Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Terror Times Three!

Good grief! Do you think we have enough Ts tormenting us here?

But then what we're really excited about is the triple-plus threat from:

I'll be the first to admit that it was a little difficult to get excited about another threat from the Thinker, whose mimicry of Rodin's "The Thinker" sculpture was what made him catch on with readers, if only briefly. "What's his deal?" we wondered. "What's going on in that brooding mind of his?" Not a whole lot, as it turned out. It was the Thinker's computers that actually did his thinking for him, calculating down to the second any number of plans designed to trap his target(s)--and then the Thinker would take credit for their brilliance, when his actions only boiled down to turning on his computers and following their timetable to the letter. He also took credit for his "awesome android," or, rather, stealing Reed Richards' notes for an awesome android and building one to use to attack his enemies--going a few rounds with the FF as well as the X-Men, before the Thinker escaped to think another day.

But, hoo boy, the Triumverate of Terror--now we've got something to get excited about. Because it looks like the Thinker has pivoted from wanting to pilfer Reed Richards' scientific secrets and moved on to those of Tony Stark, which are waiting in Avengers Mansion for the right thief to come along. To that end, he's outfitted three henchmen in specialized suits to deal with the Avengers, and voilĂ --our Triumverate of Terror. I haven't been so giddy about a group of villains since the Emissaries of Evil set the world on fire, even though the Triumverate preceded that group by five months and should have stolen the Emissaries' thunder.

So why haven't we heard more from the Triumverate of Terror?* Well, they're spearheaded by a loser like the Thinker, so that's one answer; but let's take a look at their premiere battle issue and figure out how the Thinker could have possibly miscalculated in predicting their victory.

(Though obviously we can't accuse the Thinker of not putting enough thought into it.)

*We'd have to ask writer Roy Thomas why he thought the Thinker's goons should be called a triumverate, since such a group is made up of political officials who have consolidated power among themselves--for instance, the triumverates of the Roman Empire. In the case of our Triumverate, it's the Thinker who does the, well, thinking as far as giving them both power and direction.

We should probably start with naming our Triumverate members--and since they each have a specific power that their suit grants them, we can tell them apart by their descriptive if laughably uninspired names, two of which will be claimed by other villains down the road: Hammerhead, Pile-Driver, and Thunderboot. The Thinker sends them into battle individually--not much of a triumverate in the field, it seems. But the Thinker wasn't kidding when he said he was depending on the human factor to bring him victory--and he's deduced that the capture of Hawkeye is the key, since he's currently vulnerable due to his feelings for the Black Widow, who's recently been accused of treason.

Now, you or I might immediately deduce that anyone named "Hammerhead" should be attacked by targeting any other part of the body than the man's head; an arrow or two to take out his legs, followed by a whiff of sleep gas, and that's that. Fortunately, Hawkeye learns quickly that the "head on" approach won't work--and he even uses that hammer-head to his advantage.

The Thinker's arrival and distraction produce the desired result, as Hammerhead lowers the boom on the archer while his attention wavers. (Though you have to give props to a villain who decides to adopt the word "mad" as part of his name and own it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, eh, Thinker?)

The Thinker also deduces correctly that the rest of the Avengers will search for the missing Hawkeye--in this case, a two-person team of Goliath and the Wasp, who are surprised by the second member of the Triumverate and, of all things, a steam shovel.

You're spared here of seeing the other panels that have Goliath--who's gone toe-to-toe with such heavyweights as Power Man, Dragon Man, et al.--struggling against a steam shovel. But his foe isn't one to let a giant shovel do all the *ahem* heavy lifting for him, and so the man named Pile-Driver stands revealed.

It looks like each member of the Triumverate is monogrammed with their initial--the better to strike (what else?) terror into the hearts of their victims.

Pile-Driver takes a good beating from Goliath's own pile-driving fists, so it's hard to say how the man stays on his feet, and in the fight. Thanks to artist Don Heck, it's also hard to say how Goliath eventually goes down, depending as he usually does on the writer to fill in the blanks as far as what happened and how it happened. Nevertheless, it ends up being two-for-two for the Triumverate.

Finally, we turn to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who wait in Avengers H.Q. for some word from Hawkeye and instead find that the mansion's security could use a few of those genius devices of Stark's that the Thinker has concocted this plan to get his hands on, as Thunderboot beats both brother and sister by (again, what else?) putting his foot down.

(Yes, I know what you're thinking--Quicksilver always gets too close. He ALWAYS GETS TOO CLOSE.)

Game and set to the mad Thinker, who his men meet at the mansion with their prisoners so that the Avengers can be strung up helplessly to await their execution. How ironic that, given his underestimation of the "human element" that has always foiled his plans in the past, the Thinker has only himself to blame for bringing about his own defeat--because if there's one thing a villain should avoid at all costs...

... it's patting himself on the back when he should be wrapping things up. In this case, the "x-factor" that disrupts the Thinker's by-the-numbers plan arrives in the form of Hercules, who has been a guest of the Avengers and finds his hosts in need of his assistance--and his power. But can even Hercules battle the Triumverate of Terror?

He's admittedly doing pretty well so far. (Probably because he's sporting his own monogram.) But when the Thinker pulls a weapon on him that weakens him, Hercules is in danger of getting a preview of his own future, where another group of villains would pile onto him and beat him senseless.

Fortunately, Goliath has freed himself, giving Hercules enough of a breather to free the others--and the members of the Triumverate of Terror find themselves on their way to villain obscurity.

Presumably, the Triumverate of Terror was tagged as the Triumverate of Terrible in prison and never lived down the humiliation, no doubt going their separate ways after their release and saying good riddance to the mad Thinker. Interestingly, Marvel's Distinguished Competition had its own Triumverate of Terror in the form of Lex Luthor, the Joker, and Cheetah, who also split up to tackle their foes. It's pretty clear the Thinker knows the value of moonlighting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rodin's The Thinker was just trying to remember where he'd left his clothes so he really wasn't a good role model for the Mad Thinker.

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