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Comic Book Legends Revealed #450

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COMIC LEGEND: Marvel Team-Up was originally intended to be strictly a Spider-Man/Human Torch team-up comic.


The number five comic book story on our ongoing countdown of the Greatest Christmas Comic Book Stories Ever Told (based on YOUR votes!) was 1971’s “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!”

The issue was notable not just for being a great Christmas story (that helped set up years’ worth of Sandman character development) but also for being the debut issue of a brand-new Marvel comic book series, Marvel Team-Up.

The first issue was written by Roy Thomas, the only issue to be written by Thomas.


Gerry Conway took over with the second issue, which also was a Spider-Man/Human Torch team-up.


As was the third issue…


But with issue #4, the book was Spider-Man teaming up with the X-Men…


and the book became Spider-Man team-ups from that point forward.

Well, reader Pat S. wrote in about this change. He had just read an old issue of Back Issue where Conway said the following:

Because Johnny Storm and Spider-Man were both young adults, and had shown some chemistry playing off each other in the past, Roy probably felt this would be an interesting team. But the limits of this set-up became obvious pretty quickly, so we moved on to the alternating-hero idea, and then ultimately, to the team-up of the month formula.

So Pat wanted to know if Marvel Team-Up was originally intended to be a Spider-Man/Human Torch team-up series and Conway just changed the concept after a couple of issues.

I asked Roy about it and Roy confirmed that it was always intended to be a book with Spider-Man teaming up with different characters, although he notes that they likely DID intend for the Human Torch to show up more often than other characters. Thomas also noted that in addition, Conway wouldn’t have been able to change the title on his own, anyways (it is worth noting that Thomas officially took over as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel with issue #4 of Marvel Team-Up).

Interestingly enough, the Torch did come back to share the title with Spider-Man throughout most of 1974 and 1975…


even getting to the point where it was a steady “every three issues the Torch gets to star in the book”…






until that set-up ended with issue #36.

Thanks to Pat for the suggestion, thanks to Roy Thomas for the information and thanks to Jonathan Miller of Back Issue and Gerry Conway for the great quote!


Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Spider-Man!

Was there an unpublished Spider-Man graphic novel where Spider-Man dated a married mob wife?

Did a typo in an Amazing Spider-Man issue give a hint to a future Superior Spider-Man plot?

Was there nearly a backwards issue of Spider-Man that you needed a mirror to read?

Was actor Scott Lava cast as Spider-Man in a Cannon Films Spider-Man movie?

Was the Shocker nearly named the Vibrator?

Did the whole “stopping the thief who killed his uncle” plot from Amazing Fantasy #15 get cut out of Amazing Spider-Man #1’s recap of Spider-Man’s origin?

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Is that Alan Davis art from the cover of Warrior #1?

A young Steve Dillon, actually.

Looks a lot like Brian Bolland to me…

If I remember correctly, the “Human Torch and” issues occurred while Marvel was producing the Giant-Size issues in the mid-70s. One of those Giant-Size issues was Giant-Size Spider-Man, which took the same format of starring Spider-Man and a guest star. The Giant-Size issues were published quarterly, so the Human Torch was the primary star in Marvel Team-Up on those months when Giant-Size Spider-Man was published. After the Giant-Size issues were discontinued, Spider-Man went back to being the ongoing primary star in Marvel Team-Up.

Ah, I was about to say it wasn’t really all Spider-Man team-ups from that point forward, but of course you were already all over that action.

And as for the censoring… antimaterialism is of course anathema to Disney, but ethnic slurs like “gypped”? Well, that’s just fine.

It seems to be written and drawn by Curt Vile.

1. Curt Vile? Really?

2. That’s interesting. They sure did have Human Torch in that book a whole lot.

3. How’d they “censor” (or just change, which is what it looks like they actually did rather than “censor”) it exactly? And the ending is fine, regardless of what Barks thinks.

Ah, I love me some Alan Moore art. Some people don’t know he started out as a cartoonist.
Does anyone else think that the drawing here is VERY reminiscent of Thomas Bunk? Especially the faces.
@Anon: can’t tell whether this is sarcasm or not but Curt Vile was one of Moore’s pseudonyms.

I thought Steve Moore was the writing half of Kurt Vile, & Alan the art half.

Re: The Warrior #1 cover. Yes, the face and knee pose of the woman shrieks “Dillon!”

Speaking of covers – and I know this topic has been discussed before in forums like CSBG – but Gil Kane sure had a lot of stock poses!
Did he turn to the same page of his ‘swipe file’ and always take out “GK hero lying defeated No. 1 pose”?! I’m referring to that MTU #3 image of a prone Spidey, which I’ve seen replicated in many other GK covers. The “Beast defeating Iron Man” cover in the Amazing Adventures early 1970s short Beast solo run springs to mind!

@Steven Grant My quick google suggests that Steve Moore had his own pseudonym (Pedro Henry) for those collaborations.

Fans of Alan Moore’s early work are directed to 2000ad’s website where thet’ve been running a cheap digital thrills promo. Today’s volume is The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks, a collection of his short strips for 2000ad. At £1.99 UK (about $3.20 ish) it’s a bargain


Available till midnight Friday UK time

I doubt The Golden Christmas Tree would have been particularly good story anyway, it starts out pretty dumb already, but yeah, with the flat ending it is definitely among the weakest of Barks.

