Marvel Comics Presents #48-50 (Wolverine/Spider-Man)
Issue(s): Marvel Comics Presents #48, Marvel Comics Presents #49, Marvel Comics Presents #50 (Wolverine & Spider-Man story only)
I don't know if maybe this was a try-out to see if he could write Amazing Spider-Man as well, or if this was just an additional assignment. In any event, it's a standard Team-Up story, although there are some intriguing curiosities in the final part.
Spider-Man is on his way home when he sees Wolverine. Since Wolverine is thought dead, Spider-Man assumes it's an imposter...
...and they get into a Misunderstanding Fight.
To be fair to Spider-Man, Wolverine does come across like a defective clone or something. He just keeps saying "Bub!".
The fight continues a little longer...
...but Spider-Man eventually figures out that it's the real Wolverine (confirmed when he stops fighting and his spider-sense doesn't tingle). It turns out that Wolverine is looking into a kidnapping.
The warehouse where the girl is being held just happens to be the one where Spider-Man faced down the burglar that killed Uncle Ben. But Spider-Man pushes those emotions down and signs on to help the girl (who is a mutant, and is being held by other mutants). So now that we've had our Misunderstanding Fight it's time for the Team-Up.
They first have to fight their way through some automated lasers. While they're doing that, some secret ID bloopers. Spider-Man sets up a camera, saying it's for his "friend", a photographer. Wolverine actually already knows that Spider-Man is Peter Parker. I guess Spidey is hoping Wolverine forgot. Wolverine, meanwhile, thinks to himself that he has to stay out of the camera's line of fire, since he's still trying to maintain the illusion that he's dead. I guess he doesn't want to rely on the spell that keeps the X-Men invisible to cameras.
After the laser canons, Wolverine and Spider-Man face the evil mutants that kidnapped the girl. There's Critical Mass...
...Whiplash (hey, Blacklash wasn't using the name anymore)...
Critical Mass turns out to be an old schoolmate of Peter's.
There's also the guy that looks like Savage Dragon. He's not named, and instead of using his own powers, he makes the kidnapped girl use hers.
Critical Mass is almost like a little child in his dialogue, referring to his companions as his "band of baddies"...
...and calling himself a "bad dude".
The day of implausible coincidences continues for Spider-Man.
The fight ends when the kidnapped girl rebels against her captors...
...and seemingly vaporizes all the bad guys.
"Later", Peter finds that none of the photos he took came out.
This is mostly a silly story, but Larsen correctly identifies a problem at the end, wherein so many of Peter's supporting cast characters wind up involved directly in his super-hero adventures. I really do think there should be more of a firewall between the supporting cast and the main story. I don't have a problem with all the examples Larsen lists, or even any one of them in isolation (except maybe Glory Grant having a werewolf mobster boyfriend) but the cumulative effect is a bit overwhelming (and it's not limited to Spider-Man either; take a look at most X-Men supporting characters or the fact that eventually everyone that has appeared in Hulk gets gamma powers of their own). I don't think any of this is every followed up on, although Bloodlust & Whiplash will appear again in Amazing Spider-Man. Since the "Savage Dragon" character doesn't actually exhibit any powers, i wonder if we can attribute some of the coincidences in this story to him having the ability to reach into his enemies subconsciousness to cause confusion. Maybe Critical Mass wasn't really Peter's fourth grade classmate (and that might explain the childish dialogue, if it was drawing on Peter's memories of his classmate), and maybe the other guy wasn't really Peter's dentist or dressed like Uncle Ben's killer (unclear why a non-powered gunman would be there with the other mutants, anyway). But that explanation undermines Larsen's meta-critique.
As for the kidnapped girl and her father, it turns out that they are tribute to C.C. Beck, the creator of Captain "Shazam" Marvel, who had recently passed away. That required some googling on my part (thanks, Marvel Appendix, as always). Without the internet i would have been at a loss, wondering who the "Captain" was supposed to be.
This could have just been a standard team-up fight. No one would have complained if Larsen had just drawn a straight Spider-Man/Wolverine Fight Then Team-Up story considering that this is just Marvel Comics Presents. But Larsen adds a couple extra layers to it with the tribute and with whatever he was doing regarding the meta-commentary (if that's what it was). The Spider-Man side of things is unfortunately left unresolved, but i assume the intention was to follow up on it in Amazing.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Note Spider-Man's helpful summary of his current status quo in the opening splash panel. Definitely takes place before Bloodlust & Whiplash's appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #340. For Spider-Man, the MCP place this during Spectacular Spider-Man #162 for Spider-Man (amongst a lot of other Spider-Man appearances, including Amazing Spider-Man #330-333). For Wolverine, this can go anywhere during the period where he is hanging out in Madripoor after rescuing Psylocke; we have a couple of other cases (New Mutants #93-94 and the jokey cameo in Amazing Spider-Man #337) of him being active without Jubilee and Psylocke during this period. This also needs to be the first meeting between Spider-Man and Wolverine after Uncanny X-Men #227.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showBloodlust, Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man, Whiplash (Leeann Foreman), Wolverine
You remembered to use a different tag for the new Whiplash, fnord. I'm proud of you. :)
Posted by: Michael | May 7, 2015 12:43 PM
This story would later be collected in a trade called "Wolverine vs. Spider-Man"; never mind the fact that their fight lasts only the first part. The trade's title is made all the more confusing due to the existence of the more well-known "Spider-Man vs. Wolverine" one-shot.
Posted by: TCP | May 7, 2015 1:50 PM
Cool story, but why do Larsen's women all have to look like deformed clowns? Dose lips...
Posted by: Bill A. | May 7, 2015 2:07 PM
Ahhh.... Captain Marvel... I can see that now. That reference completely threw me back then. It would be a few more years before I came to know Captain Marvel/Shazam.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | May 7, 2015 10:37 PM
"Wolverine, meanwhile, thinks to himself that he has to stay out of the camera's line of fire, since he's still trying to maintain the illusion that he's dead. I guess he doesn't want to rely on the spell that keeps the X-Men invisible to cameras."
Posted by: Michael | May 10, 2015 3:06 PM
Argh, this is just like the stupid AF appearance. It's not that Wolverine can't appear in other issues. It's that, with his appearances here without Betsy and Jubilee, it seems so stupid. So, they're gathered together, but he just keeps randomly going on various missions without them? It doesn't make any damn sense. The constant Marvel need at this point to have him show up everywhere just undercut a lot of their storytelling.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 9, 2015 11:45 AM
For several years after this story came out I kept waiting for someone to get around to finally revealing just who the "Captain" and his daughter were supposed to be. Then in the late 1990s I re-read this, and I *finally* realized that Erik Larsen was doing an homage to the original Captain Marvel, meaning that "Mr. Beck" was a now-adult Billy Batson. "Holy moley" is right! His daughter even looks like Billy's sister Mary on the final page. I wrote into the Savage Dragon lettercol for confirmation, and Larsen verified that he did this story as a bit of an homage to C.C. Beck, who had passed away only a few months before.
All these years later I still laugh at that panel from #52 page 4: "That - that face! It's... oh no -- it can't be! It's my dentist!" :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 20, 2016 7:44 PM
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