Fastball Failure: Spider-Man's Take on the X-Men Move Is a Total Blunder

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Venom #19 by Donny Cates, Iban Coello, Rain Beredo and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.

Fans of the X-Men are familiar with the maneuver called the Fastball Special. Some of the best tag teams in professional-wrestling history consist of a larger wrestler being paired with someone slightly smaller, which allows the latter to take the majority of punishment while the former comes in to demonstrate his strength.

For the X-Men, the pairing of the "Strong Man" Colossus with the diminutive Wolverine resulted in a Fastball Special in 1976's X-Men #100. The maneuver involves Colossus using his impressive strength to hurl Wolverine in the air at an enemy. The two X-Men even coined the name, oftentimes calling it out in the heat of battle.

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Of course, other Marvel Universe heroes have successfully executed a Fastball Special, but we rarely get to see what happens if it were to ever fail. However, we finally witness just that in Venom #19, a tie-in to the Absolute Carnage event. Carnage and Cletus Kasady have reunited, hunting for characters who have served as hosts for the symbiotes in order to steal a codex from their bodies. Once all the codices are gathered, Carnage plans to use them to usher in the return of Knull, the god of the symbiotes.

Venom has teamed with Spider-Man to stop Carnage, but after being outnumbered they've turned to Captain America, Wolverine and Thing for help. Venom #19 finds the heroes fighting The Maker -- an evil Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe -- who has bonded with the Life Foundation symbiotes Riot, Phage, Lasher and Agony to create a new hybrid monster. With the fight wreaking havoc on the New York streets and Captain America in The Maker's grasp, Thing orders up a Fastball Special with Spider-Man. Unfortunately, the Spider-Man/Thing Fastball Special doesn't have the same positive result as the ones that involve Wolverine.

Instead of Spider-Man getting the upper hand on The Maker, the villain serves up his own Fastball Special by slinging Captain America at the web-slinger, with both heroes colliding in midair. Also, to add insult to injury, Wolverine is standing right beside Spider-Man when Thing decides to use him as a human fastball. Spider-Man's plea for Thing to use Wolverine goes on deaf ears, though you could blame it on his loud screaming as he flies through the air. Finally, the faces Thing and Wolverine make after Cap and Spidey slam into each other is absolutely priceless.

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These are four of the greatest heroes a Marvel fan could ever ask for, but even their combined efforts aren't enough to stop the terrifying Maker-symbiote hybrid. It's not until Hawkeye, Eddie Brock's son Dylan and Sleeper join the fight that they are able to defeat The Maker. And even then, Maker is able to escape through the underground sewer system, though he is most likely no longer bonded to the four symbiotes.

So Spider-Man and Thing's Fastball Special may have ended in failure, but you can't fault them for trying. This is a case where the execution may get a failing grade, but the duo gets an A for effort.

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