Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Brave or the Bold: Comparing the 'Team-Up' Comics...


Redartz:  One feature of comics in our beloved Bronze Age was the popularity of "team-up" books. And yes, I know that the concept existed back in the Silver Age in the form of DC's "Brave and the Bold". Nonetheless, it wasn't until the 70's that you found multiple such titles on the spinner racks. And therefore the 'Team up' comic became as much a Bronze age touchstone as Giant Size comics, Treasury Editions and Hostess Ads.

Between Marvel and DC, there were four 'biggies' that exemplified the genre. Of course the aforementioned "Brave and the Bold" was one, and DC added later "DC Comics Presents". Marvel offered "Marvel Team-Up", and "Marvel Two-in-One". Perhaps a bit less imaginative than DC's titles, but the names certainly told you what you could expect to find between the covers. 

And speaking of covers, below you'll find four groups of covers, representing some of each title's notables. Accompanying these will be a few comments from your humble host about these series.   So buddy up and let's have a look...

 Brave and the Bold

 "B & B" debuted back in 1955, and for years presented various adventure features and rotating headliners. One noteworthy issue was number 28, in which the Justice League of America first appeared! But a few years later, in 1963's issue 50, B & B gave us the first team-up story, with Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter. Various heroes were paired, but by 1966 Batman became the 'host' of the book (no doubt due to the influence of the then-current Batman tv series). And Batman spent the remainder of the series' run teaming with almost everyone imaginable, including the House of Mystery!

Bob Haney wrote most of them, but other writers jumped in later in the book's run. Artists included Ramona Fradon, Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams and Jim Aparo, among others.

Marvel Team-Up

Marvel entered the team up niche in 1972, giving Spider-Man a second book. For the most part Spidey hogged the limelight, but a few issues teamed other characters, primarily the Human Torch and the Hulk. Efforts were made, with varying levels of success, to mesh "Team-Up" storylines with the current ones in "Amazing Spider-Man". I personally enjoyed MTU, but seldom found it as readable as Amazing. One exception to that was the phenomenal Chris Claremont run, with frequent great art by John Byrne. 

Other writers included Gerry Conway, Len Wein, J.M. DeMatties and Bill Mantlo. Among the illustrators were Jim Mooney, Sal Buscema (who did a BUNCH),  and Kerry Gammill.


Marvel Two-in-One

Starting in 1973, everyone's favorite rocky orange Thing appeared in this title, giving bashful Benjy a spotlight outside of the Fantastic Four. Unlike Spider-Man, Ben Grimm never departed from the book (until it's cancellation and replacement with the Thing's solo title). He got to join forces with most everyone in the Marvel universe, including some appearances by his FF teammates. And the occasional crossover with Spider-Man was a big treat, especially the truly classic MTIO Annual 2.

Writers included Steve Gerber, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Bill Mantlo and Mark Gruenwald. Artists appearing were Ron Wilson, Sal Buscema, John Byrne and George Perez, among others.




DC Comics Presents

It seems odd that it took so long, but DC finally gave the Man of Steel a Team-Up venue in 1978, in the form of DC Comics Presents. Superman got to join up with a vast array of guest stars, right up until the book's cancellation (kind of like the Thing in MTIO; except in the case of Superman his team-ups just shifted over into the John Byrne reboot of Action Comics). One short run of this book had Jim Starlin scripts and artwork, and was a definite high point. Among the writers were Martin Pasko, Len Wein and Denny O'Neil and Gerry Conway. You found art by the likes of Jose Luiz-Garcia Lopez, Joe Staton, and Rich Buckler. Interestingly there were numerous issues in which the guest star's reknowned creators were featured on this book, such as Alan Moore writing a Swamp Thing shot, and Keith Giffen doing Ambush Bug...



Sooooo, now it's time for your input. What series did you follow? Which do you consider more successful, which had the best stories and art? Which particular stories did you enjoy, which guest stars did you most anticipate? Any that didn't make the cut but should have? We're teaming up; I got things started and you get to take it from here!



The Groovy Agent said...

World's Finest actually acted as a team-up book for Superman from the summer of 1970 through the spring of 1972. I guess it didn't do as well as DC had expected? Or maybe it did okay, and that's why Jenette Kahn green-lit DCCP early in her tenure? For some reason, though, Superman's team-up books weren't nearly as interesting to me as Batman's Brave and the Bold team-ups! That mag was the gold standard for team-ups. Sure, most of them were set in the "Haney-verse", but that's part of why they worked. He could team Batman up with anyone! And then you had the issues drawn by Neal Adams or Jim Aparo. Can't beat that!

