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Marvel Team-Up #118 (1982, June)

August 8, 2013

A few comics to talk about here. First, there’s Marvel Team-Up #118, by J.M. DeMatteis and Herb Trimpe, teaming up Spider-Man and Professor X.

Meeting of the Minds

Who doesn’t love a Giant Floating Head battle?

Wolverine’s showing Spider-Man the Danger Room. He probably should’ve warned him that was what he was doing, but oh well.  Xavier shuts the room down and chews out Wolverine. The three go up for breakfast with the others, who apparently eat in costume. Presumably to protect their secret identities. From Spider-Man. Who already knows Xavier is their leader. Oh well. Xavier leaves to meet with Professor Anthony Power, a noted historian and expert on foreign affairs. Spider-Man hitches a ride on the roof of the car, and passes out. They reach Power’s estate, and Power starts on a diatribe to Xavier about the need to protect the world by conquering it, and reveals that he knows Xavier is the telepathic leader of the X-Men. Spider-Man’s attacked by the same goons form last issue, while Power shows his comatose son to Xavier. The boy went to Vietnam, and came back a vegetable. Power wants Xavier to help him, but Xavier quickly finds that there’s nothing he can do. Power doesn’t believe him, and captures him. Then he opens a wall to reveal Mentallo. Power starts to transfer Xavier’s telepathy into Mentallo’s mind. Power’s assistant is revealed as the Fixer, who inexplicably holds his own against Spider-Man while Xavier and Mentallo have a psychic battle. The heroes win, of course, and in the process, Power’s son completely loses his mind, irrevocably. This was OK. I do find the idea of the Fixer being a challenge to Spider-Man a bit silly, but I suppose Spider-Man was pretty tired. I can’t really say I cared overmuch about anything in this issue. Xavier’s never been a particularly favourite character of mine, and Team-Up was seldom the best showcase of Spider-Man, either.

There’s also Amazing Spider-Man #229, by Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. I’ll skip to the X-related part, with Black Tom on a boat sailing into New York Harbour, thinking about capturing Madame Web. Juggernaut’s been going stir-crazy and needs something to do. He decides to jump off the boat and capture Web, and meet Tom later. He walks to land, then starts walking through the streets, taking a direct path to Madame Web’s apartment. Spider-Man attacks, but bounces off. His webbing can’t find purchase. He creates a powerful web between two buildings, and the webbing actually holds. The walls, not so much. Spider-Man finds a pothole, and makes it bigger, but the Juggernaut falls in and just keeps walking. Spider-Man goes after him again, but after five minutes, has accomplished nothing. A SWAT team tries to take him down, but does nothing. Spider-Man hooks a generator up to his webbing around Madame Web’s door, but it still doesn’t work. Juggernaut collapses a wall on Spider-Man, then grabs Madame Web, who goes into seizures. Juggernaut drops her now that he knows she’s useless to him. This was fantastic. Juggernaut is frightening in how he simply ignores most of what’s thrown at him. Spider-Man grows increasingly desperate as Juggernaut continues his slow but unstoppable march forward. Next issue is even better.

Contest of Champions #1. The story was developed by Mark Gruenwald, Bill mantlo and Steven Grant. Bill Mantlo scripted, and John Romita, Jr. did the pencils. Superheroes are being kidnapped all around the world. Once they’re all assembled, they start talking, making jokes, analyzing things, renewing friendships, all sorts of stuff. Finally, the Gamesmaster and the mysterious, hooded woman he’s challenging show up. The heroes are all held motionless, and they’re told that everyone on Earth is being held the same way. The heroes have to play the game, or Earth will be stuck in a state of suspended animation. They have to collect the four pieces of the Golden Globe of Life. If Gamesmaster wins, he’ll be able to resurrect the Collector, his brother. They start picking their teams, a dozen on each side. This is basically an excuse plot. They needed a reason to have all their superheroes fighting each other, and this is what they came up with. But it’s fun. I’ll do quick run-downs of each fight in each issue, with more focus on the X-related characters.

Incredible Hulk #272, by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema. Bruce Banner lands in northern Canada in the winter, wearing only his trademark purple pants. I still find it silly that he always wore purple pants. Anyway, while Bruce finds a cabin, Walter Langowski is looking for the Wendigo. He has a flashback to when he discovered the Wendigo was active, then to when his Alpha Flight teammates previously fought it, then to when it fought the Hulk. Bruce is in the cabin and finds skeletons. He starts to run out, but runs into Wendigo. And now Bruce can’t change into the Hulk, but Sasquatch saves him. Bruce realizes he needs the Hulk’s strength to save himself and Sasquatch, and wills himself into transforming, but keeps his own mind. He pounds on the Wendigo, but the Wendigo gets a slash in and hurts him, infuriating him and making him almost revert to the old Hulk. Sasquatch calms him down enough for them to both smash Wendigo between trees. I like me some Sasquatch, so this was reasonably enjoyable. Also, this marked the beginning of a new direction for Incredible Hulk. For years, it was the same stories over and over. It was easily the most predictable and formulaic book Marvel was putting out. This one actually brought an interesting new development.

Rom #31, also by Mantlo and Buscema. It starts with Torpedo getting his ass kicked by a returned Hybrid. Meanwhile, amidst a brutal snowstorm, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Blob, Pyro, Avalanche, Destiny – are being moved to a new prison. Rom stops the convoy from running over a pair of convicts who slipped in the snow. The back of the convoy takes off through the air, and the convicts convince Rom they’re slaves. He goes off to free the ones in the convoy. The Brotherhood is brought into the prison in stasis, where Rogue and Mystique – posing as a doctor and the warden, respectively – free them. They hatch their escape plan, with Rogue, Pyro and Blob heading to the courtyard to secure their transport. They fight with Rom, who realizes he was duped. Rom takes out Pyro, and then Rogue throws in with him. Mystique, Destiny and Avalanche arrive, and Avalanche tries to use his powers. But his arms are broken, so he can’t control it, and the pain makes him pass out. He also causes Pyro to slam into Rogue, knocking him out, and sends the Blob flying towards Rom, who punches him. The ladies escape. They find a house, but Destiny is wary of it. She senses horror. They find Hybrid inside. This was OK. Rom looks like a gullible idiot, but he was one. The Brotherhood looked like rank amateurs. I will say it always feels weird reading X-characters in an ’80s book not written by Claremont. It feels wrong, somehow. But Mantlo knew what he was doing, and he didn’t really do a bad job with the characters.

I may as well also mention that GI Joe #1 came out the same month. It got off to a good start, and became an excellent series. Which I will not review. Obviously.

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