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Runaways



Vision and the Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #11

Issue Date: August 1986

Story Title: A Taxing Time

Staff: Steve Englehart (Writer), Richard Howell (Penciler), Frank Springer (Inker), Bill Oakley (Letterer), George Roussos (Colorist), Adam Phillips (Assistant Editor), Jim Scalicrup (Editor), Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief)

Brief Description:
Doctor Strange examines Wanda, who is in the last month of her pregnancy, and she is fine, although rather big, Strange assures her that she is not having twins, but needs to take it easy. Peter Parker shows up to take photos of Wanda and the Vision and their home for a feature in Now Magazine, as J. Jonah Jameson wants to show that not all super heroes are a menace like Spider-Man, but normal people. Holly Ladonna comes over for some more magic tutoring from Wanda, while the Vision walks Peter to the bus stop. On the way, they bump into Glamor and Illusion, whom Peter claims to be fans of, and takes photos, while Illusion contemplates telling Vision that he and Glamor are high society jewel thieves, but decides against it. They also run into Norm Webster, whom the Vision is very cold towards. Returning home, the Vision is attacked by the Toad, now calling himself the Terrible Toad-King and sporting toad-like armor. Peter, who had no money for the bust, swings by in his Spider-Man costume and is confused as to why his “Ally” Mortimer Toynbee is attacking the Vision. The Toad “hops” (teleports) away, and the Vision and Spider-Man compare their stories on him. They try to find the Toad, but he finds them, and attacks them, eventually knocking them both out, before departing to find Wanda. Wanda hears a noise outside and Holly goes to investigate. Toad breaks into the house and Holly tries to fight him off, though with little success, as Toad makes his way to Wanda’s room, boasting that he is different now, but when he finally sees Wanda, he is revolted by how “large” she is. Wanda points out that she is actually pregnant, and eventually takes Toad down, without exerting herself. The Vision and Spider-Man show up in time to capture the Toad, who “hops” away, after Spider-Man gives him another pep talk. Spider-Man decides to take the Toad more seriously, and tells Wanda that she is some kind of lady being able to handle herself that well.

Full Synopsis:
Spring has sprung, and the sap is beginning to rise – so even the most confirmed city-dwellers have grabbed the first sunny Sunday to head for the wide-open spaces – somewhere still out there to the West! On the New York / New Jersey bridge, the black-clad superb hero Spider-Man swings from one railing to the next thanks to his super strong webbing, and whistles a song, ‘I’m in love with a Jersey girl!’ he begins as he sings his way to work. While down in the cars below, a woman notices Spider-Man and tells her husband to look, but he quickly replies ‘You look, Trish! If I look, we’ll end up at the International House of Pancakes!’

Spider-Man sees a convertible and calls out to the driver and couple of passengers, exclaiming that he would be nuts to ride around on the top of a bus on a day like this, so offers to tell them funny stories if they will take him up to Leonia. ‘Spider-Man! Wow!’ one of the passengers exclaims. As Spider-Man lands in the backseat of the car, the driver remarks ‘Sure thing, Spidey! But why Leonia?’ ‘There’s nothing going on there!’ another passenger tells him. ‘That’s because I’m not there yet!’ Spider-Man replies, explaining that he has got some business in Leonia to take care of this afternoon. ‘Business? Oh, yeah – you super-guys never get any time off!’ one of the passengers remarks. Spider-Man replies that actually they do get time off sometimes – ‘But not in April – then we’ve got to pay Uncle Sam!’

Meanwhile, in the heart of Leonia, Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch asks Dr. Stephen Strange, her friend and physician, why she has to stay quiet. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asks. Wanda’s husband, fellow former Avenger the Vision stands in the living room also as Strange assures Wanda that nothing is wrong, she has his oath on that, adding that every physiological test that her obstetrician has run and every magickal study he has conducted on her, indicate that both she and her baby are both progressing normally.

Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, informs Wanda and the Vision that their child is going to be a bit one, but within the normal limits, though he warns them that there is a chance the baby could come prematurely if Wanda goes romping around like a super-heroine during the last month of her pregnancy. ‘I don’t romp!’ Wanda protests. Strange turns to the Vision and tells him that he expects him to make sure Wanda stays quiet. ‘And I’d expect a Sorcerer Supreme to know the Scarlet Witch better than that, Doctor!’ the Vision jokes.

Wanda tells Stephen that she still has hundreds of things to do before the baby arrives. ‘The nursery –‘ she begins to say, until Strange tells her that if the room were any better outfitted then there would be no room for the baby, before assuring Wanda that if she has forgotten anything – which he doubts – that the stores will be open after her pregnancy. Wanda remarks that people keep asking her if she is having twins – ‘I’m not, am I?’ she exclaims. Strange replies that she isn’t, and that every mother to be thinks that in her eighth month, before letting Wanda in on a secret – ‘You’ll get even bigger before you deliver!’ he exclaims. ‘Oh, boy!’ Wanda mutters.

Wanda admits that the pregnancy is getting a little uncomfortable for the first time, and that it is hard to take a full breath. Dr. Strange replies that the child is almost fully formed and therefore taking up a lot of room now. Wanda remarks that she is ready to see the end of this process, but not prematurely, so she will be good. Vision suggests to Wanda that she might like to spend the extra time teaching Holly Ladonna witchcraft. Strange replies that is a good idea, ‘I want you quiet, but there’s no need to be bored!’ he exclaims before telling Wanda that he will check back with her next week.

The Vision escorts Strange to the back door, suggesting that if he is flying back to Manhattan it would be best if left from the backyard, as he and Wanda try to keep a low profile in Leonia. Strange replies that he understands, before taking flight and telling the Vision to cheer up, assuring him that he is not holding anything back, and the birth should go just fine. ‘Of course!’ the Vision replies as he waves farewell to his friend, while thinking to himself that the Invisible Woman lost her second child, so these sorts of things do happen, but he decides not to think about it.

The Vision paces back towards his home, thinking to himself that Wanda has been under strain this past month since her brother Quicksilver ran out on his wife Crystal, and he vanished from the moon – no one has seen him since. The Vision recalls that Crystal recovered from her illness, possibly buoyed by Pietro’s departure, but Wanda loves her hot-headed brother. The Vision clenches his fists, thinking that wherever Quicksilver is, he has not helped his sister in this taking time, and she is the one person he thought Quicksilver would never hurt!

Wanda is on the phone, ‘Yes, Holly – this afternoon if you want’ she remarks, before telling Holly that she will see her soon. Looking out the window, Wanda thinks that her husband looks so fierce, and wishes that everyone who called him an unfeeling synthezoid could see him now – a proud and protective father to be. Wanda thinks that everyone sees her becoming primally female, but that the primal masculine comes out in fathers too – whatever their origins!

Wanda thinks that she and the Vision have been closer now than ever before, just as their family is about to become three, so she wonders how Pietro could ever leave Crystal and their daughter Luna. ‘Oh, Pietro – do you always have to fight the world?’ Wanda thinks, before remarking that Crystal’s affair with Norm Webster was wrong, but that everyone makes mistakes – even Quicksilver! Wanda knows however that Quicksilver thinks he is better than that, meaning he thinks everyone else is worse. ‘All of us, even me!’ Wanda exclaims. She thinks to herself that she cannot feel sorry for Crystal, ‘But I wish you hadn’t hurt me!’

Outside, the Vision hears his front door bell rings, so phases through the house and answers it. Peter Parker introduces himself, explaining that he is from Now Magazine and is here to take the shots for the photo layout of their house. The Vision remarks that they were expecting him an hour ago, to which Peter replies that his ride kept trying to talk him in to going to the shore. ‘Pardon me?’ the Vision asks. ‘It’s a long story’ Peter replies, before looking around the Vision’s home and exclaiming that it is very nice, not what he expected at all.

