Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Stan Lee presents SPIDER-MAN and HAVOK!

Author: Chris Claremont | Penciler: John Byrne | Inker: Ricardo Villamonte
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Mary Titus | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: On Muir Island, off the coast of Scotland, Alex “Havok” Summers and Lorna “Polaris” Dane are assaulted by agents of Alex’s old nemesis, the Living Pharaoh. Lorna is knocked into the sea while Alex is kidnapped. Meanwhile, in New York, Peter Parker is working late in the ESU science lab when he notices more of the Living Pharaoh’s men stealing something from a professor’s office. Peter changes to Spider-Man but the men escape; however the wall-crawler tags their skycraft with a spider-tracer.

Meanwhile, Lorna has emerged from the sea and attempts to call the X-Men for help, but no one answers. She next calls former X-Man/current Avenger the Beast, who dashes out of Avengers Mansion to find the X-Men.

Elsewhere, Spider-Man tracks down the Living Pharaoh’s men at a Middle Eastern embassy and frees Havok. Together they take out the goons, but the Pharaoh himself arrives, subdues Spider-Man and recaptures Havok. The Pharaoh places Havok in a pod, but Spider-Man interferes again. The two men fight and Spider-Man wins, but inadvertently knocks the pod closed, which cuts off Havok’s connection with the solar rays that grant him his powers, thereby transforming the Living Pharaoh into the massive Living Monolith.

Continuity Notes: This issue is chock full of footnotes, the most of any Claremont MARVEL TEAM-UP to date -- which makes sense since Havok is the brother of the X-Men’s Cyclops, Scott Summers, and Claremont is also the X-Men’s writer.

The first footnote tells us that Havok and Polaris’s past year was chronicled in X-MEN issues 97 – 109, a span which featured them as mind controlled pawns of the alien agent, Eric the Red.

A note on the second page informs readers that the Muir Island research lab was destroyed by Magneto in X-MEN #104.

Peter recalls that Aunt May suffered a series of heart attacks in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #177. Later, Thor observes the Beast’s hasty departure from Avengers’ Mansion, in violation of a standing federal order that the team not use their Quinjets, and a footnote says to follow Beast into X-MEN #111, on sale next month.

Havok notes that he last met the Living Pharaoh in X-MEN #55 – 57, and a page later it's noted that he was previously imprisoned in a pod in issue 56.

Narration describes the relationship between the Pharaoh and Havok as symbiotic: somehow their powers are linked such that as long as Havok possesses his power, the Pharoah can never realize his full potential. Thus he must cut Havok off from his power source in order to become the Living Monolith.

Also, it’s not footnoted or explained why the Living Pharaoh’s men are stealing an artifact from an ESU professor’s office, but the explanation is simple: in his civilian identity, the Pharaoh is actually Professor Ahmet Abdol, and he presumably left the McGuffin in care of a colleague for safekeeping. (The artifact, by the way, is a mystical ankh which keeps Havok in hibernation after the Pharaoh’s men lock him into his pod.

My Thoughts: Storywise, this is one my favorite issues from the Claremont/Byrne MARVEL TEAM-UP, because it ties in very closely with my favorite era of the X-Men. At this time in X-MEN, Claremont and Byrne were just beginning what would turn out to be a long-running “world tour” for the Merry Mutants, which is why they’re not home to respond to Polaris’s plea for help: as it happens, they’ve been kidnapped by their old enemy, Mesmero.

In fact the opening couple pages could have been from an issue of X-MEN rather than MTU, focusing as they do on Havok and Polaris on Muir Island, with a couple footnotes to previous X-MEN issues. Heck, this may have been Claremont’s intention. As discussed last time, he’s used a lot of this MARVEL TEAM-UP run to check in with characters he writes or has written (or, in the case of Man-Thing will write) in other series. Utilizing characters and continuity from X-MEN, which will become the work for which he’s best known, seems only natural.

Which isn’t to say he ignores Spider-Man. We get a brief look at Peter’s university life, and in fact it’s the ESU setting which propels Spider-Man into action. He puts up an embarrassing showing against the Pharaoh’s men initially, but unlike issue 64, which made him look incompetent, here we have more of a Stan Lee-esque “absent-minded” Spidey, as the wall-crawler gets caught up in his own web when he goes after the Pharaoh’s men.

The only negative to this issue is the artwork. Ricardo Villamonte does Byrne no favors, turning in a rough, scratchy job and a Spider-Man who looks awful. Fortunately Villamonte’s approach to Byrne will be vastly superior by the time he guest-inks him on X-MEN a year or so from now -- but that’s in the future, and is of little comfort when looking at the horrible job he turns in here.


  1. *Sigh* Another issue which, paired with the next, really deserved their own X-aminations post. I was much more wary of featuring this kind of stuff back in the day (ironically afraid of establishing a precedent wherein I'd be forced to cover a lot of ancillary tie-ins), whereas now I take a much more inclusive approach.

    Cuz yeah, this does read a lot like a lost issue of Claremont/Byrne's X-Men, between the involvement of Havok & Polaris and the setup of Beast's appearance in #111.

    Ah, well. Another one for the eventual collected edition. :)

    1. Well, when you get to that collected edition, I'll check it out!

      I really like the continuity Claremont and Byrne put into this particular story. They use Havok's kidnapping to get Polaris to call the X-Men, they use the X-Men's kidnapping to prevent them from rescuing Havok and to get Polaris to call Beast, then they use Beast's departure to kick off the "world tour" arc.

      Though one wonders why Beast was so intent on looking for the X-Men first, rather than going straight off in search of Havok. So nobody's answering the phone at Xaiver's -- maybe they all went out to dinner! Meanwhile, who knows what awful stuff is happening to Havok right then!