Comics : Marvel Team-Up #27

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

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Spidey is back headlining this issue, teaming up with the Incredible Hulk. Even more so than Thor (as we discussed last issue) the Hulk has undergone an awful lot of conceptual changes over the years, but at this point in time everything is still nice and simple. That is Dr. Bruce Banner gets angry and he turns into a ton of green muscle with the IQ of a five-year old and some badass purple jeans. Together our heroes will be fighting the very first super-villain Spidey ever went up against: the Chameleon!

Seeing Spidey and the Hulk together brought back an unpleasant memory. For those keeping score the last time these two were together was a little over a year ago, in Canada. Spidey returned from that trip to find Gwen abducted by the original Green Goblin, and we all know how that turned out.

There was something very interesting in this issue, completely aside from the story. The entire letters page is given over to a discussion on whether or not the Comics Code should be relaxed with regard to the depiction of sex, nudity, adult language and the walking dead. The general consensus is that some introduction of these elements would be ok, one guy even agitates for a Spidey / Zombie team up) but that it shouldn't be done just for sensationalism. I just can't help but wondering if any of them stuck around long enough to see the Max line get published.

In Detail...

"A Friend in Need!"
Marvel Team-Up #27
Nov 1974 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man & Hulk (vs. Chameleon)
Editor:  Roy Thomas
Writer:  Len Wein
Pencils:  Jim Mooney
Inker:  David Hunt, Frank Giacoia
Cover Art:  Jim Starlin
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 Reprinted In: Pocket Book: Spider-Man Greatest Team-Up Battles
 Reprinted In: Marvel Annual (UK) 1976
 Reprinted In: Essential Marvel Team-Up #2
 Reprinted In: Marvel Treasury Edition #27
 Partially Reprinted In: Spider-Man Comics Weekly (UK) #298
Articles: Chameleon, Jameson, J. Jonah, Leeds, Ned

Spidey's in trouble right on page one here! He's got a spotlight trained on him as he clings to a wall, and a half-dozen cops are shooting at him vowing not to let that "web-slinging killer" escape (remember, at this time Spidey is wanted for the murders of Captain Stacy and Norman Osborn). To the frustration of the police Spidey is able to swing away, and then hops into the car he had parked a few blocks away and drives off.

Huh? Drives off? What's up with that? And why is our hero using a pistol to shoot his webbing? The answer of course is that it's not our hero at all. As "Spider-Man" removes his mask it reveals the blank white visage of the Chameleon! He drives off, pondering how to complete the mission that was just foiled.

Across town Peter Parker has his nose deep in a book of advanced trigonometry when he hears that Spider-Man attempted to break in at the men's detention center. This needless to say comes as a bit of a surprise to Peter, since he knows he's been studying all night. Tossing aside the books and pulling on his webs Spidey swings out the window to find and beat up his doppelganger.

Continuity sticklers take note: Spidey shouldn't be swinging out this particular apartment, because two issues ago in Amazing Spider-Man 136 Harry Osborn blew it up. Pete was crashing on Flash Thompson's couch at this point, just before moving into his Chelsea apartment.

And now for a brief commercial break: on the next page is an ad proclaiming "Look Fellows! You can be a happy, prosperous GRIT salesman!" That one always cracked me up.

Ok, back to our story. Cutting away from Spidey we see the Hulk hopping over Manhattan. The green goliath is in a sour mood, having just stormed out of Dr. Strange's house and quit the Defenders. He lands, as luck would have it, right in front of the Chameleon's speeding car. Unable to stop in time, the Chameleon plows into the Hulk, a collision that his car comes out on the losing end of. Demanding to know why he's been "attacked" the Hulk turns towards the car, and the sight of the Chameleon's blank face only makes him even more confused and angry, so he does the only reasonable thing, reasonable to him anyway, and tears the door off the car so he can haul the Chameleon out and pound him.

Thinking fast the Chameleon assumes the face of Rick Jones, close friend of the Hulk and just about the only person he trusts. Pressing his new advantage the Chameleon asks for greenskin's help, and the Hulk is happy to oblige.

