This is a battle where I was definitely going to lose something (mmm…). My love of comic reading and Spider-Man vs. the raging hormones of a 15 year old me about to enter high school with all those girls. There was not enough time for both and the girls were winning. Reading comics was starting to feel a bit juvenile and my interest in them was beginning to wane. It didn’t help that my favourite title Spider-Man had been going through weak or flat spot (for me any way) in its run (issues #83-99) for a while with a couple of exceptions. Even the 2nd return of the Green Goblin, the drug issues (#96-98) hadn’t lifted me out of the doldrums as those books felt like drug story sermons to me back then. I was however holding out for a special issue #100, and that is where our Arcs and Runs tale begins today.
Our five issue arc today features the Bronze Age six-armed Spider-Man tale, introduces Morbius the Living Vampire, and guests Dr. Curt Conner’s and his alter-ego The Lizard. It also features the Human Torch and the Original X-Men.
Arcs & Runs #4: Amazing Spider-Man 100-102 and Marvel Team-Up 3-4.
The spider or the man?
When I first laid eyes on this issue I was pretty excited. It was easily the most inspired cover on Spider-Man I had seen since issue #50. The black background with negative images of practically everyone he ever knew on the cover. Kudos to Gil Kane and company. The story begins with Spider-Man taking out a group of common crooks for the umpteenth time. Peter Parker begins to contemplate his life and how it would be without Spider-Man (again). He loves Gwen Stacey. He wants to marry her, settle down and have a normal life. Upon reaching his apartment we discover that Peter had been doing a lot more than just thinking about this, he had worked on a way make himself normal for sometime, and had developed a potion to try on himself quite awhile ago. He mixes it up and drinks it – for Gwen. It’s untested and he begins to feel very sick, delirious and lies down in bed, and starts to hallucinate. Aunt May, Uncle Ben, J.J. Jameson, Betty Brant, Ned Leeds, Gwen Stacey, and Captain Stacey all come to Peter in flashback. Next is the Vulture…. Pg 13 Interlude:
On page 13 we have a Joe Weider body builder ad with a big picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s an ad for “New Hell-bent for Leather N’ Lead arm bracelets”. It states -Your manhood and virility “comes alive” and across swiftly to women – they instantly sense your sexual power and want to be in your arms! This is not helping my raging hormones! Help Doctor Wertherm, where are you I’m being corrupted! Conclude interlude.
…The Vulture, The Lizard, The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and the Kingpin are all defeated by Spider-Man. Captain Stacey comes back and gives Peter some fatherly advice. As Peter wakes his body is aching and he takes off his shirt to find, to his horror he has grown four additional arms, and issue #100 comes to and end.
43rd Overstreet 8.0 $91 9.0 $201 9.2 $310
A Monster called…Morbius
The Last $0.15 issue of the title and first appearance of Morbius begins with Spider-Man realizing the enormity of the immediate problem he has with his new four arms. He can’t see anybody until this resolved. No Gwen Stacey. No Aunt May, No job. No one. He has a eureka moment and calls on Doctor Curt Conner’s (aka the Lizard) seeking shelter as he knows the Doc has a place in the Hamptons. Spider-Man makes his way there with his six arms with some difficulty. Once there he senses danger, but from where? We switch scenes to a vessel on the Atlantic Ocean. A desperate crew are trying to kill a very white faced man whom they blame for killing their captain and others. Unfortunately for them they don’t get him before nightfall and he turns into the vampire Morbius, and he drinks them all up. Once sated he swims to shore and of course, ends up in the building Spider-Man is hiding in. Spider-Man has been working on a cure for his new body for the past two days without success. Morbius wakes up and attacks Spider-Man who takes him a little too lightly and gets thumped. As Morbius is about to feed on our knocked out hero, Doctor Conners arrives. Morbius attacks him and the excitement begins the transformation from good doctor to the Lizard. Spider-Man begins to wake and now has three immediate problems to contend with, his six useless arms, Morbius, and the Lizard as this issue comes to an end.
See Walt’s Undervalued Spotlight #84 for more of the many virtues of this comic.
