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Respect your elders – Marvel Team-Up #106

August 31, 2011

I have my issues with the next Spider-Man movie being a rehash of the origin story that we got less than 10 years ago, but I don’t take exception to Sony making Peter Parker a teenager again. That was always one of the greatest strengths of the original character, that a person blessed with extraordinary abilities and a drive to help others would nevertheless be in over his head and scared out of his ever-loving gourd on most occasions. Like a teen. Like a kid.

A nice corollary to that was the he’d so often interact with other, older and more established character in the hero-ridden New York of the Marvel Universe. Those folks that he’d run into weren’t in on the secret. They couldn’t see through that full mask of his and see the scared kid underneath. All they saw was the super-strong, super-fast web-slinger who could zip around Manhattan like no other. And they couldn’t see the awe that Peter held them in.

It was a nice touch. And, depressingly, thanks to rights issues and all that crap it’s something we’re never going to get — at least not for a good long while — with the silver screen Spidey. Oh well.

But lovers always have Paris. And fans always have comics.

Marvel Team-Up would sometimes saddle us with an underwhelming combo, like Spidey rolling with the Sons of the Tiger. Not in this case. This issue presents us with an encounter between Spider-Man and the hero of heroes, Captain America. If there’s a guy that could get the wall-crawler all starstruck and stuff, it’s Cap.

In “A Savage Sting Has — the Scorpion!” (Script: Tom DeFalco, Pencils: Herb Trimpe, Inks: Mike Esposito, Cover: Frank Miller) the threat that brings them together is that resident Marvel nut-job. Locked up in an asylum, he plays mental possum and dupes some unbelievably gullible doctors into letting him back into his suit as a form of therapy. This has the expected result:

Kind of reminds me of those doofs that let the “reformed” Joker out in The Dark Knight Returns.

Word of his bust-out spreads, and Spider-Man heads out to hunt him down, carrying his usual physical and emotional baggage. The girl problems, work issues and web-fluid refills never cease for our beleaguered champion:

He has no luck on his search, but does manage to snap some shots of himself corralling other crooks. Later,when he heads to the Bugle to hawk his photographic wares, he runs into a certain broad-shouldered blond gentleman also plying his trade — Steve Rogers, who just finished showing Robbie Robertson some of his sketches:

I so love it when out of costume heroes don’t recognize each other. And when Rogers/Cap calls someone “son.”

Scorpion, meanwhile, is on a collision course. He’s all pissed at J. Jonah Jameson, whom he (rightfully) blames for his mental plight (see: origin). He kidnaps him, which gets the attention of Cap and Spidey. Both make quick costume changes to meet this threat, but the younger of the two gets smacked, knocked out cold and bumped out of a smashed window. Captain America to the rescue!:

Thank God for cheap clothes:

Spider-Man comes to and our impromptu duo gives him battle. Their two-on-one odds overwhelm the addled villain, and they finally wipe him out with the most merciful ass-kickery that they can muster:

They can even share a little joke about a certain bound and gagged publisher:

Spider-Man. That scamp.

This is very much a by the numbers story, but the “son”-drenched interaction between the two heroes makes it a good read. There’s also a rather nice little bit with Captain America telling pissed street vendors with property damage to “submit a bill to Avengers Mansion.” That’s it, Cap — let Jarvis sort it out.

I should also add that, as much as I like Trimpe’s Silver Age art, I’m less enthused about some of his later output. This includes his stuff here. It’s still solid, but there’s a certain stiffness to it that holds it back. Perhaps a disconnect with the inks, I don’t know. That said, I can’t take anything away from his staging of Cap and Spider-Man tumbling out of a high-rise. It’s a great little sequence.

And it’s one that Hollywood may never give us. Make Mine Comics!

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