In Pop Culture these days it’s Marvel Comics’ world and the rest of us are just innocent bystanders whose homes and places of business get destroyed.
In that spirit here’s a Christmas Season look at what I’ve learned was a milestone story in the Marvel Universe. It was from the very first issue of Marvel Team-Up (1972) and featured Spider-Man and the Human Torch taking on their mutual foe the Sandman on Christmas Eve.
Years later an unnamed black woman that the pair saved from a mugging got retconned into being Misty Knight, adding even more significance to the issue.
Synopsis: While photographer Peter Parker was covering the Polar Bear Clan’s Christmas Eve dip (yes, it goes back at least that far) the Sandman showed up on the beach after surviving his apparent death in battle with the Hulk months earlier. (For a long time it was a comic book truism that only Bucky stayed dead but apparently even that eventually fell by the wayside.)
The Sandman fought some cops, then fought Spider-Man after Peter switched into his costume, and then fled the scene after learning it was Christmas Eve.
Spidey headed off to the Baxter Building to alert the Fantastic Four since at that particular time in the Marvel Universe the Sandman was more active as a member of the Frightful Four, a supervillain team fighting the Fantastic Four. (I swear J.R.R. Tolkien would just throw up his hands at Marvel continuity.)
At any rate only the Human Torch was on hand since Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman, the Thing and Alicia were spending Christmas at Agatha Harkness’ Whisper Hill home.
The Torch was pouting because his girlfriend Crystal – a member of the Inhumans (Movie coming soon. I’m serious.) had dumped him for Quicksilver from the Avengers. A few years later Ultron would attack the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the Inhumans when they gathered for the wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver (covered previously here at Balladeer’s Blog.)
At any rate Spidey and the Human Torch joined forces to track down the Sandman and survived his death-trap thanks to a verbal clue he gave them in honor of the Christmas Season. Then they followed him to the home of his elderly mother, who had no idea her son was a supervillain.
Sandman told his pursuers that he visited the frail woman every Christmas Eve when he wasn’t in prison and promised to come along peacefully if they just let him visit her without interrupting. Proving that Peter Parker has always been a masochistic, self-defeating jackass HE GAVE SANDMAN THE GIFT HE BOUGHT FOR THE STILL-LIVING GWEN STACY SO THAT SANDY COULD GIVE IT TO HIS MOTHER!
Nice move, Peter, or Dick, or whatever! Now your girlfriend gets no gift, you wasted your money buying said gift AND you never fulfilled your assignment to turn in photos of the Polar Bear Clan’s swim so you won’t get paid for that. Great way to spend Gwen’s LAST CHRISTMAS ALIVE!
And don’t hand me any “Christmas is a time of giving” crap! What’s so Christmassy about making a loved one go without a gift so a perfect stranger – whose REAL gift was just having her son visit her – gets a bonus? Anyway, after the forced “Holiday sacrifice” on Peter/ Dick’s part the Sandman escapes Spidey and the Torch anyway.
… And everyone agreed it was the best Christmas ever!
FOR THE LIST OF HOLYOKE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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