‘Pardon me?’ the Vision asks. Peter quickly apologizes, and explains that he was expecting something more like Avengers Mansion – opulent and high tech all at the same time! ‘But this is very…homey!’ Peter exclaims. The Vision smiles and explains that he and the Scarlet Witch moved to Leonia to live as much like normal people as they can. Peter begins taking photos and thinks to himself that he is trying to give up being Spider-Man, trying to find something with even a remote resemblance to a stable love life, and here the Vision is, with all of that. ‘I envy the guy!’ Peter thinks to himself, before deciding that if a synthezoid and a mutant can make it happen, then perhaps there is still some hope for Aunt May’s little nephew!

Peter turns to the Vision, admitting he is curious to know that, if he and the Scarlet Witch want to live like normal people, why then did they agree to have their house opened up to the readers of Now? ‘Don’t you know what time of year it is?’ the Vision asks, smiling. ‘Taxes?’ asks Peter. ‘Taxes!’ exclaims the Vision. The Vision informs Peter that when he and Wanda were members of the Avengers, they were each drawing salaries of $1000 per week, but since their resignation, they have been living on savings.

The Vision explains that since they made so much money last year, but aren’t making it now, he accepted Mr. Jameson’s offer. ‘J. Jonah J. offered to pay super heroes for something?’ Peter asks, shocked. The Vision begins to explain that Jonah said it would show there are normal super heroes in the world – ‘As opposed to that well-known menace, Spider-Man, yeah, I get it!’ Peter remarks, before revealing that he is taking the pictures because he needs a “buck transfusion” from Jonah also, and suggests they continue to the kitchen.

Though it is a lazy Spring Sunday in Leonia…it’s another story at the bottom of the world…where at this very present point in time, a snow storm rages. A man is pulled along on a sled by some hounds and is thinking how relieved he is that there are only three more weeks until the replacements come, for even though he has geophysical experiments to conduct, he is going stir-crazy! ‘The same eleven rooms inside the station – the same empty whiteness outside! Nothing ever changes!’

Suddenly though, the dogs are knocked one side, and a blur of blue streaks up towards surprised man – ‘You, human! Do you have a wife? Do you have a love in your life? shouts Quicksilver as he grabs the scientist by his jacket and holds him up off the ground. The astonished man asks Quicksilver where he came from. ‘One minute you weren’t there – then you were!’ he exclaims.

‘You do, don’t you?’ Quicksilver shouts. ‘Even here, at the end of the Earth, a man can have a faithful wife! But not me – No, I run alone and even here I’m an outcast!’ Quicksilver shouts that it is his choice, even though they wanted him to take her back, swallow his pride and accept that “soiled” woman back into his arms. ‘Would you do it?’ he asks the man. ‘Well…’ the man begins, until Quicksilver tosses him aside, ‘Yes, you would!’ Pietro exclaims, shouting that the pleasures of the flesh may rule other men, but now him. ‘I am lean and tight! Flesh is my enemy!’

Quicksilver babbles that once a man compromises, he can never be pure again – ever, and boasts that he is pure, ‘As the driven snow!’ Quicksilver boasts that he is unadulterated in the best sense of the word, that he has kept his integrity through everything, all these years. The scientist calls out to Quicksilver, pointing out that it is cold out here, and suggests to him that he come back to the base with him. ‘Don’t try to hold me! No man can hold Quicksilver!’ Pietro shouts, adding that with his metabolism, he can generate all the heat that he needs. He then races away, kicking up snow in the man’s face as he goes. The man looks out for him, ‘Gone – like he was never there! Can I really have seen him run away, or is my mind just overtaxed?’

