Friday, October 05, 2007

Spider-man vs Hulk at the Winter Olympics - Chapter Four: The Contest of Champions
(Marvel comics)
Marvel Treasury Edition #25 When: 1980
Why: Bill Mantlo, Mark Gruenwald & Steven Grant How: Herb Trimpe

The story so far...
The Thirteenth Winter Olympics have come to Lake Placid, New York, and it's not just the Russians who will antagonise the American hopefuls of ice hockey, figure skating, and bobsleigh. Lurking underground are the competitive aspirations of rival subterranean rulers -- the Moleman and Queen Kala!

In an effort to expand their underworld armies, Moleman and Kala each recruit champions from the surface world, both Olympian and superhero, against their will. It's at this time that Peter Parker, covering events for the Daily Bugle, is forced to spring into action as his alter-ego, the spectacular Spider-man!

As armies of Lavamen and Moloids clash underground; the Outcasts, kidnapped Olympians, Spider-man, and Hulk, are pitted against each other in a contest of champions. The stakes are high, as the battle for the underground threatens to destroy the surface as the battle erupts to rise Lake Placid into the air!

Previous Form:
Hulk (#7): Major victories over Thor, the Avengers & Daredevil.
Spider-man (#1): Victories over powerhouses like; Lizard, Rhino, Grey Gargoyle, Sandman & Scorpion.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Hulk 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Spider-man 2 (Projectiles)

WHY HULK OUGHTTA!!!- Exposure to heavy doses of gamma radiation embued Bruce Banner with hidden wells of super human strength which, when enraged, boil forth to give way to the incredible Hulk.

- Hulk's strength is often seen to fluctuate in correlation with his anger and stress levels. This has served to make him one of the most powerful physical fighters in the Marvel universe.

- Spider-man possesses the enhanced strength, speed, and agility of a spider. Adding to his arsenal, a precognitive spider-sense that warns him of pending danger, and self-made webshooters, which have since been replaced by a mutation reminiscent of scenes from the Spider-man feature films.

What went down...
Having agreed to represent Moleman in his battle against Kala's forces, Spidey steps up to the armored visage of a gladiatoral Hulk, while the Outcasts square up against the forces of the kidnapped Olympic athletes.

Hulk, suffering the effects of being drugged by Kala, lumbers quickly into battle with wild punches. Spidey's agility gives him the edge to stay out of reach, while he playfully mocks Hulk's choice in wardrobe.

In a show of strength Hulk flexes his muscles, bursting out of the "stupid" armor fashioned for him by Queen Kala. The decision frees his movement, allowing the Hulk to better match the speeds of his opponent. He charges Spidey, snatching him off the ground before he can leap away.

Through the fog of the drugs fed to him, Hulk opts for death by throwing, hoping to toss Spidey to his demise. Instead, Spider-man is able to use his web-shooters to snag a line on a nearby ski-lift track, swinging around the surrounding carnage to come back to Hulk.

Hoping to use the momentum of his swing, Spidey lands on the ice, careening directly toward the waiting jade giant. His decision becomes less confident as he closes the gap, and while he cannot stop on the ice, Hulk grows tired of his slowed speed and shatters the frozen lake with a quake making punch.

Spidey momentarily leaps clear of the focused rift as it tears through the action of the surrounding skirmishes. The aftershock tosses Spider-man into the air anyway, flipping away from the Hulk's path of destruction, for the moment.

Spider-man again seeks the aid of the chair lift, using it to navigate a speedy path up the mountain, which catches the attention of the Hulk. Spidey remains ahead as the Hulk leaps his way up, falling into Spider-man's trap.

Using his patent-pending web-fluid to fashion a pair of snow skis, Spider-man again seeks the aid of momentum in toppling the incredible Hulk. He charges down the mountain directly for his drug-addled foe, hoping the velocity will give his spider-enhanced strength the edge it needs.

Hulk boastfully stands his ground, awaiting the Spider-man's collision with his massive green frame.

Spider-man leans forward for a final boost of speed, only to plow directly into the immovable Hulk, much as the verbally challenged monster had expected. Spidey once more finds himself in the vice-like grip of the Hulk.

In a twist, Hulk expresses remorse, explaining Queen Kala's order to kill Spider-man as a plan not his own.
Despite his regret, the Hulk holds Spider-man in the air, pressing down on his chest with a mighty grip.

Spider-man manages to use the situation to position his legs between he and the bulky chest of the gamma irradiated Hulk. Resisting the crushing strength of the green goliath, Spider-man manages to spring himself free, pushing off.

Spidey's efforts not only free him from the deadly grip of the Hulk, but also put the jade giant off-balance at the edge of a snow covered mountain. Perhaps influenced by the effects of Kala's drugs, the dim-witted Hulk realises his predicament too late, tumbling backward over the mountain.

His descent gathers more snow, resulting in the formation of a crunchy-centered Hulk snowball. With the New York crowd watching on, the Hulk tumbles down to collide with the audience box in which Kala and the Mole man are seated.

The move shatters the glass dome that protects Kala from the aging effects of the surface atmosphere. Her youth a fading memory, Kala finds herself at the mercy of Mole man, with her own lava men recoiling at her sight. As her powers begin to fade, so too do the controlling effects that held the Hulk in her service.

Freed, the Hulk finds himself confused about his predicament.

Spider-man notes the pedastal constructs used by Mole man to seperate Lake Placid from the rest of the Earth. Hulk, wanting but to be left alone, is content to rise to the occasion. He pounds the ground with unbridled rage, expressing distain for the chatter of the red and blue Spider-man.

