This comic is the first team-up book featuring Captain America, and serves better as an example of how Marvel did team-up books versus DC than a meaningful Cap story as such. Future issues of Marvel Team-Up with Spidey will do much better by Cap (I cited both #106 and #128 in my book), and his first appearance on Marvel Two-in-One with the Thing (1974’s issues #4 and #5) was interesting as well.
The key difference between how Marvel and DC did team-up books is that while DC’s The Brave and the Bold (featuring Batman for most of the run, including the last 127 issues) and DC Comics Presents (featuring Superman) were almost exclusively stand-alone issues with little connection to the ongoing storylines in other comics (even the main characters’ books), both Marvel Tram-Up and Marvel Two-in-One were squarely located within the larger Marvel Comics storyline. In this issue, we see both Spidey’s and Cap’s current status quos referenced, starting with page one.
Forget his recent trip to San Francisco, referenced in the text box at the bottom… I mean the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121 (collected here), just three months earlier in June 1973, which is usually cited as the first significant character death in comics. You can’t really imagine a Spidey story in the aftermath of this not reflecting it (as many have in the decades since), but that’s because it’s a Marvel comic. When things were going right editorially, everything fit together, and you got the sense that every comics was part of a larger story (in a way that DC would do on occasion, but far less regularly, especially not at this time).
Once he gets going, Spidey runs into several agents of AIM, and we get the first sign of this issue’s guest star.
And here’s our man… making sure everyone knows he’s a man.
You’d think Cap would be more appreciative of Spidey’s politeness.
Looks like Nick Fury is a little sensitive about making sure everyone knows his agents are men too… even the women, I guess.
I guess Spidey just can’t say anything right today, if Cap has to defend the essential dignity of the AIM agents they just walloped. (Surprised he didn’t emphasize that they were men.)
Next, Cap and Spidey are treated to the fastest boarding process in the history of air travel.
Oh right, the L. in S.H.I.E.L.D. is looking for the webcrawler, not only in connection to Gwen Stacy’s death, but also the earlier death of her father as well as the death of the Green Goblin (in the issue after Gwen died). Yet another example of the interconnectedness of Marvel stories (and we haven’t even gotten to Cap in this context yet).
Below we see a brief indication of the difference in status, and approach to the law, between Spidey and Cap.
Spidey is accustomed to being an outlaw, and more skeptical of law-enforcement’s intentions (and resistant to their authority), while Cap is more trusting and comfortable with both (at least for now).
Luckily for Spidey, Nick Fury has no time to worry about his legal troubles, and instead invites him along to investigate another AIM, this one in Queens. In the meantime, we learn that the Grey Gargoyle, upset with his defeat at the hands of Captain America and the Falcon in Captain America #142, has teamed up with AIM to get his revenge.
And he soon gets his chance…
Both above and below, Cap tries to protect Spider-Man—likely not out of his doubt of the webslinger’s abilities, but simply out of his natural impulse to (ahem) shield others from harm.
Unfortunately, an AIM agent hits Spidey from behind, allowing the Gargoyle to turn him to stone and tie both heroes to a missile (as you do).
But the Gargoyle’s stone touch ain’t what it used to be.
Although it isn’t revealed how Spidey was able to revert to normal so quickly—although the easy answer is “radioactive spider bite, duh”—Cap’s recovery is explained by another reference to his current status quo: namely, his super-strength, acquired in Captain America #157 (not #57, with all due respect to editor Roy Thomas).
It would have been nice to see the
boys men repeat their debate about the essential dignity of their vanquished foes, but the story was ending and I guess therejustwasn’tTIME!
Marvel Team-Up (vol. 1) #13, September 1973: Len Wein (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt (inks), Glynis Wein (colors), June Braverman (letters). (More details at Marvel Database.)
Collected in: Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Team-Up Volume Two
ALSO THIS MONTH: Captain America #165 (September 1973) and Avengers #115 (September 1973)
NEXT ISSUE: Marvel Team-Up #52 (December 1976)
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