Thursday, September 1, 2011
Henchmen in Headdresses: Marvel Team-Up 69
Marvel Team-Up #69 (May 1978)
"Night of the Living God!"
Chris Claremont-John Byrne/Ricardo Villamonte
Doug: It's back to the eBay lot for this one, friends. Sadly, however, I don't have the conclusion that features Thor and the Living Monolith. However, my famous blog partner does -- so tomorrow, she will be your hostess for the big finish of this tale! By the way, this story takes place at approximately the time the Magneto/Savage Land arc we recently reviewed began.
Doug: We begin on Muir Isle, where Alex Summers and Lorna Dane have come to recover after the events of the past year (X-Men #'s 97-109, we are told). The island is deserted, so they've had time to... reacquaint. Out for a dawn stroll, they are suddenly attacked by refugees from King Tut's gang on the old Batman show! These guys mean business, however, and end up knocking Lorna over the cliff while disabling Havok. They speed away in some sort of cruiser as we cut to New York. There we find Peter Parker in the chemistry labs of ESU, pulling an all-nighter. But as he prepares to leave, well into the middle of the night, he sees lights on in one of the professor's offices. Heading toward the door he hears voices inside, discussing the thieving of an ankh. Pete webs the door shut, changes to his Spidey duds, and waits for the goons to get caught. When no one shows, he gets curious... then hears a low engine outside the building. The guys have escaped out the window!
Doug: Not so fast! Spidey breaks down the door just as our baddies are about to step out. But when he launched himself into the door, what else did he launch himself into? You betcha -- his own web! I think Chris Claremont outdid any silly misfortune Stan Lee ever perpetrated against our favorite Webhead! But Spidey hasn't lost his wits, and a quick flip of a spider-tracer and we'll have to wait to see what happens. Back on Muir Isle, Lorna managed to pull herself up to land and back to the house. She dials the Xavier School, only to find no answer -- not even from Cerebro. Desperate, she calls Avengers Mansion and talks to the Beast. Telling him not only of her story but of the empty school in Westchester, Hank responds by taking a quinjet to upstate New York. Hence, the events we've recently reviewed from X-Men #111. Pretty nice the way that all tied together!
Doug: Finally freed of his own webbing, Spider-Man is on the tracer trail. Catching up to it on embassy row, he follows the goons into the building. It's strange, but these are the guys who captured Havok, and Spider-Man doesn't seem to recognize him. Sometimes I take for granted that everyone knows everyone in the Marvel Universe. I suppose that's a silly assumption. Anyway, sensing that danger is definitely afoot, Spidey attacks and frees Havok. They make short work of the Egyptian goon squad, but then are leveled by a blast from the head honcho -- the Living Pharoah from the pages of X-Men #'s 55-57! This guy got me to thinking: how many members of a team book have their own dedicated bad guy? I'm talking guys whose main identity is with a team (like Colossus as an example; not like Aquaman)? Interesting question.
Doug: Havok is attacked from behind by one of the Living Pharoah's stooges, and the ankh is placed around his neck, immobilizing him. Spidey's down for the count temporarily. Havok is moved to a chamber and placed in some sort of sarcophagus; but the lid won't close. Our favorite web-slinger woke up in time to web the lid open. The Living Pharoah emerges in a garb we've seen before, and you and I know where this is going -- it's about to be Living Monolith time! The Pharoah and Spidey scrap a bit, and Spider-Man gets off a great punch that knocks the Pharoah way across the room... over the sarcophagus holding Alex and into the web line Spidey had rigged on the lid. The punch was so strong that the web line held but the ceiling did not -- in effect, the punch allowed the lid to be closed. Chain reaction starts, sparks fly, and uh oh -- big, unhappy Egyptian giant! To be continued (but not here, at least not now).
Doug: Hey, fun story. A little set up for next issue's climax. The weaving together of events in the Avengers and X-Men mags was very cool (Thor referenced the Assemblers' recent troubles with Agent Gyrich when the Beast took the quinjet), and Byrne's art was solid, but then I always feel that Havok gives the artist the opportunity for some very cool visuals. Claremont made a couple of pop culture references, one that was particularly humorous: it's 1978, and Spidey asks the Pharoah, when seeing him in the Monolith get-up, if he's auditioning for "The Wiz" or "Star Wars 2"! Claremont also must have purchased an Arabic baby name book, as all of the henchmen sport a different name of Middle Eastern origin. Yet, the colorist didn't add any hues that might have visually tipped us that they were Egyptian; instead, it really does come off looking like something out of the Batman TV show! I had a few issues of MTU during the Claremont/Byrne years, and they were always well-done. This one is certainly no exception!