"The Crossover We've All Been Waiting For"
There are some pairings that are just so obvious it seems like they were just born to either team up or fight one another: peanut butter and jelly, G.I.JOE vs. Transformers, that lion Voltron and that crappy vehicle Voltron, the Justice League and the Avengers, and Lord of the Rings vs. Alvin and the Chipmunks. So when presented with perhaps the biggest no-brainer franchise pairing of all, Spider-Man and Red Sonja, you have to wonder why on earth they didn't think of having them meet up before.
Move over Watchmen, there's a new comic in town ready to take the "Most Celebrated Graphic Novel Ever" title.
Except they did, back in Marvel Team-Up #79 back in 1979. The difference being, back in the 1970s almost any kind of shitty concept would fly, because it was the 70s, and it wasn't too far past the Silver Age of comics anyway, when insanely ridiculous concepts like this were sort of the norm. Hell, back then this kind of thing almost made sense, since Spider-Man was routinely fighting things like Dracula and teaming up with the Harlem Globetrotters against space aliens anyway.
Unfortunately, due to the exorbitant fees charged for using his likeness,
the villain could not actually be drawn into the comic.
I've not read this first team-up, so I have no idea how cheesy it is compared to this newer, more "epic" telling, but given that it was released in 1979, I think that gives us all a pretty good idea. This new version pretty much discounts the original crossover as nothing more than a (bad) dream anyway, as apparently nobody can really remember it except in the vaguest possible ways. Anyway, our story this time opens with a bizarre bit of narration over shots of New York City. The narration tells us that New York City is called by some "the center of the modern world", while others feel "the pulse of the past throbbing in the streets" (and having been to NYC, I can assure you that's not the past you feel "throbbing" in the street). And then it tells us that people in New York feel this:
Come on in to any of Wicker World's fine outlets, where even the floor is made of wicker!
Ooooh! History reaching over eras and borders! Except, you know that they're not talking about thinking of France from a couple hundred years ago when viewing the Statue of Liberty. No, they're talking about other worlds and alternate dimensions, and if you don't agree, read on and you'll see. So how about it, New Yorkers? Do you feel a connection to places like Tattooine, or Narnia, or Hyrule? (Feeling a "connection" [by internet] to the World of Warcraft doesn't count). That's something I never knew about New York. That it has connections to fantasy worlds.
We then cut to Spider-Man fighting some thugs in the street, and he's so unconcerned that he's talking to Mary Jane (note: this takes place before the events of the horrible "One More Day" story arc) on his cell phone about what to have for dinner. She's performing in a stage production of MacBeth, so she ends up playfully talking to him as if she's in character, which couldn't possibly be obvious foreshadowing at all.
Mary Jane would often confuse the concepts of "dating" and "stabbing someone in the neck".
Meanwhile, Senator Bryan Glass (who they mistakenly call "Senator Thomas" the first couple times you see him, but hey, maybe he gets his name legally changed halfway through the story, you don't know, and it's kind of presumptuous to assume) shows up for an exhibit opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They hint around that he's gotten himself embroiled in some rather shady political shit, and he seems very much to desire to get out of politics while he still has some shred of decency left. He makes the obligatory rounds, talking to various people (including the Daily Bugle's J. Jonah Jameson) when his eyes finally settle on a pretty, pretty necklace on display.
Senator Glass: "Ooooh! Whath thith!?"
Museum Curator: "Sir, that is a lady's necklace. I know a lady, and you, sir, are no lady."
Ensorcelled by the pretty lady's necklace, Senator Glass hears a voice, the same voice that told him during childhood to try on his mother's high heeled shoes and parade around the house whenever she wasn't home, that compels him to try it on.
You can tell it's a Cylon by the glowing red light in the middle, see.
