Posted - July 26, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015

Previous: Claremont and Byrne's Marvel Team-Up

Marvel Team-Up 41
A Witch In Time

Writer Bill Mantlo hits upon the correct premise for this one: Take Spider-Man to the Salem Witch Trials. Does that sound like a fun adventure or what!?

The Scarlet Witch is the featured co-star of the issue. At this point in time, Wanda is still very much a member of the Avengers and is romantically involved with the Vision. A perplexing arrangement which I tend to compare with a person being romantically involved with their refrigerator.

scarlet witch and the vision

As you can see, Wanda isn't feeling herself lately - she's talking in a weird voice and is not always in control. She uses her Avenger's privilege, hops on a Quinjet, and goes to I don't know where. All I know is its a very Gothic setting. My educated guess is Latveria. After all, there is a platform-like time machine in the premises - that appliance happens to have been created by, and belongs to, one Victor von Doom.

scarlet witch in doctor doom's castle

The name Scarlet Witch does blend well with a Gothic setting - and certainly with a tale told against the backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials. Scarlet Witch's costume doesn't look very Gothic though. Actually, the only thing Gothic about Scarlet Witch is her name. Her powers are not supernaturally derived. She's a mutant. But you all know that right? Sister of Quicksilver, daughter of Magneto.

Whatever it is that has compelled Wanda to enter this grim castle has also captured her but not before she could fire off a hex bolt.

And this hex bolt - meant to summon aid - makes a bee line for . . .

hex bolt about to hit spider-man

And that is how the Web-Head gets into this tale.

Spider-Man arrives in the castle just in time to see a helpless Scarlet Witch and to be attacked by her attacker.

cotton mather attacks spider-man with a fiery cross

The gentleman (or is it ruffian?) with the fiery cross is named Cotton Mather and Bill Mantlo didn't invent him. He's actually a historical figure.

cotton mather historical image

Cotton Mather was a person of great influence during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. He is what would be now called a "thought leader" - a person who's writing and opinions are widely read and known and thus shapes the opinions of the general populace. We have a very interesting villain; I tend to think about him as a symbol for boneheaded, fanatical authoritarianism.

Mather increases his control of the Scarlet Witch and compels her to use her power to bury Spider-Man under so much timber and masonry. What does the Scarlet Witch think about all of this? This is what she thinks.

scarlet witch crying

The cruelty of Mather's attack cannot be overstated. Wanda's close-up brings home that possession, because of its extremely intimate nature, must be the worst kind of violation. Cotton Mather most certainly is due a hex bolt up the ass much later in the storyline. I hope he gets it.

Spider-Man is buried under all that rubble, but he's also Spider-Man, so he manages to do this.

spider-man escapes from underneath some rubble

This panel is a fine example of the early art of Sal Buscema.

Using Doom's Time Platform Spider-Man pursues Mather and the Scarlet Witch into Salem circa 1692.

spider-man in the salem witch hunts of 1692

I'm smiling as I look at this panel because these 1692 people? They've never seen anything like this guy in blue and red tights.

In the meantime, Cotton Mather has obviously done away with a trial and is going to burn the Witch directly.

scarlet witch about to burned in the stake

Absent her hex power, Scarlet Witch lets Mather know what she thinks about that.

scarlet witch spits on cotton mather

Spider-Man will eventually jump in for the rescue but look who pops in first.

vision in salem 1692

As we all believe, the people of Salem were very religious, so when a weird sounding figure with red skin and a cape appears in their midst, it is interpreted as the appearance of the Devil himself.

When Spider-Man joins the fray the "stage" looks like this.

spider-man, the vision, and 	the scarlet witch in the salem witch hunts of 1692

Hmmm let's see: the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man. To the fifteenth century crowd that would be the Devil, a naked woman, and I have no idea how they would interpret Spider-Man.

Posted - July 27, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015

Marvel Team-Up 42
Visions of Hate

Last issue I made a guess that the place where Wanda was summoned to by Cotton Mather was Latveria on account of the extremely famous "platform style" time machine that could be none other but the property of Doctor Doom, and this issue confirms it. It's Latveria alright.

Cotton Mather, the famous "thought leader" of the Salem Witch Hunts was identified as the antagonist last issue but now it seems there's somebody behind him.

cotton mather

That weird dialogue balloon happens only when the speaker is being possessed.

For some incredible reason - and some strange way - Mather came to the twentieth century to kidnap the Scarlet Witch and add another victim to his seventeenth century pyre. Although the mutant Wanda Maximoff is no witch, they think she is. So if they want a witch, they got one.

scarlet witch casting a hex

Without scientific scrutiny those hex bolts are indistinguishable from magic. This is the first blast in a fight covering several pages. My only complaint is that of the three heroic combatants - the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and Spider-Man - it is Spidey who is the first to fall. Eventually though, all three heroes fall before the lynch mob and get thrown in jail, or as they spelled it in those days - gaol.

spider-man with others in a salem dungeon

Going by what I believe to be the attitude of people in those times they should've stripped the Witch naked by now, the Vision - with his devilish looks would have been immediately dispatched to the flames or stabbed, and Spider-Man, at the very least, would not have his mask on anymore, but would be most likely be stripped naked as well. Realistically, this would be what the lynch mob would do to them.

