Marvel Universe #1-3
Issue(s): Marvel Universe #1, Marvel Universe #2, Marvel Universe #3
Review/plot: The unfortunately short lived Marvel Universe comic was going to explore all different aspects of the pre-FF#1 Marvel Universe. This first arc focused on the Invaders and the formation of Hydra, updated slightly from the Capt. Savage telling. At a high level, the story is that Baron Von Strucker managed to follow Dr. Doom into the future (Doom's present - it must be early in Doom's career judging by his costume) where he learns that the Germans lose WWII. Strucker brings back some books - significantly, books about the end of the war and the Manhattan Project - to his time...
...and abandons the Nazis in favor of creating his own organization, Hydra.
Hydra has taken control of a giant dragon submarine that Captain America and Bucky have previously dealt with.
I'm not a fan of time travel and the paradoxes it can create, but Doom's comment when allowing Strucker to return to his own time, ("My past has already been writ!") could be interpreted as Doom's understanding of the Marvel Universe laws of time travel - namely that you can never travel to your own future or past. However, the real purpose of these scenes are to confirm that Dr. Doom was appearing via time travel in the Invaders issues where he helps summon Thor. Despite the bandages, he's wearing an early version of his armor when Strucker encounters him in the "future".
The Invaders are clued into Strucker's plot by a government Agent, and eventually manage to foil it. It's a good story that benefits from focusing on the villains. There's an exchange between Strucker and the Red Skull where both know that the Nazis are losing but neither wants to admit it to the other.
The Invaders obviously can't stop the formation of Hydra, so they're left acting around the margins.
Although they do defeat the Dragon sub...
...and Strucker is apparently eaten by a giant squid.
Strucker acknowledges his own tendency to enjoy spouting off expository dialogue.
Overall the rationale behind forming Hydra isn't clear. Hydra has always been a generic terrorist group - very little effort has been made to explain what their motivations are. It is hard to believe that they could recruit such fanatical members in such massive numbers.
This could have been used as an opportunity to address that, but the villains - even Strucker - are kept fairly generic. Nonetheless it's a fun read. And nice art by Steve Epting, although very different than his work on the Marvels Project which luckily enough is also available here in my Golden Age section for comparison.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Captain America has been fighting in WWII for "four years". The US focus seems to be more on the Japanese than the Germans. The Germans are losing the war. The MCP places this sometime after the end of both the 70s and 90s Invaders series, with a lot of actual Golden Age comics in between.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBaron Von Strucker, Captain America, Human Torch (Golden Age), Phineas Horton, Red Skull, Sub-Mariner, Whizzer
why are the Hydra agents so dismissive of Germans? Strucker's German, isn't he? when the one Hydra agent goes to ask about Strucker's aide, the doctor says "this German?" as if to be German is to be inferior. i think to say "this Nazi" would make more sense.
one of the government agents is the Whizzer. what happened to his membership in the various super teams?
Posted by: min | January 17, 2007 1:22 PM
"But Doom's comment when allowing Strucker to return to his own time could be interpreted as Doom's understanding of the Marvel Universe laws of time travel - namely that you can never travel to your own future or past."
While Marvel's never been entirely consistent on the premise (when have they ever?), it's kind of been established multiple times that Doom's time platform works differently than most time travel in the Marvel universe (and especially the type established in the X-Men titles).
Namely, Doom's time machine DOES travel to your own, literal past, and things you do there DO affect the present (future), but you can't actually CHANGE the future, because whatever you do in the past is what always happened in the first place.
So when the FF traveled into the past and the Thing became Blackbeard, it means that the stories about Blackbeard were ALWAYS about the Thing. It's also why Hawkeye and the West Coast Avengers traveling back to ancient Egypt led to the creation of most of the weapons Moon Knight used. Doom's time machine is relatively immune to paradox in that sense. It's less "branching alternate timelines" and more "predestined closed loops."
So Doom would (theoretically) be right to be completely unconcerned about what Strucker does in the past, because whatever knowledge he gains and whatever he manages to do with it were always part of Doom's past anyway.
To be fair, this type of time travel can be incredibly confusing (more so than usual), which is why the premise isn't always addressed. But it's definitely been established multiple times when Doom's time machine is used as a plot element.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 15, 2014 2:16 PM
It was using Dr. Doom's time machine (or at least Gregory Gideon's replica, but i'm the only person in the world to ever make that distinction) in Marvel Two-In-One #50 that established the "alternate reality" theory, though. And actually the X-Men stories seem to assume that the "alternate reality" theory isn't in play, or at least the Days of Future Past story doesn't make much sense if it is. So i think you're right that it's really just never been consistent.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 15, 2014 2:40 PM
Yep - like I said Marvel's never been entirely consistent on the premise. In one instance you'll see it explicitly spelled out how it works, then in another you'll have a writer use Doom's time machine but have it work more in the alternate timeline sense.
Confusing things even more is how Reed made a copy of Doom's time machine, and how the technology Doom uses in his time machine is related to Kang's time travel tech, and OH NO I'VE GONE CROSSEYED.
But because Doom's time machine often IS treated as capable of traveling to the literal past and creating stable closed time loops (where everything you do there is simply what already happened, so you can't CHANGE anything), it makes sense that a writer who uses it that way would have Doom be completely unconcerned about altering the timeline and erasing himself from history or something.
Then again, with Doom's ego, maybe he figures that, no matter how the past is changed, Doom will ALWAYS be Doom! :P
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 15, 2014 4:09 PM
We still have a number of major Kang and Immortus stories coming soon, I think Simonson and Byrne will address these positions on time-travel. Part of the basis of the Council of Cross-Time Kangs is that Kang exponentially replicates through his constant travels to the past... right?
(it's been a few years)
Posted by: Cullen | July 16, 2014 2:02 AM
Yeah, those stories definitely operate under the "alternate reality" rules of time travel.
Nowadays Marvel is operating under a "time is a living organism" theory that i haven't really grokked (or admittedly, tried to), but it would be nice if that could somehow be used to explain why time travel has worked differently in different circumstances.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 16, 2014 8:51 AM
"Nowadays Marvel is operating under a "time is a living organism" theory"
To be honest, Marvel's current operating system for time travel seems to be "time is now broken, nothing will ever be explained and nothing will ever be consistent, because the literal concept of time itself no longer functions properly."
Age of Ultron and most of the time-shenanigans going on in the X-Men titles at this point being a pretty good example of that.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 22, 2014 3:18 PM
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