Back in Leonia, Peter tells the Vision that he is about finished, and all he needs now are some photos of he and the Scarlet Witch. The Vision replies that his wife is supposed to be taking it easy, but supposes that some photos shouldn’t hurt. Before the Vision can go and get Wanda though, the doorbell rings. The Vision opens it and is greeted by a smiling Holly Ladonna, carrying a bouquet of flowers. Holly greets the Vision and asks him if he has seen how many different plants are blooming out there now. ‘Springtime this year is a lot more amazing than last!’ the young woman remarks.

The Vision makes his way up the stairs and beckons the others to follow him, introducing Peter to Holly and explaining that he is taking some pictures for Now Magazine. Peter asks Holly if she is a neighbor, to which Holly replies that she actually lives across town, but points out that Leonia isn’t that big. ‘But I am!’ Wanda jokes, overhearing their conversation. Peter shakes Wanda’s hand and Wanda apologizes for having avoided him. Peter replies that he won’t trouble Wanda and the baby for long.

A short time later, Peter is true to his word as he just about finishes taking pictures of Wanda. Holly exclaims that the photos should be great, as Peter used the sunlight on the curtains behind her very artistically. Peter thanks Holly and remarks that he likes to think he is as good a photographer as he is anything else he does. Peter thinks to himself though that he should not have put on his Spider-Man suit to come out here, as this is a day for Peter Parker and his accomplishments. The Vision asks Peter if he has a ride home, to which Peter replies that he is taking the bus.

Soon, the Vision has offered to walk Peter to the bus stop (that’s the way it is in Leonia). En route, Peter thinks to himself that more and more he is thinking of himself as Peter Parker – apart from the “black rag”, and wonders if it has something to do with changing to that new costume from the old red-and-blue one, that he is finally realizing the costume is not tattooed on him, and that in civvies, he takes good photos! Peter admits to himself though that it is rather weird pretending not to know people whom he has fought alongside in life threatening battles, and thinks that normal people – even normal synthezoids – don’t have the problems of a secret identity!

Rounding a corner, the Vision is greeted by a well-dressed woman and her husband. The Vision smiles upon seeing his friends and introduces Peter to Glynis and Ilya Zarkov, who go by the professional names Glamor and Illusion. Peter is surprised and asks if he can get a photo of them for Now Magazine, claiming that he has loved their magic shows for years, while thinking to himself that there might be another hundred dollars from Jonah.

Glamor strikes a pose and Peter begins snapping pictures, while the Vision remarks that they both look prosperous. Glamor replies that they are just back from Hong Kong, where they had a very lucrative date. Illusion admits that they splurged a bit, revealing that things are going well for them. ‘And here I am doing nip-ups over a hundred bucks!’ Peter thinks to himself. Illusion wonders what the Vision would say if they told him how he and Glamor increase their income – “Avenger, we’re high society jewel thieves” he jokes to himself. Although Ilya wonders it, he will never know because he likes the Vision too much to trouble him with that. Glamor thinks to herself that the Hong Kong fence never saw anything like the Eye of Rajpur before!

The friends part ways, with Peter telling Glamor and Illusion that it was nice to have met them, when suddenly he and the Vision bump into another of the Vision and Wanda’s friends – Norm Webster. The somewhat surprised Norm says hello to the Vision, who merely acknowledges Norm before leading Peter on. Peter glances over his shoulder and realizes that it is not all sweetness and light in this little town, while Norm tells himself that he has lost the Vision and Wanda over his affair with Crystal, and now he doesn’t have Crystal either!

Norm reminds himself that mingling with outsiders is serious business among the Inhumans, who are keeping Crystal locked up tightly. He admits that he is still crazy about her, and that knowing what he knows now, he would still do it all over again. ‘She was fire and ice, all rolled into one!’ he exclaims, before trudging along the pavement, wishing their affair did not have such a high cost. The Vision and Peter arrive at the bus stop and the Vision wishes Peter a safe trip home. ‘You too!’ Peter jokes, before hailing the bus that is approaching. The Vision turns and makes his way home, thinking that Holly was right – the variety of nature’s bounty is remarkable, when, suddenly – something large smacks him over!

