Here’s Part Seven of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE. By sheer coincidence this weekend’s installment fits the Halloween Month theme.
GIANT-SIZE SUPERHEROES Vol 1 #1 (June 1974)
Title: Man-Wolf at Midnight
Villains: Morbius the Living Vampire and the Man-Wolf
NOTE: The Giant-Size comic books were quarterly publications that Marvel Comics briefly experimented with in the 1970s. They came out in addition to the monthly installments of their other titles.
Synopsis: Spider-Man is swinging his way around New York City, reflecting on Liz Allen’s recent return to the lives of Peter Parker and his friends. He also contemplates the Jackal, who is still at large after trying to kill Spider-Man twice – once through an alliance with the Punisher and a second time by maneuvering our hero into the middle of another clash between Dr Octopus and Hammerhead.
On the streets below is former astronaut John Jameson, the son of J Jonah Jameson, owner and publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper. John has been out at a restaurant with his fiancee Kristine Saunders and the sight of Spider-Man swinging along high above calls to mind John’s previous nocturnal transformations into a scientifically based werewolf called the Man-Wolf.
Those transformations were caused by the moon rock which John had been wearing around his neck as a souvenir and which was a dangerous object that rooted itself into John’s neck and throat to prevent him from removing it.
Spider-Man’s super-strength had proven sufficient to rip the moonstone pendant from around John Jameson’s neck, but the root system of the stone pulled with it parts of John’s throat. This cured him of becoming the Man-Wolf by night but had left him hospitalized in intensive care for months. He has only just recently been released and is out with Kristine.
As their date continues, John starts to suffer from an intense headache. He sends Kristine home in a cab and ponders if he should return to the hospital. Meanwhile, Spider-Man beats and captures some jewel thieves, with Peter Parker’s camera rigged to take automatic photos.
As Peter, he shows up at the Daily Bugle and sells the pictures to City Editor Joe “Robbie” Robertson (the black guy). J Jonah Jameson greets Peter with uncharacteristic friendliness and Robbie explains to Peter that he’s been nominated for News Photographer of the Year.
Robbie also gives Peter his next assignment. There have been vampiric attacks around America’s northeastern seaboard and a few photos were snapped by onlookers of the being responsible – Morbius the Living Vampire, a recurring foe of Spider-Man.
NOTE: Just like the Man-Wolf was a “scientific” version of a werewolf, Morbius was a scientific version of a vampire. As Michael Morbius he had been a brilliant doctor specializing in blood diseases. He was trying to cure his own disease by studying vampire bats, even designing a winged outfit which let him fly alongside them for in-depth tracking of their activities.
When he had developed a serum based on vampire bat blood and other ingredients, he took the serum. Instead of curing him, it turned him into a super-strong being with a need to drink the blood of other humans to stay alive. He had fought Spider-Man twice before at this point.
Back to John Jameson. He gets abducted by Morbius, who has been following him. Morbius retrieved John’s moonstone pendant from the bottom of the Hudson River, where Spider-Man had thrown it after tearing it off John’s throat at the end of their battle months ago.
At a warehouse hideout of Morbius’ the Living Vampire replaces the pendant around John’s throat, turning him back into the Man-Wolf since it is by now after dark. Morbius overpowers the Man-Wolf and drains some of its blood, putting it under his control, then does a Villain Rant about how he will soon be using the were-creature as a pawn in a deeper plan he is setting into motion.
The next day, Peter Parker attends his classes at Empire State University, including the biochemistry course taught by his academic advisor Professor Miles Warren, a supporting character in Spider-Man stories for years by this point. After classes, Peter, Mary Jane Watson and Flash Thompson decide to hang out together for awhile.
Back at Morbius’ warehouse hideaway, as nightfall approaches, the villain explains to the captive John Jameson that he will use him this night as part of a plan to cure himself. After dark, John turns back into the Man-Wolf and Morbius leads the creature – like John Jameson still under his control from the blood he drained – out into the night.
With Morbius flying and the Man-Wolf following along the rooftops via his prodigious leaps, the duo head toward the laboratory of a Dr Harold, a blood specialist who has been in the news lately for his breakthroughs in treating leukemia.
Spider-Man catches sight of the pair and attacks them. After our hero battles both villains for awhile, Morbius extricates himself from the situation and flies off, commanding the Man-Wolf to kill Spider-Man.
