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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 55

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on Marvel Team-Up!


John Byrne had already done a few issues of Marvel Team-Up by the time Chris Claremont joined the book as writer with issue #59, but together the pair (who had already worked together on Iron Fist) put together a very impressive year-long run, from #59 through #70 (1977-78).

They opened up with a strong two-parter with Spidey teaming up with the Wasp and Yellowjacket (against a fairly dorky villain, but the character work with the Wasp was well worth the read, even with the dorky villain).

John Byrne drew a very attractive Wasp (this whole little scene is handled beautifully by Byrne)…

The next story is a fun, action-packed adventure with Spidey going up against the Super-Skrull…

Chris Claremont did not waste much time before bringing in the lead character of the other comic book title he picked up when he began writing Marvel Team-Up, Ms. Marvel!

Speaking of bringing in other characters he had written (Claremont is one of the all-time leaders in Nepotistic Continuity), Claremont and Byrne return to their Iron Fist days with the next two-parter!

First, Iron Fist versus Steel Serpent…

and then, the next issue, the Daughters of the Dragon join the fight!

Man, Claremont and Byrne really got the most out of Marvel Team-Up – they knew that they were not going to be able to do a lot of advancement of Spider-Man’s plots, so instead they turned up the action (while advancing the characterizations of the guest stars) – and boy is the action awesome!

They followed with a two-parter adapted from Marvel UK, featuring (shockingly) another Claremont creation, Captain Britain…

This story introduced Arcade and his games of death. Here, Spidey and Captain Britain are stuck in a pinball machine of murder!

Next we take a break from two-parters for two one-off issues!

An interesting one with Tigra and Kraven the Hunter…

and then a particularly strong issue with the Man-Thing and the villainous D’Spayre, who makes his debut in this issue (D’Spayre works really well when it comes to bringing out Peter’s sense of responsibility – and how he strives to do what’s right no matter how he might be, well, despairing).

Finally, the run ends with a story involving the Living Monolith.

First, Havok gets involved…

and for their last issue, Thor joins the fray, and they clearly have a blast working Thor into the story.

Here is a clever little bit involving Thor’s hammer…

You know this run was well-received, because by the end of it, they were beginning to talk ABOUT the run on the cover of the comic itself! “The Marvel Bullpen proudly presents this month’s outstanding achievement in comic art!” shouts the cover blurb for this last issue of their run.

Their run WAS pretty darn outstanding!


I loved the Arcade/Captain Britain/Spider-Man story…

Can’t remember where I first read it, but it was my first introduction to Captain Britain…

I can’t believe you left out the Red Sonja/Kulan Gath story.

Made #2 on the best team-up runs last year: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/09/17/the-top-16-best-team-up-book-runs-2-3/

Fantastic stuff, and the body of it is now traded in Essential Marvel Team Up v3 (only 79 is missing)

Is Thor the only major Marvel hero for which Byrne never did a run as writer or artist? If so, that’s a shame, because he drew a wicked Thor whenever he got the chance. (see also: FF #243)

And several Avengers issues. (160s and 180s)

It’s elegant looking at how the relevant Avengers issues dovetail into the SM/Thor MTU (and the Beast in UXM 111+)

@ Matt Bird- no Daredevil or Dr. Stranger either, I think. (I guess they count as major). He did draw a great Thor.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

MTU #63-4 are basically Iron Fist v.1 #16-17, wrapping up the story of the Steel Serpoent that never got paid off in the cancelled title.

Unfashionable and umarketable as that is these days, I always sort of enjoyed the way a cancelled book would have its plot threads resolved in a major title back in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nova’s dangling plots got a wrap-up in his creator’s run of Fantastic Four, Claremont and Byrne resolved Iron Fist’s subplots in the above stories, Jim Starin finishing his original Walrock run in a couple of annuals of Avengers and Marvel Two-In-One, and J.M. DeMatteis concluding Bill Mantlo’s Deathlok suybplots in some issues of Captain America. The king of them all has to be Bill Mantlo dragging in nearly every “present-day” character he’d ever co-created for the post-100 issues of his Iron Man title, all fighting Tony’s enemy Midas and then the Soviet Super-Soldiers.

It wasn’t always good stuff — the Omega the Unknown wrap-up by someone not named Steve Gerber springs to mind — but it often worked within the fan-publisher relationship of those days. It was a way of letting readers of even the failed titles know that they’d get narrative closure somewhere.

Now you just unceremoniously kill off the stars of cancelled books in the opening pages of the next bloated crossover event. Just ask the New Warriors, the original Blue Beetle, Hawkman and Hawkgirl…..

