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The Top 16 Best Team-Up Runs: # 8-7

15-14 HERE.

13-11 HERE.

10-9 HERE.

Everyone caught up?  Then let’s go….

8) Todd Dezago (writer) on Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up (2004-2005)

Issues: 1-5 (Five Issues) Michael O’ Hare, Lou Kang, Jonboy Meyers, Ron Lim, and Valentine Delandro artists

Team-Ups: Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, Kitty Pryde and Storm-with Rogue half-heartedly playing the villain.
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I know, I know… MASMTU (to it’s friends) is a fairly obscure and almost immediately canceled series from the failed Marvel Age line that didn’t manage to retain a single artist for more than one issue. Worse yet, the first four issues are re-makes of old Spider-man and Marvel Team-Up issues – And not the ones that made this list (With one exception.)

So, the question becomes doubly important:

Why This Run Rocks:

1) I’m not ALL that familiar with Dezago’s work (I know he’s written Spider-man before, and I liked TELOS quite a bit) but Sheeeeooooot, this is some nice scripting. Each issue is a perfect little recipe for effective comic-booking, perfectly measured, portioned, and seasoned. Let’s take a look at what each-and-every issue offers up. (A) A fast-paced plot with a definite beginning, middle, and end? Check.

(B) Humor? Plenty of it, but not SO much that it detracts from the plot.

Since this is a comic aimed at younger kids – (C) A lesson at the end about tolerance or what it means to be an American or what-have-you? Well, not EVERY issues got this, but three of the five of ‘em do.

If reading hundreds and hundreds (I’d guestimate somewhere between six and seven) of these darn team-up books has tought me anything, it’s this: Man, it’s REALLY EASY to screw these books up. You can fail to create a relationship between the two team-up-ites, concentrate too much on character or action to the detriment of the other two, you can drag the whole story down with a lame-arsed villain, you can have Hercules dragging the Island of Manhattan around with a chain… There are thousands of ways you can screw team-up books up. But Dezago DOESN’T. Given a bottom-of-the-barrel assignment that would be easy to sluff off, he makes every story work on darn near every level.

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(From Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up # 5. Valentine Delanro Pencils. Pat Davidson inks.)

2) Surprisingly good art comin’ mostly from folks I’ve never heard of. Ron Lim did a bunch of work on Silver Surfer and the Starlin penned Thanos stories circa 1990 or so… (And here he is with a tricky-to-pull-off but quite effective Spidey/Thor page.)

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(From MASMTU # 4. Scott Koblish inks.)

but the other guys flew right under my radar. But they’ve all really effective storytellers, and most of ‘em have a little bit of a Manga flavor to their work. (I like it when comics from 2004 feel like comics from 2004 instead of, say, Spider-Girl.) I’m especially impressed with JonBoy Meyers skill at cartoony facial expressions.

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(From MASMTU # 3. Nathan Massengil and David Newbold Inks.)

3) Every time when MASMTUP re-tells an older Marvel Team-Up story, the remake is much, much, much(!) better. (And the Rogue/Storm original story is good too.) The first, Fantastic Four story is a mash-up of the second Stan Lee/Steve Ditko story from Amazing Spider-man # 1 and… Well, I can’t tell. # 1 wasn’t the best Spidey story ever by a long shot, but Ditko’s Spider-man is pretty much my favorite batch of superhero comics ever, so I’m too hopelessly biased to judge. I WILL say that the original story loses points ’cause it didn’t have this exchange…

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(From MASMTU # 1. Michael ‘O Hare Pencils. Derek Fridolfs Inks.)

4) It works as kid’s comics. Frank Man over at Spider-fan has a REALLY good point. (He doesn’t care for the book much in general, though, the poor man.)

So as I was saying about those narration dialogue boxes…They seem to be built for adults to read to their kids or for kids who have just started reading to get past the exposition of the story and into the rising action easier. Good thinking, writers.

On the Other Hand: I’ve got one big complaint and a few nitpicks, but let’s start with a non-complaint.  Sure, the stories might be a little simple and some of the humor might be a little dopey.  BUT IT’S A COMIC AIMED AT YOUNG KIDS.  So both of these seem like a PLUS in a lot of ways.  More problematically there are a couple logical lapses (Which the Spider-fan reviewers hammer on endlessly, the boring ol’ sicks-in-the-mud) and there’s a few issues  the creative team could have spend more time introducing the guest star and establishing their milleu…

But all of that pales before the real problem. Captain America looks like this.

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You know who I blame?  Nazis.

Jim Starlin (Artist and plotter) on DC Comics Presents (1980-1981)

Issues: 26-29, 36,37. (6 issues) Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Paul Levitz and Roy Thomas Scripters

Team-Ups: Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Supergirl, Spectre, Hawkgirl and Starman. No, not THAT Starman. Or that other Starman. Some Starman who’s all into alien politics. (I’d never heard of him before. )

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Why This Run Rocks:

1) Villains. Well, at least VILLAIN. Well at least MONGUL.