(He implies this is why he put John Jameson back under the curse of becoming the Man-Wolf and taking control of him, to have him run interference for him against Spider-Man or any other New York superhero who might try to thwart his plans.)
Spider-Man eventually gets the Man-Wolf sufficiently coated in webbing that it will hold him for a lengthy period before he can pull and slash his way free, then he goes after Morbius. After failing to find him, he returns to the Man-Wolf, only to find that the creature has gotten free and fled in the meantime.
Deducing that the celebrity blood researcher Dr Harold is the Living Vampire’s target, Spider-Man explains to the doctor about the recent attacks Morbius has been unleashing up and down the seaboard and explains the villain’s origin. Our hero convinces Dr Harold to help him in a plan and to let him lie low in his lab in case Morbius still plans to attack him that night.
Morbius does show up, and Spider-Man attacks him to protect Dr Harold and his research. The battle ultimately causes the destruction of much of the laboratory and Dr Harold exclaims that now all his recent progress is destroyed, since some of the breakthroughs had come via flukes that he won’t be able to reconstruct.
Morbius is furious and flies off, giving up on his plans of taking the doctor and his research. Spidey and Dr Harold congratulate themselves that this “ruse” they planned to trick Morbius and make him leave the doctor alone from now on worked. (It’s a comic book, just go with it.)
Our hero swings over to J Jonah Jameson’s home as sunrise arrives. He warns his old adversary that his son John is back to becoming the Man-Wolf again and to be wary. Jonah heatedly insists this can’t be true and Spider-Man leaves.
We now see that Jonah was lying, and that John, back to human form since it’s daylight now, is there in Jonah’s place with him. The pair ponder John’s future with this curse hanging over him.
NOTE: All of this was to set up a spin-off series for the Man-Wolf as another of Marvel’s then-burgeoning line of monster titles in the 1970s. (Along with Morbius, Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, Son of Satan, Man-Thing, the Living Mummy, the Simon Garth zombie, Satana the Devil’s Daughter and others.)
A few days later, Peter learns from Robbie that he did not win the News Photographer of the Year award, but Peter takes it philosophically, reflecting that compared to the torments that Morbius and the Man-Wolf are dealing with, not winning an award is small potatoes.
MARVEL TEAM-UP Vol 1 #21 (May 1974)
Title: The Spider and the Sorcerer
Synopsis: One night while on patrol, Spider-Man reflects on Aunt May’s happiness now that she has been living with Anna Watson – Mary Jane Watson’s aunt. Presently, he stops a mugging in progress as a few men attack an old man. After defeating the would-be muggers, our hero is attacked by Xandu, an evil sorcerer that he and his old friend Dr Strange had fought in the past, in Spider-Man Annual #2 (October 1965).
Xandu manages to put Spider-Man under hypnotic control and sends him off to break into Dr Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village to steal a relic called the Crystal of Kadavus. Our hero swings over to the place and breaks in as ordered.
Dr Strange detects his presence and the two battle each other. Strange realizes Spider-Man is under outside control, so he tries not to hurt his old friend. Spidey gets the upper hand and knocks out Dr Strange. He then grabs the Crystal of Kadavus and finds himself teleported to Xandu’s secret lair.
Xandu takes the crystal from Spider-Man and uses it to repair his old weapon the Wand of Watoomb. Then in a Villain Rant he announces how the crystal and the wand will enable him to take over the entire cosmos.
Dr Strange arrives and frees web-head from Xandu’s control. Using the wand the villain teleports himself and our two heroes to an alternate dimension where he becomes incredibly powerful.
The fight seems hopeless, but through teamwork Spider-Man and Dr Strange manage to get the Wand of Watoomb away from Xandu. Strange then uses the wand to strip away Xandu’s powers and banishes the wand far away in this odd dimension.
The three figures return to Earth via Dr Strange’s magic, and Xandu surrenders.
I’LL COVER THE NEXT CHAPTERS SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ MANTIS/ KANG/ CELESTIAL MADONNA STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ KREE-SKRULL WAR STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s ADAM WARLOCK/ GAMORA/ THANOS/ MAGUS STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s BLACK PANTHER VS KILLMONGER STORY CLICK HERE.