering. Looks great being held in his hand, though.

This is an interesting set, pairing a character we haven't really had before, with one who's never had a toy that looked like this. It's retro enough that it's not going to appeal to everyone, but there's definitely stuff to like here if you try it.

-- 09/16/23

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