Here is a list of the top five most re-used/important villains (not counting Mongul. Or Stegron) who originated in a team-up book.

1) Superboy Prime – DC Comics Presents # 87 (Although he’s not a villain in REAL life.)
2) Arcade – Marvel Team-Up # 65
3) Silver Banshee – Action Comics # 585
4) Moses Magnum – Giant-Size Spider-Man # 4
5) …. Well, apparently the Blood Brothers and the Griffin showed up before appearing in Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Feature. (Which had some Thing team-ups.) So I got nothing.

I;ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  This is a problematic format to work with.  As a team-up book writer, you have to incorporate the storytelling mileus of two characters into 17-22 pages, which means that you’ve got limited space to devote to the villains, so is it surprising that some of the made-for-team-up antaganists come off… A little lame?   So when Starlin comes up with a villain who not only provides an effective challenge for the Pre-Crisis Superman on physical, mental, and emotional levels, but who also sticks around to turn up important player in major storylines 25 + years later… That’s kind of a big deal.

So everyone say “Hi” to Mongul and his amazing Cosmic Cube.

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(From DC Comics Presents # 27.  “Quickdraw” inker –  Anyone know what this Quickdraw business is all about?  Len Wein Script.)

2) Starlin’s a really funny cartoonist. Lookit’ Mongul piloting his giant death star in his widdle hat.
So cute!

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(From DCCP # 28.  Romeo Tanghal co-artist.  Len Wein Script.)

AND he’s a really funny cartoonist in the midst of this huge, world-shattering cosmic storyline, which speaks well to his faith in his skills. Most creators, when workin’ the “cataclysmic end of the world” angle, spend every iota of their storytelling prowess trying to convince us of the bigness and badness and epicness of their premise. Here Starlin KNOWS he can do all that, and doesn’t mind varying the emotional tone a little bit.

3) DC Team-Up! Superman and God!

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(From DCCP # 29.  Romeo Tanghal co-illustrator.  Len Wein Script.)

Also the Spectre, and stains from where I spilled my coffee.

4) Hawkgirl (at least the comic book version) will probably never be this bad-ass again.

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(From DC Comics Presents # 37.   Roy Thonas Script.)

5) Sijo mentioned this in the comments as a negative but I… I kind of like Starlin’s “Huge Jerk” take on Superman. He Learns His Lesson at the end of the issue, but I can use a break from the Big Blue Boyscout every now ‘n again.

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(From DCCP # 27, with “Quickdraw” again.  Len Wein script.)

On the Other Hand: Starlin’s art is usually pretty solid, but these books do contain the occasional off-model character, and the humor is generally well done –  But sometimes it shifts down into “annoyingly cutesy.  And I had some problems with specific issues –  The Starman issue is almost half exposition, and the Green Lantern team-up isn’t particularly thoughtful or… well, GOOD. But, sadly, the higher we move up the list the less I find to complain about.

Next Up:

Two runs that, if my countin’ fingers are working, received only one vote EACH in the comments.  And that’s a darn shame.  Let’s see if we can net ‘em a little love.  Wednsday-ish.

15 Comments

There was a Marvel Age Team-Up? Huh.

The White Rabbit debuted in a team-up book. (Marvel Team-Up) She’s pretty cool.

Well, at least I think so.

Derek J. Goodman

August 30, 2009 at 10:34 pm

I’ve always loved the White Rabbit. Really.

Hey Brian, when are we going to get a Cool Comic Moment from the White Rabbit?

If Brian needs a suggestion, there’s a really cool moment in the new Mister Negative series where she was singing ‘White Rabbit’ while shooting people. I really liked it.
And of course, there is the time back in Spectacular Spider-Man #256 when she demanded the city pay her ransom in quarters. Just for spite.

The Grapplers first showed up in Marvel Two-in-One. I’m not going to advocate too strongly for Poundcakes, but Songbird has done pretty well for herself in recent years.

So did the Serpent Squad, and I do like them quite a bit.

Most importantly, though: Ambush Bug! Hasn’t been a villain for a while, tho.

I’d mention Starro and Amazo, but that would be cheating.

[…] posted here: Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources » The Top 16 Best … AKPC_IDS += "1078,";Popularity: unranked [?] > Spiderman News — admin @ 1:48 […]

Never heard of Levitz/Ditko’s Starman before? For shame. He’s personally my favorite Starman, and, as I’ve said many times before, his original run in Adventure Comics really, really needs to get collected (ideally with his appearance in DCCP, which I liked by the way, to close it off).
Anyway, glad one of my “picks” made it into the top 10 – I thoroughly enjoyed each of these when I read them as a kid, and still they’re great fun now.

Let’s see, what’s left?

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up: some of the best artwork to ever grace a team-up book.

