We conclude our lookback of the Frankenstein Monster story which began in Marvel Team-Up #37.
|Cover Art:||Ed Hannigan|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Marvel Team-Up #2|
Chapter One: Madhouse!
Now the last I heard, Baron Von Shtupf wanted all parties involved to stay alive so he could perform his little experiments but he seems to have changed his mind in between issues because this one starts with him ordering the Man-Wolf to attack and "Kill them, Man-Wolf! Kill!" Spidey gallantly shoves Agent Klemmer behind him and tries to fend off the Man-Wolf's charge. He belts the werewolf back across the room but the creature only gets up and charges again. Wolfy knocks Spidey up against the wall and tries to use his jaws to take a chunk out of our hero's throat. But, before he can, he is yanked back by the collar of his yellow space suit and hauled into the air by the Frankenstein Monster. ("The Baron must have captured him as he captured us", Franky notes and editor Marv Wolfman, no relation, helpfully puts in a footnote that says "Last Issue". None of which bothers to explain exactly HOW these captures took place, Gerry.)
The Monster has sympathy for the Man-Wolf. "We should not be fighting each other, since we are all prisoners", he says. But he also understands that the creature is "an animal" that only understands force, so he flings the werewolf against the wall. The Man-Wolf smacks his head rather badly but is still only stunned. He gets up, spots Agent Klemmer, and goes right for her. Before Spidey or Franky can make a move, Wolfy scoops up the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and makes a predigious leap, smashing through the glass of another one of those high-placed windows. Spidey is impressed. He's never seen the Man-Wolf jump like that even though he's fought him before. (And Marv offers a "special lupine no-prize to the merry Marvelite who can list when and where Spidey tangled with M-W". Well, the previous battles took place in ASM #124-125 and Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1. Is it possible to claim the no-prize twenty-three years after the fact? And is there anyone out there who needs to be told that the Man-Wolf is, in actuality, John Jameson, son of the Daily Bugle publisher, who had a pendant made of a moon rock he collected as an astronaut... a pendant that turns him into a manlike wolf?)
So distracted are our good guys by the Man-Wolf's escape that they lose track of Von Shtupf, who sneaks up behind them and blasts them unconscious with a futuristic rifle. (Spidey gets knocked out an awful lot in this story... have you noticed?) "Who needs the Man-Wolf", he says, "when I can have my original selections?"
When Spidey and the Monster wake up, they are again strapped down on large operating tables as they were in issue #36. At the base of the tables is a collection of deadly lasers and, like something out of the Perils of Pauline, the heroes face the fantasy equivalent of being tied to a log in the sawmill. The Baron tells them that his "dissecting laser" will disassemble "the two of you into your component parts". Spidey labels the Monster Maker "sick" and gets him to reveal "the Master Plan of Baron Ludwig Von Shtupf!" There's not much to it, really. He plans to create monsters with "the strength of Frankenstein's Monster, the agility of Spider-Man and the fearful appearance of the Man-Wolf". Why? To gain "revenge on a cruel and uncaring world... a world which will pay for mocking my genius!" (If this all sounds silly and cliched, it should probably be noted that Gerry knew it was silly and cliched. The very silliness is a large part of the point. For example....) Spidey calls the Baron crazy and Von Shtupf replies, "You see? That's exactly what I mean! You don't even know me and you've made up your mind what sort of person I am. It's not fair, web-slinger and because of it, you will die!" And with those words, he sets the whole laser-operating table trap into motion.
Chapter Two: Wolfpack!
Out in the snow-covered mountains, the Man-Wolf lets go of his captive. Klemmer acts helpless (this seems to be her main S.H.I.E.L.D. training) to demonstrate to the werewolf that she is not a threat. The Man-Wolf touches her gently (apparently John Jameson can't resist a large-breasted blonde in a tight red sweater even in his lupine form) and Klemmer starts to recall "reading a special S.H.I.E.L.D. file" on her captor, when the whole tender moment is interrupted. The Man-Wolf turns with a snarl to face a pack of "real wolves... and they're attacking!"
The leader of the pack leaps at the werewolf who swats him away with a "krakk". Wolfy then dives into the pack and starts slaughtering. He sinks his teeth into the throat of one, throttles another, smashes a third into the snow. Klemmer watches the scene, frightened but also "in a strange way", excited. The rest of the wolfpack gets the message and flees. The Man-Wolf gives a howl of victory then returns "his attention to... his... mate?" Cowering, Klemmer remembers that this creature is astronaut John Jameson. "Dear heaven", she thinks, "he's an animal, a wild beast". (Just what am I supposed to make of all this, Gerry!?) Hoping to lure him away, Klemmer makes an eating gesture. Fortunately, Man-Wolf interprets this as a need for food and lopes off to find some. Once he's gone, Klemmer runs off. She plans to climb the exposed rocks "so he can't follow my scent", then circle back to the castle to help Spidey and Franky. When the Man-Wolf returns, fifteen minutes later, the poor jilted sap finds his dream date gone.