Marvel Team-Up was a lot of fun. Like you, I dug Claremont's run, but Bill Mantlo and Len Wein had some excellent team-up tales as well. I give a slight edge to Marvel Two-In-One though, because as much as I love Spidey, imho, Ben Grimm's personality and expertise made him perfect for team-ups. He could be the leader or the foil depending on his teammate and fit into any world the writers put him in. Slug-outs with Hulks and Man-Things, Project Pegasus, the Serpent Crown, WWII, card games with the Avengers...MTIO was rarely dull!

Oh, and guys like Gil Kane, Sal Buscema, and John Byrne really rocked (no pun intended) on BOTH titles!

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Six Marvel Teamup covers there and only one of them features the villain. That says a lot about the quality of MTU.

Scott D. Parker said...

The Brave and the Bold is my all-time favorite comic title. It was the only one I subscribed to in my youth, and it's a run (the Batman parts) that I own almost all the issues. I can remember, just by looking at the cover, many of the stories.

I own quite a few DCCP as well, but I don't remember many of the tales.

Humanbelly said...

I was also thinking that WORLD'S FINEST could be considered the first team-up book. . . although its format doesn't line up with how we think of that genre. It was more like a Super-team book. . . and that particular team only consisted of two members (+ sidekicks, when desired).

I do have nearly the whole run of MTU-- missing issue #1, I believe. And when it's on-point it is an utter delight. Marvel's smartest move was using their A-list stable of artists & writers early on to keep the look and feel of the book synced up so well with ASM. IIRC, MTU #12 (Spidey/Werewolf by Night) came out RIGHT after ASM#122-- and it was as much about Pete slogging through a haze of grief as it was about the altercation at hand. And Red, I imagine having Sal B spend so much time as penciler could be chalked up to the fact that there was just NO character that looked "wrong" in his hands. Plus, Sal HAD to have been, like, twice as fast as most artists, given his amount of output-- and yet at worst his work could fall into the "unremarkable" category-- never actually bad. Arguably, one could say that Sal's art was the the TRUE "house style" for Marvel in the Bronze Age, y'know?

I have a good chunk of the MTIO run as well-- including, I think, its try-out in Marvel Feature, wasn't it? And I agree that Ben's personality (gruffly gregarious, chatty, enjoyably blue-collar) is a natural fit for a book where he has to get along w/ a wide range of folks in a short amount of time. In MTU you still had Spidey's supposed bad rap with law-enforcement sometimes muddying the waters. Ben's credentials were always above reproach. This is one of the few titles I would still consider going back to fill in holes on. . .

And I do have a smattering of B&tB going back to the 12-cent days. There doesn't seem to be a bad issue in that bunch, although it gets a little stretchy once you get into the 120's. I remember that SGT ROCK issue being rather oddball. And the first KAMANDI issue (Giant-size!) was nooooooot an exciting read-- nor did Kamandi and Kirby's anthropomorphized critters translate very well in another artist's hands.

DC Presents-- maybe three issues; acquired in a bundled bequest? I don't believe I've ever even read them. Naturally, my first thought is that Supes isn't an A-1 team-up character because, a) He will ALWAYS be the strongest and most powerful person in the pairing, and b) He has the most unassuming demeanor in all of comicsdom-- no enjoyable extremes to play off of a guest star. Ben & Spidey are wiseacres; Batman is almost hilariously grim, dark, humorless, and taciturn-- what does Supes bring to the interactive stew?


The Groovy Agent said...

HB, for that couple of years (70-72) World's Finest was just like DCCP--Superman and a different co-star (okay, Batman showed up a couple times). You're right, the whole run isn't a team-up book in the sense of the others, but for that couple of years it most definitely was.

I totally agree about Sal's art. Every character was always on-model and Marvel-ous!

Edo Bosnar said...

As a bona fide, well, Bronze Age baby, I loved the team-up books, and had many issues of all four titles mentioned here.
My personal highlight for Brave and the Bold - besides pages and pages of beautiful art by my favorite Bat-artist, Jim Aparo - are the too few (four) issues written by Alan Brennert: #178 (featuring the Creeper), #181 (Hawk & Dove), #182 (Earth-2 Robin) and #197 (Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman). Brennert was such an amazing storyteller, and there's something about the first three that just puts them a cut above the other issues of B&B. Meanwhile, the story in #197 is possibly my favorite Batman story ever.

DC Comics Presents was probably my least favorite of the four, although that doesn't mean I didn't like it, esp. any issue with art by the great Garcia Lopez (PBHN), but also those penned by Len Wein, with art by Jim Starlin (as well as the few issues Starlin also wrote. And yeah, the one with the Legion of Substitute Heroes you have pictured is a personal favorite as well.

