Marvel Team-Up #82-85
Issue(s): Marvel Team-Up #82, Marvel Team-Up #83, Marvel Team-Up #84, Marvel Team-Up #85
The Black Widow caught wind of the plan, but she was captured and tortured, forcing her mind to retreat into the phony persona of an unassuming American school teacher, Nancy Rushman.
It's as Nancy that Spider-Man encounters her.
He spends some time trying to figure out if she's really the Widow or not, and dodging SHIELD agents.
Meanwhile, not sure who he can trust in SHIELD, Nick Fury contacts Denis Nayland Smith and asks him to send over Shang-Chi.
In addition to hypnotized SHIELD agents, the Viper's got Silver Samurai and Boomerang on her side.
Boomerang's claim to fame is "I've survived being hit by the Hulk." But Claremont manages to make him seem pretty dangerous.
It's a pretty complex four-parter with some good scenes between Spider-Man and "Nancy". They kind of fall for each other, but of course that's disrupted once the Widow gets her memories back.
The Black Widow makes references to being alive during World War II in this arc ("I saw children starve in the ruins of Stalingrad, and men freeze solid as ice overnight.").
We also get a lot of nice fight scenes.
Also interesting is the Sal Buscema / Stephen Leialoha combination. Sal's usual clean-but-not-spectacular pencils are given an extra layer of depth and mood with Leialoha's ambient inking.
Overall, a good arc.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The current Daily Bugle has a headline of "Spider-Man Wrecks Museum" and depicts the Kulan Gath / Red Sonja encounter from Marvel Team-Up #79. This arc needs to be placed slightly after that and before Peter is fired from the Bugle and dumped by Mary Jane in Amazing Spider-Man #193. See my note on issue #79 for why i'm breaking from the MCP/Index on these issues, and why this is out of publication sequence for the Marvel Team-Up series.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
I wonder why no other Spider-Man writer(Other than Chris Claremont) was interested in making the Black Widow as Spider-Man's crime fighting partner in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man during the 1970 to today? She was the first heroine to seek him out, which might have been a hint that she wanted to team up with him. But wanted to see if he was worthy. I always felt that she should have been his first crime fighting partner, in addition to the Black Cat. In fact, I think that Marvel should gave the Black Cat to Daredevil as his crime fighting partner in exchange for the Black Widow as Spider-Man's partner.
Recently, it was hinted that there are a few heroines(besides Black Cat) who are interested in Spider-Man as more than just a friend. And those that has expressed an interest are Ms. Marvel, Silver Sable, Spider-Woman, and Black Widow(secretly). It would be cool the see more team-up adventures between them in future Spider-Man stories.
Posted by: Dan | August 21, 2012 1:28 PM
Dan, you might be interested in the little monologue from Spider-Man about the Black Widow in Marvel Team-Up #140.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 23, 2012 8:18 AM
This story got praised in the Comics Journal as one of the better Marvel stories for the year.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 10, 2013 3:31 PM
According to FOOM#22, this story was supposed to end in the X-Men book.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | April 14, 2013 7:23 PM
I really loved this story arc when I found it nearly a decade later! That suggestion about Widow/ Spidey as partners is excellent; she's SO different, professional, confident, worldly in many contrasting ways to Spider-Man. Felicia and Matt would've made another fascinating contrast, as he is a lawyer making the system work best he can, and she's a burglar! I like having my paradigms shaken. But we often find ourselves dreaming of a better Marvel Universe than the one we often got, even if we're inspired by the best of the one that exists. Haven't you, dear reader, ever dreamed of looking through comics in your dreams that you couldn't believe, when you awoke, were just intense figments?
Posted by: Lue Lyron | August 4, 2014 2:08 AM
This is my favorite story from the original Marvel Team-Up -- tons of action and intrigue! It's a shame that Spidey and the Widow's relationship hasn't gotten much attention, and it'd be cool to see them looking back on this story someday, even if it's just in passing.
Posted by: TCP | September 12, 2014 4:07 PM
This of course makes me think of the great line Peter says about Black Widow in Ultimate Team-Up: "She's the hottest woman I've ever seen. And I have cable."
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 15, 2015 7:07 AM
In Iron Man 2, Black Widow's alias is Natalie Rushman, which is close to Nancy Rushman.
Posted by: Steven | July 30, 2016 10:25 PM
That would be John Belushi, not Jim.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | August 3, 2016 10:53 AM
I, er, was taking the Sliding Timescale into account. ;-) Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 3, 2016 11:18 AM
Originating with a Richard Rodgers/George Balanchine ballet from the 1936 show ON YOUR TOES, the title of #83 had also been repurposed for a 1957 film noir.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | November 21, 2016 8:52 AM
This is probably the best run in marvel team up. It uses the format right. A slow burn and mystery from the first issue, each issue bringing in a logical new guest (but not dumping the previous ones due to the plot) with good villains and an over the top plot.
But it also shows why guest stars and the shared universe make this type of team-up format redundant. It easily could have been a run in ASM with guest stars.
Spidey and the Widow wouldn't make a bad couple (as far as I know, Pete's not been involved with and older woman and obviously likes redheads). If nothing else they are both spiders. But I guess this makes Spider-man one of the few heroes the Widow didnt have a tumble with.
Posted by: kveto | December 20, 2016 1:15 PM
I do find it interesting that the "redundant" titles in Marvel were probably at their creative peak at the same time, both with this and Gru's "Project Pegasus" arc in Two-in-One; the former due to Claremont's care when he works on characters (even when they weren't mutants); the latter due to Gru's playing around with the universe, both of which highlight their specialties in earlier works.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 20, 2016 2:37 PM
Both Claremont on this and the Grunwald/Macchio runs in the team up titles show what the titles should have been.
Personally, I felt Claremont should have done more if he can write other aspects of the MU so well (but thats me hating on the x-men mostly.)
Posted by: kveto | December 20, 2016 3:42 PM
Agreed, he could do it well, especially when he wasn't trapped by the X-titles. When I was reading "Marvel Tales," it reprinted the first fifty issues of "Spider-Man," then the 'drug issues,' then the 'Death of Gwen Stacy,' and then started on Claremont/Byrne's "Marvel Team-Up" run. At the time, I didn't care much for them, thinking they used a lot of characters I had no interest in and didn't do anything interesting anyway, but in hindsight, it's very well done how each story focused on the team-up characters (Hank Pym and the Wasp, Iron Fist, the Human Torch, Ms. Marvel) and each story naturally led to the next one.
I bought the collection fairly recently, and was impressed at how Spidey had almost no time to rest. It's like Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future" movies, if you watch all three in a row, you basically get the sense that Marty has had almost no real sleep for the week or so, just periods where he was knocked unconscious. Yeah, you can quibble with that interpretation, but this isn't a "Back to the Future" fansite, so let's move on.
The Claremont/Byrne arc was very good at pushing story after story without halt. I haven't read the issues without Byrne such as this one, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's much the same. Also, I like the art here. At first glance, I thought Gene Colan had found the time to draw a Spider-Man comic. And it turns out to be Sal Buscema and Steve Leialoha? "Forget it, it's 2016."
Posted by: ChrisW | December 20, 2016 9:55 PM
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