I don't know about you, but if I hear an inanimate object start talking to me, I'm probably going to be a little cautious in my immediate dealings with it. And if it calls me its "vessel" during any point in our conversation, that's right out. I'm fucking done at that point. Unfortunately, Senator Glass doesn't feel the same way, because he puts it on and totally gets possessed by an evil sorcerer named Kulan Gath.
What should have been a fine night at the museum was ruined when
Casper's rude cousin, Kulan Gath, crashed the party.
We then cut to Spider-Man, swinging his way across New York City. Suddenly, his spider-sense goes berserk and he falls to the ground below. When he gets up he notices that New York isn't quite the same as it was a moment ago...
"Oh god no, LARPers coming this way! Get away from me! I'm not worth any 'experience'"!
Spider-Man tries to get to the bottom of this bizarre occurrence by swinging around on stuff, when he notices that his cell phone has turned into a bag of gold coins. Just then he hears a cry for help issuing from somewhere nearby!
The next time I buy a cell phone, I'm going to make sure it has the "transform into a bag of gold coins" feature.
Spidey swoops in to the rescue, and fights off some sword-wielding thugs who are menacing an innocent trio for tax money. And everyone except Spider-Man is talking like Thor for some reason.
"Good thing I still had that 'Summon Superhero' spell in my spellbook, guys!"
Meanwhile, Kulan Gath continues to hang out in the art museum as he transforms the city in his image, and he decides to recruit J. Jonah Jameson as his personal scribe to document all his dastardly feats for posterity.
"Firstly, I think thou shalt write a puff piece, telling my new slaves what a benevolent
ruler I am. Oh, and be sure to mention how much I adore kittens. They'll like that."
Kulan Gath then vaguely recollects how the last time he invaded Earth, the Man-Spider and the red-haired warrior woman teamed up to put a stop to his nefarious tricks. So his brilliant plan is to compel Mary Jane to come and grab Red Sonja's sword, thus allowing her to be possessed by the fiery swordwoman (they both have red hair, so it's bound to work), and his hope is that somehow she and Spider-Man will cross paths and inevitably have some kind of misunderstanding, only to end up fighting and killing each other. He's certainly been reading his superhero team-up books, I'll give him that, but maybe summoning together the two people who teamed up and kicked your ass last time isn't the best idea.
You thought that was a giant dragon, didn't you? But it's really just an
EXTREME CLOSE-UP of an iguana! GOTCHA!!!
Spider-Man continues fighting in the street, now fighting an orc or a goblin or something, because apparently they have those now, when, wouldn't you know it, the commoners he sticks his neck out for don't show any appreciation at all, calling him a demon and throwing fruit at him. Why, some things just never change, eh?
Apparently their idea of demons includes footie pajamas.
Spider-Man swings away from the angry mob he just saved and passes the art museum just in time to see Mary Jane climbing the museum wall with her bare hands.
Though he's quite concerned with her safety, Spider-Man is momentarily
distracted by the fact that he can see up her dress.
Mary Jane gets to the roof of the building where the sword is just sort of floating there like some video game power-up and grabs it, saying "At last! Mine!" When Spider-Man gets to the top, he realizes that it is no longer his wife who is waiting for him but rather RED SONJA, SHE-DEVIL WITH A SWORD!
"Oh, man! I knew I shouldn't have honked her boob!"
We then cut to Venom in his bathroom feeling sorry for himself (I'm serious), and when his bathroom suddenly transforms into a medieval cesspit, he "hears the call" of Kulan Gath and decides to go and join his cause, serving him so that he can rid the city of Spider-Man or something (I will remind you he is insane).
If you look in the mirror and say Venom's name three times, he will appear and perform analingus on you.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man and Red Sonja are still duking it out on the roof of the art museum, with Spidey bantering away and Red Sonja repeatedly telling Spidey how she is going to savor killing him.
Hey, it's just not just women who suffer from domestic violence, you know.
She and Spidey end up taking a tumble off the rooftop and suddenly things don't look so good for our knocked-prone hero when Red Sonja prepares to run his head through with her sword.
