Marvel Team-Up #4
Issue(s): Marvel Team-Up #4
But beginning with this issue it will be Spidey + guest of the month, starting with the X-Men. While set-ups are often contrived, the book manages to avoid being too obviously an advertising scam. It makes sense to use your most popular character as a way to entice readers into picking up a book that showcases other characters in your line, and the stories are generally written in a way that it feels like a real in-continuity story.
The X-Men's book was in reprints at this time so this issue was probably being used as a trial balloon to see if there was interest in restarting the series.
All that said, this particular issue isn't very good.
Harry Osborn wakes up Peter because he is having nightmares. They are about Morbius, and they have been getting worse. He's also been getting sicker. He heads to a Professor Hans Jorgenson, who was a colleague of Michael Morbius and is currently studying his notes. Morbius decides to visit Jorgenson as well, and he gets there first and abducts him.
Spider-Man arrives in time to be seen by the landlady and get accused of Morbius' abduction.
Professor Xavier was also a colleague of Jorenson, and when he sees the headlines about Spider-Man kidnapping him, he sends his X-Men after him. The Beast doesn't join the X-Men due to problems he's having in his own comic.
Havok and Polaris are not around, and the X-Men are also back in their original costumes around the mansion (although they go in civvies for their mission)...
...almost as if their appearance in this issue were a bid for a relaunched X-Men comic with the original status quo.
The X-Men attack Spider-Man as their way of getting him to talk to them, but he blacks out due to his increasing illness. They bring him back to the X-Mansion where Xavier probes his mind. Learning that Spidey's illness is tied to Morbius, and that it is Morbius who has kidnapped Jorgenson, the X-Men head back out and capture the living vampire and rescue Jorgenson. Jean proves completely useless in the battle.
Morbius is depicted as having an iota of morality when he's not hungry and absolutely none when he is, which is pretty cool.
Back at the Mansion, Jorgenson performs a blood transfusion that fixes Spidey. Spidey wakes up, steals a weird kiss from Jean (and i don't think Xavier likes it), and then leaves.
Pretty weak story. The art in this issue is terrible. This is Gil Kane from the Hulk, not the one who's been doing a decent job on Spider-Man. The difference might be the inker.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This has to get crunched into some loosely connected Spider-Man stories. As such, it's been moved up a bit from its publication date, but this story is relatively context free so it's no problem. Morbius first resurfaced in the previous issue of Marvel Team-Up. The X-Men don't have a book at this time. As for the Beast, since he's wearing his mask and gloves, it needs to take place after he gets that costume back from his work office, which happens during Amazing Adventures #14. But at the beginning of Adventures #15, he staggers into Patsy Walker's apartment, injured from his fight with Quasimodo, so this can't take place between #14-15. The MCP therefore places this during Amazing Adventures #14, after he gets his costume back but before he runs into Quasimodo.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #234
Inbound References (9): show
The real reason the X-Men are in their original uniforms is that the X-Men comic is still being published, albeit with reprints. So because the reprints show them in the old costumes, any new appearances use the same costumes as well - lest any readers of the reprints get confused!
Posted by: Chris | May 22, 2012 10:48 PM
Chris, interesting post. It would certainly explain why the X-Men are shown in their original costumes on the cover of Avengers #110 (even though within the story itself they're shown in their more modern, post-X-Men #39 costumes).
Posted by: Shar | July 6, 2012 8:20 PM
Gil Kane must have loved drawing Morbius. It doesn't matter at what angle you draw the face, you get nostrils!
Posted by: Silverbird | August 17, 2014 3:52 PM
I remember reading somewhere (introduction to the first X-men Masterworks maybe?) that this issue was an experiment in showing super-heroes without costumes, hence why the X-men are in plainclothes for most of it.
Posted by: Red Comet | November 23, 2015 10:30 PM
Red Comet, you're right- it was mentioned in Marvel Tales 234. Supposedly, Roy actually wrote the first few chapters of a never published Graphic Novel with the non-costumed X-Men.
Posted by: Michael | November 23, 2015 11:18 PM
This was the inker's (Steve Mitchell) very first job for Marvel. It did not go over well with Art Director John Romita for all the obvious reasons. According to Mitchell, the job was so bad it ended his career as an inker and it took him years to recover professionally. Also weird but true: Mitchell will appear (noncredited) in Iron Man #72.
Posted by: Zeilstern | May 9, 2016 9:26 PM
Seems odd that a kinetic blast would bounce off of a mirror rather than shatter it...
Posted by: S | August 5, 2016 11:26 PM
Not really relevant but I think the Beast is contacted while he is in his office, not his apartment.
In the first half of AA #14 he goes from his apartment to the lab in order to retrieve his best mask. Then he is contacted by Xavier (this issue) and finally in the second half of AA#14 he spots Quasimodo and fights him.
Posted by: Bibs | April 22, 2017 11:54 AM
You're right, thanks Bibs.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 24, 2017 11:04 AM
I seem to recall (but can't remember where I saw it) that the reason that the X-Men were in civies was because Roy Thomas wanted to capture the feel of FF #2, before that team gained their regular costumes.
Posted by: Mike Teague | February 8, 2018 5:08 PM
Mike, that's my recollection (that Roy Thomas wanted to try civilian clothes as a nod the the original FF) as well, though I can't find a supporting quote in any related letter columns. For what it's worth, the letter column in Marvel Team-Up #6 says "the X's were changing costumes so often towards the end of their run in their original mag--and since they're still decked out in their first set of zoot suits in the reprints--we figured it would confuse just about everybody (especially us!) if we showed them in uniform. Okay?" Since Thomas edited that book, and taking into account the cringe-worthy desperately-trying-to-out-Stan-Lee-Stan-Lee prose, I assume that explanation comes from Thomas himself.
Posted by: Andrew | February 14, 2018 8:55 AM
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