Cover Price: $.25
Value: $7 (Near Mint-)
"Visions Of Hate!" - 18 Pages
Marvel Team-Up #41, the
Scarlet Witch was possessed by a mysterious, Bible-thumping magic user named
Cotton Mather. If the name sounds familiar, it's because Mather is a real-life
historical figure who was instrumental in persecuting innocent people during the
Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s. Here, Mather has traveled to modern times,
where he abducts the Scarlet Witch from Avengers Mansion by taking over her
mind. She goes to Doctor Doom's castle where Mather transports her back to
Salem, Massachusetts circa 1692 using Dr. Doom's famous time machine.
But before she leaves, she sends a desperate spell back to New York. Spider-Man is the recipient of that spell, which teleports him to Doom's castle. He briefly (and unsuccessfully) battles Mather, but follows Mather and the Scarlet Witch to Colonial Salem. The Vision, the Scarlet Witch's husband and fellow Avenger, also follows them and saves the Scarlet Witch from an execution. At least he he does temporarily, because when this issue starts, an angry mob of Pilgrims, led by Cotton Mather, want to murder the three heroes!
"I've taken all I can stand from this mob!" the Scarlet Witch declares. "They are the same kind of people as those that persecuted my brother (Quicksilver, by the way) for being mutants!" She uses her hex powers to send a cloud of locusts at the mob, which only angers them. The mob attacks and the Vision, still seething for how his wife has been treated, lays into them. Spider-Man doesn't want to see them hurt, but his concern allows the mob to overpower him. A grazing gunshot knocks out the Scarlet Witch and, finally, Mather's own magic powers subdue the Vision. "The fire of God has bound the demon," he says.
They awake in Salem Jail, where they are befriended by a fellow inmate named John Proctor. Proctor explains that gossip between neighbors started the last fall, generally over petty jealousies. Then, a servant woman from Barbados named Tituba came to the village where she practiced her native religion of voodoo. Her practices influenced two young girls in the village, who claimed they had been cursed by other members of the village. Those people were then imprisoned and even executed, in large part because Cotton Mather supported the girls' claims. "The girls cried out on any and all to whom they did take a disliking," Proctor said. He and his wife were among those falsely accused of practicing witchcraft.
Spider-Man breaks free from his shackles and frees his fellow heroes. "Never did like iron costume jewelry," he says, snapping his chains. He then turns his attention to the jailhouse guard, whom he declares "as half-baked as the ones on Gunsmoke!" It doesn't take him long to subdue the startled guard. However, the Scarlet Witch is too injured to be moved. John Proctor and his wife agree to stay behind and care for her while Spider-Man and the Vision go after Cotton Mather. "Yes. Mather is the one I want! The one who ordered Wanda shot!" the Vision says.
They find Mather -- and more than they bargained for. It seems Mather serves a powerful mystic being called the Dark Rider and when they find Mather, he is consulting with his master. The Dark Rider is a large man in a dark coat and Pilgrim-style hat, his face concealed by shadow. He rides a black horse with a black cat on his shoulder. "The noose is tightening. My time is drawing nigh," he says. The Vision bursts forward to attack Mather, despite Spider-Man's encouragement to stay back. He flattens Mather with a powerful punch. But that only draws the attention of the Dark Rider, who says, "You are then in the way and must be disposed of!"
But before he can attack the heroes, they all hear a powerful voice from the woods surrounding Salem. The voice addresses the heroes. The voice belongs to none other than...Doctor Doom! Sal Buscema gives us a fantastic full-page shot of the good doctor to end this story. It seems Doctor Doom has come back in time to thwart the plan of the Dark Rider and Cotton Mather, which he says, may end the earth as we know it.
"He's come! He's come! The avenging angel of the Lord is come at last!" Cotton Mather says when he sees Doom.
"Brother, are you in for a surprise!" Spider-Man informs him.
The ending is particularly strong. The introduction of the Dark Rider and Doctor Doom take what had been a good story up yet another level. It's a great cliffhanger, as we want to see what happens when these two sides battle it out. The only real qualm I have with this issue is that it seems like the three heroes, each of whom is quite powerful, is taken out a bit too quickly by an angry mob of Pilgrims and a single super-villain. I guess it's necessary to the story, but it seems a bit forced. Otherwise, though, this is a good read that sets up the rest of the storyline quite well.
Next issue: The six-part time travel story continues, as Spider-Man joins forces with Doctor Doom!
Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.
Also This Month: