Marvel Madness

That Time the Avengers Were Beaten by Feminism

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It sure is a wonderful thing when I come across an old Marvel comic and know immediately in my heart that it’s going to work out wonderfully for Marvel Madness. Occasionally I have to kind of seek stories out, especially if I’m trying to find a story that fits some sort of theme, like when I do ones that relate to holidays. But it’s a hell of a joy when I’m just reading through one of the several runs that I’m simultaneously reading and I find a story that I just know will work on here. And today’s story is just such a case. A random issue of the Avengers that serves as the introduction as one of my favorite characters, features some weird creator cameos, has a Halloween parade and the Masters of Evil, and also is a reminder that the female Avengers are more than capable, and able to best their male counterparts. Parts of this issue can come off as a little dated, especially in regards to its opinions on the tenants of feminism, but I like to see it as more positive than that, actually becoming a pretty solid example to the power of women, despite what the creators may have personally thought. So let’s check out that time that the Lady Liberators bested the Avengers.

The issue begins with Janet Pym, the Wasp, flitting through the night on her way to Avenger’s Mansion. She just seems to be popping in, with no particular goal in mind, until she hears the sounds of people talking in the meeting room and decides to stop in and see what’s going on. And she’s shocked to find that the people sitting around the table are the Scarlet Witch, the Black Widow, Medusa of the Inhumans, and the mysterious Valkyrie. Janet is more than a little confused why Wanda and three non-Avengers are at the table, and things just get more confusing when Wanda announces that it’s no longer Avengers’s Mansion, it’s the headquarters of the Liberators. This is raising some red flags  for Janet, but Widow and Scarlet Witch convince her to give Valkyrie a shot. Janet submits and returns to normal size, and lets Valkyrie explain her origin. She’s apparently a brilliant chemist, but who gets no respect or attention from her male peers. One night she was staying up, working on a new formula when some sort of accident occurred, and she was doused in a weird mixture that gave her superhuman abilities. She then vowed to become the Valkyrie, a warrior hellbent on defeating the patriarchy and setting up a matriarchy. And her plan to do that involves getting these Liberators to help her defeat the Avengers. The women in the room are a little wary about this, until Valkyrie starts pointing out how all of them are constantly belittled by their male teammates. Janet is always overshadowed by Hank Pym, Scarlet Witch is treated like a child by her brother Quicksilver, Medusa has to follow every order of Black Bolt, and Black Widow has constantly been refused entry in the Avengers for no reason. And this sales pitch works beautifully. The women decide that they need to show the male Avengers whose boss, and agree to join Valkyrie’s Liberators.

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The Liberators then run off to the rooftop of Avenger’s Mansion to get onto Valkyrie’s mode of conveyance. She’s created a chariot dragged by flying horses, which she claims she’s bred. The other Liberators just kind of accept that, and they fly off to find the Avengers. And where are the Avengers? Why they’re in beautiful Rutland, Vermont to participate in an annual Halloween parade as the guests of honor! Vision, Black Panther, Quicksilver, and Clint Barton as Goliath arrive at the home of the mayor of Rutland, ready to stand on a float and entertain the people of Rutland. The Avengers mingle for a while at the party, getting to meet the author of this issue, Roy Thomas, and his wife Jeanie. Now, this is something that used to happen a lot in old Marvel comics, and I always find it hilarious. Sometime I’ll have to talk about the Fantastic Four story where Dr. Doom makes Stan Lee and Steve Ditko help him defeat the Four. Anyway, the party ends and the Avengers follow the rest of the costume-clad citizens of Rutland out to the Main Street where the parade is about to begin. Little do they know, things are about to pop off.

And not just from the Liberators, because there’s another faction visiting Rutland. The Masters of Evil. Well, that’s what they’re calling themselves at least, I usually need a Zemo in charge. But the folks we have today are Klaw, the Melter, Radioactive Man, and Whirlwind. They’re in Rutland because a local scientist has created a device that can enter parallel realities. And it just so happens that that scientist is also on a float, with the device that powers his machine. So the Masters of Evil lay in way, and once the Avenger’s float passes by they rush the scientist. This was a poor plan though, because as soon as the Master’s of Evil spring into action the Avengers notice, and get ready for a fight. Good luck Rutland, Virginia!

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The Avengers and the Masters of Evil begin fighting at this point, and shockingly the Masters start doing well. The Melter is able to use his blasts to harm Vision, keeping him entombed in some melted cement, Klaw causes a building to collapse onto Black Panther, Quicksilver isn’t able to keep up with Whirlwind’s rapid movements, and the Radioactive Man blasts Goliath with everything he had, knocking him out. So things aren’t looking good for the Avengers. And they’re about to get worse, because the Liberators have arrived, and everyone but Valkyrie are ready and raring to start attacking their male oppressors. But when they see the Masters of Evil about to defeat the Avengers, they get pissed, because a team that’s not them is about to defeat the Avengers and take their glory. Wasp volunteers to go do some recon and figure out what’s going on, and Valkyrie calls her a wench, demanding that she go as fast as she can. Hmm, that’s kind of an odd thing for their feminist team leader to say…

Anyway, Wasp sees what’s going on and sends out the call for the Liberators to come help her save the Avengers. Wasp is able to blast Melter in the eyes, making him stop blasting Vision long enough for the android to get a hold of himself and escape the cement. Next up Black Widow starts fighting with Klaw, defeating him and letting Black Panter escape the fallen building. Medusa is up next, using her prehensile hair to snatch Whirlwind from behind, holding him down so he can’t escape. And Scarlet Witch finishes things off, using her hex powers to cause a tree to drop down on Radioactive Man, knocking him out. So the Liberators have saved the Avengers, and the men start thanking them, not realizing that things have just begun. The Liberators start telling the Avengers what’s going on, telling them that they’re sick of being treated like second-class citizens and are going to defeat and usurp them. The men are a little confused, not believing that their female friends and teammates would behave like this, when Valkyrie comes out of the shadows, ready to get violent. And she does.

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Yeah, I’m not going to lie, I would wear a t-shirt with Valkyrie on it saying “Up against the wall male chauvinist pigs!” So, Valkyrie’s energy blast from her halberd was powerful enough, and shocking enough, to knock out the already weakened Avengers, scoring a win for the Liberators. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for Valkyrie, who then announces that the Liberators are going to head to the local university and get something that will help them. The Liberators are a little confused about this, but go along, heading to the university and meeting with that professor that the Masters of Evil wanted to attack. He shows them his device, which can open up portals to other realities, and something suddenly changes in Valkyrie. She admits that this was her ultimate goal, and she didn’t actually care about the Avengers. But why does she care so much about this device? Well, that’s because she’s not actually a new heroine named Valkyrie, she’s actually the Asgardian Enchantress, one of the Avenger’s oldest foes.

Yeah, Enchantress has pulled the wool over the Liberators eyes, and has manipulated them into helping her get rid of the Avengers and access this device. But why does she need it? Well, apparently after her and the Executioner’s latest shenanigans Odin banished the two of them from Asgard, and weakened her magic. The two wanders around magic realms for a while, until Executioner dumped her for Aphrodite when they found there way into Olympus. So now Enchantress hates men and wants this device to return to Asgard so she can strengthen her magic and use it to punish all men. And once she’s done monologuing she begins summoning up all of her remaining strength to destroy the Avengers and the Liberators with a powerful spell. However, Scarlet Witch saves the day by surrounding Valkyrie in a field of hex magic, causing Enchantress’ spell to ricochet back at her, and seemingly destroy her. Turns out Scarlet Witch realized there was something fishy about Valkyrie when she called Wasp a “wench” and had been waiting for a moment to reveal her true nature. so the Liberators have saved the day! And this of course leads Clint Barton to start being a total asshole, because up until ten years ago or so Clint Barton was the absolute worst.

