Cover Price: $.25

#39
November 1975

Value: $7 (Near Mint-)

 

Supporting Cast:


Guests:
Human Torch


Villains:
Enforcers (Montana, Fancy Dan), 1st Big Man II (Daughter of Original), 1st Crime-Master II (Son of Original), Sandman

"Any Number Can Slay!"- 18 Pages


Writer -
Bill Mantlo
Artist - Sal Buscema
Inker - Mike Esposito
Cover - Ed Hannigan
Lettering - Karen Mantlo
Colorist - Don Warfield
Editor -
Marv Wolfman

When writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko created Spider-Man, they made sure to populate his world with some of the best villains ever imagined. The Lee-Ditko rogues gallery includes such icons of evil as the Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, the Vulture, Kraven the Hunter, the Sandman, Electro, the Scorpion and Mysterio. Those classic villains still resonate with today's audience more than 40 years later. But Lee and Ditko also created their share of Spider-Man villains who, for whatever reason, didn't capture the comic book public's imagination in the same way those aforementioned names did. That doesn't mean these lesser-known early villains aren't good characters, though.

In this two-part Marvel Team-Up story, writer Bill Mantlo brilliantly revives two nearly forgotten villains from Spider-Man's earliest days - the Big Man and the Crime-Master. The Big Man made his debut all the way back in Amazing Spider-Man #10, when he led the Enforcers against the Web-Slinger. The Big Man was revealed to be Frederick Foswell, one of J. Jonah Jameson's reporters at the Daily Bugle. After Jameson helped him out after his release from prison, Foswell died a hero protecting Jameson in Amazing Spider-Man #52. Like the Big Man, the Crime-Master was a masked crime lord with no superhuman powers. He appeared as an ally of the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #26, only to die in the following issue. So how can these two dead criminals return here? Read on, True Believer!

The issue starts with Spider-Man lost in thought on a rooftop. A shadowy figure with a pistol stalks him, thinking, "I've waited years for this, Wall-Crawler - years when all I could think of was paying you back for what you did to me! And pay you will!" However, before the mystery man can pull the trigger, a young boy named Manuel "Mosquito" Arguelles comes out onto the roof to feed his pigeons. It turns out Mosquito is a big fan of Spider-Man and the two strike up a friendly conversation.  The mystery man sees this as his opportunity and opens fire. Spider-Man pushes Mosquito out of the way, but the kid's pet pigeon Pepita is shot and killed. "I-I'm sorry Mosquito. Really sorry," Spider-Man tells the boy. "But that's just not good enough--is it?" It's a nice scene and reminds us that Spidey is a good guy who fights crime because he cares about innocent folks like Mosquito.

However, this is Marvel Team-Up, meaning we need a dance partner for Spider-Man. In this issue, that will be the Human Torch, a frequent guest in these pages. The Torch is riding around in the Fantasti-Car when he is attacked by the Enforcers, also long-time villains from the Lee-Ditko era of Spider-Man (having first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #10). The Enforcers are Fancy Dan, a diminutive karate expert; Ox, a large, strong guy; and Montana, a master of the lariat. At this time, though, the Enforcers are a two-man team, as the original Ox is dead. Fancy Dan and Montana are able to subdue the Human Torch, thanks to an assist from a mystery man who appears to be the same guy who shot at Spidey. He plans to use the Human Torch as bait to lure Spider-Man into a trap: "Soon our revenge will be complete! Before this night is done--both Spider-Man and the Human Torch will be no more!!" Speaking of Spidey, he's swinging around town when he notices what appears to be a gangland meeting at a local warehouse. "Either it's convention time in Little Italy--or they're filming Godfather III," he thinks. But rather than barge in, Spider-Man sticks to the rafters and watches as some of the mobsters carry a casket into the warehouse. The Big Man, along with Montana and Fancy Dan, steps out and announces he has captured the Human Torch. He is offering "The chance to purchase - for whatever purpose you wish - the one and only Human Torch!"

Spider-Man subdues one of the mob members in the crowd and puts on the man's clothes. "How do we know he's the real Human Torch?" Spider-Man, still in disguise, asks. He steps up to examine Human Torch inside the glass-topped casket. "I don't buy nuttin' 'till I examines it," Spidey says, adopting his best Edward G. Robinson accent. "Dis guy looks a little too dumb ta be da real Torch!" It's a bit much to believe that Spider-Man's disguise would fool the entire crowd, even in a dark warehouse, but anyway....Spidey breaks the Torch free. The heroes proceed to clean house on the mob and set their sights squarely on the Big Man. "Foswell repented--went straight in the end! He died a hero, Big Man! And you're dirtying his memory! Mister, you're going to pay for that," Spider-Man tells the Big Man.

But the fight is just beginning. The issue ends with the Crime-Master entering the picture - and he's got the Sandman with him! "But--the Crime-Master's dead! Killed by the police years ago! This is all some kind of nightmare!" Spider-Man says. The Human Torch replies, "Then we better wake up fast, Web-Head--or we might not live to wake up again!"

Next issue: It's a full-scale battle royal with Spider-Man, the Human Torch, the Sons of the Tiger, the Big Man, the Crime-Master, the Enforcers and the Sandman! Whew!

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 4
Significance Rating: 4

Overall Rating:

8

 

Marvel Team-Up #38

Also This Month:

Amazing Spider-Man #150

Marvel Team-Up #40