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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Absent her hex power, Scarlet Witch lets Mather know what she thinks about that.
Spider-Man will eventually jump in for the rescue but look who pops in first.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And just because that was peanuts, Spider-Man rips the manacles off like they were foil wrappers.
Here's a nice Vision and Spider-Man panel by Sal Buscema
Another great panel showing the Vision using his eye blasts.
At the very last panel Doctor Doom discovers the invasion of his castle home and the unauthorized use of his Time Platform.
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.
I say "almost complete" because the Scarlet Witch is not in the picture.
Doom being Doom and Mather being Mather . . .
What I really like about Doom is the swagger.
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.
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.
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?
Thankfully, the powerful Scarlet Witch comes up with a save.
No more shadowy hat, the Dark Rider is revealed.
And now to battle! Doom lets fly at his gigantic opponent.
Great twin panels of a clash of energies.
Vision enters the fray with his fiery 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.
Now its the Scarlet Witch's turn with another hex bolt.
The Dark Rider shrugs it all off.
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.
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.
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.
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
Now it is Dark Rider's turn to counter.
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's attack is very impressive.
The others start attacking in turn but it is Moondragon who delivers the coup de grace.
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.