By Mark Rodriguez
I managed to grab a couple of Marvel Team-Up books, back in the day when comics still came as one-shots. These guys are pretty old, comics were still 35 cents back then. Checking the comic, it was released August 78. Oh wow. Let's see what Iron Man and Spider-Man were up to in the 70's.
"Crack of the Whip!" starts with Spider-Man shining his Spider-Signal upon a group of crooks that are stealing some furs. The crooks try to shoot Spidey with drugged 'Mercy Bullets'. Spidey quickly takes down the bad guys while dodging their shots. He takes their furs, which makes the bad guys think the Bugle was right about Spidey being a thief, but he actually used them to cover them up to make it easier to clobber them.
Suddenly the truck the bad guys were using open fired upon Spidey from its machine gun turret, and the hero is hit. The Mercy Bullets are gelatin encased and shatter upon contact, sending a nerve drug directly into his bloodstream. Spidey swings under the truck and flips it on his side as he feels his strength fading. The bad guys notice that the drug is starting to take effect and run off the goods. Dazed, Spidey still tries to stop them but he is suddenly hit by a whip that cuts him up. Whiplash appears as Spider-Man finally passes out.
|I think the real crime here are Whiplash's weird-ass split-open pants-legs thing, what the hell is that?|
The police arrive and the men tell Whiplash they have to go. Whiplash comments that this saved Spider-Man's life but warns him that he will kill him if he interferes again. With the last of his strength, Spidey tosses a Spider-Tracer onto Whiplash's back. The police arrive and see this as their chance to capture Spider-Man.
Spider-Man wakes up in a police lab in front of Iron Man and Captain Jean Dewolff. Iron Man assured him no one removed his mask while he was out. Jean says he was lucky to be alive after getting hit by so many drugged bullets. Spider-Man says he'll have to put his new outfit on Whiplash's bill after it was shredded up. Iron Man realizes if his old foe Whiplash is back, then the organization he worked for, The Maggia, must be back as well.
The villains return to the Maggia hideout, concerned since they lost half their haul and even partial failures are not forgiven. Whiplash, however, joined them with the intention of rising the ranks and someday being the one to give the orders. The section leader berates Whiplash for not killing Spider-Man when he has the chance, and Whiplash angrily reminds him he's been brought aboard to do things his way.
The leader tells Whiplash he can easily drop him if he wanted to. The front gate alarm goes off and the monitor shows Iron Man flying towards them as Jean Dewolff drives behind him with Spider-Man. The leader tells Whiplash he's an idiot for allowing himself to be followed, but this is his chance to lure them in and kill them and reap the rewards of ruthlessness. Iron Man was able to tap into the signal from the Spider-Tracer. When they get close enough, they decide to go in for the attack, but Jean isn't staying behind. She has a personal interest in stopping Maggia.
The signal leads Iron Man to an open window, but a steel door shuts behind him. He is not stuck in a Murder Maze, a maze of mirrors, all showing images of Whiplash while his whips attack the Avenger from all angles. Iron Man must his computers to determine which is the real Whiplash before his armor gets sliced to ribbons.
Iron Man grabs onto the whip and yanks Whiplash through the mirrors and into the room. He asks him for his leader and Whiplash says he's busy with Spider-Man and Captain Jean. If he wants to help them, he'll have to get past him.
Spider-Man is crawling along the ceiling, thinking to himself that he has also faced the Maggia himself and knows how dangerous they can be. Suddenly, spiders appear out of nowhere, crawling all over Spider-Man, biting him everywhere and infecting him with their venom. Spider-Man loses his grip on the ceiling and falls on the floor that turns into a giant snake.
Spider-Man thinks that this the effects of the drugs, the spiders biting him must have really been drugged darts to make him more vulnerable to mind control. He recognizes this as the abilities of Brian Dewolff, The Wraith. Captain Jean, his sister, appears and points her gun to Wraith's back, but the villain hypnotizes her and makes her pull the gun on herself. Wraith commands her to pull the trigger, which would make her shoot herself. Spider-Man leaps in, telling him to stop since he'd be killing his own sister. Suddenly Spider-Man is tossed back and he crashes through a wall, knocking down Whiplash, who was still fighting with Iron Man. Now with everyone gathered together, Iron Man flings Whiplash into Wraith, which snaps Jean out of the mind control.
Captain Jean realizes she was about to shoot herself and tells Wraith he would killed his own sister. Wraith told her to not look for him after he vanished. Whiplash says she would make a fine hostage to use to escape Iron Man and Spider-Man. Jean slaps her brother and tells him he's not really evil, he's letting his mind powers take control of him just like the doctors warned him they would. She yanks off his mask saying she doesn't want her brother to become a common criminal. She says Maggia found him and took advantage that he was a cop to plan robberies.
Whiplash says Wraith doesn't sound like the kind of person he'd be taking orders from. He flings his whip around, planning his escape so he can tell the main Maggia leader that the plan failed. The whip cracks Jean upside her head, knocking her out. Iron Man angrily tries to blast Whiplash, but the villain dodges the repulsor blast. Spider-Man tends to Jean and tells Iron Man to take care of Whiplash but Wraith decides to step in.
Wraith stares into Whiplash's eyes and makes him see a giant one eyed snake monster wrapping itself around him. This makes Whiplash go crazy with horror, while everyone can't see anything but the villain writhing on the floor, screaming for help.
The cops arrive and take away all the villains, the henchmen lamenting that they should have gotten away while everyone was busy fighting. Whiplash is still babbling about snakes. Captain Jean tells her brother to promise to never use his mind power again, and he promises to try. As the siblings walk off, Spider-Man and Iron Man watch them, wondering if they could ever give up their powers to live a normal life someday.
Pretty cool one-shot, all things considered. This is the first time I ever seen Whiplash in the comics, though I've heard of him before. Of course, many might remember Whiplash's portrayal in Iron Man 2, but that character was more of a mix between Whiplash and the Crimson Dynamo.
I'm still new to Marvel in many aspects, I'm not up all the evil organizations like AIM and HYDRA, so I never heard of Maggia before. It seems that other than Whiplash, several other villains have been members or at least hired by the several incarnations of this organization, including the likes of Hammerhead, Trapster and even Mysterio.
The story was decent for what it was. I rolled my eyes a little at the mercy bullets, for if they were just regular bullets, BAM, no more Web-Slinger. Like he was hit, he was so lucky those were weird magic bullets and not the ordinary kind. Usually we see that sort of thing in cartoons to censor the comics using live rounds, so I'm surprised to see this in the actual comics. Also since all of this had to fit in a single issue, I do see some signs on rushing. The panel where both Wraith and Captain Jean appeared almost looked like she betrayed Spider-Man and siding with the bad guys. I'm glad the dialogue explains it, but it would have worked better if Wraith and Jean appeared in two separate panels.