July 5, 2014

Ye Olde School Café: Marvel Tales #45

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Written by: Billy
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Hello and welcome to another great edition of Ye Olde School Café! You know something, I love reprints! Are they as cool as having the original books, no, of course not, but they do give paupers like myself the chance to read Silver and Bronze Age stories (in color) that I can’t typically afford. I don’t mind the black and white Essentials for certain titles (Tomb of Dracula), but there are a few books that I really want to own in color. One such example is Marvel Tales. I love Spider-Man, and this title reprinted some of his best stories, ranging from Steve Ditko all the way to Todd McFarlane! The issue at the center of today’s column is Marvel Tales #45 (1973), and it is an incredible book that features work by the great John Romita (pencils), and also Don Heck (inks)!

The cover is a slight variation from the original (as most reprints are), but still gives you all that you could ask for with Spidey battling the Inhuman Queen, Medusa! Of course, Medusa wasn’t the big deal back then that she is now, but she still was quite a handful for Spidey, and we’ll be taking a look at this battle of the titans, in this installment of the Café! The book has Stan Lee scripting, with John Romita, Don Heck, and Mike Esposito on art! Let’s now journey back in time, and look at this wild battle!


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A typical day begins for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man as he swings around NYC. Suddenly, he’s grabbed right out of mid-air, by something resembling his webbing! He looks up, and sees a beautiful woman, Medusa, with hair that’s acting like tendrils under her control. Spidey remarks to himself that she’s one of the Inhumans, but she interrupts him with a proclamation (she’s using some sort of flying vehicle). She informs him that Black Bolt has sent her to the city to see if humankind still fears them. She lets go of Spidey, and flies off to find an “average man’ to ask his opinion. Spidey gets ticked off, but she disappears before he can do anything about it.


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As she flies across the skyline, two businessmen discuss their woes, as they cannot find anyone to market their new hairspray (yeah, really). They look out the window and see Medusa flying by, and realize that she’d be the perfect spokesperson! As she descends, the crowd gets frantic and runs away. A small child is almost trampled, but Medusa saves him. It is then that they realize she’s not a villain. She’s then approached by the businessmen from the building by the crowd and offered a job. Medusa ponders to herself that it would be a good opportunity to study the humans while in this undercover mode. She accepts their offer, and the businessmen are elated.

Peter then attempts to visit Gwen, but she’s sill upset at him because she thinks he betrayed her father, Captain Stacy (a recent tussle involving the Kingpin). Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson is at a club, and barking at one of his employees over the phone. Norman Osborn is there as well, and he shouts at Jameson, telling him to shut up, because he’s giving him a headache. Jameson is stunned, and wonders what Osborn’s problem is, but leaves him alone. Osborn storms out, and cannot figure out why he keeps having these flashbacks about Spider-Man and the Green Goblin (he has amnesia from their previous encounter). Peter then returns to his “pad,” and Harry is there, struggling with his studies. He and Peter have a quick talk, and Peter realizes it’s going to be a tough time mending the relationship with Gwen.


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Over at the commercial filming for “Heavenly Hair Spray,” Medusa is going wild, lashing about with her hair. One of the people suggests getting rid of her, but the owner won’t have any of that talk. He tells Medusa to take the rest of the day off, but she tells him that she won’t be back. She’s apparently learned all she can from these men. The producer of the commercial tells the businessman that she won’t be coming back, but he’s irate at the thought of losing her as a spokesperson. He concocts a plan, and as Spidey swings by, the man shouts to him, and tells him that Medusa went wild and tried to kill them. He plans to film the battle for his new commercial instead of her just acting.

Spidey catches up with her quickly, and attempts to ask her some questions. She tells him that she answers to no one, and the two begin to brawl. She quickly ensnares Spidey with her hair, but he struggles enough that he upsets her flying vehicle. The two fall toward the ground, but land on a nearby rooftop instead. As Spidey tries to get his bearings, Medusa grabs him once again. The two fight and neither one can seem to get the upper hand, until Spidey webs her up. It only stops her for a few seconds, but in that time Spidey deduces that she’s not really a threat to anyone, and then the two part ways amicably.

Back at the hairspray business (a short time later), the assistant runs in and explains to his boss that sales have dropped recently because people think Medusa was a menace, and Spidey helped the story along to teach the businessman a lesson! As Peter walks down the street, he’s greeted by Mary Jane. She seems to be excited that Peter and Gwen broke up, and basically throws herself at him. He tells her that he’s not in the mood, and walks away. MJ thinks to herself that Peter must really love Gwen, because he misses her so much.


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Well, that’s it for this time, and I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane! The story is corny of course, but the artwork by John Romita and Don Heck is absolutely incredible! See you next time!

Billy Dunleavy




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