J.M. DeMatteis is master of the murky mystery, king of the clever caption and trusty teller of the touching tale. So, is he worthy with the wittily written word? Hang on to your hats, and let's find out in Marvel Team-Up #131, subtitled "The Best Things in Life Are Free... But Everything Else Costs Money". Our heroes are Spider-Man and Frog-Man, and our villain is a bunny. That's a pretty promising premise!
The White Rabbit Gang is robbing the local Kwikkee Burger. Humble beginnings, perhaps, but our villains have lofty goals. And let us take a close look at our villains. A number of goons uniformed in blue jeans, purple fishermens jersey's, and blue knitted caps - all armed with quite convincing carbines.
And their leader? White fur boots, white leotard, blue check jacket, purple bow-tie, gold fob watch, white face paint, whiskers... and fluffy bunny ears. Well, I'm not famous for my street-sense, but even I can tell that this girl isn't all there. If I was flipping burgers for two-fifty an hour, I'd hand over the cash without a second thought... this lass is NOT stable.
Of course, the guy at the counter doesn't see it that way. Quite conveniently, he happens to keep an automatic sitting on the till counter-top. I wonder if that worries the customers at all?
Whatever, he's not quick enough to outshoot the White Rabbit. She fires a razor-tipped carrot from her umbrella. Razor-tipped what, from her what? This lady clearly has issues. The gang knows that too, but she pays 'em a thousand bucks a week each, so they put up with it. A thou? How on earth does she break even with that kind of wage bill? Not my problem.
Meantime, a tubby-red-head kid named Eugene sneaks off to the washroom with his bag. He and his buddy Jerome have recognised the White Rabbit from the TV news. She has been hitting every fast food chain in sight for weeks. So what is the kid up to? One of the goons heads after him into the washrooms. Eugene frantically changes into a green frog suit, while the goon bangs on the door. Out hops... The "Fabulous Frog-Man"!
The White Rabbit has her cash, she sprays a gas from her umbrella, and she scoots with her team. The Frog-Man crashes through the window, while the guys behind the counter wonder if MacDonalds is hiring right now? I wonder if MacDonalds has a policy about employees bringing guns to work?
Frog-Man leaps into battle, and The White Rabbit (a charmingly spoken young lady) kindly requests her gang to dispatch him. They fire randomly at the wildy-hopping green target until the lady in question pops a flash-flare... and scarpers in her van, leaving the crooks behind.
Frog-Man crashes to the ground... in front of the goon from the washroom - who has a bit of a grudge. He's just about to blow a hole in the Kermit lookalike... when Spidey pops into the scene. Hey, it's his comic, he can do that. He wraps up the baddies, and then chats to Eugene.
As we all know, Eugene's dad was the first Frog-Man, defeated by Daredevil in DD #25. His father was crushed by the defeat, and so Eugene took it upon himself to try and do something positive with the costume, assisting Spidey and The Human torch in MTU #121.
Spidey convinces Eugene to pack the costume away and give up his vocation as a half-witted super-hero. Peter heads back to his life, where his buddy Roger has major cash problems. Eugene heads back to his life, where his dad has major cash problems. Hmmm... can anybody guess how this ends? They both don their costumes and head back into the city, wondering how they can score some money.
Meanwhile, another small-time crook is desparate for some work... it's Eugene's dad! He persuades one of his crook buddies to take him to The White rabbit, and he signs up with her... her previous goons having all been wrapped up by Spidey. The new goon meets The Rabbit, and she takes the convenient opportunity to expound her history and motivations.
It seems that as a child she was raised in the lap of luxury, protected and provided for... moulded into a proper lady. Her only solace from this hated confinement was her love of books... Alice In Wonderland most of all. She was married to a wealthy, aged fop, who died and left her loaded with cash. She now commits crime for the thrill and excitement of it all.
And so, she heads out with her new band of accomplices. No more fast food joints; this time it's a book fair with a display of priceless first editions. However, on their way, their van is spotted by Spidey and Frog-Man simultanously. Eugene is after the reward, and Spidey... well, he's just Spidey. They leap into action, as the van stops - The White Rabbit being keen to enhance her reputation by offing a super-hero.
The White Rabbit engages her custom-built boot-jets and a three-way battle is joined... until the jets fail and they go crashing through a window. But not any old window. Nope, this is the apartment occupied by Roger (Spidey's cash-strapped buddy) and his mother (sick, that's why he needed the cash).
The police arrive, and claim that Roger is eligable for a reward, since The White Rabbit was knocked out when she crashed into his mother. Wow. So, if my mom gets smashed up by some rocket powered goon, then can I have some cash too? Sorry Mom, just kidding.
Of course, he has to share it with the White Rabbit's most recent employee Frog-Man senior - because he turns up to be a police informant, all loaded up with a wire and all! So everyone is happy! Altogether now... awwwww!
DeMatteis brings back some classic characters, adds a wacky new villain, some truly crazy plot twists, and ties it all together with a big happy ending (albeit somewhat implausable).
J.M. knows how to write 'em. I wouldn't want to read this kind of slapstick story every month, but once in a while it's a real winner. Four webs, and half a razor-tipped carrot.
Oh, hang on, carrots don't count. All right then, just four webs.