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 10:21 am

Oh, and I suspect Brian left out #72’s Red Sonja story and #75’s Luke Cage adventure because they were split from the unbroken run of #59-70. Claremont actually stayed on the book a lot longer and wrote many other issues, including #100, where Frank Miller drew the debut of Karma of the New Mutants in a story starring Spider-Man and the FF.

i also loved the black widow/shang-chi/nick fury story claremont did in MTU about a year later (82-85 i think), as well as issue 100, which claremont did with frank miller in one of those great “i can’t believe it’s not in trade” stories. good call on claremont’s continuity between his own title. everything he was writing between about ’76-’82 tied into each other (x-men, iron fist, ms. marvel, marvel team-up, spider-woman, new mutants). it all still holds up surprisingly well, except ms. marvel, only because the art was awful in comparison to byrne doing virtually everything else he wrote.

I really like the early John Byrne art. Sometime during the Fantastic Four, his style changed and it just hasn’t been as good since. (It’s still good, though.)

I thought I’d read more than one of the Claremont-Byrne Team-Ups, but the only one of these I’ve seen is the one with the Wasp. I have part two, not the one you show here. (If anyone was wondering, the dorky villain is Equinox, the Thermodynamic Man, and he was supremely dorky. I can’t understand why anyone felt the need to bring him back after this story, but they did.) It’s kind of an important story because the Wasp gained additional strength in this issue, although it seems a lot of Avengers writers forgot about it.

I had no idea Captain Britain needed the sceptre to fly. In the stories I’ve read, he no longer had the sceptre, but he still flew. I assume somebody explained why somewhere.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm

The magic gizmos in the staff were woven into Captain Britain’s second costume, the one with the helmet. Later, it turned out the power was in him all along or somesuch. Keeping track of his powers isn’t really worth anyone’s time, since almost every new writer completely revamps them.

This was an absolutely fantastic run. I reread these issues every so often. And even though you call Equinox a dorky villian, I always liked the Wasp/YellowJack team-up story.

Tales of the Boojum

February 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Aw, there’s lots of villians way more dorky than poor old Equinox. Besides, Byrne made him look good. You always think “X-men” whenever you hear “Claremont/Byrne,” so it’s great that their excellent MTU run gets some love too.

I have these when they were reprinted in marvel tales 190s – 200s
Great stuff and always worth a reread.
As for Captain Britain’s power, it was in him all along but only in Britain. The suit (and so the sceptre by extension) stored the magic when he was overseas.

I had no idea Claremont had created Captain Britain. I thought it was Moore.

MTU #100 is a great story – Spidey, FF and Karma. Also loved the MTU issue introducing Professor Power, as it focussed on Beast’s relationship with his mum.

And Omar, I don’t think you’re being entirely fair. Sure unused characters get killed off, but old plots are finished in other books all the time. The new Blue Beetle had his stuff finished off in Booster Gold. The Ezekial Stane plots from The Order moved into Iron Man. The Wither stuff from New X-Men is being resolved right now in X-Force. Jeff Parker has been working Agents of Atlas into everything he writes.
Plus, books today are usually given enough cancellation notice that plot movement isn’t necessary. The only sudden cancellation without any resolution I can think of was Runaways. War Machine, Ant-Man, The Order, Young X-Men, Nextwave and SWORD were all given enough notice that the writers were able to wrap up the major plotlines, with the exception of The Order, which left one dangler because it worked so well to move Stane over to Iron Man.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 25, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Moore came onto Captain Britain some years after the character’s creation; it’s more that the run right before Moore’s was the first distinctive one, and the Moore’s was better than most contemporary superhero comics period.

Man, did Byrne draw a sexy Tigra or what? That’s always been one of my favorite splash pages for just that reason.

Man, did Byrne draw a sexy Tigra or what? That’s always been one of my favorite splash pages for just that reason.

Yeah, he drew a lot of sexy women during this run.

Captain Britain: There’s 3 Panini trades that collect all of the original CB stuff written by Claremont (and others). You’re probably best getting these off Amazon UK.

Imeadiately after the MTU appearance you get the stuff printed in the UK Marvel Superheroes which has recently been collected in the Captain Britain Omnibus. All drawn by Alan Davies, written first by Dave Thorpe, then Alan Moore, Jamie Delano and (I think) Davies himself.

After this the new style CB gets US exposure with the two Captain America issues (305 & 306), New Mutants Annual 2, X-Men Annual 11 and Excalibur

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Alan Davis, not Alan Davies. Though a comic drawn by the recurring stooge on QI might be interesting in its own right.

I note that there’s a colour TPB of the Byrne/Claremont MTU issues now listed on Amazon.

Can’t wait. This and Alpha Flight Classic v2 in the space of a few months. Result.

As long as the paper’s OK: the recent Dawn of the Age of Apocalypse had worse paper than the original issues!

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