When last we saw our intrepid cast, Spider-Man, Flash Thompson and the riotous Razorback(?) faced a Hatemonger whose mask was removed to reveal...the Man- Beast! Read on, true believer...
|Cover Art:||Sal Buscema|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1|
The power of the revealed Man-Beast blasts our three heroes toward a wall. Spidey tries his best to shield the defenseless Flash from the impact but all are dazed.
Man-Beast tells his story to a helpless Spider-Man. After Adam Warlock de- evolved him into a wolf on Counter-Earth he managed to survive being the prey of hunters. But Warlock's influence wore off with his absence and Man-Beast returned. Knowing that this earth was aware of his presence he infiltrated the space program and was eventually able to take command of a one-man rocket and defy space and time to bring it to the Earth we know. There he landed in Vietnam and took Achmed Korba into his confidence.
Man-Beast still has plans for Spider-Man and blasts the support structure underneath Yonkers Stadium so that it will slowly collapse, killing hundreds of spectators and whipping the rest into a frenzy of hatred. As Spider-Man struggles to support the stadium floor, Man-Beast prepares to show his true face to those assembled.
The assmbled do indeed begin to feel the effects of the weakened structure as Brother Power tries to play on their paranoia. Sha Shan - still as Sister Sun - tries to urge everyone to calm down. Everything is still going according to Man-Beast's plan as he prepares to channel his hatred through the sun burst on the stage of the stadium and thus to the eyes of all those viewing there and at home on television.
Meanwhile Spider-Man struggles to keep the support beam from collapsing, or - as the caption says - "...unknown to the Man-Beast, there's a spider in the ointment" But Spidey's legs are slipping and he exhorts Razorback to regain consciousness. He does and manages to hold Spidey in place long enough for the spectators to escape. But far from wanting to thank their unknown benefactors, the crowd wants to destroy them.
As Sha Shan tries to struggle against Achmed and the Man-Beast and Razorback's sister Bobby Sue respondes to a forgotten command, Spidey and Flash reluctantly leave the other hero behind to try to find the mastermind behind the scene. Razorback soon falls below the onslaught and is witness to the "mentor's" unveiling, as the face of Man-Beast is projected onto the sunburst, dividing the crowd into those who wish to kill and those who question.
Beneath the stadium Spidey and Flash face "more of the Man-Beast's moony-eyed minions!" Flash helps out with some fire extinguisher foam and witnesses as Brother Power blasts Sha Shan. The two part ways as Flash watches his lady- love struggle to her destiny. Spidey finds Man-Beast but is blasted by the creature's power. But an arriving Bobby-Sue distracts him long enough for Spidey to get in a good shot, causing an explosion which engulfs Man-Beast and Brother Power.
Flash, Sha Shan and Razorback stand amid the rubble and confused former believers. Spider-Man and Bobby Sue emerge much to the delight of Razorback, who shouts, "Wait! Hall-e-lujah! They ain't 10-7'd Flash boy! They're alive!" A tired Spider-Man can only respond, "Hayseed, I've never been so glad to hear your foghorn voice in all my life! Now shut up and give me a hand with your sister!"
Pete's a little less harsh with him when his sister decides she won't be coming home after all this, because her destiny is elsewhere. And he convinces Sha Shan that she lived up to her father's task by delaying Man-Beast as long as possible. As they notice the still-smoldering fire while climbing into the Big Pig (sigh), Spidey muses, "It won't last, Buf! The evil that fueled it is gone! There's a saying - that, for evil to triumph, it's enough that good men do nothing! We beat evil today - because, together, we did something!"
I'm not exactly certain where the Hate-Monger guise came from and Man-Beast is an odd villain for Spider-Man...sort of cosmically-powered but just maniacal enough to get caught in his own gradiose plans. As with the goals of most villains it seemed like a far too complicated plot.
The art team of Sal Buscema and Ernie Chan combine to knock the ball out of Yonkers Stadium in this issue. Ernie's inks add a depth to Sal's pencils with dark lines that enhance the action.
Spidey definitely shows Flash respect in the issue and it's well-deserved. Though fighting with cause for the woman he loves he still shows himself to be a capable character. As for Razorback, annoying Southern stereotypes aside, he too can grow on you. If matters of his appearance and dialect had changed perhaps he could have been a better character.
The "evil incarnate" angle that Man-Beast plays up himself on the splash page is repeated throughout, especially when his image appears before the startled audience as the mentor revealed (a panel which probably could have been more effective larger). He is a vision of nightmares and leaves viewers "soiled, ashamed...many will wonder if they will ever feel clean again!" Even the victory is a pyrrhic one "that leaves the taste of ashes in the mouths of the victors...and the furtive feel of shame in the minds of the saved!" Man- Beast's real sin is reminding those who were there of the beasts within themselves. Even after he is gone, that beast remains, waiting, perhaps, for the next hatemongering villain to goad it into taking control.
A good wrap-up to the longish arc makes up for its sillier aspects with some good drama, great art and last-second heroics.
Spidey teams up with the Falcon in Marvel Team-Up 71 after this story before coming back to this title with issue 16. Man-Beast tangles with Thor next in issue 316. After a brief flashback in issue 19, Razorback has to wait all the way until issue 4 of the John Byrne Sensational She-Hulk series for his next appearance. Guess life on the road kept him too busy...