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This story is a whole lot of fun. I love these weird little one-shot stories from the older days of the Avengers, back before they required long-lasting multiple-issue arcs. Back when they could just go have a silly little adventure in Rutland, Vermont beating up the Masters of Evil. Plus we get to see the delightful introduction of Valkyrie, a character who I’ve really come to love over the years. True, this isn’t really the Valkyrie that I know and love, but it’s a start. Things get complicated with Valkyrie, what with the reveal that Enchantress had based this disguise off a real person who ends up getting returned to life in the Defenders, but it’s really hard to get a hang on all of that nonsense. What does matter is that Valkyrie is a badass hero who’s primary goal is to show the patriarchy that she’s just as capable as men. And that’s more or less what this whole issue is about. There are times where I kind of feel like Roy Thomas didn’t actually believe any of the feminist beliefs that the Liberators were spouting, and that he was making fun of the feminism movement more than anything, but I don’t really care what he intended, because what actually happened was an issue where some of the most competent and capable heroes in Marvel Comics got together and saved the day. They may have been manipulated by the Enchantress for her own purposes, but Black Widow, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, and Medusa still were able to defeat the Masters of Evil on their own, saving the day. More often than not the female heroes in these older Avengers books were just side-characters, there to be kidnapped or be talked down to by the male heroes, and regardless of author intention, this issue showed them taking the reigns and proving that they’re just as good as their male counterparts, if not better. And that’s something that I love to see.

Avengers #83 was written by Roy Thomas, penciled by John Buscema, inked by Tom Palmer, and lettered by Herb Cooper, 1970.

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Marvel Madness

That Time Luke Cage and Iron Fist Acted Out Some Doctor Who FanFic

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Sometimes when I read through these old Marvel stories there’s a couple minutes where I have to think if the story was goofy or crazy enough to write up for one of these Marvel Madness posts. Other times there’s no doubt in my mind, and the second I finish the story I know that it’s going to work. And other times I know that this is going to be a solid entry like four pages into the story. And this is one of those. Plus, it features two of my favorite superheroes of all time, Like Cage and Iron Fist. I haven’t talked about Iron Fist yet here on the site, and I’ve only managed to get to Luke Cage once, so I need to do better on that. Honestly, Luke Cage comics are kind of similar to Dr. Strange stories, where I could easily do basically every story the guy participates in, because they’re all pretty insane. Plus, I love Luke and Danny so goddamn much that I could talk about them constantly. They are without a doubt my favorite friendship in comics, and the fact that Luke Cage and Jessica Jones named their daughter after Danny is one of the most adorable things of all time. But I digress. Because we aren’t really going to talk about an issue that demonstrates the wonderful bond these two men share, instead we’re going to talk about some real goofy bullshit.

The issue starts off with Luke and Danny hanging out backstage at a New York theater while getting shown around by Bob Diamond. I’m not overly familiar with Diamond, I know that he was from Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu with Shang-Chi, but all we need to know about him for this is that he’s a famous actor, he knows kung fu, and he’s a friend of Danny’s. Turns out Diamond is getting ready to star in a big play called “Day of the Dreadlox” where he’s a goofy time-traveling scientist who fights deadly robots. Hmm. Sounds familiar. But that doesn’t really pop off for a while, right now we just focus on Danny and Luke checking out the intricate props that will play the robots in the play. They comment on how realistic they look, but then head out to accompany Diamond to a party. And as they leave we see an incredibly hostile janitor who is complaining about how no one gives him any respect. At that point I kind of assumed we were in for a Scooby Doo thing, where this janitor faked an evil robot attack. But then this happened.

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Whoops. Guess the janitor didn’t do it. Anyway, let’s check out our heroes. We unfortunately don’t get to see Danny and Luke go to a fancy actor party in their superhero outfits, and instead jump ahead to the next morning where they’re each doing their own thing. Luke Cage is hanging out with DW, the hippie that runs the crappy movie theater Cage lived in, and Danny is sparring with Diamond, talking about his upcoming show. And once their separate journeys are over they meet back at their Heroes for Hire headquarters where Diamond has a mission for them. Apparently there have been a series of mysterious disappearances at the theater, and he wants Luke and Danny to investigate. Luke assumes that Diamond is making all of this up, and just wants the Heroes for Hire to investigate the show to drum up publicity. But that doubt gets quickly squashed when they leave the building that their office is in an they almost get assassinated.

Luke and Danny are walking Diamond out of the office when suddenly laser blasts just start firing at them. Diamond runs for his life while Iron Fist starts running around the crowded street, getting civilians out of the way. Luke on the other hand is ripping the doors off cars for shields and is running through the streets trying to find the source of the laser-fire. Unfortunately that path just leads to an empty alley, and no assassins. Luke then has to eat crow, and admit to Diamond that there might actually be something to his mysterious disappearances. We then see Luke and Danny having some awkward sitcom shtick where they both bring dates back to Misty Knight’s apartment. It’s goofy but it does lead to a lot of fun friendship stuff between Luke and Danny. However, their evening is cut short when they get a call from Diamond that there is something horrible going on at the theater. So Danny and Luke head over, and are immediately attacked by those prop robots from earlier.

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They sure weren’t expecting that. However, Luke’s hot head gets the better of him, and he decides to just march over and destroy the robots, since Diamond had ensured them that they were props. Danny has realized that things are amiss though, and drops Luke to the floor right as one of the death ray blasts would have hit him in the head. And when they see the damage that the ray does to the wall behind them, they realize that things are much worse than they thought they were going to be, and they decide to do the only thing they can do. Run away. Luke and Danny turn tail and run as fast as they can, trying to lose the robots in the backstage of the theater. They end up getting caught in a dead end however, and have to battle the robots a bit. Which is when these squat, trash-can shaped robots that fire death rays begins screeching out the word “Incinerate.” Hmm. This sounds familiar. I just can’t quite put my finger on it…

However, after a bit of fighting they realize that they’re too outnumbered, and decide to continue running. They manage to find a back door to the theater, and book it out into the streets, which are pretty deserted since it’s the middle of the night. But they know they need to find a place to hide, so they begin scoping out the neighborhood and end up finding a little bookstore that appears to be open. So they burst inside, and things start to get downright wacky. Because inside they find a campy British man in an outlandish outfit, who seems to have been expecting both them and the Dreadlox, and tells them that his name is Professor Gamble. Oh, and he also has knowledge of time travel and his bookstore is “bigger on the inside.” Hey, wait a minute.

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Yeah, Luke Cage and Iron Fist just ran into Doctor Goddamn Who. Oh, and that play that Diamond is in that started the whole thing? Well, it’s based on this guy. But the Heroes for Hire didn’t just meet a fictional character, no, this is far more complicated. Apparently Professor Gamble is an actual time traveling adventurer who fights the villainous race of robots known as the Dreadlox. He wrote a play about himself and delivered it to the 1980’s, I guess on a lark. However, this ended up drawing the attention of the Dreadlox, giving them a perfect place to hide, since there would be props for them to impersonate. I really don’t understand what the Dreadlox plan exactly is, but they’re currently stuck in 1982, and they need some of Professor Gamble’s technology to escape. So they’ve been kidnapping random people at the theater in order to force him into trading the hostages for his technology.