‘The Toad!’ exclaims the Vision as he looks up at his assailant. ‘The Terrible Toad-King, synthezoid – now dressed for the part!’ replies the Toad from inside his new large toad-shaped armor. The Vision attacks the Toad and realizes that this new exo-skeleton is solid, as opposed to the pure energy one he wore last. The Vision learns that as the Toad’s new armor makes contact, a pulse of ball lightning follows the blow’s momentum, making it the ultimate knockout punch. Dodging another blow, the Vision tells himself that there are only another six seconds until his disrupted circuits reroute themselves.

The Toad – or rather the Terrible Toad-King – shouts that he wants his queen. ‘I want the Scarlet Witch, and by hook or by crook, I’ll have her!’ The Toad remembers how the Vision sent his ship spinning deep into space last time they fought, before declaring that he already told him he is the master of machines. ‘If you failed to believe me then, perhaps you’ll learn better now as you face my thermoblasters!’ the Toad shouts, unleashing his armor’s power against the android Avenger.

The Toad exclaims that perhaps it won’t matter anymore, because he wants the Vision where he can never threaten him again – on a lab table. ‘I am not a funny little man! I am a King!’ the Toad shouts, to which the Vision punches his armor and tells him that he is actually a walking obsession. ‘Walking, yes- and terrible! Terrible!’ Toad screams, when, suddenly – ‘Mortimer?’ someone calls out to the Toad. ‘What’s going on, buddy?’ - It’s Spider-Man!

Spider-Man swings down and tells the Toad that, in case he hadn’t notices, the Vision is one of the good guys, and yet he’s beating him up. Peter thinks to himself that if he hadn’t had to dig into his change to pay the bus fare, then he would have been home before he heard all of the commotion. Spider-Man addresses the Toad as “Morty” and asks him if he is not backsliding, as he thought they were on the same side now. The Toad stutters and exclaims that Spider-Man was not supposed to know about this, while the Vision warns his ally to be on guard, and suddenly the toad shouts ‘You weren’t ever supposed to know!’ as he smashes Spider-Man high into the air.

Peter is in pain, and although his spider-sense warned him, he ignored it, but is thankful he could roll with that punch. The Toad exclaims that this is not the way it was supposed to be, and therefore he has to retreat and make new plans. ‘Not a chance, Toad!’ the Vision exclaims, remarking that he has enough time to get his strength back as he rushes towards the toad, who reveals that he has the power to teleport – and demonstrates this ability as he touches a panel on his armor and vanishes.

‘Am I dreaming, or was that Memorex?’ Spider-Man asks, before remarking that he knew the little guy wasn’t really tightly wrapped, ‘But that was a left-field city!’ Spider-Man exclaims, adding that he is such a harmless little Toad. ‘What?’ the Vision asks, informing Spider-Man that when the Toad attacked him, Magneto and Quicksilver at Thanksgiving, he was almost maniac, and has been more powerful each time they have met since then. ‘I consider him a major threat to my life!’ the Vision exclaims. ‘What?’ asks a surprised Spider-Man, before suggesting to the Vision that they compare their notes on the Toad!

(Shown with Flashback Images)
Spider-Man begins to tell a disbelieving Vision about Mortimer Toynbee’s attempted suicide a few months ago, beginning with how he jumped off the ledge of a 15th story building, but was rescued by Spider-Man, who swung down and told him it was against the law! The Toad’s misguided attempt at therapy led the former X-Men villain told Spider-Man that he has never had a friend in his whole life, just people who feel sorry for him, ‘No one takes me seriously!’ the Toad exclaimed. Spider-Man assured Toad that he takes him seriously, and points out that as he saved his life, in some cultures that makes him responsible for him. ‘You’d really be my friend?’ the Toad asked.

