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Friday, August 11, 2006

Spider-Man! Wolverine! Laser Robot Heads! The Most Ridiculous Team-Up of All!

Marvel Team-Up might just have the single greatest concept of any comic book in the history of mankind: Spider-Man and a guest-star meet up, exchange pleasantries, and then go beat the hell out of the Living Monolith or whatever. It's genius, and--as we all know--would later be refined in the pages of Marvel Two-in-One, where the whole bit about pleasantries was eliminated to make more room for rock monsters punching out super-villains.

Regardless, it's a formula that made for some highly entertaining comics, with the flipside being, of course, that it also provided some of the most outlandish premises ever written. Because really, when you've got to get Spidey and a third-string Defender like Devil-Slayer to the point where they're busting heads inside a forgotten temple to an ancient Spider-God, you just don't have time for a believable setup.

And that's pretty much how we end up with something like J.M. DeMatteis and Herb Trimpe's Marvel Team-Up #117:

Right from the cover, where Bob Layton attempts to single-handedly destroy the concept of perspective, this issue stands as the absolute craziest MTU issue I have ever read--and that's including the one where Spider-Man and Thor team up with a twelve year-old to fight the Black Abbot's devil-worshipping mind-control cult.

It also has the distinction, along with #128, of being the first issue of Team-Up that I ever bought, back in the seventh grade. So that may be why I think it's so awesome. You be the judge.

Our story opens, as you might expect from a two-fisted, action-packed mag like MTU, with Wolverine wandering through the woods of upstate New York, playing an exceptionally gentle game of tag with a deer.

So yeah. Not exactly what I was looking for either.

Fortunately, this less-than-pulse-pounding situation is immediately corrected with the arrival of--and this is where it starts to get awesome--a horse-riding Roman centurion with a laser gun. Because there is no situation that you can't improve by throwing in one of those.

Lazer Praetorius--as I have named him--launches into a Torgo-esque speech, informing Wolverine that he's trespassing on "The Master's property," pointing to a barbed-wire fence and a "No Trespassing" sign that, according to our short-tempered Canadian friend, totally wasn't there a second ago. And what's more, L to the P, along with a hundred more blaster-packing gladiators, is going to drag him to "The Master" for punishment.

And how, you might well be asking yourself, does Wolverine react?

He literally flips out and starts stabbing everyone.

At this point, I feel I should note that while I fully expect Wolverine to utterly decimate an army of nameless thugs, this comic features Wolverine having an absolutely insane amount of extra super-powers, including, but not limited to, 1) the ability to perform a standing 30-foot high jump, and 2) the ability to punch the ground so hard it explodes. Seriously, it's a plot point later.

Unfortunately, Wolverine's new litany of abilities doesn't involve an immunity to nerve gas, so the ersatz Romans are able to eventually overcome him.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man's also having some trouble with the Laser Centurions, this time in the form of a swarm of flying Jetsons cars which keep him from making it to a hot date with Marcy Kane at a science lecture. And that, along with the scene where Wolverine fights a hundred guys, means that Marvel Team-Up #117 has officially met its bare-minimum requirements for What You Want To Seeā„¢ from those two, and it's time to get on with the punching.

To that effect, we now cut back to Wolverine, who wakes up in an arena populated by faceless mannequins and a knight in full plate armor on horseback who identifies himself as Sir Gawain before trying to run him through with a lance, and even for a guy who once found himself blackmailed into marriage by a green-haired terrorist assassin who was once possessed by the spirit of his ex-girlfriend's dead ninja father, that's pretty weird.

The knight, of course, presents no real challenge to Wolverine, who utilizes his new power of delivering twenty-foot dropkicks to deal with him pretty handily before ripping his helmet off to reveal that the knight is, in fact, a simpering old man who begs for help:

Unfortunately for the Old Man, Wolverine is a student of the Cobra Kai, and believes that if an old man confronts you in a mannequin-filled gladiatorial arena, he is your enemy. And an enemy deserves... no mercy.

Oh relax, it's just a robot.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man finally shows up in the woods, having avoided the initial assault and planted a tracer on one of the airships, only to be confronted with what might be the stranges plot point in the entire story:

A castle that bursts out of the ground in the middle of a state park. And oddly enough, that sound effect is exactly what I've been drinking to try to make sense of this thing.

Spidey takes the timely arrival of the castle as an invitaion, and is greeted with a series of traps that come straight out of the Dungeon Master's Guide: A sharpened portcullis that crashes down, a spiked pit trap, and, of course, the illusory floor that leads to yet another pit. Seriously, I expected him to land in a room full of Kobolds who were guarding a +1 Sword and a Potion of Cure Radioactive Wounds.

What he actually ends up with is even better: Wolverine battling a Bacchanalian robot orgy that turned into a roomfull of flying body parts that shoot lasers...

...and that might be the single greatest deathtrap ever.

