Spidey and Hercules team up for the first time since the notorious Marvel Team-Up #28 , First Series (December 1974), in which the villainous City Stealers try to swipe Manhattan Island. This is one of the few stories for which Marvel actually apologized later, though it is rather fun in a "kitschy" sort of way. How do the web-slinger and the demi-god fare this time around?
The mysterious Authority is at it again; jerking Spidey's chain by placing ads in the Daily Bugle. The threat is the same ("Millions will die") but this time the location is Crete. Since he can't con J. Jonah Jameson into footing the bill for his trip, Peter must find alternate transportation. He spins an elaborate web between the World Trade Towers which reads, "Herc is a Wuss", hoping to attract the Prince of Power's attention. He succeeds. Using his wealth of Olympian gold, Hercules finances the excursion, then heads for the nearest Cretan cafe ("The Ouzo is on me!") upon arrival. As Spidey fidgets ("Sulking on the wall like a theatrical mask", as Herc puts it.), his companion brawls with the locals. Until the monsters appear.
The monsters are the Menagerie of Myth created by Dr. Zeus, a bitter man who believes that the Grandeur that was Greece has been torn apart by globalization as the whole world succumbs to television and rots its collective mind to the tune of the same sitcoms. In retaliation, Dr. Zeus has created his own Sphinx, Cerberus, Harpy, and Minotaur, which he sets loose upon the locals. His secret plan involves his created Medusa, whose image will turn humans to stone, even when viewed over the television.
Of course, our two heroes enter the fray. How does Herc take to some common villain using his father's name? How does Dr. Zeus respond to a confrontation with one of the actual gods of Greece?
Well, to begin with, I don't like that Pat Olliffe is already only credited for breakdowns and Al Williamson is nowhere to be found. I hope this doesn't mean we're already losing this terrific art team. Al Milgrom, however, is one of the great unsung heroes of comics and provides admirable finishes for the art.
As for the story... it's no secret that I'm an admirer of Tom Peyer's work. Once again, he has crafted a successful story with nice details and amusing lines of dialogue. It's about time JJJ refused Peter's travel requests because he can use wire service stories. Spidey's method of contacting Hercules was fun and original. Dr. Zeus' motives are fresh and thought-provoking. I also loved the following lines: Herc's "Say thee what?" when Spidey reveals that he is clueless over the specifics of the impending crime. Spidey's complaint of a "stupid language barrier", something that is frequently ignored in comic books. (Hercules, of course, speaks fluent Greek.) And the Son of Zeus' self-referential "Thy Friendly Neighborhood Hercules". But still, in spite of all these pluses... Dr. Zeus and His Menagerie of Myth? Sorry, Tom, they just didn't cut it.
This book was published with two varient covers. Why? Search me. Because it's the second issue? Do we get three different covers next issue? (For the record, I preferred the "Greek Temple" cover to the smashed logo look.) And in the indicia, the book is listed as Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1 #2. Volume 1? Then what were those 150 issues of Marvel Team-Up I read in the seventies and eighties? Volume 1? Wussup with that?
Great pacing, great details, great humor and great artwork. But... Dr. Zeus and His Menagerie of Myth? Three webs.
Aaron Hoffman says...
I would add another web to make it four webs for this comic. After a terrible first issue, MTU #2 is a fantastic rebound. The story is fun and light, yet addresses philosophical issues, like the effects of popular culture and comic's logic issues, like how Spidey can travel around the globe when the Avengers and the Fantastic Four are not around to help him. Though I still do not like the coloring, the artwork has a unique three dimensional quality to it that I have not noticed in comics before. However, what I think really makes the comic is the character of Hercules. His brute strength and arrogance combined with a sense of humor make him an ideal partner for the Web-Slinger (no brooding, whining or complaining from this hero). I will also not soon forget the quote from Hercules after Spidey asks him if ancient Greece was better than today's world. Herc replies, "Spider-Man, Look Well At Our Young Waitress... And Tell Me Old Things Are Not Overrated!"
From the first two issues, it seems that this comic will stand or fall on the strength of whom Spidey is teamed-up with. If issue #2 is the future model, then MTU will be a solid addition to the Spiderverse. All in all this comic reminded me of a good story from Marvel in the mid-1980s. We should not be too hard on Dr. Zeus, for a one issue villain he was fun.