Don't look so glum, Spider-Chum! There are a lot of
men who would pay for this kind of treatment.
She brings the sword down, swinging in a mighty arc, and we are left to wonder: is Spider-Man dead? Is this curtains for our arachnid-themed hero? Except that would be stupid since this is only the second issue and Marvel would hardly kill off their number one cash cow in some crappy "What If" book. Anyway, we are "surprised" to discover that Red Sonja merely stabbed the dirt next to his head, explaining that she feels some odd connection to Spider-Man.
"Come on baby, sit on my face. Do it! Do it!"
Red Sonja becomes suspicious of her sudden change of heart, accusing Spider-Man of wizardly shenanigans and getting ready to attack him again, when suddenly Venom comes crashing through the wall, announcing that he is here to destroy Spider-Man for his "master" Kulan Gath. Which is kind of an odd honorific, considering that he hasn't even met the guy yet. Why don't you wait until after the job interview before you start calling yourself his employee, or servant, or ball washer, or whatever? But we all know that Venom is a creepy stalker, so we aren't exactly surprised by this.
"I got your Kool Aid right here, bitch! OOOOH YEAH!!!!"
While Venom fights Spidey and Red Sonja, Kulan Gath tells his scribe to issue forth a decree that all red-haired women in the city are to be rounded up and beheaded. Because apparently Red Sonja's spirit can move from body to body, but only if they have red hair or something. There's just one little problem with Kulan Gath's little plan: HE IS THE ONE WHO SUMMONED RED SONJA IN THE FIRST PLACE. Not exactly a brilliant thinker, this one. Cutting back to the fight, we see that Venom lands a powerful good hit in on Spider-Man and hurls him off into some nearby water.
You know, the Venom/Spider-Man 'fastball special' just isn't the same as when Wolverine and Colossus do it.
Concerned that he might drown, Red Sonja retreats from the fight to save Spider-Man, leaving Venom standing there vowing revenge for the blows (no, not that kind you dirty dog) she landed on him. Pretty much immediately after that, a man on a giant capybara rides up and offers Venom great rewards if he will only serve Kulan Gath, which probably isn't a hard sell since he was already referring to the guy as "master".
"Yes, if you but serve Kulan Gath, this fine beast I ride shall be your mate! Now tell me that isn't tempting, eh?"
Red Sonja meanwhile saves Spider-Man from sinking like a stone and leaves him laying on the bank of the water, unconscious, while she decides to go after Gath herself. Unfortunately, some orcs or bugbears or whatever find him and scoop him up to take back to Kulan Gath.
Spider-Man didn't realize until it was far too late that crowd surfing is grounds for being thrown out of the venue.
And Kulan Gath has had J. Jonah Jameson tell him everything he knows about Venom (he's apparently been scrying on all of this magically) and decides that he's going to steal the symbiote's power for himself, that greedy fuck. So he summons Venom to him, and when he arrives he tries to separate Eddie Brock from the symbiote, though he is somewhat surprised to find that Venom resists this procedure. Frankly, so am I, because the way Venom was laying on the "master" talk, I would have figured he was fully on board the Buttfuck Express as far as Kulan Gath is concerned, but apparently he's not ready to give himself fully over to him just yet.
Remember kids, that if you let your Venom get too soggy in milk, it will totally lose the ability to hold itself together.
After this we see Spider-Man, awakening in some kind of dungeon cell, and ironically, he sees a spider coming down toward him, which startles him fully awake. The other peasants in the cell marvel at this, which is kind of odd, since he doesn't really look like a Spider or anything, and yet they call him the "Spider Demon" anyway.
The real reason Spider-Man freaked out is because he recognized that the spider was trying to mate with his face.
