Monday, April 16, 2007

The Web and The Flame! (Marvel comics)
Amazing Spider-man Annual #4 When: 1967
Why: Stan Lee How: Larry Lieber

The story so far...
When the Human Torch appears to be on a rampage in a populated city street, Spider-man swings in to save the day. Little does he know, Johnny Storm's landed himself a part in a Hollywood feature film!

In the times before computer generated special effects, Spidey makes for a great secondary addition to the film, but the misunderstandings continue as another Human Torch situation gets out of control!

Intent on destroying one and other, Spider-man and Human Torch wage war against one and other across the backlot of the film sets. All the while, the masterminds of the misunderstandings watch on from a hidden lair. Masterminds who go by the names -- The Wizard and Mysterio!

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#2): Has successfully teamed with War Machine, The Avengers, Namor & Ghost Rider.
The Human Torch (#29): With the Fantastic Four, defeated the Wizard's Frightful Four.
The Wingless Wizard (#77): The Wizard has led the Frightful Four to a win and a loss.
Mysterio: Mysterio has not yet been featured on the site.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: The Wizard 6 (Genius)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Human Torch 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Human Torch 7 (Solar Power)

Okay, I know what you're thinking: it's not exactly the super villain team-up of the century. It's not exactly the Sinister Six, or the Sub-Mariner and Dr. Doom.
Sure, that's easy to say, but what is it that we have proposed to us here today?

Spider-man and Human Torch are well established A-listers here on Secret Earths, and certainl in comics in general. That's probably a steady contrast to the ever made-fun-of Mysterio, and the just-barely-taken-seriously, Wingless Wizard.
We've got to shine a light on the Wizard.
Like a lot of master villains in the Marvel Universe, he probably doesn't have a great record. This guy has been duelling with Reed Richards since the sixties, and that's not a great way to get a reputation, but to his credit, he's played in that weightclass pretty well, all considered!

Wizard's brilliance usually revolves around specific gadgetry. Perhaps his most famous invention being the anti-gravity disc, which ties to the Wingless Wizard theme, and his abilities of flight.
If you've been following the site you'll have seen the Frightful Four initially getting the better of three of the FF with the use of said gadget-discs. [Marvel Adventures #12]

Mysterio also deserves more credit than he deserves. He's more than the green leotard and fishbowl dome. He too has a wealth of know-how in the field of technologies, particularly in the field of special effects. Which, as you can imagine, means he should be in his element in this issue, which revolves around a film.

Spidey and Human Torch are famous for having a jovial love-hate relationship, and while that might slow things down... The bad guys are toast.
I just wanted to give them a little bit of respect. Mysterio is cool, fools.

The Math: Spider-man & Human Torch
The Pick: Spider-man & Human Torch

What went down...
Freeing himself from the shackles of a tarpaulin, the Human Torch flames on to swoop back around and take a second run at Spider-man, who not too long ago ripped the Torch's trailer open like a tin can!

Watching on from a secret location, the Wizard scowls the heroes for not exerting the fullest of their powers against each other. In his fury, he accidentally wrenches a lever that activates a laser ray from a hidden lense in the ceiling of the studio.

With the ruse foiled, Mysterio makes measures to rectify the situation with the activation of a gas emitting cage that lowers around the pair of heroes.
Unable to escape the gas, the Human Torch finds his flames doused as they both become engulfed with the asphyxiating fumes.

With the Torch clinging precariously to the edge of the cage, Spidey uses some quick thinking and webs up the gas dispensing nosels. With the noxious gas clearing it's not long before Johnny Storm can flame on once again, much to the chagrin of the dastardly duo watching on.

With his spidey-senses tingling, the web-slinger leads the charge toward a control cubicle in the upper corner of the studio. As they make their approach the Torch fires off jets of flame, heating the box up to be a furnace.
Mysterio totes his genius as the Wizard rushes to initiate escape plan A!

Spider-man and the Human Torch swoop down just in time to intercept Mysterio and the Wizard emerging from the box, but they quickly discover they are little more than hologramatic illusions courtesy of Mysterio!
Meanwhile, the two villains make their escape via a secret hatch in the roof!

By the time the heroes are hip to their plan, Mysterio and Wizard are already hovering high above, clinging to a gravity defying contraption. With their foes in sight, the sinister pairing begins their escape, pleased to have a pursuing audience.

The Torch tows Spidey via a line of his fire-resistant asbestos webbing, as they follow their nemesis' across the lot to the artificial jungle grown for movies. The villains disappear into the foliage.
Rather than risk burning down the entire scene, Spidey drops from his line to use his spider-senses to steer them to the hidden location, but a thunderous THOOM alerts him to another danger!

