Comics : Marvel Team-Up #127

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

This review was first published on: 2006.

Background...

Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and given all his powers, forged through tragedy into the Amazing Spider-Man! The Watcher, a member of an alien race who's only function is to record and observe the events of reality, never to interfere. Together, they must save the life of one woman.

In Detail...

"Small Miracles"
Marvel Team-Up #127
Mar 1983 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man & The Watcher (Christmas Issue)
Editor:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Kerry Gammill
Inker:  Mike Esposito
Cover Art:  Ed Hannigan
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Articles: Aunt May Parker, Nathan Lubensky

It's Christmas time in New York. Joy is in the air, the magic of the season is all around. Even Spidey has been bitten by the holiday bug as he sets down in Queens for a Christmas party with Aunt May and her boarders. While there, Peter notices that one of the boarders, Mr. Chekov, isn't being his usual jolly self. He tells Peter that he was hoping his granddaughter, Bette, would come see him but he knew it was false hope. She's the only family he had left since her parents had died 5 years before. Peter tries to cheer him up by leading him back to the party and asking for a reading of his latest poem, but his spider-sense begins to blare.

Ducking out with the excuse of running for ice cream, Peter finds himself caught in a sudden freak blizzard. When it clears, he's back in costume and face-to-face with...the Watcher! Spidey asks questions, but the only answer he gets is a jewel handed to him by the Watcher. When in his hand, an image of a woman appears inside it, which Spidey recognizes as Bette Chekov from the picture Mr. Chekov showed him at the party. The Watcher is gone before he can try to get answers again, but feeling the sense of urgency from him he takes off in search of Bette. Somehow.

Meanwhile, the Watcher speaks to the reader about who he is, what he does, and the events he had set in motion despite his vow of non-interference. He watches as Bette runs through the bitter New York cold, stumbles and falls. She's in moments of despair that could, depending on how things play out, mean life or death for her.

Spidey checks out Brooklyn as Chekov mentioned once she lived there, but Brooklyn is a big part of town to just look for one girl. Spidey decides to play it smart and call information. After some confusion over the last name, he gets the address and continues on to Bette's apartment. When he arrives, he discovers the police wheeling out her murdered roommate. Getting what info he can from the police, Spidey takes off to resume his urgent search. However, with no leads, Spidey has nowhere to search.

He slumps on a rooftop until someone decides to pay him a visit; none other than Captain America! Spidey tells Cap his story, and Cap gives him the inspiration to not give up and keep trying. Appreciative, Spidey swings off and his spider-sense directs his attention to the jewel. In it, a seedy bar is shown where he's sure he can find some information. Spidey raids the place and tackles the biggest stoolie there, only to discover he doesn't know anything at all.

Spidey takes his leave outside to ponder what to do next, unknown to him that in the apartment above the bar Bette is arguing with the cocaine supplier, Buck, for whom she deals. Apparently, he stole his latest batch of coke from the mob, and now they're after them. Buck decides to take care of Bette before she can rat him out to save her own skin, but before he can Spidey busts in and takes him down having heard their argument from the street below.

A very scared Bette leaves the building and runs; unaware some mob enforcers were sitting outside pondering what to do now that Spidey is involved. Seeing she has some of their product in her hands, they leave their car and chase her into a dead end alley where she breaks down and cries in despair. The goons move in with their guns ready, only to be engulfed in the spider-signal from Spidey's belt as he dives down at them. Bette takes off in the confusion of the following fight, only to run into another of the goons who shoots her.

Spidey finishes them off and sees to her, but she's practically gone. The Watcher appears and Spidey angrily hurls his jewel back at him. But, instead it smashes into a wall raining down some glowing dust that trickles down onto Bette. Whatever it was, it did the trick because Bette's breathing was now stronger than before. The Watcher points and Spidey takes it as a cue to get her to a hospital fast, which he does as Peter Parker.

The doctors tell him she's going to be just fine as Aunt May, Nathan and Mr. Chekov arrive. Chekov goes into Bette's room and takes her hand, while Peter stands outside the silently thank the Watcher for his help. The watcher muses on the events of this past night, and despite what those of his race may think of what he done or how insignificant Bette's life may have been to them, he can't help but look at the cosmos and feel...joy.

In General...

Ordinarily, you'd find yourself focused on the logic of why the Watcher would pick Bette, of all people, to care about this night. And then you'd probably focus on how convenient it was that Peter would learn of Bette just before he was sent to help her. But, many Christmas tales make no sense if you try to apply logic to them. Look at It's A Wonderful Life...sure, George Bailey's friends helped him avert the crisis with his bank, but when it's all said and done he's still stuck in the life that made him miserable. And yet, that doesn't seem to matter.

Neither does any of the logic you can apply to this story. It was good, heartfelt, and accompanied by excellent artwork. And the Wathcer's epilogue at the end was especially well done. This is a story that will make you feel good in the usual Spidey fashion, and definitely worth reading around the holidays.

And, if nothing more, I'd give this issue a great review on the simple fact of the joke of Chekov's name in relation to Star Trek alone. One of those obvious ones that was worked nicely into the story without making it too cheesy.

Overall Rating...

5 webs. Happy holidays.