Wednesday, July 7, 2010

March 1972

As MTU dawned, B&B was celebrating its 100th issue...both strong entries and both displaying team-ups that are not always copacetic.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #1 3 1/2 whiskers

DATE: March, 1972

TITLE: “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!”

STARS: Spider-Man & The Human Torch VILLAIN: The Sandman

WRITER: Roy Thomas EDITOR: Stan Lee

PENCILLER: Ross Andru INKER: Mike Esposito

STORY: After a disastrous run-in with the Sandman, Spider-Man hopes to foist the problem off on the Fantastic Four - but gets the solo Human Torch instead. The squabbling heroes decide to confront the villain together, despite it being Christmas Eve, and a few short digressions later they track Sandman to New Jersey. Because of their inability to work together, the two heroes are defeated and dropped into a watery death-trap. After escaping, Spidey and the Torch catch up to the baddie and discover his Jersey secret: an ailing mother he visits every Christmas Eve.

COMMENTS: The Human Torch is a logical choice to inaugurate a series of Spider-Man team-ups. Johnny Storm first meets the wall-crawler alongside his Fantastic Four teammates in 1963’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1, and beginning in STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2 that same year the two heroes begin a long tradition of rough-and-tumble meetings.

MTU #1 portrays the Spider-Man/Torch relationship as before, a begrudging camaraderie with plenty of insults and put-downs in good measure. While the two heroes manage not to kill each other and even find some common teen-age ground, their ability to work in tandem leaves much to be desired.

Spider-Man makes an odd comment in this story that Sandman isn’t “his” enemy, though the grainy goon made his debut in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4. In fact, Spidey claims he only “tackled him once” yet Sandman is a charter member of the Sinister Six, a team-up of Spider-Man villains, beginning in 1964’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1. The Torch first opposes Sandman in 1963, in STRANGE TALES #115, and then alongside the full FF in FANTASTIC FOUR #36, in 1965.

In MTU #64, in 1977, it will be revealed that the woman Spider-Man and the Torch save from muggers here in MTU #1 is Misty Knight, a tough-talking private-eye with a bionic arm and the paramour of the super hero martial artist Iron Fist.

Though it’s Christmas Eve in this story, there’s no indication of the holiday – nor the wintry season – in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #106, published the same month. Both stories are reputedly edited by Stan Lee.

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #100 4 whiskers

DATE: Feb-Mar, 1972

TITLE: “The Warrior in a Wheel-Chair”

STARS: Batman and 4 Famous Co-Stars VILLAIN: Belknap

WRITER: Bob Haney EDITOR: Murray Boltinoff

ARTIST: Jim Aparo

STORY: With a bullet lodged near his heart and awaiting a life-or-death operation, Batman calls in Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Robin to intercept a shipment of heroin scheduled to be smuggled into Gotham. A drug kingpin senses interference and tests his network – and each of the heroes – determining that when the Caped Crusader goes under the knife, he must never recover.

COMMENTS: This “Spectacular 100th Issue” pulls out all the stops by offering four Bat-partners for the price of one. There’s a rare reference herein to another DC title, this time Green Lantern #86, the infamous “Speedy on smack” issue. In another scene, Green Arrow actually kills a drug smuggler with an arrow, seemingly without remorse and at odds with the character’s belief system. Batman running the show from a wheel-chair has a certain “Rear Window” ring to it and his ongoing narrative about a nearby spider, comparing it to his own ploy, verges on the poetic.

1 comment:

Zatara2000 said...

One other bit of trivia about this issue stands out to me as an obsessive Black Canary collector.

When writing this issue it was clear that Bob Haney had no idea about who the Black Canary was. In the issue Robin finds that the Canary has ditched her post to get her hair dried! Of course, considering her hair is a wig this would be sort of controdiction. Robin smirks it off with some kind of "just like a woman" comment. One of the three worst moments in Black Canary history.

Sam Tweedle
Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict

PS - Great blog!