I think. Listen, this issue gets super complicated around this point, but I do know that Professor Gamble has created some sort of device that will send the Dreadlox back to their own time, they just need to get it to their time machine, which should be inside the theater. So, Luke heroically volunteers Iron Fist to use his ninjitsu skills to sneak into the theater and get them a way in. Danny then does just that, gets into the theater, and uses his Iron Fist to punch down a wall, letting Luke and Gamble get in with the device.Luke and Danny hold off the Dreadlox, destroying as many as they can, while Gamble sets his device up and activates it, throwing the Dreadlox through time, and out of their hair. At which point Gamble promptly vanishes as well, along with that bookstore he’s been working out of. Just in time for Diamond and the police to show up, giving Luke and Danny no evidence of what the hell they just went through.

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I love this issue so goddamn much. I had heard about it, vaguely, over the years, and was thrilled to check it out. However, when I had heard of it I had only known the fact that Luke and Danny beat up knock-off Daleks. I had no idea that they straight up meet Doctor Who, go into his TARDIS, and then battle Daleks. That’s ridiculous. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t belong in this world. The Marvel universe has races of evil robots, and it has time travel, so why shouldn’t this plot happen? The Avengers deal with Kang all the time, so it stands to reason that a straight up Time Lord could show up. I love Luke Cage, I love Danny Rand, and I love Doctor Who, so of course this issue was a complete winner in my eyes. We had some solid Danny and Luke friendship stuff, some fun action, and all the insane Doctor Who stuff. I mean, this issue posits that in the Marvel universe they were able to sustain a Doctor Who play on Broadway starring a well-known Hollywood actor, which is absolutely amazing.

Power Man and Iron Fist #79 was written by Mary Jo Duffy, penciled by Kerry Gammill, inked by Ricardo Villamonte, lettered by Jim Novak, and colored by Christie Steele, 1982.

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Marvel Madness

That Time the Green Goblin Ruined A Spider-Man Movie

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I recently came across an issue of Detective Comics in my Bat Signal series that features Batman participating in a movie based on himself. And that issue got me thinking about the fact that there are a surprising amount of comic books about superheroes being involved in movies about themselves. Spider-Man has two that I can think of off the top of my head. And that inspired me to check out my favorite of those two Spider-Man stories, which also happens to be the first encounter between our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and one of his arch enemies, the Green Goblin. And no, this article isn’t about the Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Green Goblin has ruined multiple Spider-Man movies, both in our reality and that of the House of Ideas. So sit back and relax for an absolutely insane early Spider-Man comic that features movies, the Green Goblin, the Enforcers, and the Incredible Hulk! How did they manage to cram all of that nonsense into one issue? Let’s find out!

The issue begins with Stan Lee speaking directly to the reader, and explaining that he knows no one cares about context, and they just want to get straight to the villain of the month. In this case we get to see the mysterious Green Goblin working in his laboratory, already in his mask, getting his bag of tricks prepared. This is the Green Goblin’s first appearance in the comics, so we don’t know his identity, and we also see that he wasn’t really created fully formed. This is primarily demonstrated by the fact that he doesn’t have his glider yet, and instead is riding around on a rocket-powered broomstick, which is kind of better than the glider if I have to be honest. Anyway, the issue continues it’s promise of focusing on the villain by having the Goblin blast out of his lab and reach the secret hideout of the Enforcers to have a meeting with them. And, in case you don’t know who the Enforcers are, they’re great. It’s a group of normal human thugs who exist to be beaten by Spider-Man, and that’s comprised of Ox, a big, strong, dumb guy, Montana, a cowboy who is good at lassos, and Fancy Dan, a little man who is skilled at knives and judo. Goblin explains that he has a plan to defeat Spider-Man once and for all, and that he needs the Enforcer’s help. And what is that plan? Well…

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Yeah, so the Green Goblin has just flown himself to a movie studio called Cosmos Productions and hopped right into the window of the owner, B.J. Cosmos. Turns out that Cosmos is in desperate need for a new hit movie, and the Green Goblin arrives to tell him that he has a plan to get Spider-Man himself into a film. Goblin lays out the idea of a movie with himself and the real Spider-Man as actors, providing actual superhuman stunts for the masses. Cosmos loves this idea and says that he’ll produce the movie if Goblin can convince Spider-Man to play himself in the movie. So, with the first stage of the complete, the Green Goblin moves on to the next stage. Namely, flying around New York aimlessly until he gets the attention of Spider-Man. Which happens pretty quickly, because Peter Parker is hanging around his school, dealing with teenage relationship drama, when someone holding a giant transistor radio overhears the appearance of a weird green guy on a rocket broom, and Peter decides he should maybe check in on that.

So Peter suits up and swings into Manhattan to find the Green Goblin. Which doesn’t take much time, because it’s kind of hard to miss a crazy dude on a flying broomstick. Spider-Man then just tackles the Green Goblin, assuming he’s up to no good, when Goblin explains what’s up. He tells Spider-Man about the movie idea, and promises him a lot of money. Spider-Man is a little wary about this deal, but he’s always in need of money, so he swings over to the hotel that Cosmos is staying in. Spider-Man then pops into the hotel room, and the two come up with a deal to make “The Spider-Man Story” with the Green Goblin for $50,000. And Peter is down with that. So after ensuring that he’ll never have to reveal his identity and won’t have to do any press junkets, Spider-Man signs the contract and heads home to get ready for a little vacation.

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Peter next heads over to the Daily Bugle, desperate to find a way to get to Los Angeles so they can film the movie. And luckily for him the news of the movie has broken, and J Jonah Jameson is willing to send Peter to the filming in the hopes of getting some nice behind the scenes pictures of Spider-Man. So that’s taken care of. We also have to have Peter deal with Betty Brant being jealous of him being near other women, but we can just glide right past that and into the next challenge. Aunt May. She’s not keen on Peter travelling across the country by himself, but he manages to talk her into it and heads straight to Los Angeles where they’re getting ready to start filming the movie. Spider-Man is a little curious about the fact that they seemed to find perfect actors to play the Enforcers, but he just breezes past that and gets ready to start filming. Which means that they promptly pack up and drive to New Mexico. Sounds about right.

So Spider-Man and the other “actors” are hanging around set while things are being set up, when the Green Goblin approaches him and offers to go practice the scene. Spider-Man agrees to this proposition, and the group head off into the desert. This proves to be a bad plan when Ox just punches Spider-Man right in the head, almost knocking him out. This is when Spider-Man realizes that these are the real Enforcers, and that things aren’t exactly on the level. So Spider-Man begins fighting the Enforcers, dodging Ox’s punches, Montana’s lassos, and Fancy Dan’s powerful little body, all while Green Goblin just flies around above them, mocking Spider-Man. The Enforcers continue to whale on Spider-Man, eventually tying him up with Montana’s lasso so that they can pull his mask off. Spider-Man isn’t down with this plan though, and he summons all of his strength to knock the Enforcers off him, and begins swinging around some webs to summon up a dust storm to disappear in. At which point Spider-Man tries to escape, and runs into a random cave in the desert. Which is where things really start to get weird.

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Yep, the Goblin and the Enforcers have come into the cave as well, and have rolled a giant boulder over the opening, trapping everyone inside. Spider-Man then realizes that things are about to get wild, and decides to just say ‘screw it’ and goes full Arkham Asylum. Spider-Man begins creeping around in the shadowy cave, getting the drop on the Enforcers and taking them out, one by one, as he webs them to the ceiling. Spider-Man is able to take Montana and Fancy Dan out of the equation, until Goblin and Ox realize what’s going on and fight back. Spider-Man is able get Goblin to fly into a small little pocket of the cave, and webs it completely up, leaving him with just Ox while the Goblin tries to burn his way through the webbing. And, left on his own, Ox isn’t that competent of a foe, so Spider-Man is quickly able to knock him out. Which is right when Goblin frees himself, and makes things get even more insane. Because he just starts lobbing around concussion grenades, causing a whole new cavern of the cave to open up, and reveal out guest star. The Incredible Hulk.