Back at the castle, the webhead and Monster are getting awful close to the end of the line. (And, from this angle, we can finally see that they are not operating tables that our heroes are on... but conveyor belts.) While Spidey spends his time jawing, the Monster forces his hand right through the belt and graps a chunk of the machinery underneath. The belts both stop. Spidey is concerned with the condition of the Monster's hand but Franky is more concerned with getting out of the restraining straps. They look like the same ones that Spidey broke out of last issue but this time he declares them "too hard for either of us to break". Instead, he shoots "a strand of webbing which connects with the nozzle on that laser device". Giving it a tug, he changes the direction of the laser so it cuts through his restraints.
The Monster is freed in a similar way and the twosome uses the wall-crawler's spider-sense to track down the Baron. They climb a steep set of stone stairs and open the door of Von Shtupf's study. There, they find the Baron sleeping at his desk, mumbling "No, everyone must like me. If they don't I can kill them." Next to him, underneath a candlestick, are the two bestselling classics, "Monster" and "Ghost".(?) Spidey covers him in webbing, which wakes the Baron up. When the webhead tells him "The game's over. It's kaput. Get the picture, M.M.?", the Monster Maker replies, "Waaahhh!"
Spidey can't stand any more of Von Shtupf's bawling. He tells Franky to stay with him while he goes to look for the Man-Wolf. "Klemmer may need help", he says, "All this guy needs is his bottle."
Chapter Three: Survival!
Spider-Man webs his way through the mountains. He comes upon the Man-Wolf... alone. His startled gasp of "Where's Klemmer?" is heard by the wolf and before Spidey quite knows what's happening, the two are locked in battle. The web-slinger seems to have the upper-hand but he is distracted by the sound of "a woman's scream!" (Spidey sure got distracted a lot in this story, didn't he?) He takes his mind off the Man-Wolf for an instant and is rewarded by a blood-drawing slash of claws across his chest. As Spidey tries to recover, the Man-Wolf takes off in the direction of the scream. "Instinctively he knows... it's his mate."
Even though he's "going to be dizzy for days", Peter picks himself up off the snow and goes after Man-Wolf. He comes down hard on the creature's back and the battle continues. Now, Gerry lets it all hang out. He says, "Picture it if you will, dear reader. Two men caught up in the instincts of malehood. They have the same goal... the protection of a female. And it's killing them!"
The struggle goes on for six minutes until a scream is heard again. Man-Wolf shakes off the dizzy Spider-Man and lopes to the rescue. He finds "a petrified Judith Klemmer" (Aha! Three pages from the end and Gerry finally gives Klemmer a first name.) surrounded by the wolfpack that previously attacked. With a taunting "Aarrr", the arriving Man-Wolf challeges the pack. They climb all over him. One even succeeds in sinking its teeth into his shoulder, but the Man-Wolf overpowers them all.
And then... get this... Gerry tells us, "When Judith Klemmer was a child, her father died in an industrial accident, a sudden death, inexplicable to a four-year old girl who became convinced she's been abandoned. For twenty-six years, Judith Klemmer has fought that feeling of abandonment... has formed herself into a woman of steel. In most situations, she doesn't require protection, and normally she resents it... yet tonight she's been protected by a male and something steel melts, making her feel lonely and a little afraid." How's that for last minute exposition?
She approaches the Man-Wolf, worried that he has been hurt in saving her. The Man-Wolf whimpers and takes a step towards her. And it is at that moment that Spidey arrives. All he sees is the Man-Wolf preparing to attack. Yet, before he can rejoin the battle, the creature passes out from his wounds and falls over a very steep cliff.
Klemmer yells at Spider-Man to save him and the woozy webhead can barely get it together to do so. But he manages to shoot his webs onto the werewolf where "my webbing broke his fall just enough and that snowbank did the rest". The Man-Wolf is alive but unconscious. Spidey wonders what Wolfy was doing before Von Shtupf captured him but Klemmer says, "I don't care about that. I'm just glad he's alive."
Later, a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter arrives to take away the Monster Maker and his men. They also take the still-unconscious Man-Wolf on a stretcher. With the Frankenstein Monster listening, Spidey and Klemmer discuss John Jameson's curse. "Imagine being so hated and feared", Klemmer says, "as though you were some sort of monster." "It's tough", Spidey replies, "I guess even a creature like that wants to be loved, right, Klemmer?" Stung by the words and unnoticed by the others, the Monster wanders off. As they climb onto the helicopter, Spidey notices that Franky has gone. Then, realizing what they've done, Pete says, "Klemmer, I've a feeling you and I have just won the award for being first class dumb. C'mon... let's get back to New York. At least there you know when you're putting a poor jerk down." The helicopter flies away. A sorrowful Frankenstein Monster roams the mountain wastes all alone.