Claremont & Byrne Marvel Team-Up: I’ve only read a few issues, but they were decent. Maybe just Claremont on MTU, so you could include issue 100.

Marvel Team-Up, mid-90s version, issues 1-6: Peyer & Oliffe, fun stuff.

Spider-Man Team-Up: I read 2 issues, one of which didn’t suck.

Brave & the Bold, Haney issues: I know you wrote about some of these, maybe the rest are coming soon.

Super-Villain Team-Up: I’ve never read it, but it seems fondly-remembered on the web.

Marvel Two-in-One, Byrne issues. Did he write them as well as draw them?

Two character team-up books, if they count: Green Lantern/ Green Arrow, Power Man & Iron Fist, Brave & the Bold (Waid & Kitson mini), Daredevil issues co-starring Black Widow.

Kirkman Marvel Team-Up: did anyone like this series? I don’t remember it being well-received.

Devil Dinosaur Team-Up: The 978 issue run surely constitutes the greatest team-up run of all. Remember when it went weekly in the ’80s? Devil Dinosaur’s induction into Team America stands as one of the pivotal ’80s comics, remembered alongside Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns.

Wait, what’s better than Starlin on DC Presents? Really? That’s probably my favorite Superman stuff ever not written by either Stern or Rucka.

I guess I could give you Claremont/Byrne MTU but even then, I dunno.

“There was a Marvel Age Team-Up? Huh.”

Target had a magazine sized reprint of all five of these. I remember thumbing through it and really liking Lim’s art on the Thor story, which was a surprise, as I wasn’t a big fan of his in the ’90s. Kind of wish I’d bought it now.

Quckdraw I assume is like Crusty Bunkers: code for “deadlines got tight so a bunch of people chipped in to ink this book and get it out the door”

Wow. That’s…. that’s a lot of love for the White Rabbit. I’m surprised. And somewhat scared.

Ambush Bug wasn’t a villain for very long, so I didn’t count him. I knew some of the Serpent Squaders debuted in MTIO, but I was too lazy to look up which ones. (The name dates back to the Englehart Captain America run.)

I love Ambush Bug too an unhealthy degree, so I didn’t count him as a villain. I don’t trust that bastard Cheeks, though.

Screaming Mimi is a GREAT suggestion.

Pre-Team-Up Book Brave and the Bold probably doesn’t count, so no Amazo or Starro. Or Byth. I like Byth. Although Bizzaro-Amazo made his first appearance in DC Comics Presents # 71.

Devil Dinosaur Team-Up is # 0.

Two character team-up books, if they count: Green Lantern/ Green Arrow, Power Man & Iron Fist, Brave & the Bold (Waid & Kitson mini), Daredevil issues co-starring Black Widow.

Don’t count. No Power Man and Iron Fist, no Captain America and the Falcon, no Patsy and Hedy, no Casper and the Ghostly Trio. The rule is “Rotating Guest Star Team-Up Stories With Serial Nature or Derivatives There-of.” Among other things, I’m not computer literate enough to download, and there’s several hundred issues of World’s Finest I don’t have easy access to. Not even Super-Villain Team-Up made the list…. Although I’m not sure it kept a single writer or artist long enough to count as a single “run” anyway.

There was a Marvel Age Team-Up? Huh.

Yes. There was even a “Tales of the Thing” a Marvel Two-In-One remake series after MASMTU was cancelled. Also Spider-man Team-Up, Supervillain Team-Up, Super-Team Family, and both Richie Rich and Capser team-up books in the late ’80s which Harvey used to burn off old inventory stories.

Quckdraw I assume is like Crusty Bunkers: code for “deadlines got tight so a bunch of people chipped in to ink this book and get it out the door”

Makes sense. Has anyone seen this in other DC books?

Well, glad to see the Starlin DCCP run finally covered! Thanks, Mark.

But I gotta disagree re: Starlin’s Jerk Superman. I get what he was trying to do (the whole *point* of the first trilogy was to get Superman to admit he had grown overconfident because of his power) and yes, I agree that seeing him in a different way than he’s usually portrayed is interesting. The problem was, Starlin went TOO far, to the point of it being a plot-hole. Why would Superman so casually dismiss -even KNOCK AROUND- the Martian Manhunter, who was his JLA buddy for years, especially when the lives of his loved ones were in danger? I was sure it was actually some plot the two had cooked up to distract Mongul and rescue the hostages, and was quite shocked when in the end it turned that Supes REALLY had been that stupid. Nice idea but not handled well.

I knew some of the Serpent Squaders debuted in MTIO, but I was too lazy to look up which ones. (The name dates back to the Englehart Captain America run.)

Oh right, the Viper-Eel-Cobra era. It was Anaconda, Black Mamba, Sidewinder and Death Adder who debuted in Marvel Two-in-One, starting up a whole new Squad/Society.

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