Turns out that the Hulk has been hiding from humanity in these caves, and he’s just been dragged into a fight with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. The Hulk just comes lumbering into the cave, ready to start smashing Spider-Man, which is when Goblin decides to hang back for a bit and just watch the show. Which isn’t going great for Spider-Man. He’s just kind of leaping around, trying to stay one step ahead of the Hulk, who is just pulverizing everything in sight. Hulk smashes through the entire cave, ripping through webbing and just getting closer and closer to Spider-Man. All until Spider-Man decides to give violence a shot, and throws everything he has into one gigantic punch to Hulk’s head.

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Which does precisely nothing. Well, except for practically breaking Peter’s hand. He did accomplish that. Oh, and pissing the Hulk off even more, if that’s possible. So Hulk is furious, and just starts swinging at Spider-Man again, trying to smush him like a bug. Which is when Spider-Man decides he needs a change of strategy, and figures out a way to escape the cave. Namely, lure the Hulk closer to that giant boulder that’s trapping them all in the cave, and get him to break it. Which he accomplishes by standing in front of the rock and waiting for Hulk to swing a massive punch, ducking out of the way at the last second. The Hulk’s mighty blow shatters the boulder like it’s made of glass, and there’s suddenly a way out of the cave.

Which the Green Goblin promptly uses. He realizes that things have gone competently pear-shaped, and decides to cut his loses by booking it out of the cave to freedom. Spider-Man sees the Goblin trying to flee, and chases after him, trying to hold him accountable for his crimes. Goblin and Spider-Man grapple a little bit, but the fight with the Hulk has really taken it out of Spider-Man, and he ends up letting Goblin get away, while he falls into some stagnant water. The Hulk then stomps over, still trying to kill Spider-Man, but apparently super-powerful lungs are one of the proportional powers of a spider, so Peter’s able to stay submerged until the Hulk wanders off to find the Enforcers and kill them. Peter momentarily considers just leaving at that point, but he’s a goddamn hero, so he doubles back and saves the Enforcers from the Hulk’s wrath, bringing the three unconscious thugs out of the cave and into the waiting arms of the military. He then heads back to Los Angeles where he learns that B.J. Cosmos has reneged on their deal, and is scrapping “the Spider-Man Story” in favor of what sounds like a Busby Berkely musical about the Hulk, which sounds delightful. So the whole trip was a waste, Peter isn’t getting any money from it, and he gets to ride a Greyhound bus back to New York, because Peter Parker’s life is terrible.

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I’m going to be honest with you folks, I’ve been rereading the original run of the Amazing Spider-Man, and basically every issue could be written up on the site. They’re all just so delightfully insane. Peter Parker is basically Charlie Brown, if something bad could happen to him, it will. Which feels like it should get demoralizing, like Peanuts, but there’s something inspiring about seeing Peter Parker rise above all of the horrible things that happen to him, and continue to strive to be a hero. And this issue is actually a good example of that. He gets stranded in Los Angeles because he god scammed into participating in a fake movie, and he just takes it in stride, finding ways to spin it into a good thing for Aunt May. He even goes out of his way to help save the Enforcers, who have continually tried to kill him. That’s pretty great. Plus, this issue is insanely fun. I mean, who would have guessed that the introduction of the Green Goblin, the character that will probably most influence Peter Parker’s life, was such a goofy little story? I’m not even sure why he needed to do the fake movie thing. Because really it seemed like he put together a big budget movie just to get Spider-Man away from the city? All that happens is the Goblin and the Enforcers jump him, they couldn’t have just done that in New York? Oh well, I guess we don’t have to understand why supervillains do the the things they do. That Norman Osborn, always up to something.

The Amazing Spider-Man #14 was written by Stan Lee (the poor man’s Shakespere), pencilled by Steve Ditko (the poor man’s Da Vinci), and lettered by Art Simek (the poor man’s rich man), 1964.

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Marvel Madness

That Time the X-Men Got In a Drunken Bar Brawl

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If these Marvel Madness posts I do had a patron saint, it would obviously be my main man Doctor Victor Von Doom. But if anyone was coming in second I would have to say that it had to be Cain Marko, the Juggernaut. His inclusion in a story isn’t as sure-fire a sign of goofy quality as Doom is, but if you learn that Juggernaut is going to be making an appearance in a book, it’s probably going to be pretty fun. Which I guess makes sense, the dude’s an all-powerful doofus whose main ability is just being stubborn and being able to never be stopped. He’s just a big old lummox that the heroes of the Marvel universe have to occasionally come across and try to avoid more than anything else. So what better way to start off 2017’s batch of Marvel Madness stories than one where Wolverine gets Juggernaut to beat the bajesus out of Colossus  in a seedy bar, just to teach Colossus a lesson? None that I can think of, unless there’s also a story floating around out there where Dr. Doom gets in a bar fight, which would be pretty spectacular.

Now, before we get into the plot, there’s a little context that needs to be given, because while this issue is pretty self-contained, it’s a direct effect of the original Secret Wars event. In case you have never read the original Secret Wars before, do yourself and favor and check it out, because it’s absolute nonsense. The Beyonder basically kidnaps a bunch of heroes and villains, makes a patch-work planet from all sorts of different worlds, and sits back while the heroes and villains punch each other. And one of the dozen plots going on in the even was the introduction of an alien woman named Zsaji whose world got stuck on Battleworld. She has the ability to heal people, but as a side-effect makes them fall in love with her. So after a particularly trying battle, she’s needed to use her abilities to save Peter Rasputin, Colossus. Which means that he falls in love with her, despite being in a fairly committed relationship with Kitty Pride, who didn’t get to come to Battleworld. Zsaji ends up dying on Battleworld before the heroes make their way back to Earth, but the effects of her powers still linger, and when Colossus returns to Earth with the rest of the X-Men he finds that he still loves Zsaji, and feels nothing for Kitty Pride anymore. Which is where this issue starts off, with Peter breaking up with his long-term girlfriend on a cliff-side while talking about aliens.

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If you’re concerned at the amount of soap opera drama in those panels, don’t worry, the bar fight is coming, but we need to establish the emotional stakes first. Kitty is obviously crushed that the man she loves has come back from an alien world telling her that they’re through, but Kitty is a strong woman, and acts like it’s all going to be okay. She tries to convince Peter that this is ridiculous, and things can go back to the way they were before, but he remains steadfast and says that their relationship is over. So Kitty just marches away from Peter, and returns to the X-Mansion, where everyone is pretty pissed at Peter. Storm watches Kitty reenter the mansion, and has some thoughts about whooping Peter’s ass for hurting Kitty, but instead goes to chat with Rogue for a while, who has just joined the team.

Meanwhile Kitty goes up to her room in the mansion, which she happens to share with Peter’s sister Ilyana, and she just starts to weep. Which is really going to lead to bad things for Peter. He comes strolling into the mansion, not really seeming that bothered by the events of the last couple minutes, when he’s stopped almost immediately. Wolverine has been waiting in the shadows for him, and as soon as Peter comes into the building he marches up to him and tell him that they’re going to go out drinking. Peter’s not really interested in hanging out with Wolverine, but he doesn’t really get a choice, and the two men head out to Manhattan to drink. Nightcrawler comes along too, and I’m not sure if he’s there to watch Wolverine kick the shit out of Colossus, or to keep him from going to far. But either way, it’s time to go get drunk!