As Spider-Man explains, that conversation with the Toad led to him, several weeks later, approaching Spider-Man in his orange and grey costume telling Spider-Man that he is ready to accept his offer. ‘Offer? Oh, please, no – don’t tell me!’ Spider-Man uttered, ‘That’s right, I’m going to be your new partner, friend!’ the Toad exclaimed. But, Spider-Man and Toad got caught up with two other costumed crazies – Frog Man and (much to Spider-Man’s horror) Spider-Kid – and the last he heard of them, the three of them were going to become a team of heroes – such as they are. ‘I call them the All-Wiener Squad!’ Spider-Man informs the Vision.

As the Vision and Spider-Man rush through Leonia, the Vision exclaims that Spider-Man’s story is incredible, and informs Spider-Man that during the same period, he has faced a fanatic who wanted to kill him and claim his wife. The Vision informs Spider-Man that the Toad has always been in love with Wanda, never caring that she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. The Vision adds that, using the alien machines which the Toad stole from the Stranger, the Toad is determined to make himself someone that he thinks will impress the Scarlet Witch – “the Terrible Toad-King”.

(Present)
‘Could there be two of them? Nah…I don’t even know why there’s one!’ Spider-Man jokes. The Vision points out that the Toad did falter when Spider-Man confronted him, which means that there must only be one of them, before pointing out that they have to track him down before this goes any further. Spider-Man tells the Vision that they don’t both have to track Toad, pointing out that if Toad didn’t teleport too far away, then he will stand a good chance of finding him on his own, which the Vision isn’t needed for. ‘But I am needed to protect Wanda!’ the Vision exclaims. The Vision remarks that with he and Wanda out of the Avengers and Spider-Man a loner, there is no telling how long they could have gone without stumbling over this. ‘You said it!’ Spider-Man exclaims, before remarking that it was lucky he happened to be on his way to the shore.

The two then part ways, and Spider-Man’s spider-sense goes wild, so he leaps away as the Terrible Toad-King comes up behind him and exclaims ‘You don’t take me seriously!’, adding that if he can teleport away, then he can teleport back. The Toad exclaims that no one took him seriously, which is why he tried to kill himself. ‘You said it would be different after you saved me, but it wasn’t!’ Spider-Man tells Toad to listen to him, pointing out that he never promised him a rose-garden. The Vision did not get far and appears behind the Toad, revealing his presence to Spider-Man as he attacks the Toad from behind.

Toad lunges at Spider-Man, ‘You promised me a friendship, but you were only tolerating me! In the end you told me to go back to my psychiatrists!’ Toad shouts. Spider-Man punches the Toad’s armor, remarking that was a friendly suggestion from him, but that he is obviously a full-time nutcase. ‘Well, nutcase or not, I need a friend! Just one friend! And if not you – then Wanda!’ the Toad exclaims as his armored fist punches the Vision, who phases just in time.

Vision and Spider-Man run circles around the Toad, who claims that he would have chosen the straight and narrow, he would have done it, but after Spider-Man sloughed him off, he knew that the Terrible Toad-King must be born. The Toad exclaims that he will no longer let his destiny lie in the hands of others, and will take what the world will not give him. ‘It’s all your fault, Spider-Man, all your fault!’ the Toad shouts, while thinking to himself that Spider-Man moves to fast.

Spider-Man swings around the Toad and wonders if the mutant is right. Spider-Man admits to himself that he did not take the Toad seriously, but he did try to do right by him. ‘Leave it to your friendly neighborhood “Dear Abby” – even when I win, I lose!’ Spider-Man thinks to himself, before telling the Toad that however he got here, he has to take him seriously now, which means he and the Vision will take him down. ‘You can try!’ the Toad replies, before informing Spider-Man that, after his previous loss to the Vision, he created a suit fit for a King and incorporating the best of his machines.

The Toad points out that Spider-Man knows about his thermo-blasters and his strength, ‘But you don’t know that Toad’s carry poison in the bumps behind their eyes!’ he shouts, before blasting Spider-Man with some poisonous gas. Spider-Man attempts to hold his breath, but he can’t for long, and eventually slips from his webbing and falls to the ground. The Toad exclaims that he only put Spider-Man under for a time, but death he reserves for the Vision!

