And here’s another issue that landed in my lap through swapping with my grade school comics reading buddy Donald Sims. I remember really liking this issue, possibly because it was the closest thing to a typical DC/Julie Schwartz-edited story that I experienced at Marvel at the time. It was complete in a single issue, had colorful super-villains with an easily understandable gimmick, and two super heroes whose own adventures I was then following. Objectively, it’s in no way a stand-out story–MARVEL TEAM-UP was among the most disposable of Marvel’s output. But it made for an enjoyable reading experience.
I probably shouldn’t be surprised that this adventure was written by Len Wein. Without me really noticing it at the time, Len was responsible for crafting many of the early stories that really stuck with me, both at Marvel and at DC. The artwork by Jim Mooney was solid and functional, and expertly embellished by ace inker Frank Giacoia–one of the best inkers of this era whose only drawback was that he could sometimes muff his deadlines. TEAM-UP tended to be a bit random with its creative team, especially since most issues were self-contained stories that could be juggled in the production order. But this was a solid crew.
The story opens with Spider-Man hanging around on the rooftops reading the latest issue of CRAZY magazine (free plug there) and hoping for some action when he spots Cat-Man of the Unholy Trio making his way across the rooftops. Recognizing the Ani-Man as a bad guy and having nothing better to do with his time, the wall-crawler leaps to the attack. But before he can completely pulverize his feline foe, he himself is attacked in turn–by Daredevil! As the two heroes scuffle among themselves, Cat-Man beats a hasty exit–but without the satchel he had been carrying. With his departure, Daredevil sues for peace, and begins to explain to his now irritated colleague just what is going on.
Daredevil tells Spider-Man that earlier, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist had been kidnapped by the Unholy Trio, who are holding her for ransom. This was the era when the Patty Hearst kidnapping was in the zeitgeist, so this story draws upon that a little bit to seem relevant. A drop for the ransom was arranged with Matt Murdock being called upon to deliver it, since he’s blind and can thus neither identify those he was delivering the satchel to nor pose much of a threat. But Matt is secretly Daredevil, and once he’d made the drop, he switched identities and began to trail Cat-Man back to the Unholy Trio’s hideout–until Spider-Man fouled up this operation by jumping Cat-Man. Oops.
Fortunately for all involved (especially the need to get this story wrapped up in a single issue) Daredevil is able to employ his enhanced senses on a sample of soil Spidey finds on the satchel to work out the likely location of the Ani-Men. The two heroes race there in a double-page spread that was one of those images where the original was drawn as a single page but it was printed across two to save some money. This spread looks better than most of these did, thanks to Giacoia’s strong line. The heroes are able to find the Unholy Trio holed up along with their captive in a seaside shack in Coney Island, and so a fight sequence breaks out.
While Spider-Man spirits the girl away into the nearby Coney Island theme park, Daredevil holds off the Ani-Men. But he’s outnumbered three to one, and so it’s only a few moments before Bird-Man can give chase. This turns into a running battle across the park, using the environment as a novel backdrop. There’s a cool moment that sticks in my memory of Spider-Man leaping over Bird-Man’s head and pulling off his artificial wings, sending him careening to the ground. And Cat-Man thinks he’s got the advantage over Daredevil in the darkened Hall of Mirrors, little realizing that his opponent is sightless and navigates through a Radar-Sense that can’t be befuddled by reflections.
But in the meantime, Ape-Man has grabbed up his hostage once again, and like King Kong has climbed to the highest point in the park with her–the top of the roller coaster. Spidey and Daredevil climb up after him, but his threats to the girl keep them at bay–at least until Spidey is able to web the roller coaster’s controls, starting the cars in motion. They ram into Ape-Man, dislodging him , and he and his captive are caught on the way down. And so, everything is wrapped up neatly. The end. As I said at the start, it’s not an especially memorable story, but it does run the bases pretty well, and has enough distinctive moments to prevent it from being entirely generic.