Saturday, December 27, 2008

Meanwhile, back in the Marvel Universe...

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this (recently or at all), but not only do I pen reviews for SpiderFan, but I have recently been tapped by fellow Spider-Fanner Al Sjoerdsma to work on the upcoming Official Index to the Marvel Universe (my contributions begin with issue #2, due out in Feb., ‘09). Well, due to a misunderstanding on my part, I reviewed X-Men/Spider-Man #1. When I realized that my review was premature, I decided to expand it to fit in over at SpiderFan, only, as it turns out Kevin Hollander had already laid claim to reviewing that title. Not wanting to let my review languish in limbo, I figured I‘d post it here.

Comic: X-Men and Spider-Man #1!

Title: The Strangest Teens of All

Over the years, the paths of Spider-Man and the X-Men have crossed many times. In this limited series, we see how one story took place over the course of several years, as events in the lives of these heroic teens are manipulated by Mr. Sinister. This first chapter takes place during the ‘60s when the X-Men were in their New costumes (after the “death” of Professor X), and around the time Flash had just entered in the military, Harry Osborn and Gwen Stacy were both still alive, (he was dating MJ, and she was dating Peter).

The X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, Angel) are sitting around at the X-Men mansion in Westchester, watching an account of themselves on TV battling the Hulk, while the show’s guest, J. Jonah Jameson, rails on about the mutant menace, and calls for some sort of registration for all mutants. Spider-Man, meanwhile, swings through Manhattan happy as various TVs play in the background with the same program broadcasting. Spidey is happy that JJJ is going after someone else.

He enters his and Harry’s apartment and wonders if he should tell Gwen his secret, while thinking that worrying might give him an ulcer (which it eventually does). The next guest on the show is Kraven who has just been released from prison (after having been tossed there by Spidey), and vows that his next target will be mutants. And he postulates that Spider=-Man is a mutant. The X-Men feel they have to warn Spidey, and head into the city.

After having changed out of his costume, Peter meets up with Gwen and Mary Jane they all head to the Coffee Bean to meet the gang. They enter the café, under the watchful eyes of Kraven. Shortly after the arrival of Peter and the girls, the X-Men (in civies) pull up in Warren’s car and of all the places in Greenwich Village to enter, they go into the Coffee Bean.

Inside, the mutants and Peter’s friends intermingle. Flash, who is in Uniform, as he is either on leave, or yet to ship off to the Army), tries to pick up Jean, and MJ & Gwen flirt with Bobby and Hank, respectively. Harry’s on edge because of MJ’s antics (around this time Harry began taking drugs, and this was clearly part of that storyline). Just as all of the teens are beginning to enjoy themselves, Kraven and Blob burst into the café and attack. As all get-out erupts, the X-Men and Peter use the confusion to change into their costumes.

The heroes force both villains outside and onto the street so as not to endanger the patrons. As the fight rages on, Kraven manages to nick each of the X-Men; drawing blood from each of them. Eventually Spidey and the X-Men manage to subdue the Blob, but Kraven manages to slip away. The Blob dealt with, Kraven in the wind, and the cops on their way, all of the heroes do likewise so as not to be around when the cops show up. Before they go, however the X-Men renew their offer to have Spider-Man join them. He declines stating that he really doesn’t work well with teams.

Kraven delivers five vials of DNA material to Mr. Sinister who has been hiding behind the scenes this whole time. Mr. Sinister indicates that he has plans for the genetic material.

This is obviously a continuity implant story, building on previously-established events from the established cannon of the Marvel Universe. The story seems to play out well, doing a very nice job of tapping into those events, and actually manages to successfully re-establish the feeling of that time. From the excellent visuals and great dialogue you can almost believe that this story was written and drawn back at that time. The inclusion of a later villain like Mr. Sinister, plus the teaming of two older, classic villains (who prior to this never actually met), are both very nice touches.

Summary Rating: 3.5 Webs

Rating Explanation:
Again, this story reads quite well, and does a most-excellent job of recreating that era for this reader.

I’m not entirely certain how this will eventually play out, but this story worked quite well for me, including a bit of foreshadowing with Gwen sitting on a dock with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

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As soon as the camera’s battery is fully charged, I’ll post more Christmas photos.


Sol (Frederick) Badguy said...

Just read your review and I have to say that the issue seems worthy of picking.

It's funny that they never showed how Peter got cured from his ulcer, it's as if "Gerry Conway" decided to get rid of it before the Hulk story.

Tommy said...

I remember seeing the ulcer pop up again during the period after Pete re-assumed his duties as Spider-Man after PP: Spider-Man #75. It was in one of the Amazing Spider-Man issues around Electro's power-up if I recall.

Reggie White Jr. said...

This could be a Spidey comic worth picking up. Maybe I'll flip through it in the store.