The Vision informs the Toad that airborne toxins do not affect a man who does not breathe, to which the Toad remarks that all real men breathe, before boasting that he has another power – the ability to hop! The Vision realizes the Toad is referring to his teleportation device, and as the Vision attempts to attack him, the Toad appears behind him. ‘Miss me here!’ Miss me there!’ the Toad boasts childishly, before grabbing the Vision by his head, and shouting ‘Just so long as you miss me with all your heart!’ The Toad realizes that the Vision had no time to dematerialize, ‘Then you’re obliged to have a synthetic heart attack – the first of two, because now, the Scarlet Witch is mine!’ boasts the Toad.

Back at Wanda and the Vision’s home, Wanda asks Holly if she felt something. ‘No, should I have? Holly replies. Wanda replies that she doesn’t know what she felt, but she sure felt something! Suddenly she thinks it has something to do with the Vision and exclaims that she has to go see him, to which Holly tells her to wait, as she knows what the doctor said. ‘Holly, I’m a super heroine! If my husband’s in trouble –‘ Wanda begins, until Holly interrupts, assuring Wanda that if the Vision is in trouble then he will not want her hurting the baby.

Holly offers to go have a look at the noise, reminding Wanda that she is her students, so it’s what she is here for. Holly makes her way through Wanda’s home, thinking that it is no surprising a witch would have a magickal “feel” for her husband, but wonders what could possibly happen on a lazy day like this? Glancing out the window, Holly sees the Toad in his big armor approaching the house, ‘Ohhh boy!’ she thinks to herself as the Toad shouts ‘I’m coming for you, my beloved!’

. Holly races back to Wanda’s room and informs her that there is something going on, but that she wants her to promise that she will stay in her room while Holly herself takes care of it. Wanda begins to protest, until Holly exclaims that they have to think of the baby. Downstairs, the Toad breaks through the front door, setting the alarm off. The Toad tries to turn it off, and with his back to the rest of the house, Holly comes up behind him, with a baseball bat and saying a prayer to God and Goddess – and whoever else might be listening, she asks for the strength to stop this “scuzzball” as she calls him, before whacking him across the head with the bat.

The Toad turns and looks at Holly. ‘Who are you, little girl?’ he asks, before lashing out at her. Holly exclaims that she is someone who isn’t a real witch yet, before rushing up stairs, calling out to Wanda, informing her she cannot stop him and that he is now coming up the stairs.

Meanwhile, the Vision begins to come round. ‘It’s been slow, but I’m recycling’ he exclaims, before asking Spider-Man how he is doing. ‘I’m…regurgitating!’ Spider-Man exclaims as he vomits.

The Toad makes his way to the top of the stairs and calls out to Wanda, announcing his presence as the one who has conquered her husband. ‘Now at last, I can claim your love!’ the Toad exclaims, before falling over. Holly pushes a dresser behind the door to prevent it from being opened, while the Toad gets to his feet and asks Wanda if she thinks her hexes can stop the Terrible Toad-King. ‘Not while he can hop!’ the Toad exclaims, before teleporting near Wanda’s room, excited that she can see how he has changed.

Holly tells the Toad to go away, that they don’t want him here, but he smashes his way into the room. ‘At last! At last we are united, my own – YUCK!’ shouts the Toad as he lays eyes upon Wanda. ‘”Yuck”?’ Wanda asks. ‘You can’t be the Wanda I love – you’re huge!’ the Toad exclaims. ‘I’m pregnant, Toad!’ Wanda informs her one-time teammate. Toad replies that he knew that, but that he had no idea she was so…huge. From inside his armor, the Toad exclaims that this is all wrong, this is not the way he saw it after all those years of waiting. ‘Where is the precious flower of maidenhood who was so sweet to me in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?’ the Toad asks.

