Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #23

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This story is part of an Arc: "Moon Knight, Maggia, Cyclone"
     Part 1 / Part 2

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

This review was first published on: Feb 2014.

Background...

After last issue’s exciting first meeting between Spider-Man and Moon Knight led to an inevitable fight, the two heroes finally came together when they were given a mutual foe at the story’s end (though not a very good one). Cyclone, making his first appearance since he was introduced by Gerry Conway in Amazing Spider-Man #143, is now under the employment of the crime syndicate known as the Maggia. Mystery, action and French stereotypes await us on yet another Bill Mantlo penned Bronze Age tale.

In Detail...

"Guess Who's Buried In Grant's Tomb!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #23
Oct 1978 : SMURF 185.750 : SM Title
Arc: Part 2 of "Moon Knight, Maggia, Cyclone"
Editor:  Bob Hall
Writer:  Bill Mantlo
Pencils:  Jim Mooney
Inker:  Mike Esposito
Cover Art:  Jim Mooney
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 Reprinted In: Essential Moon Knight #1
 Reprinted In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1
Articles: Betty Brant, Cyclone, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, The Masked Marauder, White Tiger

Spinning around in circles, neither Spider-Man nor Moon Knight can escape from Cyclone’s patented whirlwind. Since neither hero is anywhere close to laying a punch on the annoying Frenchman, Cyclone begins to rave about how he is now taking orders from the Maggia and its mysterious leader Big M. After literally blowing his enemies away, he turns his attention to the Maggia assassin that Moon Knight was trying to pry information from last issue. Under orders, he kills the assassin and moves on about his business.

Meanwhile we find that the personal lives of Peter’s friends are in as much disarray as his own. Hector Ayala is facing the consequences of revealing to the world that he is the White Tiger (that took place back in Spectacular Spider-Man #20). His girlfriend Holly Gillis has abandoned him, even though Holly feels guilty about it. Mary Jane can’t help thinking about Peter while she is out with another guy. Betty Leeds, meanwhile, is missing her husband and is realizing that trying to spark a romantic relationship with Pete again is “all wrong.”

Elsewhere, Moon Knight and Spider-Man were both wily enough to survive Cyclone’s best shot. After agreeing to work together, they jump on Mooney’s handy helicopter and head towards his mansion. Inside, Moon Knight has put together a list of all the players in the international crime syndicate. Atop the list sets the Big M, head of the Maggia. After somehow connecting a scale model of Manhattan to a tour pamphlet taken from the murdered assassin, Spidey deduces that the Maggia must be meeting at Grant’s Tomb later than evening.

Awaiting the arrival of the Big M, Cyclone and a group of mobsters stand around bickering within the towering mausoleum. That’s when our heroes jump in. After webbing and barring up the entrances and exits, Moon Knight and Spider-Man crash through the windows and begin wailing on the plethora of international hoods. This eventually makes the costumed Frenchman very angry and he turns on his whirlwind to the dismay of his allies that are suddenly caught in the twister.

As the crazy battle wages on, the mysterious Big M peers out from within the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant. Seeing that Cyclone is doing more damage than good, he sinks back into the tomb and lets his hired hand get what’s coming to him.

Cyclone’s inevitable end comes from a capsule that Moon Knight received from Stark Industries earlier in the day. Once dropped into the whirlwind, the capsule emits a liquid gas that instantly drops the temperature inside the tornado. Going into shock, Cyclone ping-pongs around and falls unconscious. Spider-Man and Moon Knight’s first team-up is a success.

In General...

There are a number of lists out there that compile the worst villains in Spider-Man history. Bill Mantlo, the writer of this particular comic, created his fair share. Marv Wolfman’s Big Wheel recently topped blogger Mark Ginocchio’s bottom ten list. If you look closely though, it seems to be characters created by Gerry Conway that typically fill up the majority of those lists. I can handle Grizzly and Gibbon. I even kind of like Mindworm and Drom the Backwards Man. I can’t stand Cyclone though and, in my eyes, his appearance in this comic instantly drops its quality.

There are other things that keep this from being a great Bronze Age issue (or even a very good one). First of all, it feels rushed. Why not elaborate more on Moon Knight’s connection with Stark Industries or who the strange blonde woman was at his house calling him Steve? Would it have hurt to dive a little deeper into Moon Knight’s character? Most people were pretty unfamiliar with this guy when this comic was published in ’78 and after reading it, they were probably still rather clueless.

The other thing I didn’t like about this issue was the ending. Mantlo had a bad habit during this time period of crafting up pretty lame endings and Moon Knight throwing a pill at Cyclone to KO him is just that. To be honest, the coolest thing about this entire issue was probably the sneak peak of Big M hiding in the tomb that took place in three panels towards the end of the story.

Overall Rating...

It’s sad that Moon Knight and Spider-Man’s first team-up had to end with such a lousy issue. Their next meeting would be in the slightly more memorable Marvel Team-Up Annual #4 written by Frank Miller.

Footnote...

While these two heroes would meet up again multiple times over the years, the exploits of their mutual enemy had an expiration date. Cyclone would be killed off in his next appearance within the pages of Captain America #319.