Marvel Team-Up Annual #5: Serpent Rising

Writing and Breakdowns: Mark Gruenwald
Art and Inks: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Tom DeFalco

The Guest Star:
      The Thing (this is a Spider-Man book, remember, so Ben is merely a guest star!); Dr. Strange; Scarlet Witch; Quasar

The Villain:
      the Serpent Crown

Guest Shots:
      Myron Wilburn, head of Project Pegasus; the Cosmic Cube; the Vision; Wong

The Set Up:
      Inside Project Pegasus a security alarm has gone off, and Quasar, as acting head of security, is flying to investigate. Entering the room the Serpent Crown is stored in, he finds it missing, and then is then almost immediately attacked by several members of his own security staff. He defeats them easily, of course, but someone sneaks up behind him and places the Serpent Crown on his head. He immediately falls under its control.
     In the Baxter Building, Ben Grimm, a.k.a. the Thing, receives a phone call which erupts into a ghostly image of Quasar. A puzzled Ben calls Quasar, who brusquely dismisses him. Ben is a little unsettled by this, and decides to head for Project Pegasus.
     In a New York City alleyway, Spider-man seems to be seeing illusionary snakes. He heads over to Bleeker Street, and visits Dr. Strange for help. Dr. Strange reveals that Spider-man's recent encounter with some Serpent Men has left him sensitive to things related to the snake god, Set. Dr. Strange investigates, and determines that this somehow relates an an upstate research facility- Project Pegasus.
     At a showing of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", the "Snakes! I hate snakes!" scene is accompanied by a real vision of a giant snake coming out of the screen. We soon learn that the person who saw the image is the Scarlet Witch, and she realizes that the mystic image means something- the Serpent Crown is active. She races off to investigate, telling her husband, the Vision, to remain behind and contact the Avengers, and to come running in 24 hours if she isn't back. Dr. Strange and Spider-man rent a car and begin driving to upstate New York. During that time, Dr. Strange investigates (mystically) the Serpent Crown, and we're treated to a full recap of its prior appearances.
     Ben Grimm arrives first at Project Pegasus but is quickly captured by Quasar. Dr. Strange and Spider-man arrive next, but are attacked by security while Dr. Strange is off astrally investigating. Spider-man defeats the guards, but then notices that Dr. Strange's body was captured. The Scarlet Witch arrives next, and she and Spider-man exchange stories and then proceed to sneak in. All is going well for them until they reach the central complex and discover several hundred individuals (including Quasar, the Thing, and Dr. Strange) all wearing Serpent Crowns. Things do not look good...

Clobberin' Time?:
      No Clobberin' Time, but hey, its not Ben's book.

Petunia's Patch:
      No Aunt Petunia either, of course.

Things of Interest:

     Okay, you caught me. This is (obviously) not a Marvel Two-in-One issue. However, this Marvel Team-Up Annual features Ben as a guest star. It takes place in Project Pegasus, introduced in MTIO and seen in many MTIO issues. It features Quasar, who had several MTIO appearances. It has the Scarlet Witch and the Serpent Crown, directly following up from the events in MTIO 64-66. It has the Cosmic Cube, from back in MTIO 43-44 (plus cameos in the Project Pegasus saga). It was written by Mark Gruenwald, who was responsible (at least in part) for much of the very best of MTIO. In short, I consider this an honorary issue of MTIO, and I'm sneaking it in here because I can!
     Here's some original art from my small (but getting bigger!) collection. I don't have the center page below, though I have (admittedly slim) hopes of finding it someday.
     Page 14 (see the leftmost page below) includes in-continuity Marvel universe appearances of both Kull and Conan. I'm betting that there's not another Marvel universe comic book you can say that about!
     To retrieve the Serpent Crowns from other dimensions, four "cosmically powered dimensional cannons" are used. Given that no one at Project Pegasus had previously had this capability, I'm betting that these are basically Nth projectors, as seen in Marvel Two-in-One issues 67 and 73, among other places.
     Spider-man's encounter with Serpent Men occurred in the more or less forgettable Marvel Team-Up 111.
     In 2012, this was collected in the Marvel Premiere Edition line of hardcovers as The Thing: The Serpent Crown Affair, along with MTIO issues 64-67.

     The last issue / next issue links below for this Marvel Team-Up Annual will take you to the last / next appearances of the Thing chronologically, as determined by the Marvel Chronology Project.