We wrap up our Homecoming hype reviews with this classic Spidey/Iron Man team up!
An earthquake at Avengers mansion attracts the attention of Iron Man who discovers the mansion protected by an impenetrable force field.
Peter Parker watches Shellhead’s efforts to pierce the barrier on the news but is unwilling to help out. That is until Harry Osborn barks at him to keep the racket down. With that Spidey makes the scene and offers (the less than grateful) Iron Man some help. Suddenly a hole in the force field opens up and the pair leap through it, being transported to some strange location.
There they find space ships locked in a dog fight. When one of these ships is destroyed Iron Man tries to attack the other but is promptly captured. Before Spidey can launch into action the ship’s pilot exits his craft and reassures them that he means no harm. He is Zarrko the Tomorrow Man, and he explains that he was fighting their mutual enemy, an invader of his home time period, the 23rd century. The invader was from the far future and easily conquered the passive 23rd century. Zarrko tried to bring the Avengers to the past to help him defeat the invader, but his efforts were intercepted.
Upon reaching the invader’s citadel Spidey and Shellhead tackle the guards with ease (and classic Spidey banter) before combining their powers to bust down the heavy door and enter the stronghold. However after taking out a few more guards Iron Man’s armour is badly damaged when a giant robot (who is racist towards organic life) slogs him. As Iron Man tries to repair his armour Spidey takes on the robot and knocks it out with a powerful hit to the neck. Though he’s weak, Iron Man gets back up determined to save the Avengers, Spidey supporting him.
Outside Zarrko is ecstatic over Spidey and Iron Man’s work for now he shall have dominance over the massive temporal energies contained within the citadel. Back inside Spidey and Iron Man find the Avengers imprisoned and discover their captor in none other than Kang the Conqueror!
Kang promptly knocks them both out but is then confronted by Zarrko who declares Kang’s temporal energies his and with them he can make the 23rd century a beach head with which he can conquer the present day, i.e. 1973!
I gotta tell you I tend to not like Marvel Team-Up stories as Spider-Man tales.
This is because routinely they exist to showcase another character through interacting with Marvel’s biggest star, doing little for Spidey’s character or life story. Furthermore the stories as done-in-one yarns require setting up not just antagonists, the co-star and the general plot tend to be simplistic and trivia. Worse they usually involve taking Spider-Man out of his street level comfort zone where he works best in order to make the guest co-star work.
So why did I enjoy this story despite it committing all those sins?
I will confess some of it is a little bit spiteful.
This issue doesn’t develop Spider-Man’s character but its clear Gerry Conway is writing more for him than for Iron Man.
Iron Man is not quite a buffoon in this story…but he’s not that far off.
In this issue Iron Man, the Armored Avenger, the star of the MCU and ‘mentor’ to MCU Peter Parker *gags* initially insults Spidey upon meeting him, reprimands him for making jokes…only to be captured as soon as he leaps into action and later be floored by a giant robot. And on both occasions it is Spidey who has to save his butt and help him to walk to the last leg of their battle.
Sure, Tony has some nice moments like when he kicks down the giant door, and I’d hardly call this a Spider-Man story. It is a legitimate team up with both guys getting equal enough panel time, neither one truly taking the lead. It’s just Spider-Man comes off way better in this story.
Spidey is the guy making the wise cracks and who’s kicking ass and who Iron Man clearly couldn’t do without. In contrast Iron Man’s relevance to Spidey in this story was basically taking out a few guards and opening a door. Highlights include Spidey’s schooling of the goons and his knock out of the giant robot.
Yep, unlike the Homecoming movie which has Peter be something of an over eager intern to the great and iconic Iron Man *gags again*, in this issue Tony is damn lucky Harry Osborn decided to (rather amusingly) piss Peter off that day.
Speaking of that apartment scene…I have mixed feelings. On the one hand it’s kind of out of character for Spider-Man to just ignore someone who needs help because…wasn’t that his whole origin? On the other hand it does make him more human and it’s not like the situation was dire and endangering anyone’s life. An armored member of the Avengers was basically hurting himself by repeatedly punching a wall (in another unintentionally funny sequence).
Pete’s attitude might also have been justified by the Avengers and Iron Man’s shoddy treatment of him back in ASM Annual #3 where they acted as jackasses towards him. Based upon Tony’s rudeness when Spidey made the scene it’s not unreasonable that Peter be somewhat unfriendly towards ol’ Shell Head.
Part of this issue’s success can be attributed to the fact that it’s part of a multi-part storyline so the plot doesn’t have to be too contrived in its set up or resolution, mostly because the latter doesn’t exist.
And whilst the plot is definitely too sci-fi for Spider-Man, as a general Marvel superhero adventure story its okay for what it is. Not being overly familiar with Thor I was actually genuinely suckered by Zarrko’s heel-face turn.
Helping the issue along is solid art from the ever reliable Ross Andru.
There isn’t really that much else to dive into with this issue, so I’ll just say it’s okay but not worth your money unless you want to wash the bad taste of Stark worship out of your mouth from MCU Spider-Man.
Author: Alex Evangeli
I’ve loved Spider-Man, Spider-Girl and the Clone Saga since I were but a wee lad living in the United Kingdom. Glad to be here!