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Storm heads up to Kitty’s room to console her while Wolverine drives Peter and Nightcrawler out to some sketchy bar in the West Village called Monahan’s. The trio sit around, nursing beers while Wolverine starts to get a little aggressive. He sends Peter up to the bar to get another round while Nightcrawler warns Wolverine that he shouldn’t take things too far. Wolverine explains that he plans on teaching Colossus a lesson for hurting Kitty, who he has kind of a fatherly relationship with. And as the night wears on, the two get increasingly aggressive with Peter. They just start calling him an asshole for hurting Kitty while trying to get him to admit that he still loves her, and can make everything be better. But Peter sticks to his guns, and just keeps on insisting that he doesn’t love Kitty anymore, and that it’s none of their business.

Wolverine is really starting to get heated at that point, and is ready to fight. But he’s stopped in his tracks when his acute senses pick up the scent of someone that he knows. He scans the bar and finds some huge guy sitting at the bar, chatting up a lady. The issue tries to keep it a secret for a while, but I spoiled it up top, so let’s just say that the guy is Juggernaut, sans costume. And Wolverine comes up with a plan. He tells Peter that they’re going to leave, and that Peter needs air. So the trio stand up and start making their way outside, when Wolverine pushes Peter into the mysterious man. And the guy is immediately pissed. But, since he’s Juggernaut, he lets his fists do his talking and just throws Peter through a wall. Which is when things really escalate.

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Peter clearly doesn’t recognize this guy’s voice, but he just learned that he has super-strength the hard way, so he figures it’s okay to start wailing on him as Colossus. He runs up to the Juggernaut and just starts whaling on him, while Wolverine just holds back. Nightcrawler is baffled at what’s going on, and tries to come help Peter, but Wolverine holds him back, explaining that this is exactly what he had wanted to happen. Colossus starts getting the crap kicked out of him, while Juggernaut starts to vent. Because he hasn’t been having a good week. It turns out that this story is  set right after that Amazing Spider-Man story that I’ve already talked about before that ends with Juggernaut getting encased in a skyscraper’s foundation worth of cement. Juggernaut has apparently gotten out of that cement tomb, and was just looking for a little rest and relaxation when this X-Man suddenly jumped him, and he’s pretty pissed.

Juggernaut starts kicking the crap out of Colossus, who is really not up to dealing with this guy on his lonesome. Which is exactly what Wolverine was hoping. Juggernaut just starts ripping the bar apart, pummeling the holy hell out of Colossus with everything he’s got. And, to his credit, Colossus is hanging in the fight, getting scrappy and trying everything he can to defeat Juggernaut. But it’s not really a fair fight, and Juggernaut just continues to wipe the floor with Colossus, just smashing the hell out of the bar until everyone else in it flees for their lives. Which is when Juggernaut just says ‘screw it’ and brings the entire building down on Peter, knocking him out. Juggernaut climbs out of the wreckage of the bar, not really sure what the hell just happened, and finds Wolverine and Nightcrawler waiting for him. He assumes they’re going to want to fight too, but Wolverine explains that they’re cool, and he just wanted Colossus to get beat up. Juggernaut is cool with this, and even gives Wolverine a stack of money to give to the owner of the bar to get it rebuilt, and then heads off into the night, presumably to find Black Tom Cassidy to hang out with. And once he’s gone Wolverine and Nightcrawler pull Peter out of the rubble, and explain that this is what he deserved for being such an asshole. They then leave Peter sitting in the rubble to ruminate on this while they head back to the X-Mansion, their goal fulfilled.

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This issue is a whole lot of fun. I’m not really the world’s biggest Wolverine fan,  but I do like that the guys is so incredibly loyal to the people that he cares about. He loves Kitty Pride so goddamn much, and when her boyfriend dumps her he decides to be an overprotective big brother, and get that boy’s ass kicked. Even though the boy in question is a teammate of his who has super-strength and metal skin. But that doesn’t matter, he still needs an ass-kicking. And I love that that is accomplished by using the Juggernaut as a weapon. Which is what I really love about this issue. I adore the Juggernaut, and this issue is just so amazing when you think about it from his perspective. He’s just clawed his way out of a cement tomb after fighting with Spider-Man, and now he’s just going to a bar to relax and forget such a horrible ordeal. He’s minding his own business, flirting with a lady, when suddenly an X-Man comes out of nowhere and starts a fight with him. Juggernaut has no idea what’s going on, gets dragged into a huge fight, and then is told by another X-Man that this was all planned, and that he played his part well. Here he is, just minding his own business, when he sudden finds himself in a super-powered bar brawl. Poor dude. Hopefully him and Black Tom can go have a nice time together and forget this bullshit without Luke Cage or someone showing up and beating him up.

Uncanny X-Men #183, “He’ll Never Make Me Cry” was written by Chris Claremont, penciled by John Romita, Jr and Dan Green, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, and colored by Glynis Wein, 1984.

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…what?

Marvel Madness

That Time Ultron Became Santa Claus

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Merry Christmas everyone! I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Christmas, and while I’m typically more of a Grinch than anything else, I wasn’t for a second going to pass up the opportunity to give you another weird and wacky Marvel story that fit in with the holidays. Because, oddly enough, Marvel kind of loves weird holiday stories. Which does kind of raise an issue with this installment of Marvel Madness. Typically I find stories that are either unintentionally weird or ones that are completely awesome. I usually try to stay away from stories that are purposefully weird and goofy, because that seems like kind of a cheat. So for a while I thought that I shouldn’t count any of the stories from Marvel’s many Marvel Holiday Special books, because they’re meant to be light-hearted and goofy. But, then I decided that that rule is stupid, and I’ve already talked about a storyline where Captain Britain and MI13 wage war with Dracula and his army of moon vampires, so I think anything’s fair game. Plus, why in the world would I not want to talk about a story where an Ultron who thinks it’s Santa crashes an Avengers Christmas party to start some shit? That’s some good comics right there.

The story starts off with a brief prologue where we see a young woman in a rundown apartment building some sort of robotic Santa, and telling herself that this will be the solution to all of her problems. And with that odd little opener taken care of we switch gears and check out Spider-Man, who is busy trying to get to the Avengers Christmas party on time, which is being held at Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. He gets there just in time to see Mary Jane flirting with Iron Man, Captain America, and Wolverine. And the party is in full-swing. We see some lame hero called Gravity trying to get into the door and being rejected by Wong, we see MJ fawning over Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ baby Dani, and we see Jarvis trying to polish some artifact that’s about to release a demon. You know, just a typical office party. But while everyone is having a merry old time we cut back to that girl from the beginning. She’s finished up her robotic Santa, given it a flying sled complete with holographic reindeer, and has programmed it to fulfill the role of Santa Claus, hoping that it’s mission will help children all around the city believe in Santa. But, a slight defect becomes apparent when the Santa leaves the apartment. Something that maybe should have been spotted in beta testing.

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Yeah, that’s going to be a problem. But before we get to the chaos that evil Santa is sure to bring, we go back to the Avengers Christmas party where shenanigans are afoot. Iron Man is trying to get a kiss from Spider-Woman by using some mistletoe, Jarvis is still not letting Gravity in, and Doctor Strange is forcing some sort of carnivorous plant from another dimension to look like a Christmas tree to make things more festive. And while all of these frivolousness are going on we see that Santa is continuing his mission. He heads to the old Avengers Mansion, hoping to find the Avengers. Unfortunately the Mansion is still destroyed at this point in time, so it has to fly off and find a new clue to get him on the right track. Which he does after figuring out how to track Iron Man’s armor and zapping some hoodlums that it labels as “naughty.” So it’s off to the Christmas Party!

