Saturday, October 5, 2013

Make Way for Man-Mountain Marko!

You know the best thing about Man-Mountain Marko, an enforcer of the Maggia and muscle to former crime boss Silvermane? It wasn't the fact that he was just an oversized bruiser who thought he could take on the likes of Spider-Man, giving us a weird root-for-the-underdog vibe. The most memorable thing I took away from Man-Mountain Marko is that he was his own best press agent (the 20th century precursor to "publicist")--because he often dropped his name in the third person.

And the thing about saying "Man-Mountain Marko" is that you can't just spin it off your tongue casually--each word has to be given a slight pause in order to get the full effect. In fact, you almost feel a compulsion to give it that kind of emphasis, even if you're not the man-mountain himself. I even find that, as I'm reading, I play the words out slowly in my head.

So what's the story on this guy? He's been around for awhile, either as hired muscle or out for his own interests--even popping up in the Dark Reign storyline. But he goes way back to late '60s Amazing Spider-Man, where we found an aging Silvermane attempting to obtain an ancient tablet that held the secret of the fountain of youth. Marko was sent out to retrieve the tablet, which had formerly been stolen by the Shocker who stashed it at his girlfriend's apartment for safekeeping. Given what happens next, I'm betting this lady will think twice about ever dating a costumed villain again, because I don't think she counted on a pitched battle in her living room between Spider-Man and Man-Mountain Marko.

(You see what I mean about the impact of the name? You just can't stop replaying "Man-Mountain Marko" in your head, can you.)

When they talk about fights that go back and forth, this fight is one of the best examples I can think of. First, Marko gets the upper hand:

Then, Spider-Man shows Marko that being a man-mountain only goes so far:

Then back over to Marko, who surprises Spider-Man with his strength:

Finally, the two mix it up in earnest, with Spidey not making much headway:

And now back to Spidey, who's ready for another round:

But Marko now has what he came for, and so he cuts the fight short by tossing the girl out of the window, knowing that Spider-Man will race to save her--and when that happens, Marko makes his escape.

Later, though, Spider-Man locates both Marko and Silvermane, and his rematch with Marko lasts just a few panels, though enough to indicate a clear winner:

We learn in other stories that Marko was subject to genetic engineering by the Maggia as well as steroid use to account for his strength, though in this first outing there's no such explanation to account for the trouble he was able to give Spider-Man (other than from a writer's perspective, i.e. to provide some action sequences in a story that would otherwise have Spidey just battling a few hoods). In any event, Man-Mountain Marko's future as an antagonist for Spider-Man as well as other heroes was set--since he practically guaranteed that his reputation would precede him.


IADW said...

I originally thought this post was about the Juggernaut from the title, but while my fav x-rouge wasn't in it, it does make me wonder if Marvel has Marko listed as a name for massive piles of mean!

That impolite to threaten a female panel is awesome - oh the days when Spidey looked his classic ways!

Comicsfan said...

You know, that's an interesting point about the similarity in names. I was thinking it could simply be a matter of alliteration, and needing a tough-sounding name with the letter "M" to join with "man-mountain." But Juggernaut came on the scene only four years earlier, so I suppose it's possible that writer Stan Lee snagged the name from memory, if he was mentally groping for such a word.

Anonymous said...

What about Flint Marko, a.k.a. the Sandman? You don't think maybe Stan the Man grew up with a kid named Marko he didn't like very much?
I wonder if maybe there wasn't some confusion about how strong Spiderman was, back in the early days. Even in the 70's, he had a lotta trouble with non-super-powered opponents like the Tarantula and the Punisher. I'm not even quite sure why the Vulture gave him such a hard time.
One non-super-powered opponent I did like was Tombstone, who got walloped when he finally fought Spidey for the first time, but not before cracking him good a few times with a crowbar. He was an interesting villain. I guess now he's got super-strength, so now just another goon, instead of a guy who used brains and tactics as well as being tough.

Comicsfan said...

Sandman actually got his last name from Tom DeFalco when he wrote his origin story in Marvel Two-In-One (though I suppose we'd have to say Roy Thomas took first crack at it in an earlier Marvel Team-Up--I'm guessing "Mrs. Baker" eventually remarried, to account for the discrepancy). Perhaps DeFalco was thumbing through old Spider-Man or X-Men stories at the time. :)