Comics : Marvel Team-Up #4

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Totalistic Team-Ups

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

I have to imagine that this issue was a real treat for X-Men fans, all five of them. "Are you nuts, Scott? The X-Men are the most popular comics around!" some of you must be asking. Well, not in September 1972 they weren't. In their own book the X-Men had been running reprints since their last original story ran in X-Men 66 (March, 1970), and they would continue to do so till 1975. Of course, at that time a certain clawed Canadian joined the team and things went in a different direction, but that's a story for a different web page.

Of course, not all the X-Men in this issue would prosper in the future. After Giant Size X-Men #1 Angel and Iceman left the X-Men to join the Champions. The Champions, in case you blinked and missed their series, was a collection of second-string heroes that were thrown together seemingly with no regard as to whether they'd be an interesting team. After 17 issues they were gone. Considering the relative success of the new X-Men and the Champions, I'd say that Angel and Iceman are tied for the title of "David Caruso of Super-Heroes".

In Detail...

"And Then - The X-Men!"
Marvel Team-Up #4
Sep 1972 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man & X-Men (vs. Morbius)
Editor:  Roy Thomas
Writer:  Gerry Conway
Pencils:  Gil Kane
Inker:  Frank Giacoia, John Romita, Sr., Steve Mitchell
Cover Art:  Gil Kane
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 Reprinted In: Essential Classic X-Men #3
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #234
 Reprinted In: Essential Marvel Team-Up #1
 Reprinted In: Marvel Treasury Edition #18
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Megazine #4
Articles: Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Morbius

It's been about a week since his battle with Morbius (MTU 3 "The Power to Purge!) and Peter Parker is not having a good night's sleep. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he writhes in the clutches of a nightmare where Morbius strangles the life out of him. He's awakened by Harry Osborn (they're still roomies at this time in Spidey History). Even to an untrained eye it's clear that Peter is a wreck. In Harry's opinion he looks like "dead fish". Of course, Peter didn't ask for Harry's opinion, so he rebuffs Harry's suggestion they call a doctor and rudely shows him the door.

Changing into his Spider-Man longjohns, Petey pursues his usual solution to insomnia, bad dreams or boredom and decides to do some web slinging. Since he's actually a little concerned about his health at this point, he heads towards Dr. Hans Jorgenson's place to see if he has any ideas.

Unfortunately for Dr. Jorgenson, Spidey's not the only one tonight that has that idea. Morbius, not happy with his living vampire status, has also been trying to get hold of his old colleague Jorgenson in the hopes he can cure him.

Dr. Jorgenson is at that moment sitting at his desk recreating Morbius' research from the notes in their correspondence, and is horrified by the conclusion he draws. Just as the proverbial light bulb flashes over his head, Morbius himself busts through the window and beats him into unconsciousness. He gathers the professor in his arms and flies out the window.

Seconds later, Spidey arrives to find Dr. Jorgenson missing and his office a mess. Luckily for Spidey the paper that the Prof was reading is still on top of the stack, and he's very interested in what he sees. Spider-Man's luck being what it is, Dr. Jorgenson's housekeeper picks that exact moment to investigate the noise. She sees the mess, sees Spidey, and faints. Spider-Man wisely decides to leave before she wakes up.

Of course, next morning's Daily Bugle has "Spider-Man kidnaps noted scientist" as it's front page story. Charles Xavier, a colleague of the Doctor and the mentor of the Uncanny X-Men is reading that story. Now, in the last two issues we've seen that Hans Jorgenson is a colleague of Reed Richards and Charles Xavier and a teacher of Michael Morbius. Makes me wonder if he's upset at being the only guy in the faculty room with no super-powers. Anyway, not one to sit by and do nothing in the face of this news, Xavier summons his X-Men from their tasks around the Mansion. Answering the call are Cyclops, Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl. The Beast (Hank McCoy, later of the Avengers) is involved in a solo adventure in the pages of Astonishing Tales, and makes only a brief cameo to tell Professor X he can't make it. Xavier tasks his students to find and bring in Spider-Man, though he cautions them to do it without attracting any undue attention.

Several hours later, we join Spidey as he's swinging through the city. He's dizzy, in pain and burning up with fever. Out of nowhere, his webbing snaps taut and he's whizzing through the air, and we see the cause of it is that the highflying Angel has grabbed his web-line. He releases his line and goes to shoot another, but an ice bolt cuts off his shot. Spidey now realizes that, for some reason, he's up against the X-Men, and he demands to know why. Before they can answer, though, he flips up and uses his legs to hurl Angel towards the pavement. **Shameless Plug Department: A billboard behind them as this happens promises us that "Doc Savage is coming!" **. Only Marvel Girl plucking him out of the air telekinetically saves the Angel from a nasty fall. Iceman is still trying to bring Spidey down, with Cyclops shooting optic blasts from the other side, but it's not working. Spidey takes out Iceman and is about to turn on Cyclops when he's held fast by Marvel Girl's telekinetic powers. The fight and the fever prove to be too much for our hero, and he passes out.