Which is still going strong and getting goofier by the minute. Luke Cage finally lets Gravity come into the party, She-Hulk is wrestling with the carnivorous tree while trying to decorate it, and Captain America snags a kiss from Spider-Woman, who has somehow found herself under the mistletoe again. Which seems weird, until we learn that the reason is that Iron Man has hooked up some sort of hovering mistletoe to follow her around so everyone can get a kiss, which is ridiculously creepy. But Spider-Woman doesn’t really get a good chance at revenge, because right as she learns the truth about the wanton kissing, they get a sudden visitor, sliding down the chimney. Yep, it’s jolly old St. Nick, and he’s unhappy. His programming scans the Avengers, labels them naughty, double checks his list, and gets ready to destroy them. There’s a brief moment where it looks like Gravity is going to save the day, since Santa wasn’t targeting him as an Avenger, but he still gets knocked down and it’s up to Wolverine to slash Santa up, revealing something that might have been shocking if you hadn’t seen the title of this article.

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Yep, an Ultron unit that thinks it’s Santa has shown up to wreck house at the Sanctum Sanctorum. And it’s probably what the Avengers were least expecting, so they’re thrown pretty off guard. Ultron begins kicking ass, and while the heavy-hitter Avengers begin pounding Ultron with everything they’ve got, Spider-Man decides that a more strategic approach is necessary. He quickly grabs Hank Pym and the two start to brain storm. He realizes that this is an Ultron-6 model, and that it should be susceptible to an electromagnetic pulse, they’d just have to make one and get it close enough to it to trigger. And Spider-Man just so happens to have that hovering mistletoe from earlier, which they figure they can rig into an EMP. But that doesn’t solve the mystery of how they’re going to get it past Ultron’s force field.

But, Spider-Man has an even goofier plan to solve that riddle. Because he’s noticed that Ultron seems to actually believe it’s Santa Claus, it’s not just wearing a disguise. And, even more than that, he recognizes that Ultron has some sort of programming that’s making it act like Santa Claus. Therefore he figures that if he can get his hands on some cookies, stick the EMP in the cookie, and give it to Ultron it’s Santa Claus protocols will over-ride the Ultron ones, and it’ll eat the cookie. Which is exactly what happens. Ultron eats the cookie, is destroyed, and the Avengers get to work figuring out what the hell just happened. Pym is able to check the android’s memory banks, and discovers the history of the girl from the beginning. Turns out here name is Virginia Hanlon, and she’s a giften engineer who was frequently mocked as a child because she still believed in Santa Claus. So when she found the destroyed shell of an Ultron after one of it’s battles against the Avengers, she took it home and began programming it to become a real Santa so no one else would ever have to feel the shame she did. And, once that’s established, the Avengers decide to pay her a visit. But not to punish her, to be there for her. Because clearly someone who is so lonely and obsessed with Christmas that they’d turn an Ultron into Santa needs some friends. So the Avengers spend Christmas with Virginia, and Captain America even gives her a ridiculous and inspirational speech.

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Yeah, this isn’t exactly the most serious issue of comics I’ve ever read, but it’s a hell of a good time. The premise alone is worth the price of admission, and follows in the footsteps of several other stories where famous villains get to dress like Santa. Just like that time Doctor Doom dressed like Santa (yeah, I’ll get to that one some other time). Seeing the Avengers beat up an evil robot that’s dressed as Santa is going to be fun no matter what, but we also get the joy of seeing the Avengers Christmas Party, which is a lot more fun than their Thanksgiving dinner. Although I will say that the whole mistletoe thing was profoundly creepy. But despite that it was still just a really fun comic, with some great characters, some terrific art, and a really fun tone. I’m always a fan of seeing superheroes being a little dressed down and just having fun, and there was plenty of that in this issue. So I suppose you come for the Santa/Ultron and stay for the superhero mirth. Works for me.

“Yes Virginia, There is a Santron” was written by Jeff Parker, penciled by Reilly Brown, inked by Pat Davidson, lettered by Dan Lanphear, and colored by Christina Strain, 2005.

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Marvel Madness

That Time Dr. Doom Botched a Simple Kidnapping

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Oh man, I just realized I haven’t talked about Doctor Doom in almost two whole months! I’m starting to get the shakes! And there’s only one way to remedy that my friends. That’s right, diving deep into the Marvel back-issues to find some classic nonsense. We’re going all the way back to Spider-Man’s fifth issue today to discuss some true Silver-Age weirdness folks. Because if there’s one thing that I like more than Doctor Doom stories, it’s stories where Doctor Doom is dealing with people other than the Fantastic Four. Don’t worry, I’ve found quite a few goofy Fantastic Four stories that I’ll be getting to sooner rather than later, but there’s just something special about seeing Doom interact with the other heroes of the Marvel Universe. Because the man is like bacon, he makes everything better if he’s included. Doesn’t matter if you have a story of cosmic importance or one about stiffing Luke Cage 200 bucks, he works perfectly. And I’ve talked about Doom fighting the X-Men, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Doctor Strange, so I think it’s high-time to let him deal with the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. After all, just like the cover says, it had to happen sooner or later.

The story starts off in one of the most common places for a Spider-Man story, with J Jonah Jameson complaining about him. Jonah has apparently bought himself some air-time to rail against Spider-Man and tell the town how much he hates him and why. And the children of Peter Parker’s high-school are not pleased. They’re all gathered around a store-front watching the news (weird, that happened in Bat Signal yesterday too) and everyone is pissed, especially Flash Thompson who is a huge fan of Spider-Man. Which really amuses Peter, who decides to keep his classmates off  his trail by telling them that he agrees with Jameson, which does him no favors in the friendship department. But it’s not just children watching the broadcast, there’s a certain Dictator of Latveria checking it out as well. And Doom is finding it very enlightening. In fact, Jameson makes Spider-Man seem like such a menace and monster that Doom decides he could easily convince him to join his eternal war against the Fantastic Four. His only problem is that he needs to contact Spider-Man. Which, actually, turns out to not be a problem, because Doom has rigged up some insane communication device that essentially comprises of a radio and a captured spider. I’ll let Doom explain it.

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Oh, never mind. Doom doesn’t really explain this process at all. But, shockingly, it works like a charm, so while Peter is hanging out in his web-slinging he suddenly gets bombarded by Doctor Doom’s invitation. And not one to be rude, Peter puts on his costume and begins swinging around town to find its source. Which turns out to be a nondescript warehouse outside of the city. But Spider-Man is pretty suspicious of the whole situation, so he peeps into the windows before entering, and is shocked to find Doom himself hanging out inside. So Spider-Man slips into the building and catches Doom by surprise, demanding to know why he tried to contact him. Which is when Doom decides to give him his sales pitch. And honestly? It’s not that terrible. He basically points out that no one likes Spider-Man, and that he’s an outcast, just like Doom, and that outcasts need to stick together.

Unfortunately for Doom Peter is a good person, so he quickly rejects Doom’s plan, and wraps him up with webbing so he can take him to the authorities. Which doesn’t really work out that well, because it turns out Peter has fallen for the oldest trick in the book. The old Doom-Bot switcheroo! Yep, Doom was actually talking to Peter through a Doom-Bot, and now that Peter has refused him he stops messing around and just starts trying to defeat Spider-Man. He tries to drop him into a pit and then just starts blasting him with his energy gauntlets, which causes Spider-Man to peace the hell out of there and jump out of a window, swimming away. The Amazing Spider-Man!

Anyway, Spider-Man bails out of the building and into the river, and after that he decides to head back in and deal with Doom. But when he climbs back up onto the dock he’s shocked when the warehouse explodes. Doom is really good at covering his tracks. So, left with no other alternatives Peter gives up, takes some photos of the explosion, and heads to the Daily Bugle to sell them to Jonah and profit off of his failure. Jonah heckles Peter a bit about not giving him pictures of Spider-Man, the usual, but does pay him for the explosion photos. After all, Spider-Man is a menace. Which is where we get to another important plot point. A huge prank. Because after Peter’s buzzkill attitude towards Spider-Man at the beginning of the issue the other kids decide that he doesn’t like Spider-Man because he’s scared of him. Which obviously means that the girls have to sew together a Spider-Man costume for Flash to wear and scare Peter in.

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I wonder where this is going! Anyway, Flash gets into the costume and gets into position, ready to jump around a fence and scare Peter. But he’s picked the worst possible time, because as they’re getting ready to scare the crap out of Peter Parker, Doctor Doom is planning his own revenge. Since Spider-Man wouldn’t willingly help him, he decides he should kidnap Spider-Man, learn his identity, and make his life hell. So Doom whips up a device that can track Spider-Man’s spider-sense like a Geiger counter (just…just go with it) and he sets out to find him. Which just happens to be when the prank is going down. So As Doom flies around the city looking for Spider-Man, Peter is walking down the street that Flash is getting ready to attack him in. Which results in Flash, in costume, standing there when he turns around and is terrified to find Doctor Doom striding right up behind him, blasting him with some knock-out gas.

So Doom grabs who he thinks is Spider-Man, and flies him away to his next base while the rest of the kids are a little confused about why Flash didn’t jump around the fence to scare Peter. And Peter just walks on by, having apparently not noticed Doctor Doom kidnapping one of his classmates, and he heads on home to hang out with Aunt May. And while he’s talking to May something odd happens. Doom breaks into the cities television feeds to give an ultimatum to the Fantastic Four. Apparently his plan is to now blackmail the Fantastic Four’s senses of honor by telling them that if they don’t publicly disband as a team he’s going to kill Spider-Man. This obviously confuses Peter, but almost immediately he gets a call from Liz Allen who tells him the truth about Flash’s prank, and that it’s probably Flash that Doom kidnapped. And after a brief moment of Peter contemplating letting Doom kill Flash, he decides to do the right thing and sneak off to the city to fight Doom. So Spider-Man swings around town until his spider-sense is triggered by Doom’s base, and he sneaks in to reveal that Doom kidnapped the wrong Spider-Person.

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Doom is obviously pretty pissed about being made a fool of, and he takes out that anger by trying to beat the hell out of Spider-Man. But he’s not just going to use physical strength, because Doom has apparently had a whole lot of time to set up this hide-out. Unlike the last one it’s not just a warehouse with a trap-door, no, this time he’s outdone Arcade himself and made a whole goddamn fun-house of tricks to stop Spider-Man. And things start off quickly. Doom begins by trying his blasters again, but this time Spider-Man is ready for him, and quickly builds a little wall of webbing to stop the blasts. So Doom moves on to plan B and opens up a vent above Spider-Man, dropping a bunch of liquid Nitrogen on him. Luckily though it’s webs to the rescue again as Spider-Man builds a quick umbrella to protect himself from the freezing liquid. Which means that it’s time for Doom to get weird, because he then wheels out some crazy gadget that’s basically a high-powered magnet that has several steel balls orbiting around it at high speed. Spider-Man starts getting pummeled by the balls before webbing up the magnet, breaking the gizmo.

Doom gets a little less goofy at that point, and goes to old standbys like flame-jets in the floor and an electrified floor once that doesn’t work. And while the fire doesn’t work, the electricity does. It starts zapping Spider-Man, who is able to deal with the voltage better than a normal person would, but really needs to get it to stop. So, he fires a line of webbing at Doom, which apparently conducts enough electricity to begin shocking Doom as well. So Doom turns off the electricity, and is officially done messing around, and starts playing dirty. He summons another Doom-Bot to grapple with Spider-Man, and also brings in some sort of death ray to blast Spider-Man in the back while he’s dealing with the robot. But he’s still underestimating Spider-Man, who quickly gets a hold of the situation and begins struggling with Doom himself. The two trade blows and start beating the hell out of each other, until Doom hears the distinctive sound of the Fantasticar approaching. And, knowing that he doesn’t stand a chance against the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man combined, he delivers a powerful blow to knock Spider-Man down and runs away. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four have shown up and found Flash imprisoned. They yell at him for impersonating Spider-Man while the real Peter sneaks off. And, in true Spider-Man fashion, the next day Peter goes to school and finds that the whole incident has just made Flash more popular, and he’s become even more derided. C’est la vie.

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In the grand scheme of Doctor Doom stories, this isn’t one of the more crazy ones, but honestly any time that Doctor Victor von Doom shows up is going to be a great time. And I have a particular fond spot for these really early appearance. I’ve been going through the early days of the Fantastic Four lately, and even in his very first appearance the guy is pretty much perfect. True, he’s missing some of the aspects that make him the guy I love so much today, but he’s still incredibly solid. I don’t believe Doom is the leader of Latveria yet, and his magic hasn’t really taken a big role, but he’s still a crazy super-genius who attacks heroes for his own weird reasons, and that’s kind of all I need. Plus, we get a fun and foundational Spider-Man story to boot. We get to see Peter do what he does best, putting his own personal gain aside to help people who don’t even like him. He battles one of the most well-known and powerful supervillains in existence to save one of the biggest thorns in his side besides J Jonah Jameson. Because that’s just the type of guy Peter Parker is. A hero.

the Amazing Spider-Man was written by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, written and inked by Steve Ditko, and lettered by Sam Rosen, 1963.

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Marvel Madness

That Time the Avengers Had the Most Awkward Thanksgiving Ever

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Typically when I write these Marvel Madness posts I find the stories two different ways. Most of the time I just stumble upon them while I’m making my way through different runs. I’m simultaneously going through the classic runs of Fantastic Four, Uncanny X-Men, the Avengers, the Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, and Thor, trying to find crazy stories from the Silver and Bronze Ages that catch my fancy. And it’s usually not to hard to find something crazy. I mean, just finding an issue with Doctor Doom on the cover is usually a pretty good indicator that things are going to be goofy. But there’s a second way that I find stories, and that’s when I actively try to find a thematic story. That’s usually around the holidays. When it was St. Patrick’s day I tracked down that X-Men story with the leprechauns, when it was Halloween I specifically tried to find a story with Dracula or some other monster in it, and I’ve found a whole mess of ridiculous Christmas stories to check out in a month. But when I was thinking about a new Marvel Madness to do, I decided to roll the dice and see if there was a Thanksgiving story floating somewhere out there. I figured there maybe was some crazy story where Captain America went back in time and met Pilgrims or something. And while there may be one of those out there that I couldn’t find, I did find something else. Because much to my surprise I was able to find a story from the short-lived The Vision and the Scarlet Witch series that revolved around the Avengers getting together and having an incredibly awkward and tense Thanksgiving. And if there’s anything more quintessentially “Thanksgiving” than turkey, it’s awkward encounters with family. So let’s check out what could possibly be awkward about a fancy meal hosted by an occasionally insane and super-powerful witch and her robotic husband!

