Cover Price: $.25

#41
January 1976

Value: $7 (Near Mint-)

 

Supporting Cast:


Guests:
Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Jarvis


Villains
:
1st Cotton Mather

"A Witch Time!" - 18 Pages


Writer -
Bill Mantlo
Artist - Sal Buscema
Inker - Mike Esposito
Cover - Gil Kane
Lettering - Karen Mantlo
Colorist - Ellen Vartanoff
Editor -
Marv Wolfman

The Salem Witch Trials are a famous black mark in the history of American criminal law. Nearly 30 people were falsely convicted, imprisoned and executed, either by hanging or stoning, for practicing witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1620s. Rev. Cotton Mather was one of the key instigators of the push to execute "witches" in Salem.

That's all good for a history lesson, but what does that have to do with Spider-Man, right? Well, in Marvel Team-Up #41, the Wall-Crawler and the Scarlet Witch travel back nearly 300 years in time to Salem where they confront Cotton Mather himself!

The story begins in the central European nation of Latveria in the abandoned castle of Dr. Doom. The Scarlet Witch has been called to castle, which looks like something out of a Universal horror movie, by a strange voice in her mind. "Come ye, witch! Come ye! The hour of thy soul's judgment is nigh!" the voice says. Through flashbacks, we learn that the Scarlet Witch started hearing the voices at Avengers Mansion. At times, the entity even possessed her body, forcing her to lash out at her husband and fellow Avenger, the Vision. Finally, the voice forces her to commandeer an Avengers Quinjet and go to Latveria and Doom's castle. "The witch is leaving, Red One! She'll never kiss thy blood-stained lips again!" the possessed Scarlet Witch tells the helpless Vision, who can just watch his wife fly off.

When the Scarlet Witch arrives at the castle, she is confronted by Cotton Mather, who, for a guy who hates witches, possesses some rather powerful magical abilities himself. He subdues the Scarlet Witch, but not before she can get off one final spell. That spell travels across the Atlantic to New York City as a glowing ball of energy. It tracks down Spider-Man, who can't get away from it, no matter how hard he tries. "I feel like I'm caught in a Mexican standoff with a flying flashlight!" he says. The sphere of light teleports him to Dr. Doom's castle, where he finds the Scarlet Witch unconscious and Cotton Mather angry. "Who dares disturb Mather's prayers? Who would be such a fool?" Mather says. He commands the possessed Scarlet Witch to destroy Spider-Man. "Lady! Snap out of it! You're an Avenger, remember? We're supposed to be on the same side!" Spider-Man says. But she casts a hex bolt causing the floor to collapse beneath Spider-Man, then causes the stone ceiling to crumble in on top. However, a part of the real Scarlet Witch is fighting Mather's control and so she makes sure that Spider-Man isn't killed by the falling rubble.

Cotton Mather uses Dr. Doom's famous time machine (first seen all the way back in Fantastic Four #5, when the good doctor sends the FF back in time to retrieve Blackbeard's treasure). This is a really nice 3/4 page scene by artist Sal Buscema, showing the pair moving backward through time. "The hour of the Lord is nigh! The hour when Cotton Mather, servant of the Lord, wuill come into his own! The hor when the Witchslayer will triumph over the dark lord himself...and stand at the right hand of God as his punisher and holy executioner!" Mather declares.

Back at the castle, Spider-Man frees himself from the fallen rubble, barely avoiding another cave-in. He checks out the time machine and sees that it is set for 1692. "I took enough American history to remember the name Cotton Mather--and the connection he had with the Salem witch-riots of 1692!!" Spider-Man says. "I'm coming after you fanatic!" Spider-Man gets on the time machine and goes after the Scarlet Witch and Cotton Mather. He finds himself in colonial Salem, where pitchfork- and torch-wielding pilgrims are calling on Mather to burn the Scarlet Witch at the stake. But before Cotton Mather can strike the helpless Scarlet Witch, he is stopped -- by the Vision. It turns out the Vision took the same path back to colonial Salem to save his wife. "If she is hurt, man--this I promise you. It will be your flesh that hangs suspended from the posts to which you've bound the woman the Vision loves!" Spider-Man drops in, too and so it's three heroes against Cotton Mather and an angry mob!

This issue has more than a passing similarity to Marvel Team-Up #35, in which the Human Torch and Doctor Strange battle an evil religious cult leader named Jeremiah. But this is the better of the two stories. Unlike, say, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and time travel are an uneasy fit. The Web-Slinger usually is better off sticking close to his New York base. But this six-issue Marvel Team-Up storyline is fondly remembered and for good reason. Part of the appeal undoubtedly is the fact that Cotton Mather's crusade to eliminate "witches" really happened. It's somewhat chilling, but it makes for an interesting change-of-pace Spider-Man story.

Next issue: The time travel story continues. Can Spider-Man, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch stand up to Cotton Mather and his angry followers?

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 4
Significance Rating: 4

Overall Rating:

8

 

Marvel Team-Up #40

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Amazing Spider-Man #152
Howard The Duck
#1

Marvel Team-Up #42