Wednesday, July 14, 2010

May 1972

Seems as if Marvel may have wanted MTU to be nothing more than a Spidey-Torch joint...and Metamorpho, every B&B fan's friend crawls out of his retirement and kick-starts a long-standing convention for the book.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #2 three whiskers

DATE: May, 1972

TITLE: “And Spidey Makes Four!”

STARS: Spider-Man & The Human Torch
VILLAINS: The Frightful Four, Annihilus

WRITER: Gerry Conway
EDITOR: Stan Lee

INKER: Jim Mooney

STORY: A depressed Johnny Storm seeks out Spider-Man for some friendly talk but is rebuffed by the wall-crawler. Later, Spider-Man shows up at the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building headquarters and proceeds to pummel the Torch insensate. Johnny then learns that his fellow hero has been hypnotized by the Frightful Four, whose leader the Wizard plans to utilize the FF’s equipment to capture and store vast amounts of cosmic energy. Unfortunately, the process opens a doorway to the Negative Zone and its most infamous denizen, the evil and powerful Annihilus. Mentally freed, Spider-Man stands with the Torch between the menace of the Frightful Four and a terrifying incursion from beyond.

COMMENTS: More a Human Torch story than a Spider-Man tale, the webslinger is used mostly as the villains’ tool for most of the narrative until he wakes up for the last four pages. Despite their long-standing rocky relationship, Johnny actually proposes friendship to his fellow teen-ager, an olive branch that an uncharacteristically-callous Spider-Man shrugs off as “playing counselor to some neurotic’s fantasies!”

The loose references in this issue to the previous issue, such as Johnny’s mention of working with Spider-Man “a few weeks ago” and Sandman’s bit of payback on Spidey, presage the multipart MTU stories to come.

Johnny Storm is pining herein for the Inhuman girl called Crystal, whom he first meets and falls in love with in 1965’s FANTASTIC FOUR #45. After a long romance Crystal leaves Johnny for the mutant Quicksilver, with whom she eventually marries and has a child.

The Frightful Four first run afoul of the Fantastic Four in FF #36, in 1965. At first their membership consists of the Wizard, Sandman, Trapster, and the Inhuman Medusa. As noted in MTU #2, Medusa has left the group to join the side of the angels; the Wizard’s search for her replacement will become something of a running joke through the years.

Annihilus, one of the FF’s most powerful and dangerous foes, makes his debut in 1968’s FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6. Wielder of the so-called Cosmic Control Rod, the would-be conqueror constantly seeks to extend his reign of tyranny outside the borders of his native Negative Zone. Before MTU #2, his most recent defeat is shown in the previous year’s FF#109-110.

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #101 three and a half whiskers

DATE: Apr-May, 1972

TITLE: “Cold Blood, Hot Gun!”

STARS: Batman and Metamorpho
VILLAIN: Bounty Hunter

WRITER: Bob Haney
EDITOR: Murray Boltinoff

ARTIST: Jim Aparo

STORY: A strange “murder list” left at a homicide includes both Bruce Wayne and Metamorpho’s girlfriend Sapphire Stagg. Batman steels himself for the onslaught of Bounty Hunter, a notorious one-armed assassin and the owner of the list, offering protection to everyone on the list. Meanwhile, Bruce and a restless Sapphire attend the auction of a grand old estate, not realizing that its owners are intricately linked to the hired killer – and Element Man is hot on Sapphire’s pretty heels.

COMMENTS: Before this issue Metamorpho had been in publishing limbo since the demise of his series, three years previous. During that time, Haney and DC solicited readers’ opinions on whether to bring Rex Mason back, the result of which is this tale. Bounty Hunter is one of Haney’s more-inspired villains, more of a gun-for-hire than a hunter of lawful bounties. Gordon is practically beside himself with worry over Bounty Hunter’s arrival in Gotham yet Haney allows the killer a rare getaway at stories end and a thoughtful Batman ponders their next encounter…


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...