Cover Price: $.60

#131
July 1983

Value: $2.50 (Near Mint-Mint)

 

Supporting Cast:



Guests:
Frog-Man (
Eugene Patilio, the son of the original)



Villains:
1st White Rabbit

"The Best Things In Life Are Free...But Everything Else Costs Money!" - 22 Pages


Writer -
J. M. DeMatteis
Artist - Kerry Gammill
Inker - Mike Esposito
Cover - Paul Smith
Lettering - Diana Albers
Colorist - Bob Sharen
Editor -
Tom DeFalco
Editor In Chief -
Jim Shooter

Spider-Man has produced some of the greatest stories in the history of comics -- stories filled with white-knuckle suspense, heart-breaking drama and edge-of-the-seat action. In short, some of the all-time classics. But Marvel Team-Up #131 isn't one of them. Now, that's not to say it isn't a good story, as it's actually quite entertaining. But the cover blurb says it all: "Warning: This story is not for the overly serious!"

The story introduces the White Rabbit, a character who ranks up there with the Rocket Racer, The Spot, Big Wheel and Hypno-Hustler as one of the goofiest villains in Spider-Man history. But she's supposed to be goofy and, in the context of this story, that's exactly what you need.

The White Rabbit is a wealthy, beautiful young widow who turns to crime out of sheer boredom. She creates a secret identity based on her favorite book, the classic story of "Alice in Wonderland." "Time and time again, I stepped through the looking-glass into a wonderland that transcended my constrained, constricted existence...and showed me life as it could have been!" she says. Her costume is complete with an umbrella, bunny ears and pocket watch. She dreams of becoming a criminal mastermind; however, her talent and abilities can't match her ambition.

Adding to the lunacy is Spider-Man's ally in this fight -- Frog-Man. The fabulous Frog-Man is Eugene Patilio, the teenage, somewhat out-of-shape son of the original Frog-Man, a small-time retired super-villain. First introduced in Marvel Team-Up #121, when he accidentally helped Spider-Man defeat the Speed Demon, Eugene seeks to use his father's costume to redeem his father's good name. Unfortunately for him, he's perhaps the most inept superhero in comics history.

The issue begins with the White Rabbit and her gang robbing a "Kwikkee Burger" fast food restaurant. when the manager pulls a gun, White Rabbit shoots him in the shoulder with a razor-tipped carrot (yes, a carrot!) fired from her umbrella. "Be grateful, my irascible friend, that my razor-tipped carrot was not aimed at your heart!" she tells him.

Eugene happens to be eating lunch in the restaurant at the time. So he sneaks into the men's room and changes into his Frog-Man costume, determined to save the day. He accidentally sets the controls on his leaping coils the wrong way, causing him to hop around the burger joint uncontrollably. "Oooooo!!! I forgot how queasy all this bouncing can make me! I hope I don't upchuck those three Kwikkee Burgers with cheese!" he thinks. White Rabbit blasts him in the face with some tear gas and flees with the money and sends him crashing into a wall with a flare fired from her umbrella. But before one of the gang members can shoot poor Frog-Man, Spider-Man happens onto the scene and rescues the would-be hero. "If I hadn't been swinging by at the right moment, you would've been frog legs soup by now!" he tells Eugene. "Get this straight, kiddo -- you are not a superhero!" Frog-Man jumps away, with his feelings obviously hurt. Spider-Man can't help but like the young man, but realizes that without any real skills or super-powers, Eugene is in way over his head. Spidey just doesn't want him to get hurt.

From there, Peter Parker drops by the apartment of his grad school classmate Roger Hochberg. Roger tells Peter that his mother broke her hip and had to have surgery. And Roger isn't sure how he can pay for her medical expenses and the regular bills. Peter vows to help somehow, realizing that he and his own Aunt May have been in that same situation before themselves. Then he remembers that there's a reward out for the White Rabbit. Bringing her in would give him the money to help Roger.

Meanwhile, Eugene and his dad are having their own financial worries. Eugene's dad scolds him for donning the Frog-Man costume. "I told you a thousand times never to wear that suit again...and you did it anyway! You could've been killed!" he tells his son. He apologizes for coming down so hard on Eugene, but says he's worried about paying their bills. That gives Eugene the idea to collect the reward himself. "I think my dad'd be the happiest guy alive if we had a few bucks in the bank," he thinks. But what Eugene doesn't know is that his father is meeting with a shady character at a run-down bar. Is he going back to his old criminal ways? It sure seems so, as he agrees to join the White Rabbit's gang! His first mission is to join the White Rabbit as they rob an uptown book fair.

Spider-Man runs into Frog-Man out on patrol. He tries to convince Eugene to go home, but when they spot the White Rabbit's van (with "Mad Hatter's Chapeau Shop" on the side) both go after it. The White Rabbit orders her driver to pull over, saying, "You know, I think it would do my reputation inestimable good if I were to assassinate a superhero!" Spider-Man battles the gang, while Eugene bumps into his father, who says, "Will you just trust me, son?" The police come and talk to Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Frog-Man hops after the White Rabbit, who is trying to escape using her boot jets. "Stop -- in the name of truth, justice and...oh geez! I forgot the third one!" The two of them crash head-on and tumble into the hospital room of Roger Hochberg's mother! Roger bashes the would-be super-villain over the head with a vase, knocking the White Rabbit out cold.

So Roger earns the reward -- but Spider-Man and the cops arrive to explain that Eugene's dad has earned a share of it too. You see, he was working undercover for the police to help bring in the White Rabbit. The story ends happily, with Eugene and his dad enjoying a meal -- and Eugene dreaming of his next big adventure as the fabulous Frog Man!

A humor-based superhero story is always a tricky proposition, but this one works because the story makes us care about the characters. Eugene, his dad and Roger all are sympathetic and that, along with some genuinely funny humor, make this story worth reading.

The Frog-Man and White Rabbit characters pretty much have been pet projects of writer J.M. DeMatteis. He brings them back for a rematch nearly a decade later in Spectacular Spider-Man #185.

Next issue: Spider-Man teams with Mr. Fantastic to take on the challenge of Everyman!

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 2
Significance Rating: 2

Overall Rating:

4

 

Marvel Team-Up #130

Also This Month:

Amazing Spider-Man #242
Spectacular Spider-Man
#80

Marvel Team-Up #132