The X-Men were, of course, never trying to hurt Spidey, just subdue him, and since he's now unconscious their job just got a lot easier. They bring him back to their mansion in Westchester, where Professor X is waiting to telepathically scan his mind. As he does this he's treated to a brief re-cap of the events we saw in Amazing Spider-Man 100-102 and Marvel Team-Up 3 (not nearly as good as the flashbacks you can get by checking out those issues on this page though!). Professor X now not only realizes it's not Spider-Man that kidnapped his friend, but that Spidey's fever is the result of blood poisoning. If certain adjustments aren't made to the toxin in his blood he'll die within hours. The X-Men are going to have to find Morbius, and by finding him most likely they'll find Dr. Jorgenson as well.

Shifting our view across town, we see Morbius in that same abandoned warehouse (see Marvel Team-Up 3), waiting for Dr. Jorgenson to regain consciousness. But he's getting hungry. When Morbius hungers he begins to lose sight of why he's not feeding, and his need overpowers his revulsion. He takes flight looking for a meal, even as the X-Men are looking for him.

Morbius finds two men in an alley, short on cash and discussing the best way to get it, which they decide is to mug someone. Their plans are interrupted when Morbius creeps up and begins to drain the blood from one of them. The second mugger turns and charges at Morbius, knife drawn, determined to help his partner. In the process he gives us a Cultural Time Capsule, as he declares he's not afraid of "something outta "The Night Stalker". "Kolchack: The Night Stalker was a popular TV show at the time, which chronicled the adventures of an investigative reporter, who each week found himself up against supernatural threats like vampires, werewolves and even Jack the Ripper. The series has been credited as inspiration for such modern day shows as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Morbius knocks the knife from the mugger's hand, and while we don't see what happens next, it can't be pleasant because our victim lets out a scream that stretches over the next two panels. Fortunately for him though, the Angel, currently flying recon for the X-Men in their search, hears that scream. Gathering his comrades, they charge into the alley to confront Morbius, but his fearful visage shocks them into a moment of indecision. A moment is all the vampire needs though, as he launches himself into the X-Men and scatters them like tenpins. Before they can recover, he lands a beauty of a kick on Iceman's chin, and clobbers Cyclops with a trashcan after dodging an optic blast. The Angel charges into action, but is sent reeling by a vicious left hook. After having some debris hurled at him telekinetically, Morbius decides that Marvel Girl is the greatest threat. He grabs her by the throat and uses her as a shield to hold the other X-Men at bay, demanding to be able to go on his way without further resistance or he'll kill her. What the vampire fails to take into account is that he's standing right in front of a full length mirror that's been thrown in the trash, and Cyclops uses it to bounce an optic blast into the back of his head, knocking him senseless.

The X-Men still need to find Professor Jorgenson, and as Morbius is out cold, he'd be somewhat difficult to interrogate. Professor X has the answer though, as he probes Morbius' mind using Jean as a conduit. The plan works, and as Angel takes off to fly Morbius to the mansion, the other three X-Men head to the warehouse to collect Jorgenson.

Some time later, Spider-Man awakes feeling much better. Although he's tired, the fever, chills and dizziness are gone. He's shocked to find himself surrounded by Professor Jorgenson, the X-Men and a still unconscious Morbius. Dr. Jorgenson explains that the original formula Spidey used to rid himself of the extra arms (Amazing Spider-Man 102) interacted with his own radioactive blood to create a toxic reaction. Using some freshly drawn enzymes from Morbius and Professor Xavier's equipment, they were able to create a serum to counteract it and save Spidey's life. Spidey shows his gratitude by planting a big kiss on Jean Grey and leaping out a window, leaving Jean to observe that that ties everything up.

Next Issue: "The Eye of the Basilisk!" This turns out to be an erroneous boast, as the next issue actually brings us Spidey and The Vision versus the Monstroid.

In General...

Thoughts on this issue: I found it pretty illogical that Spidey would tear into the X-Men the way he did, since he'd encountered them all on friendly terms before this issue. I suppose we could chalk it up to the fever, but it still strikes me as a contrived way to get the heroes fighting. Considering the character that Jean Grey is going to evolve into a few short years after this issue, her role as damsel-in-distress is also pretty amusing.

Elsewhere in Spidey's World: "Spidey Cops Out" in Amazing Spider-Man 112. Fed up with being branded a menace when he breaks his hump trying to help people, Spidey considers ditching the webs forever. Of course we know that attitude doesn't last long.

And meanwhile, in the real world: It's a busy time at the Olympics in Munich. On September 4 Mark Spitz wins a record seventh Gold Medal in the 400 meter relay. In less happy news, terrorists begin a 20-hour siege when they take the Israeli athletes hostage. On September 17 M*A*S*H* begins it's long run on CBS TV.

Overall Rating...

Aside from my quibbles above, this is a solid story, nicely wrapping up most of the loose ends from the previous issue of Team-Up and ending the six-arm saga once and for all. Gil Kane, in my opinion, is an inconsistent talent, but his renderings of Morbius in this issue do a great job of making him look bestial and frightening. 3 webs for this one.