Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Stan Lee presents SPIDEY and MS. MARVEL -- together!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Dave Hunt | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: At the Penn Station rail yard, Spider-Man defends himself against the Super-Skrull and notes that an overhead power grid briefly blocks the Skrull’s powers, which are supplied via a continuously running beam from deep space. The Skrull takes Spider-Man out and heads for the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II just offshore, where he raids an antique dealer’s cabin to recover a cavourite crystal.

But Carol Danvers is aboard ship as well. She changes into Ms. Marvel and attacks the Super-Skrull, battling him until Spider-Man arrives. The web-slinger and Ms. Marvel join forces to snag the cavourite crystal and then recreate the power grid on a huge scale, blocking the Skrull’s power. Then they release their makeshift grid and toss the crystal back to the Skrull. It is super-charged by the deactivated beam, and transports the Skrull through a space warp.

Continuity Notes: This issue picks up exactly where the last left off. For those keeping score, Spider-Man has teamed up with four heroes to fight two villains across four issues covering a span of probably less than twelve hours. I love stuff like this.

Super-Skrull recalls Mister Fantastic blocking his powers once before in FANTASTIC FOUR #18.

Jean DeWolff and Rafael Scarfe put in cameo appearances this issue. Curiously, there's no sign -- not even a mention -- of the Human Torch.

Chris Claremont was the regular writer of MS. MARVEL at the time this issue came out, meaning there's a lot more character development for the issue’s guest star than one would normally get in a MARVEL TEAM-UP issue (this will continue for the next few issues for various reasons). In this case we get hints dropped about Ms. Marvel’s Kree heritage and her connection to the cavourite crystal.

As for the crystal, it would remain a toy of Claremont’s for some time to come. An unrefined crystal had previously been introduced in MS. MARVEL. Claremont will use this perfected crystal in upcoming non-Byrne illustrated MTU issues, where it will fall into the hands of Viper and Silver Samurai. They will get hold of it again a few years later in early issues of NEW MUTANTS, and it will ultimately play a role in resurrecting one of Claremont’s favorite villains, the Shadow King.

My Thoughts: A worthy conclusion to the Super-Skrull story, as well as to Spider-Man’s never-ending night as noted above, bringing in one of Claremont’s other regular characters, Carol “Ms. Marvel” Danvers for the big finale.

I don't believe I've mentioned this before, but Claremont has a surprisingly good grasp on Spider-Man’s dialogue. Honestly, based on his work in X-MEN and elsewhere, I would've imagined Claremont having trouble separating his own voice -- which is readily apparent in many of his characters -- from the web-slinger’s. But this Spidey reads just like Stan Lee’s version. It's impressive, and another reason to like this vintage of Claremont best of all.

There is one criticism I need to level at Claremont’s writing here, though: his incessant use of diminutive nicknames. This dates all the way back to issue 59. There, Wasp and Yellowjacket immediately took to calling Spider-Man “Spidey”. Okay, this isn't unusual. But then, through the two Equinox issues, Spider-Man and the Wasp -- even when they should've sobered up following Yellowjacket’s apparent death -- referred to Equinox nonstop as “Noxie”. Issue 61 saw Spider-Man constantly calling the Human Torch “Torchy” and began his habit, continued into this issue, of referring to Super-Skrull as “Skrully”. Add to that Ms. Marvel calling Spider-Man, who she just met and barely knows, by the familiar “Spidey”, and you get a lot of weird diminutives. And that's not even mentioning the flashback in #59 where Spider-Man refers to Iceman as (ugh) “Icey” and the omniscient narrator constantly calling Spider-Man “Spidey” too (this worked for Stan Lee, but no one else has ever been able to pull it off successfully).

It's all just very distracting and often seems out of place. And what's especially odd is that it's unique to MARVEL TEAM-UP, but not to Spider-Man within MARVEL TEAM-UP. Reading IRON FIST at this time, you don't see anyone calling the title character “Fisty”. Not one character calls Master Khan “Khanny” or Rafael Scarfe “Raffy” or “Scarfey”. So why does everyone in MARVEL TEAM-UP share this irritating tic?


  1. Great blog, and great run-downs of classic issues. I was wondering if you had any insight into Spectacular Spider-Man #102, the issue where Peter meets Donna Gardner on the train from New Jersey, and then spends the whole issue trying to track down her twin brother after she's struck down by a hit-and-run driver.