In jail, Spider-Man makes the acquaintance of one John Proctor.Just like Cotton Mather, John Proctor is a real life historical figure. He was 60 years old when he was hanged in connection with the Salem Witch Trials.

So Peter regains consciousness and he's being detained with a chain. Hahahah. Step one.

spider-man breaks a dungeon chain

And just because that was peanuts, Spider-Man rips the manacles off like they were foil wrappers.

spider-man breaks manacles

Here's a nice Vision and Spider-Man panel by Sal Buscema

spider-man and the vision

Another great panel showing the Vision using his eye blasts.

vision uses his eye blast

At the very last panel Doctor Doom discovers the invasion of his castle home and the unauthorized use of his Time Platform.

doctor doom contronts spider-man and the vision

The next issue is bound to be very interesting.

Posted - July 27, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015

Marvel Team-Up 43
A Past Gone Mad

The splash page of this issue provides an almost complete summary of the events so far.

doc doom, spidey, the vision, cotton mather and the dark rider

I say "almost complete" because the Scarlet Witch is not in the picture.

Doom being Doom and Mather being Mather . . .

doctor doom hits cotton mather

What I really like about Doom is the swagger.

doctor doom threatens the dark rider

Doom does this to beings like Galactus and the Beyonder for heaven's sake.

Here's a Sal Buscema panel showing both Spider-Man and the Vision.

spider-man and the vision

Clean crisp art, and Sal Buscema's penciling will only get better over the years, but I wish this was done more to scale. Peter Parker is a lithe 5'10", the Everyman as superhero. The Vision is over six feet, he should be more massive visually - a machine exhibiting the ideal dimensions of a powerful human being. It would have been more enjoyable if these distinctions were reflected in the panel.

Here we have the mysterious Dark Rider giving a concise history of Doctor Doom.

dark rider showing doctor doom story

Interesting to note: Doctor doom was a warlock well before he was a scientist..

While Doom and the Dark Rider are poised for battle, Spider-Man and the Vision are busy battling a giant pussycat. No kidding. What's worst than battling a giant pussy cat? How about losing to a giant pussycat?

spider-man about to get mangled by a giant pussy cat

Thankfully, the powerful Scarlet Witch comes up with a save.

giant pussy cat blasted by scarlet witch

No more shadowy hat, the Dark Rider is revealed.

the dark rider in front of doctor doom

And now to battle! Doom lets fly at his gigantic opponent.

doctor doom blasts the dark rider

Great twin panels of a clash of energies.

doctor doom and the dark rider negate each other's energy attacks

Vision enters the fray with his fiery eye beams.

the vision attacks the dark rider with his eye beams

Alas, every attack is repelled. I particularly like the linework of this panel, that, unfortunately, shows the Vision falling before the Dark Rider.

the vision falls while spider-man swings overhead

Now its the Scarlet Witch's turn with another hex bolt.

scarlet witch hits the dark rider with a hex bolt

The Dark Rider shrugs it all off.

dark rider

Including a direct hit to the face from Spider-Man. Everything just does not work and the issue ends with Doom, the Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Spider-Man defeated by the Dark Rider.

Posted - July 27, 2014 | Updated : August 27, 2015

Marvel Team-Up 44
A Death In The Year Before Yesterday

We are greeted by a splash page of Moondragon.

moondragon and spider-man atop avengers mansion

Earth-born but raised in Titan by the same race that spawned Thanos and Starfox, Moondragon is a telepath. She also has a haughty attitude that makes her an interesting read. And the outfit. Let's not forget the outfit.

As a matter of convenience - and slightly sloppy writing - Moondragon is directly transported to 1692 Salem by one of the Scarlet Witches' hexbolts. Unlike before with Spider-Man whom the hex bolt only transported to Doom's Castle with Doom's time machine doing the time-jumping chores. Moondragon comes upon an ongoing story.

moondragon comes upon the dark rider holding spider-man, scarlet witch, doctor doom, and the vision hostage

Long story short, all of our protagonists have fallen to the power of one Dark Rider. The Rider is a form of vampire and he is now in the act of siphoning off each of his captives' powers. Without furter ado, Moondragon launches an impressive mental asssault.

moondragon attacks the dark rider

The other's start reviving and we have this dialogue balloon filled panel where writer Bill Mantlo goes for a a one panel summary of the last three issues courtesy of Spider-Man

spider-man summarizes the last three issues with scarlet witch and the vision behind him

Now it is Dark Rider's turn to counter.

spider-man attacks moondragon

That vampiric blast doesn't seem to "give" but to "take" - truly a vampire-like attack.

Now, preparing to enter the fray - one Victor Von Doom!

doctor doom surrounded by energy

Doctor Doom's attack is very impressive.

doctor doom attacks the dark rider

The others start attacking in turn but it is Moondragon who delivers the coup de grace.

moondragon takes out the dark rider

No fancy strategies, no clever machinations, the storyline just kept adding opponents beginning three issues back until the Dark Rider succumbed to superior fire power. A straightforward yet entertaining storyline that effectively showcased several Marvel characters (Scarlet Witch, Vision, Doctor Doom and Moondragon). And that's the basic purpose of Marvel Team-Up; to use Spider-Man's popularity to feature other characters in particular and the Marvel Universe in general.

The issue ends in a ghastly historical note, as Spider-Man is witness to the unjust results of the Salem Witch Trials.

Next: Amazing Spider-Man One More Day