Thus, on page seventeen of a 23-page team-up, Wolverine and Spider-Man finally meet up, briefly mistake each other for robots (as mandated by the Fight Then Team Up Act of 1972), and are then informed by a thirty-foot tall blue robot that "The Master" has sent a plane to bomb a nearby prison and--in the opposite direction, naturally--an army of former SHIELD and AIM Agents (!) to massacre a small town, which is a pretty big clue that the fun is now officially over. Spidey ends up disabling the plane, and Wolverine gets to beat up another army, but "The Master"--along with his entire castle manages to geta away clean.

And just who is this "Master?" Easy: It is, of course, Professor Power!

As to who that guy is, I have no idea. I never got to read the next issue. But I do know that he has an army of robotic laser centurions and a small squadron of flying robot heads.

And that means he's probably my new hero.


Blogger Ragnell said...

A Gawain reference... I need to own this.

8/12/2006 1:11 AM

Blogger Brandon Bragg said...

You had me at "flying body parts that shoot lasers"

8/12/2006 6:04 AM

Blogger Exwai-z said...

hey i read from random panels that its your birthday today dude..

so.. happy birthday

8/12/2006 8:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I ever had an entire flying castle come out of the ground in the middle of a public park, that's totally the noise I would have it make.

Or FSNMGDAS!!, which just happens to be my verification word.

8/12/2006 10:51 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

I love the look on the guy in the corner's face when Wolverine flips over him to stab a dude.

8/12/2006 10:53 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

He's actually the grandson of the guy in the foreground of Action Comics #1's cover.

8/12/2006 11:05 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

*falls off chair laughing hysterically at the above comment!!!*

8/12/2006 1:11 PM

Blogger McGone said...

Hold on... Wolverine has a "Flaming nut?" Thank God for thar healing factor. No wonder he's always going berserk.

8/12/2006 2:24 PM

Blogger Bill Reed said...

Professor Power was a really silly villain that DeMatteis later brought back in his Spec. Spidey run.

Anyway--- this is completely mad, and I must have it.

8/12/2006 2:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, the Action Comics #1 Guy's family lets us know the appropreate reaction to stuff like this.


8/12/2006 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you just convinced to buy both volumes of Essential Marvel Team-Up, and maybe Essential Marvel Two-In-One as well.

Once again, Chris Sims, you have improved my life through the power of awesomeness. Thank you.

8/12/2006 3:28 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't say much for the cover when Wolverine looked more sensible while having reality distorted by Legion in that Classic X-Men backup story. I wish he hadn't been interrupted so soon, as "You been tracking this beauty for hours, wouldn't want to blow it now" had me intrigued. I appreciate his desire to get back to nature, but that's NYC, not Maine.

8/12/2006 4:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Y'know, that picture of Spider-man and Wolverine on the cover is used in Spider-man: The Ultimate Guide's page on Spider-man's partners. I'd always wondered why the perspective was so ridiculously out-of-control, but know I know.
It's because the story it's from is ridiculously out-of-control.

And, yes, I agree with Action Comics #1 Man, you may now start freaking out.

(P.S., Happy Birthday!)

8/12/2006 4:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, I forgot to sign my name in I gave my comment. I was the guy you convinced to buy three essentials with one post. Just wanted to clear that up, is all.

8/12/2006 9:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the first issue of MTU I bought, but unlike you, I also own the next issue. That one stars Spider-Man (duh) and Professor X battle Mentallo and Professor Powers. Basically, Powers has a son in a vegetative state and wants Charley to jump-start him. Professor X refuses and Mentallo tries to drain his powers so he can do it himself. It fails, and Powers' son is permanently mind-blasted in the process. A happy story all around.

The best part of the issue is in the beginnig, which picks up right after the last issue. Wolverine brings Spider-Man back to the X-Mansion to relax -- by what else -- a seesion in the danger room.

8/14/2006 9:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Professor Power later beaten to death by the John Walker Captain America?

8/14/2006 4:47 PM

Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said...

What is it with J.M. DeMatteis and Roman Centurions armed with lasers? He did the same bit in Captain America and (I think) the Defenders. And in Cap, there was no real plot point for the evil flunkies to be dressed as Roman legionaries, either. I think it's a fetish. And yes, SuperPatriot did beat Professor Power to death.
And, of course, Herb Trimpe inhales vigorously. He is undoubtedly one of the worst artists ever to excrete upon the printed page.

8/15/2006 1:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan Coyle said...

Wasn't Professor Power later beaten to death by the John Walker Captain America?

A story by DeMatteis in Spectacular Spider-Man explained that it was Professor Power's son who was beaten to death by John Walker, and the original Power had his brain implanted in his son's corpse. Power himself told Spider-Man that it was something out of a low-grade horror movie.

8/19/2006 1:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have this comic
Slight tear on the cover
everything else is fine, any takers
UK only

1/30/2011 11:39 AM


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