@AS —

Bullcrap. It’s an awesome story.

3. How’d they “censor” (or just change, which is what it looks like they actually did rather than “censor”) it exactly? And the ending is fine, regardless of what Barks thinks.

They added the whole “Spirit of Christmas” aspect. Barks originally was going to have it end on more of a darker note, including the witch being killed. The wacky ending of the nephews all getting Golden Christmas Trees was meant to have more of a bite to it.

There was also a period around 1980 or so, when Team-Up alternated between Spidey and the Hulk.

That Frantic cover looks like it was reprinted from an issue of Crazy. And the parodies listed are all American subjects. Was the magazine mostly made of Crazy reprints?

@Pete Woodhouse: Gil Kane used a lot of stock poses on his covers because he was churning them out. he remarked in an interview in The Comics Journal that he went through a divorce around that time and had alimony to pay, so he took on a lot of worked and just cranked it out. Covers were relatively quick and easy, so he did a lot of them. He wasn’t proud of the work, but it was a necessity. If you look at his more personal stuff or the earlier stuff, you can see the care he put into it. However, like many artists on a deadline, he relied on many tricks, including stock shots. Even Kirby and Eisner were guilty of that.

For my money, the best Warrior cover was #7, with the painted cover of Marvelman, emerging from water, followed closely by #11, with V’s Guy Fawkes mask hanging from the logo.

@ant: YES! Tom Bunk! That’s the Mad artist I was trying to figure out who “Kurt Vile”‘s work looked like. Thank you!

I’ve always wondered about the visual similarity between the angular, ice-surfing Iceman and the Silver Surfer. Which character’s look was established first, and did one influence the other?


Both Iceman and the Johnny Storm version of Human Torch were originally drawn by Jack Kirby, so that might be the cause for some of the similarity. FF predates X-Men by a little bit (FF started in 1961, X-Men in ’63), so if there’s any influence, it’d be Torch’s look that was established first.

He lives forever!

Good grief

Thanks, Brian! I’m still curious about Iceman and Silver Surfer, but you’ve certainly given me something to think about. I know the Surfer was a Kirby creation; was Kirby also the first guy to depict Iceman “surfing” on ice, instead of just making snowballs and ice ladders and stuff? I guess I’ll try to find out which iconic image appeared first, and go from there.

@buttler: For starters, the “gyp” connection to “Gypsy” (and its therefore an ethnic slur) is NOT definitive.

Secondly, we’re discussing a story that first appeared in an era (1948, to be specific) when there was no such thing as “political correctness.” (By the way. For someone who’s so concerned about “gypped” being a slur, I notice that you DON’T seem so upset by the portrayal of witches as being evil beings. Talk about a slur being ignored.)

@ JosepW ” Philip Durkin, principal etymologist at the Oxford English Dictionary told the Telegraph that there’s “scholarly consensus” that the word (gypped) originated as a “racial slur.””

It’s pretty clear the term is used in the same manner as “jewed” was once used. I don’t think most people realize what they are saying when the say “gypped” but it is definitely derogatory. You’re right there was no concept of political correctness in 1948. People were much more openly bigoted.

@Jerry: Kirby was never really into the X-Men and was gone long before Iceman took that form.

Back in the early 1970’s ASM started became Marvel’s #1 comic in terms os sales, oustripping FF by 100,000 copies a month. The Bullpen wanted to come up with another title to cash in on Spidey’s popularity. If Brian can check the format for the new title would have been another Spidey only title. I think it was to be written by Len Wein and drawn by John Buscema. In any event the Team Up format was adopted so that feelers could be sent out to gauge the interest of other characters. That’s why the X-men popped up and the Inhumans- who were slated for their own title.

BTW the Hulk started showing up when The Incredible Hulk was on TV. Just another try to cash in on a character’ s popularity.

I suggest “When did Iceman start traveling on ice slides?” might be a good topic for one of Brian’s other columns, such as “When First We Met.”

Already know that Alan Moore can write and draw, but settled on writing to which he truly excels. Thanks Brian for that whole page Moore stuff.

@Dalarsco: Kirby was never really into the X-Men and was gone long before Iceman took that form.

Iceman’s ice-covered form debuted in Uncanny X-Men v.1 #8, while Kirby was still on the book. Kirby didn’t leave until after issue #11.

“This is Iron Man! If he dies — He Stays Dead!”

At that point, was this before writing that (especially on a cover) was ironic? When did it become a mainstream trend that any comic book hero death is and has been laughable?

relating to the first legend, Pressbutton (featured on the Warrior cover) had originally appeared in strips “Three-eyes McGurk and his Death Planet Comandos” and “The Stars my Degradation” by “Pedro Henry” and “Curt Vile” (Steve Moore and Alan Moore)

[…] Moore. Artigo no Comic Book Resources sobre uma BD natalícia desenhada e escrita por Moore no início da sua […]

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #450 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

Man, those Marvel team-Up covers are dynamic! I miss that approach, as well as word balloons being used to draw interest.

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