    At the beginning of this issue, Peter is visiting Harry and Liz in New Jersey, and mentions how he "always enjoys" coming out to see them and their new baby. But that same month in Web of Spider-Man #2, and the next month in Amazing Spider-Man #265, the Osborns are still in the hospital recovering from Normie's birth. Is PPTSS #102 set at a later date? Is there a story to explain it? Any thoughts?

    1. Thanks! I would assume SPECTACULAR #102 is simply set after the WEB and AMAZING issues, even if it was released earlier. That sort of thing is bound to happen once in a while when you have three series by three different writers starring one character. Not even the best editor can keep it all straight every time.

      (Though I always appreciated when a comic would start withe a little blurb that said something like, "This issue takes place before that issue.")


    2. I really need to find the time to stay up to date on your blog, Matt, and ideally to read along when possible.

      In case it makes you feel better, Michelle: Web #2 came out on Feb. 12th, 1985, three weeks after Spectacular #102 on Jan. 22nd, even though both had May cover dates. Yeah, I know, the advance dating was just out of control back then.


    3. Oops! I misread and didn’t realize that it’s the events in Web #2 that must’ve occurred first, which makes the on-sale dichotomy worse. So what Matt said, then...

    4. Thanks, Blam! I always forget to look at "on-sale" dates when talking about these things. I need to remember that cover date isn't the best indicator of when something was released, even taking advance dating into account.

    5. If you've never checked it out, the newsstand feature at Mike's Amazing World of Comics is fantastic for that sort of thing. You can sort by month/year/company and either cover date or on-sale date. I use it regularly to make sure I've correctly grouped all the books released in a given month for my reviews.

    6. I have looked at it; I think I may even have referenced it here once or twice... but for whatever reason it rarely occurs to me to look at it for anything.

  2. The Finnish translation for this one has one of my favorite translation challenges ever. Finnish language doesn't have an equivalent to the non-marital-status-specific female honorific 'Ms.', so Carol Danvers adventured in the Finnish translations under the moniker of 'Marvel Girl' (yes, same as Jean Grey). So, in this issue, when Spidey comments to her "You're a girl!", her response is: "The term is 'woman', friend. *beat* My name is Marvel Girl."

    And no, she couldn't be 'Marvel Woman', because that name would be most strongly associated to the Wonder Woman of the Distinguished Competitor, as, 'marvel', 'wonder', 'fantastic' and 'miracle' all pretty much have the same translation in Finnish, 'ihme'. So, it's really bad with the alternative gender counterparts where Simon Williams, the Impossible Man and even Mr. Fantastic once adventured (and Alan Moore's Marvelman/Miracleman would, too, if he was published) under the same moniker 'Ihmemies', which name nevertheless is, because of reasons, the MOST associated with MacGyver.

    I never thought of it but it's really a fun romp when the story itself just goes on and on, while the villains and the co-heroes keep changing around Spider-Man.

    1. Isn't there a term simply for an unmarried woman, like our "Miss"? Why didn't they just go with that? Seems like it would've been easier!

    2. Well, that would've been doable, but as you can guess from the example of Reed Richards trying to be translated to something else than 'MISTER Fantastic', the monikers like that sound a bit silly in Finnish. Now 'Doctor' works fine and 'Captain' is just great for the militant bastards that are the Finns, but Mr/Mrs/Ms are generally too town-bourgeoisie and bit awkward for the daily use of the essentially peasant lot.

      I guess they initially decided to just go with the 'girl' and didn't feel like changing the already-settled name for this story anymore.

    3. Huh. I'm always fascinated to learn how other languages work.

      So are all the translators happy now that Carol actually is Captain Marvel and we have a Ms. Marvel who can realistically be called a girl??

    4. I don't think they actually publish anything else than Spider-Man in Finland anymore, barring some special one-off prestige publications. Everything else from Marvel has got pretty much cancelled.

  3. You know, Ms. Marvel's original costume isn't *bad*, but her second, Cockrum-designed one is just so *good* everything else pales in comparison...

    The diminutive nickname bit is odd. It definitely seems like something Spider-Man would do, especially in the hands of a writer who maybe doesn't write the character that often, in a "shortcut to get the voice right" kind of way, but having EVERYONE doing it is strange.

    1. Technically not the original here, but a bit revised version, mostly to remove the bare midriff bit on the original original.

    2. Yes, I like this revision of the costume. The bare midriff was just absurd, but this looks pretty cool. I really liked it on AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES, where they gave Carol her long flowing Cockrum hair, but this version of the costume.

      That said, I much prefer the Cockrum costume over all others (including Carol's current Captain Marvel uniform, which isn't bad).