Stomping across the compound is a giant animatronic gorilla being controlled by the Wizard from the safety of a secondary base. Having lured the heroes over, he uses the behemoth of a machine to swat the flaming Human Torch out of the sky!

The slap proves so severe it knocks the Torch out, leaving him unconscious and vulnerable beneath the monster's grip.
As the gorilla snatches the FFer off the ground, Spidey leaps on it's back and rips away at the surface, exposing circuitry and mechanics. With all the proportionate strength of a spider, he pounds down on the vital mechanics, finally rendering the machine ineffective!

But peril is not yet gone! The frozen grip of the mechanoid hand still has Johnny Storm clutched so tight he can't breathe. Again the wall crawler is forced to call upon his strength to pry the giant fingers apart, and free his rival from doom!

Taking time to reload his web cartridges, Spidey gives Johnny Storm the time necessary to revive, before taking chase once again.
They work their way through the vegetation until they find the underground bunker that contains the wingless Wizard and the menacing Mysterio!

Just as they had before, the heroes swoop in to deliver defeat, but again find themselves snared in another trap. Glass walls lower from the rocky cavern, coming between them and their foes, and the exit.
With the flick of a switch, the Wizard then unleashes a barrage of hurtling boulders coming from all sides! The Torch charges the glass, but it's too thick!

With nowhere to go, the two heroes have no choice but to combat the situation head-on. While Spidey uses his fantastic agility and danger warning senses to escape harm, the Torch reduces the incoming boulders to slag.
With the threat neutralized, Spidey directs the Torch to focus his flames on one point of the glass. It takes a moment, but finally it melts enough for Spidey to shoot two precision lines of web to the magnetic field switches that control the boulder attack.

With the process interrupted the boulders become erratic, shattering the weakened glass and exploding into the villain's lair!

Geez, you think that's bad, Mysterio? Good luck with the next TWENTY YEARS!With the barrier destroyed, the heroes are finally able to catch up with their lethal foes. The Torch superheats Wizard's gun, preventing one final effort of escape, thus sealing the fate of the Wizard and Mysterio!

The hammer...
After all that, a well earned victory goes to Spider-man and the Human Torch. Like we didn't all see it coming.

Whew! Well, I've been to the dentist a couple of times and I'm a week behind, so that's going to be my excuse. As you can see, this was also a gargantuan entry that covered maybe only half of this action-packed Amazing Spider-man Annual!

If we ever get around to revisiting it there's probably at least two seperate fights we could talk about between the Torch and Spidey, which could be fun!
These are two characters who've clasically had a really fun relationship, and we'll probably be talking about that in a couple of months from now. Oh, have I said too much?

Yes, this is particularly topical as in less than a week Spider-man 3 will hit theatres across the globe. We'll be joining in with a whole mess of Spider-man posts across May, so consider this an sample with which to whet your apetite.
Of course, after that, June will be all about the Human Torch and his fellows in the Fantastic Four, with the release of Rise of the Silver Surfer, the sequel to the first Fantastic Four feature film!

So, yes! Plenty to look forward to! Consider this the trailer!

It's late into the AM as I try to finish this overdue post, so I'm probably not going to have a chance to get into any of the complexities of Stan Lee's obvious fascination/admiration of Hollywood, or any of the dynamics going on in this gem from the sixties.

What I will mention, which came to my attention somewhere during the middle of the lengthy summary section, is Spidey's web situation.
A smirk creeps across my face when it dawns on me that some readers visiting the site won't realise that up until a few years ago, Peter Parker's web-slinging relied solely on wrist-mounted shooters built to be worn under his gloves, which required cartridges of a special adhesive solution Peter himself had concocted.

Let's not forget, Peter Parker gets a 5 rating for intelligence in the tape regularly, because the guy does have the smarts. We saw some of that here when he took more of the leadership role next to Johnny Storm's impetuous, young hothead.

So, there you go. If the hammer can provide you with anything, it's that passing musing about the state of Spider-man and his mythology.
Barring unforseen changes in the future, it's bizarre to think the mechanical web-shooters may actually be erased from the minds of all but the trivia buffs and poseurs!

In my excitement last week, I accidentally mentioned in last Monday's post that MODOK was next up, but as you can see, I'd forgotten that Mysterio was the next Marvel: Ultimate Alliance villain to be featured.

Today is Monday 23rd, which is when we should have had our 100th feature battle posted, and once I've caught up to that, yes. MODOK will arrive!
So, stay tuned for that one!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 4.5

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