MARVEL TEAM-UP #4
"And Then -- The X-Men!"
Dreams: The stuff that a bard's poems and a lover's nights are made of...
Unfortunately, Peter Parker's dreams are the stuff of nightmares. Peter shouts out in his sleep as his dreams are haunted by the image of Morbius. His shouting is so loud, his roommate, Harry Osborn, wakes him before the neighbors start to complain. Peter wakes up, feverish, sweating, and shaking from the illness that struck him last issue. Harry thinks he should see a doctor, but Peter insists that all he needs is rest. After Harry leaves, Peter monologues that the dreams involving Morbius have been coming more frequently and the chills with them.
Instead of returning to bed, Peter decides that he's seriously sick, and it has something to do with Morbius. He heads out as Spider-Man intending to visit Professor Hans Jorgenson (introduced last issue).
Professor Jorgenson is busy studying Morbius' old formulae and experiments. The professor concludes that Michael was on the verge of developing an anemia-forestalling enzyme that would reverse a certain form of leukemia, but that the effect on the patient would be disastrous. As Professor Jorgenson contemplates this, Morbius stealthily sneaks through his window, and knocks the professor unconscious with a single blow to the head. In a breathspan, Morbius carries the professor out into the night sky gliding like a bat 'cross a silver moon.
Downstairs, Professor Jorgenson's landlady hears a "KRAK" as the professor is struck from behind. Complaining about late night visitors, she goes upstairs to have a talk with the professor. At the same moment, Spider-Man enters the professor's study and finds his papers scattered about the room. While he studies the papers, the landlady enters and collapses at the sight of Spider-Man lurking about the professor's room prompting Spider-Man to head out.
The next morning, the newspaper headline reads "Spider-Man Kidnaps Noted Scientist". This scientist apparently traveled in high circles as well. Professor X, leader of the X-Men, reads the headline with some concern. Apparently, he's spoken to Professor Jorgenson recently regarding Jorgenson's concern for his colleague Morbius. Professor X sends out a telepathic summons and calls the X-Men together: The Angel, Iceman, Marvel Girl, and Cyclops. Professor X sends out the X-Men to investigate Professor Jorgenson's disappearance.
Seven hours later, in Manhattan, Spider-Man swings through the night. Apparently, he's slept all day, but he is still dizzy and feverish. Without warning, his webbing is grabbed from above, and The Angel tries to carry him off. Spider-Man fires another web-line, but this one is intercepted by Iceman. Spider-Man is confused why the X-Men would attack him, but without explanation, the Angel grabs him and carries him aloft. However, Spider-Man's strength and agility are too much for the Angel, and Spider-Man sends him hurtling towards the ground only to be saved in mid-air by Marvel Girl's telekinetic abilities. Iceman does not fair any better when Spider-Man shatters his ice platform underneath. Cyclops gets involved, but Spider-Man's spider sense allows him to dodge Cyclop's eye blasts with ease. As Spider-Man puts Iceman down for the count, he's frozen in place by Marvel Girl's telekinetic bubble. As Cyclops insists that they just need to talk, Spider-Man blacks out on the rooftop.
The X-Men return to Professor X with Spider-Man and Professor Jorgenson's notes. According to the notes, Spider-Man has less than four hours to live! Reading Spider-Man's memories, Professor X sees Spider-Man getting an injection of a unique blood toxin from Morbius. As Professor X sees the battles with Morbius, he realizes that Morbius is the kidnapper, not Spider-Man. He also says that Spider-Man is going to die unless Morbius is found allowing them to adjust the toxins in Spider-Man's blood.
Morbius sits in an abandoned tenement still waiting for Professor Jorgenson to awake from his blow. Hungry and tired of waiting, Morbius flies out in the night to feed. He finds a would-be mugger in an alley. As he attacks, the mugger's terrified screams carry through the night where they are heard by The Angel as he flies overhead. He sees what's happening in the alley and flies off to summon the rest of the X-Men driving nearby.
Satiated with fresh blood, Morbius rises and stops as he sees the X-Men approaching. The sight of Morbius' blood red eyes slow the X-Men. Morbius snarls inhumanly and attacks. The Iceman is the first to fall when Morbius kicks out catching him in the head. Cyclops' eye-blasts miss, and Cyclops is taken out by a thrown trash can. The Angel charges into the fray, but he is also unsuccessful at stopping Morbius. All the remains is Marvel Girl. She launches trash and trash cans at Morbius, but Morbius gets within striking distance. He grabs Marvel Girl holding her as a human shield between himself and Cyclop. Cyclops bounces a blast off a conveniently placed mirror behind Morbius knocking the vampire unconscious. Using Marvel Girl as a conduit, Professor X probes Morbius' thoughts and finds where Professor Jorgenson is being kept. The Angel flies off carrying Morbius back to the Professor while the rest of the team heads out to collect Professor Jorgenson.
Later, Spider-Man awakes to find the X-Men standing around and unconscious Morbius laying nearby. Professor X explains the events of the past few hours and how Morbius' blood was attacking Spider-Man's system. Luckily, Professor Jorgenson was able to make an inoculation for Spider-Man using Morbius' own blood. As everyone lays the credit for the life-saving rescue on Jean, Spider-Man leaps forward, brazenly gives Jean a big kiss, and leaps out through the window ending the story.