Spider-Man is surprised to find fellow Daily Bugle employee Robbie Robertson in the cell with him, and he runs up expressing his joy at having found a friend in the midst of all this chaos. I don't know if Robbie knows Spider-Man or if Peter is simply just forgetting that he has a secret identity, and maybe Robbie is kind of freaking out about how in the hell Spider-Man knows his name. Anyway, Robbie tells Spider-Man about Gath's evil plan to sacrifice every man, woman and child in the city (not just the redheads anymore). Apparently Gath enjoys ruling over a "low maintenance" kind of empire.
"I say thee, fellow, prithee, why art thou wearing such gaily coloured pajamas?"
Just then, Red Sonja attacks Kulan Gath's forces in the city with a band of rebels she's put together, and the outer wall of the holding cell containing Spider-Man is blasted open, allowing him to escape and join in the melee!
Red Sonja gets +2 damage when hitting trolls because they are her favored enemy.
While this is happening, Venom and Kulan Gath dance around on the rooftop of the art museum, until Gath finally manages to separate Brock from the symbiote, sending poor Eddie plummeting off the side of the building to the comfortable safety of some large rocks below.
Seems you can't pass by an alley these days without coming across a hapless
bum separated from his symbiote. Of course, that's what they all say.
As the battle for the city rages below, Kulan Gath's henchman "Vermin" charges up on his giant capybara, causing Spidey and Red Sonja to focus all their attentions on this "mini-boss" fight, so they can take down this important high-ranking member of Gath's army (You know, I think when your high ranking dudes have names like "Vermin" it doesn't really say a lot for the general caliber of your recruits. If I were recruiting an evil army, I'd be sure to only hire guys with names like "Gorath Foesmasher" or things like that). During the battle, Spidey gets trampled by its giant paws, causing Red Sonja to kill it in a rage and check on her pajama-clad companion.
Back in the old days you could expect to fight an evil henchman on a respectable mount, like a dragon or
a griffon or something. These days it's nothing but giant rodents or pot-bellied pigs.
Red Sonja then runs up to the fallen Spider-Man, calling him a "valiant fool" as he lies there, supposedly grievously injured, but he's quickly back on his feet with the help of Red Sonja, and it's a good thing too, because in the next instant they are assaulted by some of Spider-Man's "transformed" villains!
Spider-Man's villains may be "transformed", but unfortunately for them they're still
the same sorry bunch of losers they've always been.
Spidey tells us that his villains has been transformed, but it really doesn't look to be very much the case at all. Hobgoblin is pretty much the same except he's riding a giant bat now instead of a hoversled, Scorpion still appears to just be a guy in a suit (but only in this one panel), but with giant pincers, and Lizard has turned into...a Lizard. Actually he kind of looks like that one "spitter" dinosaur from Jurassic Park. Right after the villains attack though we cut over to the third issue's cliffhanger as we see that some dark ritual has just been completed by Kulan Gath...or should I say Kulan Venom!!
Oh, thank goodness. Now this boring villain can become even less compelling!!
Back to the battle, we see Spidey and Red Sonja in full-on melee against these not-threatening-in-any-incarnation villains. Notice that while Scorpion was clearly a man in a suit before, he is now a completely transformed green scorpion creature thing.
Scorpion has been filled with rage ever since the first time he tried to jerk off after his
transformation and his dick snapped clean off.
Spider-Man's Daily Bugle cohort Robbie departs from the battle, saying that he's going to get help, and that Spidey and Red Sonja's sacrifice will be honored. Red Sonja hops onto the Hobgoblin's bat to duke it out with him, but he flies away leaving her no escape route that doesn't involve falling to her death. He also seems to have the hots for her.
Battling to the death high above the earth is a simple matter of foreplay for...the Hobgoblin!!
Spidey is left to fight the Lizard and Scorpion by himself, while Hobgoblin and Sonja continue to fly farther and farther away. Hobgoblin comments that he's never had the pleasure of fighting someone like Red Sonja before, to which she wittily replies that if death be his pleasure she will be happy to oblige him. Then he goes in for the kiss, which fills her with rage, for she has taken an oath to kill any man who dares to kiss her (lesbian).
