Friday, 25 June 2010

Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1. Man-Wolf and Morbius

(Cover from 1974.)

"Man-Wolf At Midnight!"

Written by Gerry Conway.
Drawn by Gil Kane.
Inked by Mike Esposito.
Lettering by John Costanza.
Colours by Linda Lessmann.

Morbius is back in town - and he's decided to take control of the Man-Wolf.

Why? I couldn't say. While the sight of a vampire and werewolf heading off together down the street's an appealing one, Morbius' plan is to get an ESU professor to give him a total blood transfusion and cure him of his vampirism. Why he needs the Man-Wolf for this, I don't know. Maybe he needs his lupine lackey to distract Spider-Man while he visits the prof but why does he expect Spider-Man to turn up? Spidey wouldn't even have reason to suspect he was in town, let alone that he was about to pay the professor a visit. By blundering around New York at street level, with the Man-Wolf in tow, all he's doing is guaranteeing he'll be spotted.

Then again, Morbius isn't the only one acting irrationally. Spider-Man clearly realises Morbius wants the professor to cure him. At this point, anyone with a functioning brain and sense of social responsibility would offer Morbius all the help he could in order to end the threat his vampiric state poses.

So, what does Spider-Man do?

Everything he can to wreck Morbius' plan! And then, when he succeeds, he seems to think he's achieved a victory, happily ignoring the fact he's preserved the existence of a menace and guaranteed that more innocent people will die.

It's not the first time our hero's acted like this. He did the same when confronted by the Molten Man's attempts to cure himself in Amazing Spider-Man #133. Interesting then that that encounter gets a name-check in this tale. Maybe we have to accept Spider-man really is as big a menace as J Jonah Jameson has always said he is.

The story's entertaining enough but it seems to me the main problem is that its "Giant-Size" tag's completely unearned. The story's too short. When it comes, the ending really is abrupt. It seems like we're about to get another ten-or-so pages of action, as Spidey tracks down and defeats Morbius - and the Man-Wolf, but, instead, from out of nowhere, we get an epilogue. The end of the tale came as such a surprise I genuinely had to check I hadn't turned two pages at once and missed something. Nothing's resolved and the tale seems to serve merely as a means of bringing back John Jameson's furry alter-ego. While I've no objection to his return, the fact he's shown as a mere patsy for Morbius, and no great threat to Spider-Man, does mean you're given no reason to feel excited that he's back.

Speaking of mysteries, I'm still baffled as to how Morbius worked out from a story in the Daily Bugle that the Man-Wolf is in fact John Jameson, and it does seem a remarkable feat for him to just happened to have found the only drunk in New York City who saw the climax of Spider-Man's first fight with the Man-Wolf. In the next panel, Morbius says that finding the gem that causes Jameson's condition was the only bit of luck he needed in the whole plan. Really? Some might say that finding the only person, in a city of some ten million people, who happened to have the information he needed took a fair bit of good fortune.

It's hard for me to comment on the artwork. It's by Gil Kane so I assume it's fine but I'm using a copy of Essential Spider-Man Volume 6 and the quality of reproduction's terrible. It genuinely looks like the it came out of a fax machine. I know the Essentials are supposed to be cheap and cheerful but you can't help feeling it wouldn't have killed Marvel to have got someone in to touch-up the inking so it at least looked publishable.


cerebus660 said...

I've never seen this issue for sale anywhere, but it doesn't sound like I've missed much :-)

The title's strange: it looks like it should be "Giant-Size Marvel Team-Up" really, but someone thought the words "Super-Heroes" would sell more copies.

The Cryptic Critic said...

In fairness, it's actually not that bad a tale in terms of readability. It's just that no one acts in a manner that makes any sense and, as I said, nothing at all gets resolved. There's a review of it on Bronze Age Babies that goes into more detail about the somewhat convoluted history of the comic and how it ties into Marvel's other Giant-Size comics at the time.

Admittedly, even after reading that, I still couldn't actually make sense of how it fitted in in the greater scheme of things. Still, I was glad to see they agreed with me on a number of my concerns about the story though. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.


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