As you can see, the issue's already got The Sub-Mariner, The Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom and newcomer The Shroud in it, who is this unexpected guest star, and what makes him or her the "most unexpected guest star of all?” Is this guest star a hero, or a villain, or something in between?
Let’s find out together, shall we?
It may be a little difficult to set the stage here, as this particular issue—written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel—is only about a quarter of the way into a huge, epic, several hundred page-long story in which Doom tries forging an alliance with Namor, and many, many other superheroes and villains end up getting fought along the way. You can read all about it in Essential Super-Villain Team-Up Vol. 1 which, I remind you, is about 450 pages of Namor and Doctor Doom yelling at each other, with about 50 pages of things like Doctor Doom fighting Red Skull on the moon or Skull teaming up with Hitler accounting for the rest of the book.
Anyway, Doom has poisoned Namor so that the Atlantean can no longer live out of water without regular administrations of an antidote of Doom’s own making. In exchange, Namor has given his word to serve Doom, and the proud prince won’t break his word no matter what.
As this issue opens, Namor is pacing around Doom’s Latverian castle, shouting “Doom!” in ever-larger font sizes. In the previous issue, Namor went to the Fantastic Four for help, but Reed Richards was unable to devise an antidote in time to save him, and so he had to return to Latveria with his new master.
Doom is all like, “Knock if off Namor, I heard you the first ten times! Now be quiet, I have a very important meeting.”
This meeting is with none other than “the most unexpected guest star of all.” Doom calls the guest star his “first official visitor,” while noticing he also has unofficial visitors, in the form of a Fantasticar full of the Fantastic Four, arriving to save Subby.
Doom activates all his automated defenses and Doombots and then proceeds to meet with his visitor.
Deep within the castle, Doom shows a mysterious man wearing a suit and glasses a controlled nuclear blast.
Then he shows his visitor “The Di-Litium Thermal Mine, capable of blockading an entire seaport by itself!” And then his Pluto Probe. And his Orbital Laser Bomb.
But he demurs when his visitor asks about the time machine: “All in good time my friend…you must allow me some secrets in this early stage of our relationship, eh?”
Doom hands his visitor, still only seen in shadow, a goblet, and makes a speech:
You have known, for all those years, what Dr. Doom is capable of-- --But you said nothing, leaving the peoples of the world to cherish their fantasy of a three-way struggle for supremacy, among Russia, China, and America.
His visitor replies:
I, too shall speak frankly, Doctor. Until now, I have not considered your weaponry enough to make you a fourth super-power! Your political base was too small! Under those conditions, I considered revelation of your tactical strength unnecessarily unsettling to the world’s peace of mind!
Who is this Realpolitick-speaking stranger? And why does he shout all of his sentences?
Apparently, with Latveria aligned with Atlantis, the stranger considers Doom to have a large enough political base to be considered a fourth super-power. This is kind of odd since the entire population of Atlantis is currently comatose in a deathless sleeping state at the bottom of the ocean, so Doom only really has one Atlantean to add to his political base, Namor The Sub-Mariner.
The visitor thus raises a toast to Victor Von Doom, while thinking to himself how dangerous his new ally is.
But who is it?
Just when it looks like we’re about to find out, a lackey interrupts to inform Doom that the FF are routing his forces and will soon breach the castle. Doom is thus forced to call upon Namor, who is duty bound to fight the Fantastic Four at Doom’s bidding, even though he himself doesn’t want to.
You see—and Namor actually says this—“Namor’s word is his bond.”
Well Namor holds the FF off for a bit, but he eventually succumbs to the Human Torch’s dehydrating fires, and the heroes manage to breach the castle.
There they find Doom waiting, as well as Doom’s newest ally, who stops them cold with just a few sentences.
—United States Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger!
Now, they don’t actually use his name in this particular issue, although it’s pretty clear who it’s supposed to be. How many of Secretaries of State were there in 1976?
Super-Villain Team-Up #7 makes his identity quite clear, however, as seen on this splash page:
Kissinger’s say-so is enough to drive the FF off, as Reed explains in this terribly scanned panel from SVTU #6: Huh. Maybe Reed wasn’t written so out of character during Civil War after all…