In Superman And Spider-Man
Marvel Treasury Edition

Cover Price: $2.50

#28
1981

Value: $55 (Near Mint-Mint)
Origin Spider-Man

 

Supporting Cast:
J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Robertson, Gloria Grant


Guests:
Hulk, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lana Lang


Villains
:
Doctor Doom, Parasite

"The Heroes And The Holocaust!" - 62 Pages


Writer - Jim Shooter
Plot Suggestions -
Marv Wolfman
Artist - John Buscema
Inkers -
Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Steve Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Joe Rubinstein, Bob Wiacek
Cover -
Bob Larkin
Lettering - Joe Rosen
Colorist - Glynis Wein
Editor - Al Milgrom

From a creative standpoint, the 1976 Superman vs. Spider-Man Treasury Edition was a home run. Marvel and DC teamed up to create a comic book that not only would send fans flocking to the stores in droves, but also one that would give them a good story for their money.

The two companies joined forces again two years later for Superman and Spider-Man, again pairing the flagship characters of the respective publishers. However, DC and Marvel weren't able to capture lightning in a bottle for a second time. As a result, Superman and Spider-Man is largely a convoluted mess.

The main problem appears to be that there simply are too many cooks in the kitchen. Marvel veteran John Buscema handles the pencils, working with no fewer than 10 inkers! Now, this list includes some of the best inkers in the business, such as Klaus Janson, Bob McLeod, Terry Austin and Joe Rubinstein. And I understand why everyone would want to participate in such a historic event. But the results are a patchwork quilt. Literally, the art looks completely different from one page to the next. Even the colors of Superman's costume don't quite look right on most of the pages.

Also, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter decided to script this one himself, as he did several years later with the Secret Wars cross-over. Shooter is an experienced comic book writer, including a legendary run on DC's Legion of Super-Heroes. But unlike Gerry Conway, who wrote the first Spider-Man/Superman team-up, he didn't have much experience with these characters. Marv Wolfman, who provided plot suggestions, would have been a much better choice to write this script.

The initial hook of the story is actually quite intriguing: Peter Parker and Clark Kent switch employers, with Peter going to work for Perry White at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, while Clark has to deal with J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle in New York City.

The story begins with Spider-Man discovering a break-in at a seemingly non-descript construction site. He captures the crooks, but he can't shake the suspicion that something odd is going on at this site. Well, he's right -- Doctor Doom is watching from a secret lair. "For years, even while I dabbled with lesser bids for power, ever has work progressed on this, my greatest project!" Doom says. It turns out this project is his greatest plan, Project Omega. Doom's plan would destroy all of the fossil fuels in the world, leaving a new clean nuclear reactor Doom has invented as the world's lone source of energy. So as the man who controls the energy, he would become the de facto ruler of the world. But in order to make this plan work, Doom has teamed up with Superman's old foe the Parasite. The Parasite can absorb the powers and energy from other super-powered beings, making him a dangerous foe. However, he and Doom don't trust each other, even though they have agreed to work together.

Peter Parker takes his photos of Spider-Man's battle to the Daily Bugle. But J. Jonah Jameson isn't interested. He says the Hulk is raising cain in Metropolis. He wants Peter to go there and get some photos of the Hulk and Superman. And the Hulk doesn't waste any time giving Peter the chance. He's on a rampage through Metropolis, thanks to a small ultrasonic device of Doctor Doom's that is sending the Hulk into a destructive frenzy. And, of course, any time someone goes on a rampage through Metropolis, that means they'll have to deal with the Man of Steel.

"Stupid cape-man," Hulk says, giving Superman a sucker punch. I tell ya, that Hulk is a man of few words. Superman and the Hulk battle for a while, before Superman essentially decides he's bored with the fight and wants it to end. "This time, I'm ready! And when I'm ready..and I don't want to be moved, no power on earth can move me!" he says. And he just stands there while the Hulk pounds away at him, with the not-so-jolly green giant's blows having all the effect of a five-year-old child's. To me, this was the most ridiculous scene in the comic -- and largely ruined the whole story. If the Hulk -- perhaps the strongest guy in the Marvel universe -- can't even tickle Superman, then where's the dramatic tension? Superman obviously can't be hurt, so why should we worry about him? This story was written before John Byrne's 1980s reboot of Superman and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt why such a rethinking of the character was needed.