43rd Overstreet 8.0 $117 9.0 $259 9.2 $400
Vampire at large!
Giant Size $0.25 issue. This book begins with a brief re-cap of previous events and then Morbius and the Lizard begin to fight over who gets to kill Spider-man. Morbius wins and Spider-man intervenes before he can feast on the Lizard. Morbius leaves the building to feast on others. The Lizard comes to with Doc Conner’s brain functioning, and he is stuck in the Lizards body. They begin working on a cure for Spider-Mans six arms, and the inability of the Lizard to turn back to Doctor Conner’s body. They come up with enzyme that when added to Morbius blood may be the cure-all. The scene shifts to Morbius and a detailed origin story. Here is the Coles notes version. Doctor Michael Morbius is a Nobel Prize winning scientist. He is dying of a blood disorder and is searching for a cure. He and his assistant Nikos, and fiancée Martine (who is kept in the dark) rent a vessel for a “cruise”. While on board Nikos and Morbius conduct research and then try a last chance experiment which fails. He has become a weird looking white faced vampire and his first victim is the assistant Nikos. Morbius leaps into the ocean in attempt to kill himself but comes for air and is now evil. He boards a passing ship, the one we see him on at the beginning of last issue. We know what happened next. In the present time Morbius is bumping off another homeless (it becomes a specialty of his) person. Gwen and JJ Jameson (separately) are both wondering what has happened to Peter. The Lizard and Spider-Man have been searching for Morbius and now they have found him. Spider-Man is playing for keeps this time and gets the better of Morbius quickly. The Lizard goes to work and mixes his serum with a bit of Morbius blood and injects himself. It works he is back to Curt Conner’s with a missing arm. They start to get Spider-Mans serum ready when Morbius leaps off the floor like a down and out WWF wrestler, he grabs the serum from Doc Conner’s and takes off with Spider-Man in pursuit. Spider-Man catches him with his web and swings him inadvertently into the side of bridge knocking him into the water. Spider-Man catches the serum from Morbius’s hand before he goes under the water. Doctor Conner’s administers the serum and poof Spider-Man’s extra arms are gone. Spider-Man and Doctor Conner’s close out this issue looking into the water and lamenting Michael Morbius death.
43rd Overstreet 8.0 $76 9.0 $163 9.2 $250
We continue the story in the then new Marvel title – Marvel-Team-Up. MTU #3 takes place eight months later after issue ASM#102 in real time. However the events in MTU #3 take place in about two –four weeks after the events in ASM#102 in “comic time”.
Our tale begins with Spider-Man swinging away from the bridge where Morbius has just fallen into the water (end of ASM#102) and Morbius is returning to the surface. Two brothers named Jefferson & Jacob Bolt are arguing on the bridge abutment. After a quick fight Jacob Bolt leaves. Jefferson sees Morbius floating in the water and jumps into save him. He is rewarded by the now revived Morbius with a bite on the neck and is turned into a vampire. Fast forward we see Spider-Man swinging around the city with a king sized headache so bad he loses his grip and falls to a roof top unconscious. We switch scenes again to the Baxter building home of the Fantastic Four. The usual bickering is taking place when a young lady calls from the lobby looking for Reed Richards. It is Martine – Michael Morbius fiancée. She relays the details we already know about what happened to her fiancé. She found Reed’s letter amongst his papers as well as another from a Professor Hans Jorgenson a local teacher. The Human Torch takes off to speak to him. Morbius is on his way to do the same thing. To complete the trio, a very woozy Peter Parker is on his way as well. The Torch arrives first and busts into the middle of the class in full flame, Spider-man arrives seconds later. They argue and then go in to talk to Professor Jorgenson. They re-tell all we know and Spider-Man tells the Professor and the Torch that Morbius is dead. The very much alive Morbius arrives at the campus weak and hungry. He finds another homeless man to kill (to reduce the surplus population: Scrooge 1843) and the screams are heard by everyone. Spider-Man and the Human Torch (the Marvel Team-Up) race to the scene and find Morbius over the body. Spider –Man tears into Morbius in disgust. The Torch pulls Spidey off Morbius and makes an ultra high light to keep him stunned… Spider-Man is still feeling a pounding headache and fever and becomes too weak to even shoot his web. Suddenly the vampire Jefferson Bolt and his gang show up at about the same time as his student brother Jacob Bolt. Jefferson attacks the weakened Spider-Man & the Human Torch (with dirt) while Morbius attacks brother Jacob to feed again. Jefferson sees this and comes to the rescue hid brother but is killed in the process by Morbius. As the troops rally Morbius retreats into the night sky, leaving Jacob Bolt and our heroes to mourn his brother Jefferson and this issue comes to a close.
