While many around here had problems with the previous President of the United States, my biggest gripe is with Jimmy Carter. I’m as much a bleeding heart liberal as the next guy, but he did something terribly damaging while in office which I have never heard discussed, so I’ll take the opportunity to air my grievances here in the Way Back Machine with the comic that relates to my beef:
Marvel Treasury Edition #25: Spider-Man vs. The Hulk at the Winter Olympics
The treasury editions are sorely missed. Usually reprints but occasionally featuring original material, they were like comics the size of the stone tablets God gave to Moses. With a story that required a hefty chunk of time to absorb and a presentation which, by blowing the artwork up to staggering proportions, was the comic equivalent of today’s big screen hi def TVs, they were more than worth the chunk they took out of a kid’s weekly allowance.
Lake Placid, New York, 1980: Athletes from around the world have convened for the Winter Olympics, but there’s another miracle on ice brewing as Spider-man and the Hulk are drawn into a war between rival groups of subterraneans over the fountain of youth (man, Ponce De Leon was waaaay off). Spider-Man is drawn in when photojournalist Peter Parker stumbles upon a strange group of mutants apparently kidnapping the Soviet Union’s star figure skater. He fights them to a standstill, but cannot save the athlete as she disappears beneath the snowy ground.
Elsewhere, the Hulk runs afoul of a group of Lava Men and fares far better in his battle against them, only to be beguiled by their leader, Kala, Queen of the Underworld. She is marshalling an army to sieze the underground territory of the Mole man, who controls the aforementioned fountain. Her army of Lava Men soon wages war on the Mole Man’s legions of mindless minions, and only through the efforts of the mutants who earlier tangled with Spidey are they repelled.
Bill Mantlo scripts, with some contributions from mark Gruenwald and Steven Grant. Herb Trimpe again provides the definitive Hulk; take some notes, kids, here’s how the smashing is supposed to look:
It is soon revealed that the mutants Spider-Man fought were working for the Mole man and were actually trying to prevent a series of athlete kinappings by Kala. She has captured a quartet of competitiors and blackmailed them into her service, transforming them into mighty sport-themed super-warriors. If you thought Night Thrasher was an innovative concept, check out these guys with their rocket powered bobsleds, razor skates, and atomic hockey sticks and ski poles. After his traumatic experiences in gym class with Flash Thompson, this team of villains could send Spider-man hiding behind a snow drift.
The Mole man presses Spidey into his service while Kala dresses Hulk up like a gladiator for a few panels, and the fight is on! Spidey and the mutants take on Green Genes and the Olympians in the battle of last century. Check out the scan below– yes, the super-goalie is defending a flaming goal from a guy trying to heave boulders into it! This might make my list of 10 most extreme comic book fight scenes ever.
Kala loses the battle, and the fountain is destroyed during the fight for good measure. The Mole man is magnanimous in victory, offering to let Kala become his queen. The story ends with a lesson in sportsmanship followed by a full page ad for a “Marvel Super Heroes at the Summer Olympics” treasury edition. Unfortunately, along came Jimmy Carter to forbid the U.S. Olympic team from competing in 1980; the story that was to be the next treasury edition was adapted into “Marvel Super Heroes Contest of Champions”, Marvel’s first ever miniseries. The experiment was such a success that more miniseries’ followed, and then trade paperback collections, and writing-for-the-trade, decompressed stories and all the heartbreak and disappointment that came after, all because Jimmy carter objected to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Jimmy Carter killed comics.