Oh, yeah, and Peter Parker arrives in Metropolis during the fight. But since Superman is so all-powerful, he tells Spider-Man, "Step aside, son. This is a job for Superman!" before easily defeating the Hulk. Yep; completely discredit both the Hulk and Spider-Man in the same scene. That's some great storytelling right there. After the fight, Peter, now back in civilian clothes, watches and wonders, "Geez! The police are cooperating with Supes! And the crowd is looking at him as if he were Gandhi! What have I been doing wrong?" Peter then runs into Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy gives him the tour of the Daily Planet, where Perry White buys some of Peter's photos, paying three times what Jonah would've given him!

Meanwhile, Superman plays a visit to Doctor Doom at the Latverian embassy in New York. "Now, what can a humble monarch such as I do for the legendary 'Man of Tomorrow'?" Doom asks, being uncharacteristically coy. Doom then blasts Superman with a kryptonite ray. However, Superman pulls the lead lining out of the floor (which Doom installed to foil Superman's x-ray vision) and creates a suit of lead armor for himself. Using the protective armor, he easily dismantles Doctor Doom's kryptonite ray. Okay, so now we've humbled Doctor Doom, too. Might as well just let Superman make the whole Marvel universe look bad. But at least he can't arrest Doom, since he's on Latverian soil. Doom has a Plan B, though, although he's not giving away any details. Doom has kidnapped the Hulk, and says he has "another specimen." Clark Kent then stops by the Daily Bugle, where he meets Joe Robertson and Glory Grant, before stopping a few bank robberies and plane crashes as Superman. Before long, Superman is the toast of the town in the Big Apple, much to the dismay of J. Jonah Jameson, who says, "I miss the old days!"

Spider-Man isn't having nearly as much luck in Metropolis. Just like in New York, no one seems to trust or like him; the police even shoot at him. However, he passes a construction site much like the one at the beginning of the story. His spider-sense tingles, so he checks it out and finds an underground passage. "Maybe this is where they're filming the next Star Wars movie!" the Web-Slinger jokes. "Wonder if I'll run into Luke Warm water or C3-D2!"

No, he doesn't run into either of those guys. But he does find Doctor Doom's other "specimen" -- none other than the Amazon Princess herself, Wonder Woman! "She's terrific -- practically unstoppable! And she makes Bo Derek look like a 2!" Spider-Man says. But Wonder Woman mistakes Spider-Man for a villain. "By Aphrodite's crown, I swear I'll stop him!" she thinks. Instead, though, Spider-Man convinces her that he isn't a bad guy. Their truce lasts just a few seconds, until the Parasite and some of Doom's men kidnap Wonder Woman. Spider-Man follows them deeper into the underground complex, and Superman isn't far behind.

Doom's plan involves having the Parasite absorbs the powers of Wonder Woman and the Hulk. "Let me drain them dry and then bring me Superman as well," the Parasite says. "And perhaps, at last, the gnawing hunger that plagues me will end." Doom also has created a powerful, allegedly indestructible, robot to aid the Parasite in the battle against Superman. Superman fights the villains and is able to destroy the robot thanks in part to a distraction by Spider-Man. The two heroes briefly are captured, thanks to some kryptonite, but Doctor Doom and the Parasite get into their own battle. Doom's nuclear reactor is damaged in the fight and a massive atomic explosion is imminent! Superman works inside the reactor, while Spider-Man puts his scientific brain to work to stop it from the outside. Together, the heroes shut down the reactor in time. The story ends with Peter and Clark returning to their respective newsrooms, to be greeted by old friends in Clark's case and a penny-pinching boss in Peter's case.

Talk about a disappointment. Superman teaming with Spider-Man obviously has a great deal of promise and the idea of Peter Parker and Clark Kent switching places is an inspired one. But the plot veers wildly in too many directions, and Superman just appears too darned powerful here to have any dramatic tension in the story. Doctor Doom obviously is a great villain, but he's a Fantastic Four villain, not a Spider-Man foe. I understand that he fit the needs of the story, but I'd much rather see one of Spidey's classic foes involved in such a team-up. Superman and Spider-Man, unfortunately, has to be chalked up as a great idea that was less than ideal in execution.

Reviewed by Bruce Buchanan.

Quality Rating: 3
Significance Rating: 3

Overall Rating:

6

 

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