Friday, September 2, 2011

Hammer of the Gods: Marvel Team-Up 70

This is the 250th Comic Book Reviewed on Bronze Age Babies

Marvel Team-Up #70 (June 1978)
"Whom Gods Destroy!"
writer: Chris Claremont
artist: John Byrne
inker: Tony Dezuniga

Karen: Welcome to the second half of our tag-team review of a wonderful Marvel Team-Up extravaganza. I remember this time period as when MTU was absolutely required reading. The Claremont and Byrne team could do no wrong -X-Men, Iron Fist, and MTU were all outstanding. The cover of this issue says, "The Marvel Bullpen Proudly Presents This Month's Outstanding Achievement in Comics Art!" and that's not hyperbole. This is a fantastic-looking book -and I say this despite the fact that I don't think Tony Dezuniga was a great inker for Byrne. His inks are heavy, sometimes even muddy -I think he worked with a brush, not a pen -and I feel like a lot of detail gets lost. I would have loved to see this issue inked by Terry Austin. But even so, it's still full of dramatic, powerful images.

Karen: In the last issue which Doug so ably reviewed, we saw the Living Pharaoh become the humongous Living Monolith. We start the second half with the Monolith stomping around New York. Spidey mouths off to him and he sends the web-head literally flying. Luckily for Spidey, Thor is cruising by and catches him. Spidey relates his tale about the Monolith and Havok, and the thunder god decides to deal with this so-called god. Claremont does a great job getting Spidey and Thor's voices right.

Karen: Thor gives the Monolith a hammer to the face, but it just ticks him off and he back-hands the son of Odin into the next block, smacking him through a storefront. Thor realizes that this guy is no joke, comparing him to the Destroyer or Thanos! But still, a god's gotta do what a god's gotta do, so he heads back into the fray.

Karen: Byrne kicks it into high gear here, with Thor and the Monolith unleashing power on a truly magnificent scale.The coloring (by Phil Rache) also helps intensify the experience -you can feel the heat coming off the pages.

Karen: In the meantime, our pal Spidey is using his noggin to try to resolve the situation. He figures that if Havok is freed from the cylinder he's trapped in, the Monolith will lose his power source. He tells Thor this, and the thunder god sends Mjolnir streaking towards the imprisoned Havok, when the Monolith laughs and reveals that the cylinder is booby trapped, and if Havok dies, he'll retain the power forever. OK, I have to admit this part confused me, as I thought he drew his power from Havok, but this story is so exciting, I decided to just roll with it. Realizing the error of his deductions, Spidey tries to stop Thor's hammer by changing its path with a webline. He's successful in diverting it -but then gets dragged along behind! This was a fun comical touch. Some nice dialogue here from our two heroes:

Thor: Spider-Man, methinks thy knack for the arts of war doth rival that of my comrade Volstagg.

Spidey: I don't know why, but I get the feeling I've just been insulted.

Karen: At this point Thor's had just about enough and he sends the giant hurling into New York Harbor. The Monolith surfaces and grabs a tug boat -and miraculously, the entire crew manages to bail out in time -and he throws the boat at Thor, who smashes the ship quite spectacularly. The thunder god then lives up to his title as he whips up one heck of a storm. Byrne did a great job of depicting the power and fury of this tempest. I've tried as best I could to include this two-page spread, but unfortunately my scanner bed cuts off some of the action. But I think you can still see why it is praise-worthy.

Karen: Spidey sees Thor engaging the Monolith and decides to again try to free Havok. He easily takes out some of the Monolith's goofy-looking henchmen, and then goes about using his spider-sense to try to disarm the booby trap. This was a pretty innovative use of that power -I don't think I recall him doing anything like this before. Spidey pulls the right wire to disarm the trap and open the cylinder, pulling the ankh from around Havok's neck, and suddenly the mutant hero is free -and mad as heck! His power fires up. At about the same time back in the Harbor, the Monolith has taken Thor's best shots and is about to reciprocate (Byrne does a nice Kirby-Krackle effect here) when all of a sudden, he stops and shudders -and disappears! When Havok awoke, the Monolith reverted back to his human form -and Thor's vicious storm blew him away! Thor searches for the man but doesn't find him. He returns to check on Havok. As the heroes are recapping the situation, Havok realizes that he doesn't know what happened to Lorna Dane! Distraught, he says he has to get back to Muir Isle. The thunder god promises to get him there. It's worth noting that at this point in time, the Avengers had been grounded by the government, but Thor says Tony Stark will help them. With that, Thor and Havok fly off, and Spidey waves good-bye.

Karen: This was just pure unadulterated fun. Nothing too heavy or serious here; just a straight-forward adventure story. What makes it great is the awesome art and the pitch-perfect depiction of the characters. This is just a perfect example of what made comics so much fun back in the late bronze age.


dbutler16 said...

