Saturday, August 5, 2017

Marvel Team-Up

I'm going to talk a bit about a comic series I have been reading lately. That is, the classic Marvel Team-Up comic, mostly featuring Spider-Man. I picked up the Essential Team-Up Vol. 1 & 2, and am just about finished reading Vol. 2, and I had some thoughts.

First, this is a hard series to recommend unless you are a real completist for the adventures of Spider-Man or the Human Torch. There's much potential in a team-up style comic, but it takes a while before Marvel Team-Up gets its legs.  The original concept of the book was just a Spider-Man/Human Torch buddy book, but that was scrapped early on in favor of Spider-Man and a different guest-star every month, with the occasional issue featuring the Human Torch and a guest. Still, the stories were pretty pedestrian and the really reads at first like the 2nd or 3rd tier Spider-Man book that it was at the time. (Spectacular Spider-Man premiered in 1976.)

As I said, there is some potential in a Team-Up book. I think the best team-up stories involve characters that are B and C listers that could never maintain their own titles, but are interesting to visit. The team-up book is never going to have the most important events in the main character's life, and doesn't involve the key villains either.  For instance, Peter Parker won't get a new job or a new girlfriend or have a showdown with the Green Goblin, but it CAN have important events in the guest-star's life.  Personally, I think Marvel Team-Up really takes off when Bill Mantlo comes aboard as writer. He takes Spider-Man to some starnge places and times, and teams him with the likes of the Scarlet Witch and Moondragon, instead of Iron Man or Thor. Plus you get great art by Sal Buscema, who could always draw any character in any story and had impeccable storytelling skills!

There are some classic runs of Team-Up including early Chris Claremont/John Byrne and a great run written by J.M. DeMatteis. This is the first I've read the early issues, and though it hasn't been as much fun as other Essentials, its interesting seeing the evolution of the comic as it found its way and became a true classic. I did read the end of the original run, which lasted 150 issues, and I was sorry to see the title end.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steven,

    Could not agree more with you. Team-up's are great opportunities for writers and readers alike to explore all aspects of the heavy-weight heroes in strange scenarios, sharing the stage with some unusual but not less interesting guests.

    Now that there is a dozen of superhero movies and shows being produced every year, this is a golden chance to experiment, to challenge the limits, to merge things that looked completely distant 40 years ago.