The Marvel Team Up series served as a great auxiliary comic to the core title of Amazing Spider-Man, allowing the reader to get a chance to experience Spider-Man partnering with the various heroes of the Marvel Universe. In general, you usually get a little less Peter Parker, and a little more action when reading Marvel Team Up.
Despite being a secondary Spider-Man title, Marvel Team Up saw its fair share of big moments. And this particular issue of Marvel Team Up provided the first appearance of a character that would become a huge part of the Spider-Man mythos...Police Captain Jean DeWolff!
Fresh off of his team up with The Thing, in which he battled Basilisk, Spider-Man soon realizes that more adventure is right around the corner...
The story begins with Spider-Man web-swinging through Long Island City, when suddenly he's alerted by his Spider-sense as he passes a Stark Industries site. He looks up to see a small wooden toy plane headed for a giant fuel tanker located within the Stark facility. He sees the plane drop what appears to be a small missile, which makes a bee-line for the tanker. Before Spider-Man can react, the missile causes the tanker to explode, sending the web-slinger hurtling toward the ground!
Spider-Man, thinking quickly, decides to employ his web-parachute for a safe landing but he soon realizes his web-shooters were damaged by the explosion. As Spidey plummets toward a graveyard, he is saved at the last second by Iron Man! The Avenger then asks Spider-Man to explain what caused the explosion and by the time he's finished his explanation, Iron Man is left with one conclusion...Spider-Man was responsible for the explosion (wait...what?)!
The two heroes, who had teamed up as recently as Marvel Team Up #9, proceed to scream at each other in the cemetery as a result of Iron Man's accusation. Their arguing comes to a stop however, when they're interrupted by an attractive, cigarette-smoking woman who is sitting atop one of the tombstones. She tells them it is too hot for fighting and then adds it is pointless to argue anyway because they're both wrong. The woman then flashes her badge and introduces herself as Captain Jean DeWolff.
Spider-Man and Iron Man are surprised by her sudden appearance but are intrigued when she shows them evidence that suggests this attack was connected to other explosions that have taken place throughout the city. Spider-Man then makes his way over to the remnants of the wooden plane that caused the explosion, but his Spider-sense warns him that something is awry. The tiny wooden plane then detonates (ie, self-destructs), and the web-slinger reacts quickly to protect Captain DeWolff from the explosion.
Realizing the severity of this situation, the two heroes join DeWolff on her way back to the police station. Once there, DeWolff gives Iron Man and Spider-Man all of the information on the connected bombings. She explains that in each case, there was a mysterious masked-figure caught on camera, yet no witnesses have any recollection of that individual. The two heroes are baffled by the fact that no one would recall seeing someone wearing a mask, and DeWolff adds more intrigue to the story. She explains that the notes left behind by the perpetrator utilized clipped letters from a paper called the Gazette, a trade newspaper that "caters specifically to NYC cops."
As the trio attempt to connect these clues, the mysterious attacker appears on the roof a nearby building...and he launches another small wooden plane (equipped with a bomb!) toward DeWolff's office! The plane then crashes through the window, luckily Iron Man thinks quickly and uses his repulsor blasts to deflect the plane and send it right back out. He then jumps out the window after it in order to prevent the weapon from hurting civilians on the streets below.
Spider-Man, meanwhile, heads out after the perpetrator, however his attempt to stop him is quickly thwarted. Before he can make his way to the nearby rooftop, he snatched by the attacker, who warns Spider-Man that his Spider-sense is no use against him. As Captain DeWolff screams at the criminal to explain what he's after, the masked man responds with, "All that you need to know is that you're going to die and that I am called...The Wraith!"
And there it is...the first appearance of Captain Jean DeWolff! And let's be honest, she steals the show from the first panel she appears in. Sitting atop a tombstone, smooth talking a pair of first class super heroes and making them look like two bumbling idiots. Her cool, calm style was only overshadowed by how determined she was to bring the Wraith to justice. And how could you not fall in love with her tearing up the streets in her MG TC Roadster?! She was great, plain and simple.
But the true brilliance of her as a character, and the way she's introduced in this story, can be summarized with the single panel below.
DeWolff represents the epitome of a strong female character. Not only did she have to struggle with the rumors of nepotism (her father had recently retired as police commissioner), but she was doing a job that, in her words, was "tailor-made for a man!" She didn't back down from these challenges, but she didn't pretend like they didn't exist either. She met those challenges unapologetically with toughness and grit. For example, when she arrived at the police station and one of the officers started giving her some guff, she immediately demotes him to patrolman. She wasn't going to take crap from anyone, especially over the merits of her role as police captain!
We all know that DeWolff is best known for how she left the Spider-verse rather than how she arrived, but I wanted to highlight her introduction here because she truly was one of a kind!
Obviously this story is not without its flaws. The idea that Iron Man would be convinced Spider-Man bombed a Stark Industries fuel tanker was laughable. His argument revolved around the notion that Spidey has always been a loner and that no one truly knows him. But, seriously, to this point, Iron Man and Spider-Man had at least 4-5 interactions...all of which were positive. Not to mention that Spidey, despite the Daily Bugle's mission, was certainly considered a hero by the other members of the super hero community. So, yeah, Shell-head needed to get his head checked after that accusation. He could have at least accused Spider-Man of being an imposter!
I loved the introduction and initial characterization around Captain Jean DeWolff as well as the intrigue that is built around the mysterious new villain, the Wraith. 4 Webs.