Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Ross Andru
Inker: M. Esposito
Letterer: Artie Simek
Originally published: March 1972
Woo, a new Spider-Man series to read. Although Amazing has been pretty good lately, this should definitely spice things up a bit. Unless it sucks. Onwards!
This Team-Up features Spidey and the Human Torch against the Sandman. The story opens at the beach, with Pete taking pictures of a polar bear swim for JJJ’s Christmas eve issue of the Bugle. All of a sudden the swimmers are disturbed by a growing form in the sand – Sandman! I just want to take this opportunity to say that I hate Sandman’s costume – I thought his old striped number was way cooler, he looks completely stupid now.
Anyway, Pete changes into his Spider-Man duds and leaps into action. They tussle a bit, but Sandman just mixes himself up with the rest of the sand on the beach and escapes. Claiming that he’s only fought with Sandman once (a complete lie), Spidey heads off to visit the Fantastic Four, Sandman’s current official nemeses. Once there, Spidey hooks up with Johnny Storm and they go looking for Sandman. On the way they stop a robbery, save a runaway truck, and exchange some snappy dialogue. Eventually the pair find Sandman and get captured by him. They almost get drowned, but then they break free.
They go after the Sandman, only to discover that he wanted them to escape and follow him. He’s gone to visit his ailing mother on Christmas eve, but this makes no sense. Why would he care if Spider-Man and the Torch were there? Sandman doesn’t even introduce them. Spider-Man, in a moment of pure insanity, gives Sandman a gift to give his mom – a gift that Peter was going to give Gwen. Sandman escapes after they let him have his visit. This whole thing makes no sense.
Roy Thomas starts off OK, especially with the dialogue. I actually laughed out loud with one of Spidey’s quips, something I haven’t done in awhile. The problem is that Spidey doesn’t really act in character. Instead of worrying about the Sandman, he runs off to tell Johnny Storm. That doesn’t sound like the Spidey I know.
What happened to “with great power comes great responsibility”? Come on Roy Thomas, it’s his damned slogan. I know they needed to get the two of these guys together somehow, but Spider-Man not wanting to deal with it seemed like a lazy option. Then, the whole plot just kind of unravels – there’s the weird robbery and truck thing, and the ending with Sandman is pretty ludicrous. He had me at the start, but it all went downhill.
The art was much better than the writing. I know I say it all the time, but it’s always really interesting to me what different artists bring to Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Ross Andru’s art reminds me a lot of golden age stuff, and it’s a pretty cool look for Peter.
Overall, a kind of disappointing start to this series. Spidey teaming up with other heroes, especially the Human Torch, has never really been my favourite thing. Here’s hoping the series picks up after this rocky start.