Now all of our players come together. Spidey has arrived at the detention center and changed back into Peter Parker, using his press credentials to get inside. At almost the same time the Hulk has crashed through a concrete wall demanding to know where they're hiding "Rick's friend".

Ducking into a stairwell, Pete gets back into the Spidey suit and sets up his automatic camera then leaps in to attack the Hulk. Intent on his mission the Hulk tosses Spidey aside, but our hero jumps right back in. Spidey is, of course, no match at all for the Hulk and is tossed aside once again. At this point some prison guards show up and, in a remarkable display of utter stupidity, begin shooting their .38 caliber revolvers at the Hulk. Spidey webs them up head to toe, taking them out of action and no doubt saving their lives.

Meanwhile, by walking up the cell block with a photo given to him by "Rick", the Hulk has located Joe Cord, the man he's supposed to free. Mr. Cord is of course less than thrilled to be scooped up and carried away by the Hulk, but it's not like he has any choice in the matter!

Realizing that trying to stop the Hulk is completely futile, Spidey instead decides to follow him and see how this plays out. Some distance away the Hulk lands and presents Cord to "Rick", who says he wanted Cord broken out to repay him for having saved his life as a child. Cord expresses confusion at this assertion since he doesn't know Rick Jones from Adam, when from off panel Spidey sheds some light on the subject by yanking off the Chameleon's mask with a web line.

In a rage the Chameleon whips out a gun, thinking to take Spidey out. But the Hulk hates guns, and crushes it like a soda can. Then he starts shaking the Chameleon demanding to know what he's done with Rick. I think the Chameleon now realizes that his plan was unwise to say the least, as the Hulk is in the process of shaking him to death. Of course Spidey can't let that happen, so he again attacks the Hulk to break things up. Complicating things further a whole bunch of cops show up and announce that everyone should freeze because they're surrounded.

Just as an aside I have to ask: when this story was written the Hulk had been stomping around the Marvel universe for about 12 years. What kind of an idiot whips out a pistol and yells at the Hulk that he's surrounded?

Well, anyway, the Chameleon takes advantage of the momentary distraction to hop into a car (presumably someone else's since his own is a pile of scrap) and make his getaway. His attempt is cut short when he runs into a spider-web strung across the entire street. He hops out of the car with his gun blazing (geez, how many guns is he carrying anyway?) and is wounded in the shoulder when a cop shoots him. Thinking his friend is about to be killed, Cord jumps between him and the cop. The startled cop fires, and Cord is mortally wounded. As Cord lies there dying, the Chameleon asks him why on Earth he'd jump in front of a bullet like that. The answer he gets is obvious and profound: "because you're my friend".

With the Chameleon in custody and Cord dead our heroes depart, with the Hulk leaping off to rejoin the Defenders and Spidey heading to crack the books.

Next issue: Be afraid, be very afraid. And pity your humble correspondent as he dares to re-read: they City Stealers!

In General...

This story was fun, even if it was a little simple. On the plus side I thought the Chameleons manipulation of the Hulk was very much in character for both of them. I also liked that they used the Chameleon in the first place; I love seeing the classic villains put to use, being of the opinion that all of Spidey's best enemies were introduced in his first hundred issues. One weakness the story had though was a huge question left hanging in the air: who the heck was Joe Cord? What was his relationship with the Chameleon, and by extension with Kraven the Hunter? I thought this was a bit of characterization that deserved more examination, although a title like Team-Up is admittedly not the best venue for it.

Elsewhere in Spidey's world: In Amazing Spider-Man 138 we're meeting the very disturbing Mindworm for the first time. In Creatures on the Loose 32 Kraven the Hunter is after the Man-Wolf, and Spidey makes an appearance.

And meanwhile, in the real world: At Madison Square Garden, John Lennon joins Elton John on stage, in what would turn out to be Lennon's last concert appearance before being senselessly murdered. Also, the Pioneer II space probe sends us pictures as it approaches the planet Jupiter (no word on whether or not got any candid pics of Thanos).

Overall Rating...

I give this story three webs. It was fun to read but not outstanding in any way.