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Title: The War Begins
Writer: Jim Shooter
Penciler: Michael Zeck
Inker: John Beatty
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Christie Scheele
Editor: Tom DeFalco
It’s the opening salvo in this “secret war.” Drawn together by a mysterious entity known only as The Beyonder, Earth’s mightiest Heroes and Villains are given only one enigmatic clue as to their purpose: “Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours!” Now for the line-ups. On the Heroes team we find: Captain America, The Wasp, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Thor, Hawkeye, Iron Man (James Rhoades who would go on to become War Machine), Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Rogue, Professor X, Lockheed the Dragon, The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards), The Thing, and the Human Torch. Also on the side of the Heroes is the master of magnetism himself, Magneto. This is a source of some confusion and great mistrust among many of the Heroes.
And on the Villains’ side we find: Dr. Doom, Crusher Kreel the Absorbing Man, The Enchantress, Ultron, Kang, Dr. Octopus, Molecule Man, The Lizard, Galactus, and Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew (Thunderball, Piledriver and Bulldozer). While the Heroes team seems like an adequate cross-section of the Marvel Universe, the Villains’ team seems to contain more dubious choices. Surely Dr. Doom and Galactus were worthy choices, but the inclusion of the Wrecking crew, a second string gang of thug-like bullies, makes one wonder. With all the other possible choices for Villains, this rag tag assortment of baddies seems ill conceived at best.
In any case, both groups are drawn away from Earth to a newly constructed Battleworld, formed from pieces of various planets. Of note in this first issue: Ultron clashes with the Villains and is ultimately K.O.’ed by Galactus; The Big G. Then decides to pursue the Beyonder through a cosmic rift (unknowingly joined by Dr. Doom who plans to learn the secrets of the Beyonder’s incredible power). Unfortunately, both Galactus and Doom are turned away like pesky insects by the Beyonder’s immense power. Doom decides that the only way to win this game is not to fight. He fails in his attempt to convince the other Villains of the strength of his plan and decides to approach the Heroes instead. However, as he is leaving, Kang shoots down his shuttle and believes that he has killed the almighty Dr. Doom. Being a tough villain to kill, Doom survives the crash and pleads his case to the Heroes who also reject him. Doom flees just as the other Villains sneak attack the Heroes.
All in all, an action packed first issue that lays the basic groundwork for the following year.