Monday, October 12, 2015


Stan Lee presents: SPIDER-MAN and MAN-THING!

Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Bruce Patterson | Colorist: Phil Rache | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: Spider-Man observes Man-Thing inside a habitat at a circus, then flashes back to earlier that night when, as Peter Parker, he and Mary Jane Watson attended the circus and were almost roughed up when Peter accused the circus’s owner of kidnapping and holding the beast against its will. Then, in the present once more, Spider-Man meets a sympathetic guard and busts Man-Thing out over the protestations of the owner and his goons.

Thanks to Dr. Curt Connors, Spider-Man flies Man-Thing down to Florida aboard a chartered plane, but the craft is shot down over the swamp. Leaving the plane’s pilot and co-pilot to await rescue, Spider-Man follows Man-Thing into the swamp to what appears to be a decrepit shack. But in actuality, the building is a massive mystical tower under the control of the villainous D’Spayre.

D’Spayre apparently kills Man-Thing, then uses his powers of fear on Spider-Man. But when Man-Thing reappears and is slain over and over by D’Spayre, constantly regenerating himself only to die again, Spider-Man overcomes D’Spayre’s magic and beats the villain to a pulp. The tower’s inhabitants, Dakimh the Enchanter and his apprentice, Jennifer Kale, stop Spider-Man and banish the tower to another dimension.

Continuity Notes: Spider-Man and Man-Thing previously met in GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN #5. Peter recalls a news story stating the beast rampaged through Atlanta in MAN-THING issues 19 – 22.

We haven’t seen much in the way of Peter’s love life in these MARVEL TEAM-UP issues, but it should be noted that he and Mary Jane are an item at this point. (He dedicates a brief monologue to describing their evening together to Man-Thing, including “one thing [leading] to another” at his apartment.)

The chartered plane is flown by a woman named Nina, who is pretty clearly drawn to resemble a real woman. Given Chris Claremont’s love of vintage aircraft, she’s likely a friend or acquaintance of his.

Dr. Connors (who is name-dropped but doesn’t actually appear in the story) gets Dane Gavin of the New York Ecological History Museum to pay for the flight, and a footnote refers to MAN-THING #2 for more info on the museum.

This issue features the first appearance of D’Spayre, who Claremont would go on to use again in the pages of X-MEN. D’Spayre is an otherdimensional demon with the power to instill utter terror into his opponents (and for my money, he has an exceptionally creepy visual thanks to Byrne). Many years later, it would be revealed that Peter Parker’s clone, Ben Reilly, also encountered D’Spayre in an as-yet untold story during his time in exile.

Dakimh and Jennifer are creations of Steve Gerber, who wrote the majority of Man-Thing’s early adventures, and both had previously appeared in MAN-THING, among other titles scripted by Gerber.

My Thoughts: I’m generally not a fan of stories which mix Spider-Man with magic. Strangely I don’t mind much when he fights aliens or goes into space, at least not once in a while, but I feel that magic just doesn’t belong in Spider-Man’s world*. In addition, I’m not a big fan of Man-Thing, so you can imagine how I feel about this particular issue.

That said, there are a couple of redeeming items to note: One, I love that Spider-Man’s willpower overcomes D’Spayre’s magic pretty easily. Though it’s not noted often, based on occasional evidence, I tend to believe Peter Parker must be one of the strongest-willed characters in the Marvel Universe, so it’s always a pleasure to see him do his thing and overcome all odds to win.

And two, I really like Jennifer Kale’s costume. Seems like just the other day I was noting that no woman colored in standard flesh tones would be running around a comic wearing a bikini as her costume, but here we are. Though it should be noted that, like Red Sonja (who we will encounter soon enough), Jennifer’s outfit can charitably be described as armor. I still maintain that no heroine other than Tigra could get away with jiggling through a seventies era comic in a string bikini.

* There's an exception to every rule, though, and when we get to MARVEL TEAM-UP 79 pretty soon, I'm going to positively gush about a Spidey-meets-magic story, so look forward to that.


  1. Is Jennifer Kale family of Noble Kale the first Ghostrider ? ( Phantom Rider at that point. )
    Or am I just making connections that aren't there ?

    1. Good catch! I have to admit that I'd never heard of Noble Kale before. I'm not much of a Ghost Rider fan. But I looked this up, and sure enough, Jennifer is Noble's descendant. Looks like this may have been revealed during the GHOST RIDER run which introduced Noble. At any rate, it looks like it was Ivan Velez who made the connection.

  2. (He dedicates a brief monologue to describing their evening together to Man-Thing, including “one thing [leading] to another” at his apartment.)

    None more appropriately named to hear that tale.

    This issue features the first appearance of D’Spayre, who Claremont would go on to use again in the pages of X-MEN.

    Him and Arcade, and and maybe certain someone from MTU #79 too. It's like a pattern emerging.

    1. Claremont himself has admitted that sometimes he relies a bit too much on "strip-mining" his own continuity. I believe he acknowledged at one point that his FANTASTIC FOUR was not well received because he went back to so much of his X-stuff for it.

    2. Well, as far as the late 70's and 80's in concerned, I ain't complaining. He got some massively awesome material out of it for Uncanny.

      I gotta go check his FF. I've read at least part of it and don't remember being bothered. of course, I hardly would be. Gotta check Bendis' Kulan Gath Avengers story too.

    3. I didn't think his FF was that bad at the time. He did some interesting stuff with Dr. Doom, at least. But I'll agree with those who say it didn't really feel like the classic FF. He even wanted to bring Kitty Pryde in as Franklin's au pair, which I think would've been going a bit too far. Glad that didn't pan out.

      I didn't know Bendis did a Kulan Gath story. As I'll mention in the upcoming MTU #79 review, I'm completely mystified as to who owns the rights to that character since it seems that both Marvel and Dynamite (and maybe Dark Horse also?) are able to use him freely.

    4. One can only hope on this one instance all of the participants choose to not be overprotective to their perceived rights, if not for reasons of awesomeness then at least for the fear of having the character taken from them if they pushed. Though, they employ lawyers, so I'm pretty certain a behind-the-scenes deal exists already.

      I think it was Bendis, as it's in post Heroes Return AVENGERS issues and revisiting THE X-Men/Avengers story from the early 80's would fit nicely to his general mod op of revisiting the late 70's/early 80's AVENGERS.

    5. Wait, no. I'm an idiot. Busiek, of course. Not Bendis.

    6. Oh, right! I do remember the Busiek/Pérez Gath story. I just figured you were talking about one that came later. Given his love of the seventies, it would not have surprised me to learn Bendis had also used the character.