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Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars Coloring Activity Book
Authors: David Anthony Kraft (story), Carlos Garzon (pencils), Jim Mooney (inking)
Publisher: Marvel Books
Discovered at: East Village Thrift Shop, 186 Second Ave
The Cover Promises: Thrilling battles with guns, turrets, Spidey, Kang — and all sorts of other excitement not to be found in the book itself.
Representative Quote: “Doctor Doom is a super smart evil scientist! His evil friend, Magneto, has the power to control magnetism!”
Right now, in 2015, the Marvel comics universe is caught up in its third secret war, this time a crossover event of daring density and complexity brought on after an evil alt-reality teen Reed Richards helped crash one dimension into another. (It’s confusing, but it’s much more satisfying than the way Twentieth Century Fox’s Fantastic Four movie just crashed itself into the very idea of Reed Richards.)
In the early Eighties, at the time of the first Secret War, Marvel still bothered publishing for kids rather than for nostalgic adults who prefer their superhero comics incomprehensible to people who haven’t read all four decades of backstory. In the first scene of any comic, Marvel heroes tended to announce their names, their power sets, and their motivations. That helpfulness leaked down even into ancillary products. So, helpfully, after villains Doctor Doom and Magneto introduce themselves in the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars coloring book, the duo brings readers up to speed on their evil plan …
… while on a leisurely couples’ horseback trip, presumably arranged by some Latverian concierge.
Then, to drive the point home, comes this page:
I appreciate that Marvel took the time to let kids know, twice, what Doom and Magneto’s powers are.
But there’s some mysteries the text on this page doesn’t clear up: Why has Doom become tiny and ascended to heaven? What parents want their children to be coloring horses’ asses? And why is Oktoberfest Sam Elliott pointing so urgently toward Magneto’s armpit?
Also unclear: What exactly Doom and Magneto’s plan is. Step one seems to involve Magneto moonwalking to the United Nations:
What color do you think kids chose for the mystery street puddle at the villain’s feet?
So, yes, the quality control wasn’t especially high in Marvel’s coloring-book department. Nothing in the story makes much sense, right down to why Magneto, one of Marvel’s most brilliant mutant bad guys, would so gladly serve as Doom’s second.
On the next page, Magneto issues the vaguest of threats to the nations of the world, which is usually not the first move you would think to make in what’s supposed to be a secret war.
Also, like that mustachioed fellow a couple pages back, the U.N. member nations seem most freaked out by Magneto’s armpit.
“But wait!” you might be saying. “This is Marvel comics! Isn’t there some action?”
Well, face front, true believers! Captain America and Iron Man have arrived — but only to face their greatest menace:
Chairs! Note that the perspective, here, is from the crotch of Iron Man, whose metal suit proves surprisingly curvy where the upper thigh meets the buttocks.
Fortunately, Iron Man is not just some sexy-canned tin soldier. He, too, has power over office furniture:
That’s the peak of the drama in the Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars coloring book. The epic chair battle is followed by a page parodying United Nations bureaucracy:
And a page where Captain America pretends that his best bet to save the world is to indulge in freaky man-machine sex with his own Turbo Bike.
Somehow, the heroes prove victorious. They corral the villains and do the smartest thing you possibly could do with them: put the master of magnetism behind iron bars.
Also, do Captain America and Iron Man now share some hive-mind that makes them speak the same words from different mouths? Maybe that is part of Doom’s plan that will pay off in the future?
Finally, here’s a bonus page, where two adults in costumes with lovingly detailed crotches send a message of intense friendship in language only kids can understand. Maybe that‘s the actual Secret War?