Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last Issue Special # 17: Marvel Team-Up (v. 1) [Comics]

SERIES: Marvel Team-Up

DATE: 1985

THOSE RESPONSIBLE: Louise Simonson (writer), Danny Fingeroth (editor)

CATEGORY: Acceptance

Marvel Team-Up functioned for over a decade as the third Spider-Man title, right next to Amazing . . . and Spectacular . . . It was tied strongly into the continuity of its sister books, so Peter Parker's troubles with girls, making rent, or Aunt May were usually pretty consistent across titles. What set it apart, of course, is that each issue prominently featured another Marvel hero or super-group helping out ol' Spidey defeat the bad guys. Although this and the other long-lasting team-up title (the Thing's Marvel Two-in-One) ended just before I started collecting comics, I always pick up the back issues when I see them in the bargain bins: they're one of the few ways for second-string heroes to get a turn in the spotlight, even if the nature of team-up stories tend to be predictable (villain appears; heroes appear and mistake each other for villains and fight; heroes make-up; heroes team-up to defeat villain).

Marvel Team-Up ended with issue # 150 in order to make for another dedicated Spidey title, Web of Spider-Man. The end of the series is nicely symbolized by Spider-Man walking away in the corner box on the cover, and they brought out Marvel's biggest guns--the X-Men--for the big good-bye. The story here concerns Juggernaut deciding that the best birthday gift for his bestest friend in the whole world (Black Tom Cassidy) is the same Ruby of Cyttorak that gave Juggy his power. Juggernaut returns to Korea, steals the Ruby, and returns to New York and gives it to Black Tom--but the crystal has the unintended effect of distributing its power between the two villains (making Black Tom stronger, but Juggernaut weaker). Then Spider-Man and the X-Men arrive and tear up most of Manhattan in an epic slugfest before Juggernaut gets his power back and throws the Ruby into outer space (I vaguely recall another story that sees Juggernaut return to Korea and unravel the mystery of the Ruby, but I can't recall where right now . . .)

In a text box cheekily labeled "Post Mortem Department", the editors announce the end of the series while promising that the debut of Web of Spider-Man is just six weeks away and will feature "the final showdown between the Web-Slinger and his black Secret Wars costume." As if.

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