There's not even lip-to-lip contact here. It's just big freaky teeth-to-lip contact.
Just after Hobgoblin steals his kiss, Red Sonja notices that they've passed through some kind of energy field and are now in modern day New York City, which is foreign and strange to her. It seems that Kulan Gath's magic was only strong enough to transform a section of the city up to this point. Luckily, the police are on scene and they train their guns on Red Sonja, deeming the sword-wielding woman in the chain-mail bikini to be a greater threat than the extremely mobile airborne lunatic with all the pumpkin bombs.
"Alright lady, drop the sword! And uh, the armor too! But do it slowly."
The police mistake Hobgoblin for the Green Goblin, which angers him, so he tosses a pumpkin bomb at them. But Red Sonja saves the day by going up to bat with her sword and swatting the bomb back at him, which doesn't incapacitate him nearly so much as you might think.
In the panel before this, she is swinging her sword, but here it looks like she kicked the bomb back to him.
Oh, you know what, it's ridiculous either way.
Cutting back to Spidey, we see that he's holding his own against the two lame-o villains, that is until Kulan Venom shows up and starts zapping him with his Palpatine lightning powers. Oh noes!!
"Give in to your anger, Spider-Man, and your journey to the Dark Side will be complete!"
Meanwhile, Red Sonja still fights the Hobgoblin, who doesn't even seem fazed by having a bomb explode in his face. She nearly gets hit by a train, or "an armored beast or moving castle" as she thinks of it. But she "masters" this great metal beast by leaping on top of it, and from there she manages to jump up and grab the Hobgoblin's glider, causing him to lose control and crash the two of them into a toy store, where Hobgoblin chokes Red Sonja in the middle of a display of Spider-Man dolls.
"How ironic! Surrounded by Spider-Man, and yet, he cannot save you!"
She is just about to succumb to the sweet embrace of death when she hears the voice of Mary Jane inside her head, telling her to fight on and inspiring her by showing her scenes of her and Peter's life together. This gives her the resolve to wake up and kick Goblin's ass, and apparently she blacked out for a while because now they're back on the glider above the city, with Hobgoblin carrying her like some prize he won at the county fair.
When Hobgoblin and his friends talked about "picking up girls", he was always the one who took it a bit too literally.
Sonja begins to wrestle with him, causing him to lose control of the sled and crash them both into the ground below, right at the very spot where they encountered the police after first emerging into the city. Sonja recovers before the Hobgoblin and is just getting ready to swing her sword down and decapitate him when the police tell her to drop the weapon and then open fire, hitting her in the shoulder.
I don't understand how she got hurt. I mean, she's wearing armor for fuck's sake!
Back at the New York Ren Faire, a now-symbioteless Eddie Brock wanders the crowd, looking for his "dark twin" that Kulan Gath stole from him. He soon finds him, coming across a scene of Spider-Man lashed to a gnarled tree, as Kulan Venom gloats to him that he's going to find his Red Sonja and see her bleed out in his hands, since she's the only one who vaguely has a chance in hell of stopping him (why did he summon her again? And for that matter, where are the Fantastic Four or the Avengers during all this?)
Sure, he had to shell out quite a bit on eBay, but Kulan Venom finally got his hands
on the super-limited Hallmark Spider-Man ornament from their 2002 Christmas collection.
Back in modern New York, Red Sonja lies bleeding on the street while the police approach cautiously with their guns drawn. Before they can haul her away to the hoosegow however, the energy field containing Kulan Gath's magical fairyland expands, drawing them all into medieval times. Before she can get her bearings, she is captured by some of Kulan's monstrous henchmen.
Sonja thought that maybe if she feigned prayer they would leave her alone,
but these assholes just have no respect for religion.