Not sure how long after last issue this issue takes place. Peter is still sick, but his illness is compounded with nightmares regarding Morbius. Peter decides that the chills and his dreams of Morbius are related somehow, and swings off to visit Professor Jorgenson. Now, why he didn't visit the professor after the events of last issue, or sometime sooner in the interim is not discussed. Peter muses how the dreams and chills have been coming more frequently, so the inference is that last issue occurred at least several days, and likely several weeks prior to this issue. Peter seems to have been asleep for some time, and the evening sky is dark. He doesn't really consider that the professor might be in bed and not up waiting for company. Or, he might just be familiar enough with the professor's schedule that he knows what a night owl Professor Jorgenson keeps.
In any case, Professor Jorgenson is awake, in his flat, and reviewing his notes and letters from Michael Morbius. Reviewing Morbius' notes and formulas, the professor discovers the key fact that Morbius overlooked - his developed enzyme would cure his leukemia but have an 'unthinkable' effect on the patient. Much like last issue, the events of this issue all occur at the same time. Spider-Man is on his way to visit the professor, and Morbius chooses this evening to revisit the professor as well. Morbius needs Professor Jorgenson's assistance in order to find a cure for his vampire-like existence. Naturally, since he and Professor Jorgenson are former colleagues, Morbius beats the professor into submission instead of simply asking for his aid. Morbius flies off into the night sky carrying the unconscious body of the professor.
By coincidence.. I swear every transition in this comic between scenes could start with this phrase.. Professor Jorgenson's landlady happens to hear the commotion of Morbius beating the professor. She heads of the stairs and arrives just after Spider-Man swings in the empty apartment. I am uncertain how Spider-Man could have arrived so quickly after Morbius' departure without seeing Morbius flying off in the night sky. Perhaps the fever has just left Spider-Man that unobservant.
Naturally, the landlady faints, and Spider-Man heads out into the evening. The landlady reports to the police that Spider-Man kidnapped the scientist, and the Daily Bugle headlines announces this to the New York area. The headline is picked up by Professor X who, by coincidence!, is a former colleague and friend of Professor Jorgenson. Professor X summons the X-men. Now, curiously, the X-Men are all in costume when the Professor summons them - Angel and Iceman are training in the Danger Room, Marvel Girl is lounging on the couch reading as you or I might lounge in a comfortable pair of pajamas, and Cyclops is out walking around the garden in full costume. When the X-Men go to meet the Professor however, they are all in normal street clothes. Go figure.
Charles Xavier sends his team out but his mission is left up to the imagination of the reader. Usually when a plan is discussed or explained "off-panel" and not shared with the reader, it means there's some unpredictable twist, or a surprise in the making. Not so in this case. Rather than leave you in suspense, Professor X's plan is pretty much summed up with "Go ask Spider-Man about Professor Jorgenson's disappearance".
This is the Marvel Universe though where nothing comes easy. Instead of flagging down Spider-Man or finding some other way to get his attention in a non-threatening manner, Angel grabs Spider-Man webline and carries him aloft. When Spider-Man tries to escape, he finds his path blocked by Iceman. Reasonably assume that the X-Men are attacking him for some reason, Spider-Man defends himself. He easily fights off Iceman and Angel while dodging Cyclops' blasts, but Jean Grey's telekinesis is too much and freeze him in place while Cyclops explains that they simply want to talk to him. With the fight washing out of him, Spider-Man collapses on the rooftop leaving the X-men to carry his unconscious form back to Professor X.
Professor X is apparently an expert in blood diseases and enzymes on top of everything else. By simply reading the few notes of Professor Jorgenson's that Spider-man was carrying and running a few tests, Professor X is able to definitively state that Spider-Man has less than four hours to live unless Morbius can be found immediately!
Without any sort of plan for trying to find Morbius' hideout in less than four hours, the X-Men simply cruise around New York in a convertible while Angel takes to the skies. Miraculously (I got tired of "by coincidence") Angel spots Morbius attacking some muggers in an alley with the remaining X-Men only a few blocks away. They arrive just as Morbius has finished feeding but before Morbius has taken off. First, the X-Men are barely able to subdue Spider-Man. Now a pseudo-vampire with little powers other than super-strength trashes the team. Morbius takes out Angel, Iceman, and Cyclops with ease, and holds Jean Grey hostage to keep them at bay. By coincidence he stands in front a perfectly placed mirror discarded in the alleyway which allows Cyclops to hit him with a reflected blasts and subdue the vampire.
Luckily, it is the middle of the night because the X-men have to drive back to their mansion with Morbius' body. If they got stuck in traffic, Spider-Man would surely have perished. Professor Jorgenson is rescued as well, and working with Professor X, they're able to cure Spider-Man of his blood enzyme imbalance... whatever he was suffering from.
All is well that ends well. In gratitude for his recovery, Spider-Man gives Jean Grey a big kiss and shatters one of the X-Men's windows on his way out. Nice of him...
©2002 Samuel Smith
Spider-Man and all images © 2002 Marvel Characters, Inc.