What’s smelly, green and a ton of fun? Man-Thing!
This issue has everything that makes for a great team up. It starts with a mysterious first meeting, where the two characters don’t know each other yet, and then is followed by a long drag-out battle between them. Spider-Man drops Manny off a building, turning him into a swampy blot, and then….
In fact, this issue is a lot like one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time–and one of the best comic books of all time, period, Amazing Spider-Man #229-230: Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut. It’s a few pages of exposition and about 15 pages of Spider-Man trying to stop Man-Thing.
Wonderous 1980s cartoony fun. Not every issue of Marvel Team-Up was great, and several were rushed hack-jobs. But every three or four issues you’d get a gem like this. So I looked forward to this book every week.
Back in 2005, Geoff Johns, with Allan Heinberg on the art chores, batted cleanup after Brad Meltzer’s “Identity Crisis” event of the prior year. Back then, every year the Justice League had a “crisis” event. The story dealt with the aftermath of Zatanna wiping the minds of the bad guys who knew the secret identities of all the major JLA-ers (Batman, Superman, Flash, etc.). She also had to wipe Batman’s memory, since he dissented from the team’s decision to alter the minds of their enemies. The story was surprisingly complex and character-defining, especially since most “events” focus on story beats and action, not personality.
That’s why I’m doing 5 panels on JLA #115-119.
In fact, there are many elements in the Crisis of Conscience event that are almost instructional on how to make an event work well.
It starts with big sweeping gestures, to introduce the conflict to casual readers and establish each player’s POV.
The war-like, “end justifies the means” players like Green Arrow and Hawkman, think Zatanna did nothing wrong. But the characters who rely on a strong moral center–especially Batman–object to what was done.
Superman recognizes the inherent conflict here. It’s kind of like the old hypothetical whether it would be wrong to go back in time and kill Hitler before he became evil…
Rick Remender did a similar storyline in Uncanny X-Force, when Wolverine, Fantomex, and the crew had the opportunity to kill Apocalypse as a child. The whole AvX event also asked the question whether it is okay to reshape the world if your intentions are good and your power is adequate. But neither of these storylines did it as well as Crisis of Conscience because the JLA story had multiple layers, and didn’t limit itself to “pro” and “con” arguments.
In fact, the big villain who fights the JLA in this story is a mind-controller, which adds further depth to the exploration of the issue:
Green Lantern betrayed the league in another circumstance. Batman did as well (Tower of Babel). Now both of them are controlled by Despero, and have to fight their fellow leaguers. At one point, Hawkman says tells Batman to fight Despero’s control and says “This isn’t you!” to which Despero responds, “I wouldn’t be too sure of that!”
This is the JLA version of Avengers: Dissembled. The team is breaking apart because they can no longer trust each other.
Batman (as always) has the most interesting storyline here. He begins the tale in a vignette with Catwoman, explaining to her why he’s so upset with all this.
But of course Batman doesn’t trust feelings. He’s even looking rather blank, out in the distance, while Catwoman says it to him.
And then, in the end, he explains to Martian Manhunter the core of his conflict: Does this mean that Catwoman doesn’t really love him?
In other words, can he even trust feelings?
I haven’t spoiled this story for you. There’s still plenty ore to mine there. Great comic, well worth a buy.
Check it out.
How does John Romita not know that Spider-Man has lenses over his eyeholes? And this goes on for half the comic–it’s not a one-panel error.
First appearance of Ben Urich.
Lots of people, me included, give Frank Miller credit for basically creating the Daredevil that we know today. (Or, at least, the Daredevil we knew before Mark Waid took on the title two years ago and completely renovated it.) But Roger McKenzie’s brief run saw the introduction of Klaus Janson, who was at least 49% responsible for the great art during Miller’s run, it was written in a “noir” style that Marv Wolfman had approached but never embraced, and it focused on Heather Glenn, who was a huge part of the changes in DD’s character during Miller’s run. It also used Heather and Matt’s relationship in a way that we hadn’t seen before. Although Murdock had shared his identity with Karen Page, Karen was never really integral to Daredevil. She was a side character, like a bond girl. Glenn is fully enmeshed in the storyline.
Really, really good stuff.
I understand that it’s easy to forget about McKenzie because Miller’s work was unlike anything that ever preceded it, and changed the entire art form. But McKenzie was damn good, and he laid a solid foundation for Miller.
We all know that now Superior Spider-Man, who is Otto Octavius, uses all kinds of power-boosting tech. This arc also features the first appearance of Hammerhead and Aunt May knocks Spidey out with a vase.
And then, in the end, she MOVES IN WITH DOCTOR OCTOPUS!!!!
Total rip-roaring early 1970s fun.
Lots of drama with Heather Glenn, and Jim Shooter kinda turns her into a crazy lady. I mean, like talking to her teddy bear crazy.
I’m not a big fan of this run, but it’ll be over soon. Roger McKenzie will take over and do a decent job before being taken over by … Frank Miller.