This post was originally published on 29 March 2010.
Marvel Team-Up 41 (January 1976)
"A Witch in Time!"
Bill Mantlo-Sal Buscema/Mike Esposito
Doug: For our next story examination, we're going back to the States' Bicentennial year for a four-parter out of the pages of Marvel Team-Up. This should be fun -- Spidey, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Doc Doom, Moondragon, and some Puritan wackos from the Salem Witch Trials. So, how about we dig in?
Doug: This one starts off a little spookily. Wanda is roaming around a dark, dank castle, apparently under the influence of some voices in her head. She tells that her troubles began back at Avengers Mansion, when she felt compelled to commandeer a quinjet and fly off to Europe -- specifically to Castle Doom in Latveria!
Karen: That castle made me smile - it could have been taken right out of an old Frankenstein movie!
Doug: That is exactly what I thought! I was reliving memories from my childhood spent watching the Universal Monsters movies!
Doug: Once in the castle, Wanda is drawn to the room that housed Dr. Doom's time platform. Rounding the corner, she is shocked at what greets her and raises her hands to get off a hex. The last we see of her shows her crumpled on the floor, and some very mysterious Pilgrim-looking feet standing over her.
Karen: This issue is another one which illustrates why there's always been confusion over what Wanda's power really is. She uses her 'hex power' for simple explosive blasts, and as a means of teleporting someone - and I'm sure we'll see even more variety over the following issues. Generally speaking, her power did whatever was needed for the plot to work!
Doug: Agreed. I am still not comfortable in calling Wanda's powers "magic", in spite of her training with Agatha Harkness. Anyway, that hex was a cry for help, rocketing back to New York. And, as fate would have it, who would be in the way of the big pink bolt but our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! In spite of his efforts and protestations, he's drawn into it, to reappear beside Wanda in Doom's castle at the feet of Cotton Mather!
Doug: Mather busts on Spidey with bolts from a wooden cross, and implores Wanda to bust on him, too. She is conflicted as she battles against his control, but complies. She first blasts the floor below Spider-Man, dropping him into a hole, and then fires at the ceiling -- burying him beneath a mountain of rubble. Mather then operates the time platform, sending he and the Scarlet Witch back to 1692!
Karen: I always liked the way Doom's time platform worked - it just glides down over the user's body and they disappear. It seems more magical than technological, which I suppose works with Doom's background.
Doug: Yep, the time platform goes all the way back to the good Doctor's first appearance, in Fantastic Four #5! I checked it out, just to refresh my memory -- the first time it's used (to send the FF back in time to get Blackbeard the Pirate's treasure) the FF sort of just "zap" out of the present, but while back in time, they do pass through the platform, much as our pal Sal draws it here!
Doug: Bill Mantlo's words are solid -- he nails everyone's characterization, their voice. Cotton Mather is pretty typically crazed as a bad guy, and Spidey has his usual moments of banter. Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito show why they were so reliable in the Bronze Age. While their linework is nothing spectacular, it is for me quite comfortable -- there is a familiarity with Sal's pencils that gives me a smile as I recall reading this as a 10-year old.
Karen: Comfortable -that's a good way to describe the art. You always knew what you were getting with Sal. He was a very solid story-teller -you never had to decipher what was going on. I read Siege #3 yesterday, and although the art itself was nice, I felt like there was no drama, no sense of rhythm, to the story.
Doug: Once in Salem, Mather tethers Wanda on a platform as a crowd gathers. A pyre has been built at her feet, as the penalty for witchcraft is that for heresy -- to be burned alive. Back at Castle Doom, Spidey digs himself out of his "grave" and hightails it to the time platform. Seeing the date on the monitor as 1692, Spidey quickly deduces that the fanatical pilgrim is indeed Cotton Mather -- and that ain't good for the Witch!
Karen: The page with Spidey trying to crawl out of the rubble reminded me of Amazing Spider-Man #33, where he was in a similar, although more dramatic, situation.
Doug: Arriving in the proverbial nick-of-time, Spidey is actually upstaged in rescuing Wanda by none other than the Vision -- who we have no idea how he came to be 300 years in the past! But, as they say -- to be continued!