This is another comic book that found its way into my household twice. The first time, I bought it during one of our periodic visits to by Grandparents’ house in Valley Stream. The other, I believe I got in a 3-Bag where there were other books that I wanted/needed. That would be the bane of the 3-Bag system: you’d want one comic but have to buy three in order to get it, whether you owned them already or not. I was never confident enough to tear open the bags and then try to just buy the individual issues I wanted like so many other kids clearly did–I was dead certain that I’d be stopped at the register and get in huge trouble. A master criminal, I wasn’t.
The story was the second part of a two-part adventure, one that also crossed over tangentially with the concurrent issues of UNCANNY X-MEN. This was all down to the fact that the creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne was exactly the same in both instances. In this issue of MARVEL TEAM-UP, though, Byrne was inked by Tony DeZuniga, who tended to be something of a heavy hand when it came to inking–he would routinely not so much ink as redraw whole cloth–it was easier and faster for him that way. But the combination doesn’t look bad here, though it’s not as polished as the finish that Terry Austin was starting to give Byrne’s work over in X-MEN.
The story itself is pretty basic, though entertaining, with Claremont attempting to add some color and characterization through his dialogue. As Spidey describes to Thor on this page, last issue he’d gotten involved with some burglars who were also kidnappers. And their victim was Alex Summers, occasionally the super hero known as Havok. Havok’s powers come from the ambient Cosmic Radiation that bombards the planet–a power source also tapped into by the villain known as the Living Pharaoh. By imprisoning Havok and cutting him off from their common Cosmic Ray source, the Pharaoh transforms into the colossal Living Monolith–a villain from the Roy Thomas and Neal Adams issues of X-MEN that first introduced Havok. By the end of the prior issue, Spider-Man failed to prevent this transformation from happening, and so this month, as the Monolith crashes out into Manhattan, the wall-crawler is being crushed in one of its oversized hands.
The Monolith is getting off on his godlike power, and he contemptuously hurls Spider-Man away from him. Tumbling end over end, Spidey can’t get a web-line to connect and he looks finished–until he’s caught in midair by Thor, who has shown up in response to the crisis. The two heroes compare notes, with the web-slinger bringing the Thunder God up to speed. The duo swiftly realizes that in order to deprive the Living Monolith of his source of power, they need to free Havok. Thor hurls his hammer at the device in which the young mutant is imprisoned–but the Monolith reveals that he’s booby trapped it to explode should it be tampered with. Spidey snags Thor’s hammer with a web-line, diverting it from striking Havok’s prison–but he’s then comically dragged around after it, unable to halt its irresistible flight until it eventually returns to Thor’s hand.
The Monolith proceeds to go about his business, levitating himself in the air. But Thor’s had enough of this–he resolves to simply overpower the Monolith himself, and he knocks the immense villain into the east river with a throw of his hammer. The Monolith responds by grabbing a nearby boat and flinging it at the scion of Asgard. But in a pretty cool double page spread, Thor pulverizes it with one swing of his hammer. John Byrne was a relatively young artist at this point in his career, but images and moments such as this one made him a figure to watch, and instantly popular with fans. His versions of just about everybody became semi-definitive, and he was almost certainly the most popular mainstream comic book artist of the 1980s, with really only Frank Miller and possibly George Perez in his weight class.
While Thor and the Living Monolith duke it out, hurling lightning storms and cosmic blasts at one another, their battle has moved away from the wall-crawler. Which is all right, as Spidey figures that he should probably do something about Havok. Returning to the Living Pharaoh’s lab, he’s able to kibosh a pair of the Pharaoh’s goons who are trying to secrete Havok’s pod away in the confusion, and then to employ his spider-sense as well as his natural science know-how to disarm the tamper-proof trap the Pharaoh had put upon it. Releasing Havok, Spidey realizes, will deprive the Living Monolith of his colossal stature, making it easy for Thor to clean up on him.
And that’s precisely what happens. In the midst of their battle, the Monolith’s power suddenly falters, and he’s lost within the cosmic storm that had been unleashed by his own powers clashing with Thor’s. Despite the Thunder God’s best efforts, he can’t locate the Living Pharaoh, alive or dead. But, hey, Havok is free, and the menace is over for the moment, so the three heroes are all willing to call this a win. So, yeah, not much of a story in this one. But entertaining nonetheless–the strong artwork pretty much carried things.