Right off the bat I’ll admit that I don’t have a whole lot of context for what’s going on in this issue. I’ve never read any of the other the Vision and the Scarlet Witch issues and I haven’t reached this period of time in the regular Avengers book either. But I’m aware of the fact that the Scarlet Witch, the reformed villain and perennial member of the Avengers did fall in love with the Vision, the android that Ultron created to infiltrate and destroy the Avengers. And I guess this was a series that was just about their relationship. But I suppose none of that is really important, what is important is that this issue opens up with the Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver arriving at the house with his wife Crystal, a member of the Inhumans, and their son. And apparently this happy couple is living with the Inhumans on the moon, because they arrive by way of spaceship. And things are just starting. Quicksilver and Crystal are met at the door by Vision and are brought into the family room where they begin hanging out with the other guests. And it’s here that I first started to be amused by this issue, because for some reason these friends are getting together to celebrate and enjoy a meal together while all wearing their costumes and referring to each other by their superhero names. I guess they can’t let their hair down for one night.

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So Quicksilver, Crystal, and their baby Luna come into the house and begin spending time with the other guests. We have Captain America, Namor, the Wasp, Doctor Strange (who is acting as Scarlet Witch’s obstetrician, because she’s still pregnant with magic babies at this point), the guy that sold Vision and Scarlet Witch their house for some reason, a local stage-magician and his partner who I suppose are friends with the couple, and probably most hilariously, Martha Williams, the mother of Simon Williams aka Wonder Man, the man that Ultron used as the basis for Vision. I guess they’ve decided that this isn’t creepy, and Martha acts like she’s related to Vision, which is super odd. So the various attendees begin mingling and catching up, telling stories and trying to act natural while wearing ridiculous costumes. But all of this is ground to a halt when the next guest come in.

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That’s right! Magneto’s here! In case you don’t know, or if you’re more familiar with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from the MCU films, Magneto is their father in the comics. Or is he? I don’t follow the X-Men that well, and I think that that’s been changed in recent years, but at the point that this story was written that was true. Magneto had previously worked with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver when they were members of his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants terrorist group, but at that point they didn’t know they were related. When that information came out the siblings fled Magneto and reformed, becoming Avengers. So that would be awkward enough, but now we get to see a Thanksgiving dinner where a bunch of heroes have to play nice with a straight-up supervillain. And they are not pleased.

It seems like no one was informed that Magneto was going to be showing up, and everyone seems really creeped out by his presence. Even Crystal, who is trying to keep her child away from her grandfather. Vision seems okay with everything though, and makes awkward chit-chat with his father-in-law while everyone else keeps their distance, and while Quicksilver bring Wanda into the kitchen to politely ask her what the hell is going on. They head into the kitchen and immediately begin arguing while Wanda insists that he should be there because he’s their father, while Pietro makes the logical point that the fact that Magneto brainwashed them into being terrorists probably outweighs the fact that he’s their father. The two continue to bicker for a while as we cut out to the living room and see that Captain America, Namor, and Vision are bonding over the fact that they’re the original Invaders, since Vision’s body is technically made from the original Human Torch’s. But it’s not all fun stories, because basically everyone else is being awkward as hell. The Wasp seems to be a little drunk and is talking about her recent divorce from Hank Pym and how they never had kids together, Crystal is talking about how Pietro isn’t being the most attentive husband, and the weird magicians are trying to make conversation with Magneto while not bringing up his hatred of humanity. But that’s all brushed aside when Wanda announces that dinner is ready and they all sit down for their meal.

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Everyone starts to eat, but apparently not talk, because all we see is everyone sitting there staring at Magneto while thinking about all the horrible things he’s done. They all eat their dinner in silence, and when it’s over people start to escape the awkwardness. Cap, Namor, Wasp, and Doctor Strange slip out first, claiming that they have superhero stuff to deal with. Then Martha Williams and Crystal say that they’ll help Wanda clean up when they’re stopped by Magneto, who demands a word alone with his daughter. The two head into the kitchen and Magneto begins to open up. He apologizes for being such a shitty dad, but then in the same breath starts ranting about how he’s in the right and how humans suck. Which isn’t exactly a great apology, and Wanda calls him out on it, telling Magneto that she’ll never approve of what he believes. The two squabble for a bit longer until Magneto can’t take it any more and leaves in a huff.

The stragglers are all hanging out in the family room again, having a good time, while Magneto walks past them and storms out of the house. He begins flying away, fuming, when he notices something odd, and returns to the house. He walks back into the house and asks Vision and Quicksilver to follow him. They seem a little confused at first, and that just gets worse when Magneto starts explaining that he need their help to keep everyone safe from a threat. And what threat might that be?

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Sure! The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are there, ready to fight everyone at the dinner. Despite the fact that this Brotherhood seems to feature Magneto and Quicksilver, both of whom are standing right there. Everyone seems pretty confused about this turn of events, until it becomes clear that these impostors also have the powers of the Brotherhood, at which point the three men stop wondering what’s going on and just start fighting. Quicksilver begins racing around with his replica while Magneto spars with his, throwing shovels at each other. But when it becomes clear that two speedsters just running around punching each other isn’t working, Vision decides to cut in and starts fighting the Quicksilver replica, using his abilities to shift his density to catch the replica off guard and knock him out.

And once the Quicksilver replica is taken care of, the real Pietro turns his attentions to Mastermind, who quickly defeats Pietro by crippling him with hallucinations. Magneto tries to help his son, but he too gets drawn into Mastermind’s hallucinations. Luckily Vision isn’t affected by the hallucinations though, and he tries to free his two family members when he’s attacked by Toad. This spurs a memory in Vision though, and he grabs Toad in a headlock, and tells Magneto to use his powers to mess with the iron in Toad’s blood. And when Magneto does this, all of the replica’s drop down dead. Apparently Toad was the brains behind this operation, and he was using some weird technology that had been introduced in a previous Avengers story to create replicas of his old team. They stand a round mocking Toad for a while, until a little drone shows up and begins lifting Toad and his replicas up into itself with a tractor beam. Toad starts to gloat until we realize that the Quicksilver he’s with is the real one who has quickly changed his costume. Pietro knocks Toad out again, defeating the little creep and his replicas. And once that’s taken care of Magneto decides to take Toad and the replicas away, wanting to leave rather than deal with Wanda any more. And once he’s gone Vision and Quicksilver head back into the house and talk with Wanda, returning the issue to a weird sitcom pastiche.

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This was a very silly issue of comics. There was a lot of drama in it, and I get the feeling that his whole series may be a little too much of a soap opera for my taste, but there was still a whole lot to like about it. I’ll never get over the fact that these friends and colleagues all ate a holiday meal together while wearing their silly costumes and calling each other their codenames instead of their actual names. That’s just weird. And all the robot nonsense with Toad in the back half of the issue is fun and completely comes out of nowhere, but I guess they couldn’t just sell an issue of comics that was all family drama. But that’s the stuff that I dug about this issue. Of course something like this would happen! Wanda and Pietro have had a really complicated life, and do have a father who is a legitimate supervillain, so it makes sense that interacting with him now that they’re heroes would be more than a little awkward. And I just love the idea that they tried to look past this and have Magneto come to Thanksgiving with the goddamn Avengers. That’s just such a ridiculous idea, and I love it so much. This would have been the most awkward and uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner of all time, and they just had to all sit there and take it. So I hope you had a less awkward Thanksgiving this year, hopefully you didn’t have to sit with a monster. Unless you had to eat with a relative who voted for Trump, otherwise you may have this story beat.

The Vision and the Scarlet Witch #6 was written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Richard Howell, inked by Frank Springer, and colored by Adam Philips, 1985.

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