This indeed looks like a fun one, and Spidey using his Spider Sense to defuse that booby trap was awesome. Claremont could be very clever with things like that.

Redartz said...

MTU was indeed great during this period. Claremont and Byrne; what a combo!

Incidentally, I purchased one of the original pages from this issue at ChicagoCon about that time. Sure wish I'd hung on to that...

J.A. Morris said...

Congrats on getting to 250 reviews!

This was a great comic, I got it as a birthday present one year(it was in mediocre condition, but all I cared about was the Byrne art,which blew me away).

I'm generally not a fan of Dezuniga's inks either, but he did a fine job here. He's no Terry Austin, but who is?

Doug said...

Thanks for the kind wishes, J.A. I only wish we had more personal time to crank out even more! My to-read list continues to be all-too-long, but stocked with that anticipation of "this is going to be cool". That's what I love about the Silver and Bronze Ages!



david_b said...

This looks like a spectacular action issue. Back in the day, I over-looked a lot of Byrne art, since I took it as a sign that new artists had indeed arrived and that I had moved on from comics to sci-fi and Star Wars anyways.

When I came back briefly in the 80s, it was at the tail-end of his FF rein, which was dull and sketchy. I'm coming back around to him now.

His Thor panels looks phenominal..!!

Speaking of reviews, I'd love more on Barry Smith. I just picked up a VF+ Avengers 66, his first Avengers back in the Silver Age. It is simply gorgeous and moody, especially early Vision.

Dougie said...

This is definitely one of my favourite comics from the summer of 78. Unlike poster Chris i the previous blog, I hadn't read the first half of this story ( and wouldn't until I lucked on to a back issue around '83. As Chris said, though, that was because of haphazard distribution.)
I was a huge fan of Claremont and Byrne at that time and remembered the cameo of the Monolith in Havok's Silver Age debut. I loved the villain's design and his cosmic scope. (I also like King Tut!) Claremont really had a knack of creating a unified Marvel U. What would we have thought of him as a 70s Avengers scribe? Would we have liked that? (Bet Jan would have been chairperson a few years sooner!)

Inkstained Wretch said...

I concur with "david b" on Byrne's art. I much prefer this period and the scans Doug and Karen provided show why: there was something big, almost cinematic in his pencilwork at this time.

Pity Byrne never did a run on Thor!

dbutler16 said...

Doug, I know what you mean. I wish I had more personal time to read all of the cool Bronze Age stuff out there, especially the stuff I've never read before.

dbutler16 said...

Oh yeah, regarding David B's comment about Byrne's art, I agree. I didn't care for his later FF stuff nearly as much. For some reason, he drew everyone with huge eyes. It's as if his style changed, though I don't know why you'd mess with a good thing (then again, so did Keith Giffen).

William said...

This is definitely the best comic ever done about a Norse deity and a spider-powered college student fighting a giant in a metal swimsuit.

They just don't make comics like this anymore! WHY?? I just can't figure out why they went away from what made comics great. Tight writing, beautiful clean and colorful artwork and an exciting, action packed, fun-filled adventure.

In my book, Marvel Team-Up was arguably the best comic of the late Bronze Age and it's issues like this one that reenforces my belief.

BTW, I love the "WHAMMO!" sound effect when LM backhands Thor across the city. Classic comic-book stuff there.

William said...

BTW, on a totally and completely unrelated topic... if you have not seen this video, you must check it out. It will blow your Bronze Age mind...

Doug said...

William --

Thanks for the link to that video -- it was incredible! I am stunned at how cool that was.


William said...

You're most welcome Doug. I actually first saw that at the "Comics In Crisis" site which I found through your site here.

Also, f you get a chance, check out some of the "Making Of" features for that project. The amount of time and work that went into making that video is truly awe inspiring.

Redartz said...

William- that was indeed an incredible video. One thing I always love about this page is the frequent exposure to quality entertainment of which I'd been previously unaware.

Karen said...

Hi folks, I'm back from vacation and catching up on all the comments here. William, that Jonny Quest video was astounding! Loved it so much I put it on my Facebook! Reminds me that I need to get the Jonny Quest DVD set pronto.

I'm glad to see the general consensus on these two MTU issues is that they are frickin' awesome. These were a pleasure to read, the sort of stuff you never get tired of looking at!


autumn_leaves said...

I have both chapters of this. It would be nice if there was an untold Havok and Thor team up following, MTU 70. In MTU 69, we see the Beast leave the Avengers Mansion to help guest star in X-Men #111.

I understand, Thor was taking Havok to the Avengers Mansion. It would be nice if some villain picked that time to attack.

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