Hulk's mighty strength proves enough to shake the techno-constructs that lifted the Olympic grounds.

With the ground restored to a level state, and the threat of the warring subterranean monarchs subsided, Hulk opts to leave the Olympians and Spider-man to their own devices. Content in the fact that he has once again proven himself the strongest one there is.

The hammer...
As much as Spidey managed to get Hulk on the back foot, I think in terms of their one-on-one battle, we've got to call this one a draw!

If you're reading this particular entry it may be courtesy of the links provided by Bahlactus, as part of the Friday Night Fights initiative. FNFs is bringing the blogosphere together with fight styled antics and re-lettered panels with droll phrasings. If it helps you, feel free to imagine any of the above Hulk panels with Electric Six lyrics replacing the dialogue. Don't you want to know how we keep starting fires?

If the topical atmosphere of the 1980 Winter Olympics somehow escaped you, you may need to be told that this is, of course, a special back issue review from the vault, highlighting one of Marvel's long-running Treasury Editions.

I'm reminded new readers [like Jade] might not have the benefit of knowing that Treasury Editions were over-sized annuals published through the seventies into the early eighties. Our standard cover image has been resized, deceiving you to the actual proportions, which are much squarer, along the lines of a newspaper.
They often featured reprinted material, which maybe makes this one slightly unique for being an original story. It preceded the infamous 1981 Edition, which featured a Superman/Spider-man crossover. Alas, I do not own that.

This comic by it's very nature is a little bit silly. It takes the tried-and-true KLF method of making a pop record, latching on to something as dating as the Winter Olympics of the year. With a twist of Superpro, the Olympians featured in the story get a healthy injection of super into the skills represented by their respective sports, allowing them to do combat with disfigured foes like the Outcasts.

For me, while this isn't a particularly intelligent comic, it holds many fond memories. I had to borrow my cover scan from a google image search, because my version wears the battle scars of twenty-seven years of love. If I recall correctly, this was a bargain bin Christmas gift from a comic store I did not frequent as a child. It was one of those hole-in-the-wall stores around one of the less desirable parts of town, stumbled upon one day inadvertently.

Like last feature's Deadpool/Taskmaster romp, this is just a fantastic example of superhero comics as cause and effect. It's sixty-four pages of contrived action, pitting two of the Marvel media giants of the decade against each other, with the thinnest plot available. One that even manages to stumble over itself as moments transition over each other, and Spidey manages to slide ten metres on ice, over the course of five pages.

I couldn't in good conscience pick this up today and give it a good review. It just isn't how contemporary comics should be delivered, but that basis is built purely on the context of the times. This comic book, for me, represents history.
It represents what events from the early 1900's equal to our contemporary society. Let the record show that once upon a time in history, Mole Man and Kala duked it out for supremacy over the underground, as they had before. Let it be considered that this defeat was but a contributing factor to Kala's appearance irrelevance in today's comics, and let it be assumed she is out there somewhere, or has suffered a fate befitting of a character who cheated old age so often.

I have a special affection for these characters. A decade later they [the Outcasts, Queen Kala] would appear in an Iron Man annual that would again inspire the awe of superhero comics, and dredge up those fond memories of lifting the giant-sized pages of this very Treasury Edition.

Alan Moore speaks of Watchmen as a project that was dedicated to doing things traditional literature and film couldn't typically produce. If there's something I inflect on that quote, it's the time and effort dedicated to conjuring emotional response from these characters. The in-built history and association we are able to form by their regular publication, and which colours the Watchmen due to their derivative inspiration as analogies for famous Charlton characters adopted by DC.
This isn't a great comic to be preserved for the ages.
This is a piece of the evolving history that may not mean much to Hulk or Spider-man fans, but finds it's significance in the evolution of the subterranea, and the life and times of the Mole Man. A moment a secondary villain character would very rarely benefit from in any other medium.

I've struggled a little over the past week or so to come to the Infinite Wars with an agenda, or a motivated discussion. Without the fuel of weekly comics to spark my interests, that might not change, but at the very least I can express today a sense of joy for what comics have meant to a literary movement. As the medium permeates through the existence of shows like Heroes and Lost, and the multitude of blockbuster movies coming out, I can see all that Marvel Treasury Edition #25 can mean. This is comics!

And hey, if you'd like to help inspire me, why not jump on board as a sponsor?
Yes sir, that's an empassioned segue! What better way for online retailers to promote their services than by buying themselves promotional space on the Infinite Wars, by providing weekly review materials?

Not a sponsor, but keen to get in on the action? If stamps and bonds aren't really your thing, why not hit-up the PayPal donation button, or head over to Nite Lite Theatre where you can pick up the first issue of The Kirby Martin Inquest!

Hey, don't look at me like that. I've got structure and pseudo-intellectual discussion to fund! Sometimes a guy needs incentive to stay up all hours of the night talking about lava men!

The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 4
[Hulk's armor bares a vague resemblance to the armor warn during Planet Hulk, adding a humorous spin to the panel where he breaks free of his armor, exclaiming, "Hulk will... Get rid... Of stupid armor!" Hulk is currently locked in mortal combat with the Marvel Universe as part of the World War Hulk crossover.]


kingjolly said...

This is kingjolly, Mick. Yo, I re-created the marvel vs dc thread. Drop by sometime.

And dude, Hulk would totally kick Peter Parker's webbed ass.

Mike Haseloff said...

Yo, I'll keep it in mind!

Hah! Yeah, Hulk would probably win, but Spidey's got the speed, agility and spidey-senses!