Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Top 5 Team-Up Books: Marvel Team-Up

Previously I have revealed the number 4 and 5 books in my personal list of top 5 team-up books: World's Finest Comics and Super-Villain Team-Up respectively. Now it is time for the book in the bronze medal position:

3 - Marvel Team-Up (Marvel Comics)

Spider-man with various co-stars
Art by John Byrne

Launched in March 1972 and running for 150 issues until February 1985 Marvel Team-Up was a staple of the Bronze Age and Spider-man was the recurring star in all but nine of the issues (Spidey did not appear in #18, #26, #29, #32, #35, #97, #104 and #105).

Some books stay in the memory and Marvel Team-Up #31 is one of those books because I first encountered the enigmatic Iron Fist in a tale called "For A Few Fists More" by Gerry Conway with art by Jim Mooney and Vince Colletta.

Marvel Team-Up #31 (March 1975)
Pencil Art by Gil Kane, inks: Frank Giacoia
Kung Fu was all the rage and knowing that Marvel Team-Up books were usually complete stories I bought a copy.  In retrospect apart from the Gil Kane cover the art is mediocre and the story is corny but I was intrigued by Danny Rand and sought out more stories that featured the character.  On that basis the comic was a success and surely that is one of the main purposes of team-up books.

The next issue I bought was #36 because it had the Frankenstein Monster in it and I was a fan of the horror genre, Tomb of Dracula is an absolute classic!  The story continued with Man-Wolf in #37 so I got that too.

Marvel Team-Up #36 (August 1975)
Pencil Art by Ed Hannigan, inks: Mike Esposito

Marvel Team-Up #37 (September 1975)
Pencil Art by Ed Hannigan, inks: John Romita

Distribution must have been very patchy because I did not see another issue on the racks until #46. I would have bought plenty of the intervening issues had I seen them as they featured some of my favourite characters such as Killraven and Vision. However it was another memorable issue as it introduced me to Deathlok. Once again the series had done its job.

Marvel Team-Up #46 (June 1976)
Pencil Art by Rich Buckler, inks: Mike Esposito

That is where my personal collection of Marvel Team-Up ends, which is a great pity as I would love to have more of these great books, simply for the covers in some cases. However all is not lost because Marvel's Essentials series allows middle aged men pushing fifty to read about their heroes without worrying if they will ever see the next issue. Marvel Team-Up was a great series with a concept that could not fail - put your number one star on the cover and rotate guest stars while trying out new writers and artists. I have a great fondness for the title but it isn't in the top 2. What titles could have pushed Spidey into third?

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