43rd Overstreet 8.0 $41 9.0 $76 9.2 $110
The mark of the mutants!
We begin part five of this arc in Peter Parkers apartment where he is still sick as a dog after his recent bout with Morbius. He hasn’t been getting any better but refuses to go to a conventional doctor. He decides to go and see Professor Hans Jorgenson ESU (who we met last issue) for some advise. Morbius is thinking the same thing at the same time, for the second time in a week (they must be psychically linked). Morbius however gets to Jorgenson first, kidnaps him and trashes his office before Spider-Man arrives. Of course when Spider-Man is seen in the now empty office he gets blamed for the disappearance of the professor.
We switch the scene to this month’s Team-Up for Spidey and the Original X-Men. The X-Men are in the middle of their five year hiatus as a regular comic in the Marvel universe. This appearance is a particular treat as you have almost the entire team present. Only the new furry Beast (Amazing Adventures #11-17) is missing from the fray. Most of the appearances in this timeframe involved only one or two of them at a time. As it turns out Charles Xavier also knows Professor Jorgenson and he sends the X-Men out to track down Spider-Man. Spider-Man is out looking for Morbius and Professor Jorgenson when the X-Men find him. He quickly takes out the Angel & Ice Man but quickly loses steam and passes out when Jean Grey holds him with her telekinetic powers. They take Spider-Man to the Westchester mansion where Professor X probes the unconscious Spider-Man’s mind. He quickly learns that Spider-Man is not responsible for the disappearance of Professor Jorgenson, and that he has blood poisoning that will prove fatal if not treated soon. They have also found out about Morbius and they need to find him – now!
Morbius is hungry and out looking for someone to feed on. In another alley he doesn’t find a homeless person this time, but two would-be thieves. Luckily for the X-Men and Spider-Man, Morbius is a rather loud eater and the two unfortunate men’s screams are heard from quite a distance by The Angel and the rest of the X-Men. They race to the alley to confront Morbius. His appearance momentarily stuns the X-Men and Morbius attacks immediately. The battle is going Morbius’s way he has Jean Grey by the throat, and threatens to kill her if he is interfered with as he retreats. Cyclops sees a mirror behind Morbius in the garbage and banks an optic blast off it to the back of Morbius’s head knocking him out cold. Professor X uses a telekinetic link with Jean Grey to obtain the location of Professor Jorgenson from Morbius’s unconscious mind.
Our final scene is in the X-Men’s headquarters in Westchester. Spider-Man comes to, feeling much better and is surrounded by Professor Jorgenson, Charles Xavier and the rest of the X-Men. Professor Jorgenson explains that the original formula Spider-Man had injected himself with interacted with his radio-active blood to cause a fatal condition. They extracted some new enzymes from Morbius and using the X-Men’s lab equipment created a new serum to counter-act the blood poisoning. It is assumed that Professor Jorgenson will look after Morbius (still unconscious) and try and remedy his blood disorder. Spider-Man now fit as a fiddle shows his gratitude to the X-Men by planting a big kiss on Jean Grey and smashing out through a glass window! And now we have come to the end our story, wrapping up the six armed Spider-Man saga and Morbius (for now). It’s great to see the X-Men in action again!
43rd Overstreet 8.0 $41 9.0 $76 9.2 $110
This is a pretty cool arc and a must if you are a Morbius fan. All five books in the arc are solid. The Marvel Team-Up books are couple of the better ones in that run, and still pretty reasonable priced. The Spider-Man books have arguably 2 bronze keys (100,101). And issue #102 is part of the one of kind $0.25 double size issue books from 1971.
Until next time…