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Marvel Team-Up #55: Review

Mar 1977
Bill Mantlo, John Byrne

Story Name:

Spider, spider on the Moon

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Marvel Team-Up #55 Review by (May 8, 2020)
Hulk leaves New Mexico and winds up in New York for a 2-issue spat with Absorbing Man in his #208-209.

Woodgod was invented by Bill Mantlo in Marvel Premiere #31 as a human/animal hybrid experiment but is being hunted by the military because he was a witness to an accidental nerve gas release. Hulk and Spider-Man got involved in the previous 2 issues.
He won't actually go after Major Tremens but instead Mantlo will take him to Hulk #251-253 where he'll continue leading a group of Changeling hybrids similar to himself.

Spider-Man continues from here into #56 where he'll team up with Daredevil against Electro and Blizzard before tangling with Morbius the Living Vampire in Spectacular Spider-Man #7-8.

When Adam Warlock reaches Counter-Earth (in a flashback in Marvel Two-In-One #62) he will find that it has been destroyed, although its creator the High Evolutionary will swear (correctly) that it's still there. Then he'll go on to Avengers Annual #7 and MTIO An#2 culminating in his and Thanos' deaths (as usual Marvelously temporary).
After his death certain strange things like the Counter-Earth discrepancy and his extreme size-changes leading up to this issue will be explained in MTIO#63.

This is the 3rd issue to claim that there are 6 Soul Gems of which Warlock's is 1. The 1st was Captain Marvel #45 where a 2nd such Gem was found. In Warlock #15 his Gem itself claimed to be 1 of 6. And now we see 2 more of the Gems and Stranger repeats the 6-ness.
For now they are all called Soul Gems and not much is made of their differences. This will persists into Av An#7 and MTIO An#2 where Thanos will gather them all together.
It won't be until the 2-issue Thanos Quest that they are collectively called the Infinity Gems and given individual names and powers. The Soul Gem retains its name but the Gem in CM#45 is the Mind Gem, the Stranger's Gem is Power Gem and the Gardener had the Time Gem.

The cosmic Stranger débuted in X-Men #11 where he took Magneto away for a while. His most recent app was in CM#42, part of the same storyline as CM#45. He must have acquired his Soul Gem sometime after that.
Stranger will go from here straight to Champions #12-13, also written by Mantlo, where he tries to save Earth from the Null-Life Bomb he left on Earth back in Silver Surfer (1968) #5. He'll still have his Soul Gem there but then Thanos will take it from him before Av An#7.
The metal egg will stay in the Blue Area until Mantlo tells us what it is in Iron Man #109.

This is Gardener's 1st app. He'll next show up in Mantlo's Hulk #247-248. He is 1 of the Elders Of The Universe, and the group will make themselves known as such in Silver Surfer (1987) #4. Other Elders we've met already without realising are Collector (Av#28), Grandmaster (Av#69), Possessor (as Kamo Tharnn in Thor #325) and Contemplator (as Mister Buda in Captain America's Bicentenniel Battles).

Some say the Stranger is also an Elder. He does sort of fit the prime criterion, to be the lone survivor of some very early species in the universe, but his being the composite of all the inhabitants of his world isn't quite the same. And I don't recall any hard evidence of his membership of the Elders.





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvel Team-Up #55 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
At the end of last issue Spider-Man was left in a rocket heading out into space and running out of air. His team-up partners in the last 2 issues were Hulk and Woodgod. Hulk's attention span means he just wanders off, and Woodgod leaves Liberty, New Mexico too to track the villain of the piece, Major Tremens.

The g-force and lack of oxygen cause Peter Parker to hallucinate and nearly black out ...

... but then the rocket's flight is intercepted by a giant-size Adam Warlock, big enough to hold it in his hands. He muses for our benefit how (at the end of his series in #14-15) he had found that he was actually larger than the Solar System and had left. But now he has returned to discover that he is a more manageable size. Now he senses Spidey's need for oxygen and teleports himself and the rocket to the Moon where he also senses a breathable atmosphere.

But when he arrives he discovers that he's shrunk again to man-size. And when he uses his Soul Gem to lower the craft slowly to the ground the Gem disobeys him and lets it crash. Quickly he rips the hatch door out of its frame but finds no-one inside. Except that Spider-Man is now OK and clinging to the door he's holding. Spidey says he's heard about this Blue Area of the Moon, where the Watcher lives.

Suddenly the genuinely giant-size Stranger appears with a Gem on *his* brow like Adam's. He claims there are 6 Soul Gems. He's already found 1 and he wants them all, starting with Warlock's. Then follows a short battle using the Gems which Stranger wins easily. With Warlock out for the count Spider-Man decides it's time for him to weigh in with his webbing and the odd punch (and the usual quips). But Stranger just grows even larger, grabs him in his fist and hurls him away.

Peter's fall is deliberately broken by a very mobile tree, but he's still knocked unconscious. And he's found by another large humanoid.

Stranger wants Warlock to surrender his Soul Gem quickly because he has something to attend to on Earth. Adam explains that without the Gem he'll die but Stranger doesn't care. Warlock levitates a chunk of Moon they're standing on into space but Stranger explodes it and Adam falls back to the surface unconscious. Stranger had dematerialised to escape the explosion and now rematerialises to take the Gem.

Spider-Man awakes to see a large old man with a shepherd's crook and surrounded by cute animals. He explains that he is the Gardener and has created a garden here in the Blue Area. But then the Stranger arrived looking for something. Peter says it's Warlock's Soul Gem, but as long as his garden isn't threatened the Gardener says it's none of his business. So Spidey webs off to save Adam by himself.

He sees his unconscious ally held within a stasis field created by some arcs of super-tech. Stranger reaches out for the Gem. But Spider-Man sticks new web-fluid cartridges in his web-shooters and swings into action. He smothers the foe in webbing, but Stranger just grows out of it and fires hand-blasts at our guy.

Gardener watches from the shadows. He knows that Stranger actually came seeking *his* Soul Gem, but he masked its emanations to hide it. But he can't stand idle and let Warlock die, even if it means risking his garden, so he makes a move. The vegetation attacks the Stranger and he is bombarded with chunks of Moon-rock. Now Stranger senses the other's presence and fights back.

Taking advantage of the distraction Spidey tries to free Warlock but the stasis field repels him. So he throws a large rock at 1 of the arcs. Stranger spots him and fires a blast which shatters the rock. But his blast also hits the machinery, and Adam Warlock is free. He and the Gardener combine the powers of the Gems on their brows and train them on the Stranger. He knows he can't stand up to 2 Gems so he cuts his losses and departs for his mission on Earth.

But the garden on the Moon is now shrivelled and dead. Gardener's Soul Gem is corrupted and he can no longer use it to create living things. From now on it is only useful as a weapon so he abandons it on the Moon before leaving for other worlds, to garden them the slower way. And Adam takes Spider-Man home to Earth before heading for Counter-Earth.

And no-one notices a silver 'egg' lying in the dead garden.



John Byrne
Dave Hunt
George Roussos
Dave Cockrum (Cover Penciler)
Dave Cockrum (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Susan Fox.
Editor: Archie Goodwin. Editor-in-chief: Archie Goodwin.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Hulk
Hulk

(Bruce Banner)
Spider-Man
Spider-Man

(Peter Parker)



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