Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Stan Lee presents SPIDEY and POWER MAN -- together!

Plot: Chris Claremont | Script: Ralph Macchio | Pencils: John Byrne
Inks: Al Gordon | Letters: Tom Orzechowski | Colors: Michele Wolfman
Editor: Bob Hall | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Trapped in a burning tenement, Spider-Man passes out from smoke inhalation and flashes back to how he wound up there: As Peter Parker, he attended the opening of a new disco, Studio 13, with Mary Jane Watson, but the place was raided by a gang called the Rat Pack. Luke Cage, also in attendance, fought back against the gang as Peter changed into Spider-Man. But the Rat Pack took a girl hostage and escaped. Cage knew where to find their hideout in the Bronx however, and led Spider-Man there. The heroes attacked the Rat Pack and in the ensuing scuffle a fire started.

Back in the present, Cage rescues Spider-Man from the flames, then the two heroes team up with the New York Fire Department to rescue civilians. Spider-Man saves a firefighter trapped in a cherry picker and lowers him to the ground, but, still weakened, gets caught on the roof of the building with the fire chief. Meanwhile, the other firefighters tell Cage he must bring the burning building down in order to save the block. Cage does so, knowing he will kill Spider-Man and the chief in the process, but the web-slinger regains his strength and gets both of them to safety.

Later, the firefighter Spider-Man rescued from the cherry picker is rushed to the hospital with third degree burns, while Spider-Man and Cage marvel at the courage of the New York Fire Department.

Continuity Notes: Peter notes that he and Mary Jane have broken up in recent issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, but he accompanied her to the disco anyway at her invitation. (Though his apparent reasoning that any date with MJ, even as friends, is better than no date at all makes him seem a bit desperate...)

Peter spots Cage in the disco and recalls that their first and last meeting was in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #123, when Jonah Jameson hired Cage to take down Spider-Man following the death of Norman Osborn. Cage is attending the disco with his girlfriend, Harmony Young.

The fire is started by an explosion which hurls Cage out of the Rat Pack’s building. Cage compares the impact to being punched by Iron Fist in POWER MAN #48 (mistakenly identified here as POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #48 -- as we recently saw, it wasn’t retitled until issue 50).

This issue is “Dedicated with respect and pride to the F.D.N.Y., New York’s bravest.”

My Thoughts: This is a very… weird issue. It begins as your standard “street level” Spider-Man story, with the wall-crawler teaming up with Luke Cage to fight a street gang, but halfway through it turns into MARVEL TEAM-UP’s version of a seventies disaster movie. If nothing else, between the Blaxploitation angle and the not-so-towering inferno, this issue is very much of its time – espcially when “Studio 13” is taken into consideration as well.

And maybe Chris Claremont could’ve pulled it all together and made sense of this concept. But for whatever reason he’s unavailable to script over his own plot here, and that duty goes to young Ralph Macchio, at the time an editorial assistant at Marvel. Macchio has never been the best scripter around, and while he does a serviceable job here, he’s nowhere near the level of Claremont. His prose is too pointed and boring, and his dialogue is mostly uninspired.

I guess this is an attempt by Claremont to speak to the arson epidemic which apparently plagued the Bronx in the seventies, but it’s just a really disjointed and slow-paced read. I want to like it, affectionate as I am for the zeitgeist of the seventies, but I can’t.

I still think Byrne draws a terrific Luke Cage, though, and Al Gordon's inks really help to make him look extra imposing.

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