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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!
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