Red Sonja soon finds herself lashed up to a tree next to Spider-Man that wasn't there earlier (Kulan Gath's gardening magics are second to none) and they both yammer on about who failed who the most. Red Sonja declares that for once she fought for love instead of revenge, and look where that got them. That should be a lesson to us all. Only fight for revenge, never for love. Love will get your ass lashed to a gnarly tree.
Peasant: "There is no one to save us. I mean, what--do you think that superheroes grow on trees?
Oh wow, I guess they kind of do."
While Kulath Venom stands around and gloats about how he is going to take their blood and put it in a magical amulet so that he can harness their power for himself, J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson prepare to launch a surprise attack they've put together by recruiting some peasants to join their uprising. But before they have a chance to strike, Eddie Brock bumbles into the scene and demands that Gath return the Venom symbiote to him.
"He's mine, you bitch! I saw him first!"
During this distraction, Red Sonja finds the strength to break free from her bonds, and Spider-Man quickly follows suit, which causes one to wonder why they didn't just do that to start with.
Red Sonja knows that an orc's greatest weakness is a log to the face.
Red Sonja cuts Kulan Gath with her sword, and he asks her how she can dare to touch a god, so Spider-Man decides to touch him too by punching him in the face. Meanwhile Eddie Brock is calling out for the symbiote to come back to him, and with all the pummeling and the summons of Eddie Brock, the symbiote begins to separate from Gath until it finally explodes off of him in a burst of energy.
Kulan Gath is so perfect he has white light coming out of his butt. Or so he would have you believe.
In a panic, Gath tells his orcs to kill everyone while the peasants continue to strike against his forces and Venom bounds away so he doesn't have to worry about Gath splitting him up anymore.
Suddenly this guy makes the Venture Bros. Monarch look menacing.
Red Sonja has Spider-Man swing her up into the air with his webbing, after which she comes down on Kulan Gath, slashing his pretty pretty necklace and breaking it with her sword.
"Damn you, woman! Don't you know that you never mess with a man's pretty jewelry?"
Kulan Gath implodes on himself after this, causing energy to swirl around everywhere. Spider-Man tells Red Sonja he doesn't know what's about to happen, but he knows it's a night he'll never forget. Sonja responds by telling him that "she's coming for him", and next thing Peter knows he's back with MJ in modern day New York City, kissing on a rooftop while Venom looks on from a higher rooftop before disappearing into the night.
Though no one ever realized it, Venom was a true romantic at heart.
Back in the museum, J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are wondering what in the hell just happened, and Jameson blames the whole incident on Spider-Man. When Robbie says it's a bit far-fetched that Spider-Man is responsible for a mass hallucination throughout half the city, Jameson counters by saying "who knows what crazy powers he has!". Back in Hyborea, Red Sonja wakes up on some kind of evil-looking altar, finds a bullet wound in her skin, gets up and walks away while promising Gath that this battle is far from over.
Sacrificial altar beds are really the in vogue style in Hyboria these days.
And finally, we see Peter and MJ enjoying dinner together in their apartment. They see something on TV about how Senator Bryan Glass has decided to retire from "the evils of politics" to spend more time with his family. MJ doesn't remember anything that happened, so Peter tells her that he saved the world with a warrior in a chain mail bikini, which doesn't sink in until the very last panel, when she oh-so-comically focuses on the chain mail bikini in mock anger. Oh snap!
That question mark after "The End" in that last panel fills me with dread a little bit, I don't mind telling you.
And so that's it for the Spider-Man/Red Sonja crossover. Until the next time someone at Marvel Comics or Dynamite Entertainment decides that what the world really needs right now is another crossover that nobody asked for. Maybe next time we can get that Conan the Barbarian/Iron Man crossover the world has been clamoring for. We can only hope.
Found any weird, bizarre, stupid or funny comics that
should appear in a future "Tales From the Longbox" column?
Email Protoclown and let him know!
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