Marvel Team-Up #5

 Title: Marvel Team-Up
 Lookback: Totalistic Team-Ups
 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Scott Knudsen (E-Mail)

Story 'A Passion of the Mind!'

  Marvel Team-Up #5
Summary: Spider-Man & Vision (vs. Puppet Master & Monstroid)
Editor: Roy Thomas
Writer: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Gil Kane
Inker: Mike Esposito
Cover Art: Gil Kane
Reprinted In: Essential Marvel Team-Up #1
Reprinted In: Spider-Man Megazine #5

It's a fairly typical evening in Spidey-land, as the web slinger swings over the roofs of Manhattan looking for wrongs to right and innocents to save. What he finds instead is someone, seemingly drunk, wobbling through an alley. A common enough sight in nighttime New York, I suppose, but Spidey is awfully surprised when he sees the man lose his balance and fall through the sidewalk! Dashing down to help it turns out this is no run-of-the-mill wino but the android Vision from the Avengers. The Vision is in bad shape, "something is setting his brain afire", and he collapses in Spidey's arms.

Not knowing what else to do, Spidey takes the unconscious Vision back to the apartment he (as Peter Parker) shares with Harry Osborn. Fortunately, Harry's asleep, saving some tricky explaining, and Spidey lays the Vision out on the sofa to rest. After a brief while, the Vision awakes, and recognizing Spidey as one of the good guys, confides his problem in him. In recent hours the Vision has been plagued by violent seizures, similar to epilepsy, and the attacks are getting both worse and more frequent. Spidey, meaning well but obviously not having thought it through, suggests they get the Vision a doctor. Being an android, Viz points out that a doctor is likely to do him little good.

Our scene changes now, and we join a man familiar to Marvelites as the Puppet Master hard at work in a secluded studio. The puppet he's working on is humanoid, but not human. A flashback soon explains to us why that is.

It was a few weeks ago that the Puppet Master's evening was interrupted by a spacecraft crashing in the lake near his home. He leapt in to investigate, and found the ship dark and seemingly uninhabited. He pried open a hatch to look deeper, and found himself face to face with a ten-foot robot that identifies itself as "Ballox". That name not being to the Puppet Master's liking, he re-christens the beast "Monstroid". Able to talk to the robot but not control him, the Puppet Master begins to create his greatest puppet ever to command the Monstroid.

Back in the present, the Puppet Master has completed his work and sets off with the now-obedient Monstroid to embark on his master plan. There's always a master plan, isn't there? I've always admired how forward-thinking the average super-villain is. Anyway, we cut quickly to a jewelry store being patrolled by a lone security guard whose evening is about to get exciting. With a tremendous crash, Monstroid bursts through the wall and knocks the guard senseless with a single swipe of his left hand. Puppet Master begins to help himself to assorted strings of pearls and other trinkets, as a black & white cop car pulls up. "Remove them!", the Puppet Master commands his robotic lackey, and in an estimated 2.35091 seconds (Monstroid's estimate, not mine) the cops are scattered in retreat after the robot demolishes their car.

Scene shift back to Peter's apartment. The Vision needs help, and as he cannot go to the Avengers (a footnote directs us to Avengers #105 for the reason, but I don't have that issue so I'll have to take his word for it) he asks Spider-Man. Spidey agrees to do what he can, and just then our heroes are forced to leave via the window by Harry Osborn rising to seek a midnight snack. Harry thought he heard voices in the living room, which of course he did, but as there's no one there now he assumes he was dreaming. I tell ya, things like that happened to Harry so often around this time I'm surprised he didn't crack up sooner.

Spidey and the Viz head across town a bit, and break into the upper floors of a hospital. Spidey uses his broad science knowledge to improvise an android probe out of an EEG and some other computer parts, and scans the Vision's brain. He's puzzled by what he sees, as it appears the Vision has actually got two separate sets of brainwaves in his head. As the Vision doubles over from another seizure, they decide to seek out a man who can most likely help them, the scientific genius Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.

Someone else seeks the FF this night though, and for much more sinister reasons. At that very moment the Puppet Master and Monstroid are landing on the roof of the Baxter Building. An automated laser turret pops up and very politely advises them to leave, but Monstroid smashes it into junk before cutting his way into the building. Finding no one home, he decides to settle in and wait for his prey.

Right then, Spidey and the Vision arrive and see the gaping hole in the roof, but are surprisingly untroubled by it. That complacency ends when Monstroid leaps up and attacks them! As soon as Monstroid appears, the Vision is gripped by his most violent attack yet, and only the fact that he instinctively turned intangible saves him from getting flattened by a powerful punch. Monstroid, not being very intelligent on his own, concludes that the Vision is an illusion and therefore not a threat, so he turns on Spidey. Our hero is fast enough to avoid the flying tackle Monstroid attempts, but Spidey gets a surprise of his own when Monstroid burns away his webbing with some eye mounted flame throwers. Knocking the robot down and stomping on his head proves ineffective, and it looks like Spidey is going to have his hands full for a while just staying out of Monstroid's reach!

The Vision, meanwhile, in his intangible form, has drifted down into the lab where the Puppet Master is. Still doubled over in pain, he makes an easy target for the Puppet Master to beat on. He looks down and out, and the Puppet Master leaves him alone just as things turn against Spidey up on the roof. Monstroid has unleashed an electrical jolt that knocks him silly. But back down below the Vision has regained his senses, and using his powers of density control, he reaches through the Puppet Masters chest. The shock knocks Puppet Master out, and he drops his Monstroid puppet, shattering it. This saves Spidey's bacon, since as soon as the puppet is destroyed, Monstroid becomes inert.

The Vision pops back up to the roof and explains that he's finally pieced together what happened. He recognizes Monstroid as a Skrull scout robot (a type which the Avengers encountered in the classic Kree-Skrull war, Avengers v1 #'s 89-97). The robot's brain operated on a frequency very similar to the Vision's, and every time the Puppet Master issued it a command it jammed the Vision's own brain. With the puppet destroyed, the Vision's problems are over.

Although satisfied with this explanation, Spidey asks the Vision why he was out wandering alone in the first place when this all started. The Vision will only say it's a private matter between himself and the Avengers. Leaving Spider-Man hanging, and us as well, he flies away and our story ends.

Next Issue: Spidey and the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing in "...As those who will not see!"

General Comments

Thoughts on this issue: The Puppet Master's plan doesn't seem very well thought out. He uses Monstroid to rob that jewelry store, calling a great deal of attention to himself, when there are many much easier and more discreet ways for him to get money. It's even more puzzling when you take into account that the money doesn't seem to have had any part in his "master plan", the destruction of the FF. And as far as that goes, his actual plan to wipe out the Fantastic Four seems to consist of waiting for them to get home and sending the Monstroid after them. Not a very promising scheme, since Ben Grimm by himself could probably tear it apart. Well, no one ever called the Puppet Master smart.

Elsewhere in Spidey's world: In Amazing Spider-Man 114, Spidey is caught in the middle of a gang war, as Doc Ock and Hammerhead struggle to assume control of New York's Maggia undeworld.

And meanwhile, in the real world: On Election Day Richard Nixon is re-elected in a landslide, but of course his term won't end on such a high note. On December 7 America launches Apollo 17, its last moon mission to date (no word on if they visited the Blue Area).

Overall Rating

Not a terrible issue, not by a long shot, but not a particularly satisfying one either. I'm going to give this one two webs and move on.

 Title: Marvel Team-Up
 Lookback: Totalistic Team-Ups
 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Scott Knudsen (E-Mail)