Monday, January 18, 2016

BAB Classic: "That Cross-Wielding Fanatic Almost Killed Me" Marvel Team-Up 41

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!


Andrew Wahl said...

Hey, Bronze Age Babies:

I recently reviewed Spidey's Marvel Team-Up time-travel adventure over at Comics Bronze Age, too, and found the whole run to be greater than the sum of its parts. I enjoy Mantlo's storytelling and nothing says "Bronze Age" quite like Sal Buscema art. Good stuff! I look forward to reading your reviews,and will link out to them!


Doug said...

Andrew --

Thanks! I will say that as we've prepared the rest of this arc (we are only going to go through #44 at this point -- which is kind of weird, as Karen is very much into Killraven and Deathlok), it has tailed off a little for us. But you're right -- when you look at it as an arc, it is chock full of good childhood memories.

And, congrats on your new partnership with Gemstone as well. That's very cool!!


joe ackerman said...

lovely stuff. with the exception of the one-shot Chris Claremont-Byrne Spidey and Red Sonja issue, this little run was my favourite of the Marvel Team-Ups. Sal Buscema was never better, and it was a real thrill to see his takes on Deathlok and Killraven. thanks for the memories, guys!

Humanbelly said...

Boy, if ever an extended MTU arc had a "Zany Bob Haney" feel to it. . . !

I remember enjoying this a lot at the time. . . but it may have been more of a fast-food type of indulgence. . . because I can't for the life of me remember many of the plot particulars. And I know I re-read this just three or four years ago-! Just a general impression of going along for the easy ride, ignoring the Z-list villain threat, the glossed-over improbabilities and leaps of reasoning, the multiplying guest-stars in an extremely unlikely locale (no matter how ya rationalize it!)-- and surrendering to the pure comic-book-ness of it.

One aspect I DO remember is that this was an instance where once-a-month installments made it reeeeeeally hard to stay on top of the ongoing story. Every month (including the following Deathlok & Killraven installments) I remember turning to the first page and going, "Now wait--- what the HECK is going on here, again-??" And IIRC Spidey was time-lost for a solid 6 months of this run-- an awfully long time to be plumb out of the NYC environmental comfort-zone--!


Edo Bosnar said...

Nice review, Karen & Doug. This is from what I consider the best era of Marvel Team-up, when the stories were written by either Mantlo or Claremont, and the art was mostly by Sal or John Byrne.
This story in particular is one I'd like to actually get around to reading some day. Back at the time, I only had/read the Deathlok and Killraven team-ups that HB mentioned, which were actually sort of epilogues to the main time travel story. I recall as a kid being a bit confused as to why Spidey was tossed into those dystopian futures, even though I was still rather intrigued by the stories and characters. I know the Killraven team-up prompted me to get an issue of Amazing Adventures, which, given that I was about 8 years old at the time, kind of blew my little mind.

Humanbelly said...

Hunh-- how do you figure they missed the obvious potential Conan team-up in this run? Perhaps Roy said No Way No How--? I'm not sure we had quite established that Conan was in fact truly part of the Marvel U yet, had we?


Doug said...

Man, this month sucks.

Now news is breaking that Glenn Frey of the Eagles has passed at the too-young age of 67. Not sure at this point of a cause of death.

REPEAT: This month sucks.


Doug said...

Oh, and there was a little consolation today in the passing of the defensive architect of the Chicago Bulls first three NBA championships. Coach Johnny Bach had a long and storied career in basketball before passing today at the age of 91. At least he seemed to get a full life, unlike many of our other celebrity deaths so far this year.

Of course, as was stated last week, we're getting to the age where this sort of thing will happen more frequently.


pfgavigan said...


I really don't have anything to contribute to this discussion, it's been decades since I read, or really thought about, these comics. I do recall being entertained by them, but not necessarily finding them anything out of the ordinary.

I just wanted to share this link with the blog;

It's one of those stories that's part common knowledge and part speculation, especially in regards to the Disney/Kirby settlement. Personally, I see no reason to believe that the Kirby group got anything more than 'go away' money, but that's speculation on my part.

I'm under the impression that there's going to be a revival in Kirby vs. Lee battles again and I was rather hoping it was in remission.



Unknown said...

It has been a rough start to a new year. Glenn Frey and Don Henley were responsible for so many great songs of the seventies and eighties. I believe that the Eagles Greatest Hits volume one is still one of the biggest selling albums of all time. David Bowie was a musical genius, but a bit of an acquired taste. Glenn Frey can be enjoyed by anyone. He is responsible for so many timeless classics. I had to listen to "Take it to the Limit" as soon as I heard the news.

Redartz said...

A fine review of a solid book. Mainly recall being impressed with the cover color; you didn't see a grey background all that often.

PFG- thanks for the above link. It is gratifying to see Kirby getting due credit, and I'm with you in hoping that all the controversy can die away.

Truly saddened by the loss of Glenn Frey. Yet another great talent gone. Man, what a month/ year this has been already. The "Memorials" segment of the upcoming Grammy Awards broadcast will be lengthy.

david_b said...

Not an Eagles fan, the music world did suffer yet another huge loss.

Related Posts with Thumbnails