‘Right in front of you, Toad – and mad enough to spit!’ Wanda snaps back before casting a spell on the Toad, forcing him out of the room. The Vision and Spider-Man arrive, and Spider-Man sees the Toad reaching for one of the buttons on his armor, but Spider-Man warns him not to. ‘You treacherous sod! I should have killed you when I had the chance!’ the Toad exclaims, to which Spider-Man warns him that if he keeps this up, then he will make him mad too.

Spider-Man begins to wrap his webbing around the Toad’s hand and exclaims ‘Listen, “Toad-Kin”, you say I led you on about being your friend – but what were you doing pretending to be a wimp?’ Spider-Man asks. ‘I am a wimp!’ the Toad exclaims in reply, quickly adding, that what he means is he’s a wimp when he tries to be nice to people. ‘But don’t you know what time it is, tough guy?’ Spider-Man asks while the Vision goes over to Wanda. ‘It’s tax time!’ Spider-Man exclaims, telling the Toad that it is time to pay for the public services.

‘You want a friend or a wife, but you aren’t willing to pay the price!’ Spider-Man points out, before telling Toad that he has to put some effort into being a friend, to make people want to be his friend. ‘You don’t get service for free! You might grumble about the price sometimes, you might not even get everything you want out of it – but that’s just the way life is – and believe me, you’re talking to a guy who knows!’ Spider-Man exclaims. The Toad replies that he no longer believes a word Spider-Man says and Holly alerts everyone to Toad’s now-free hand – then he “hops” away, disappearing without a trace.

Spider-Man thinks to himself that he might start taking the Toad a bit more seriously, before turning to Wanda and remarking that she certainly took care of the Toad, and in her state, while he and the Vision were away in “dreamland”. ‘You sure are some kinda lady!’ Spider-Man exclaims. ‘You’re darn right I am!’ Wanda replies.

Characters:
Scarlet Witch & Vision

Glamor & Illusion
Norm Webster
Holly Ladonna

Quicksilver
Dr. Strange
Spider-Man

Toad / The Terrible Toad-King

Man in the snow
Civilians

In Flashbacks:
Spider-Man
Frog-Man, Spider-Kid, Toad (The Misfits / “All-Wiener Squad”)
The Collector

Notes:
No, the graceful Scarlet Witch does not “romp” like other super heroes – except when she has occasionally moments of insanity, then she gets rather romping. [Avengers West Coast #56, Avengers (3rd series) #503]

The Invisible Woman lost her second child in Fantastic Four (1st series) #287.

Crystal fell ill in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #9, and Quicksilver learned of her affair with Norm Webster and subsequently ran out on her in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #10.

Spider-Man has teamed up with the Vision and Scarlet Witch in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #41-44, among others.

Glamor & Illusion stole the Eye of Rajpur at the Mardis Gras in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #9.

The Vision previously battled the Toad in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #7.

The Toad’s attack at Thanksgiving took place in Vision & Scarlet Witch (2nd series) #6. Spider-Man’s story with the Toad and the “All-Wiener Squad” took place in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #266.

Frog-Man first appeared in Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #131 and is the son of Leap-Frog. He, by accident, has a habit of capturing villains. His primary foes are the White Rabbit and the Walrus.

Spider-Kid (Ollie Osnick) was an overweight young teenager who idolized Doctor Octopus and built himself a set of tentacles, hoping to be Doctor Octopus’ sidekick. Though Doctor Octopus had no use for him and tried to kill him. He was rescued by Spider-Man and later re-designed his tentacles into spider-legs and called himself Spider-Kid, helping the unimpressed Spider-Man. Eventually, Ollie grew up and got fit, now going by the alias “Steel Spider” he is a vigilant hero opposed to the super human registration act and appearing in Thunderbolts #112-113.

The Toad has had a thing for the Scarlet Witch from right back as far as X-Men (1st series) #4 (a.k.a. Uncanny X-Men #4).

The Toad stole alien machines from the Stranger in Avengers (1st series) #138.

Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)


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