I think I generally enjoyed the Marvel books more consistently; Marvel Team-up had some wonderful stretches of great stories and I particularly like the issues penned by Mantlo and, obviously, Claremont - the Red Sonja team-up in #79 is my single favorite issue, while the amnesiac Black Widow story from #s 82-85 a high point of not only Claremont's tenure, but the entire series.
Marvel 2-in-1 was also a very consistently enjoyable book pretty much from the start. I agree that the Thing really lends himself well to the rotating team-up format. My personal favorite stretch of issues goes from #50 to #70 - that's just a great run of really strong, fun stories (including Project Pegasus, the Serpent Crown trilogy and the space trilogy) with really great art (by Perez and Byrne among others).

Mike Wilson said...

I read all of these as a kid, to one degree or another, but MTU and B&B were my favourites since I loved Spidey and Batman. If I had to pick, I'd probably go for MTU as my personal favourite, especially once they started coordinating more with the other Spidey titles. B&B had some good stories, but Bob Haney was not big on continuity.

MTIO had some cool stories too, but it sometimes seemed like they threw in lesser heroes as co-stars (and some of the villains were no hell either). I did like how some major storylines were continued (or wrapped up) in MTIO: besides the Serpent Crown and Project Pegasus stuff Edo mentioned, they also dealt with Spider Woman (changing her origin a bit) and in the early issues I seem to recall some of Steve Gerber's Defenders storylines being continued.

DC Presents usually had great heroes as co-stars, but the villains sometimes left something to be desired. It also probably had the least amount of continuity of the four. (Yeah, I'm a big continuity fan.)

Anonymous said...

What no Marvel Super-Villain Team-Up?
Fair enough I guess as it wasn't a great comic, which is strange because most issues featured Marvel's best character, Dr Doom... but that was typical of their team-up books, where writers rarely had much of a grip on the characters, and generally they weren't very good.

The MTU with Spidey and Red Sonja is a notable exception. Why Sonja wasn't kept in the modern world is beyond me - I reckon an MJ Watson, She-Devil With A Sword book coulda been a hit for Marvel.
Claremont and Byrne's two issues with Iron Fist and the Daughters of the Dragon were ok too, and make a nice little run with Power Man (& Iron Fist) #s48-50.

As a general rule though, DC did better with team ups, at least if Brave and the Bold is anything to go by (the only ...Presents I can recall reading is the Supes/Swamp Thing one by Alan Moore and Rick Veitch, which I suspect isn't very typical).
Zany Bob Haney's take on Batman and the various characters wasn't consistent with the regular books, but who cares? He knew how to write an entertaining story.
And I agree with Edo about that Earth-2 Bats/Catwoman story too (although I'm not convinced George Freeman was the right artist for it).

Neither of my fave superhero team-up books are from the "Bronze Age" though, which for the record are the Batman/Tarzan "Claws of the Catwoman" mini-series from Dark Horse, and Marvel's Dr Strange/Dr Doom "Triumph & Torment" by Roger Stern and Mike Mignola.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Great post Red!

I'm a bit of a 'tweener. My comic reading years ended towards 1974 so I don't have a lot of depth with these but for B&B.

I will say that MTU #1 is a favorite. Something very Xmas-y about the Sandman wanting to see his mother.

Also, B&B 100 is a favorite. I remember being profoundly surprised that Batman was shot by a sniper and stuck in a wheel chair. I have to ask if this was the first time the Bats was really, truly incapacitated since his inception? I mean a sniper shot through the body is the real deal.

I bought both of the spinner rack and still have them. Real treasures.

Oddly, but maybe not for me, I tend to think of the those split-cover/book Marvels like Amazing Adventures (Inhumans and Black Widow) as "team ups" though they don't interact w/ each other.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, where is the love for SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP? Okay sure, it was actually a pretty crummy comic for most of its run, but still...

And what about Marvel’s WESTERN TEAM-UP? Just within this past week, one of the regular posters at the Classic Comics Forum started a review thread for the title, and it’s pure gold.

DC COMICS PRESENTS was probably my least favorite regularly-scheduled superhero team-up book. First four issues drawn by Garcia-Lopez : Gorgeous. And there’s one late issue drawn by Gray Morrow that’s kinda neat (Superman and Madame Xanadu). Pretty sure those are the only issues I still have.

BRAVE AND THE BOLD was a consistently entertaining title. The Haney / Adams run is great and the long Haney/ Aparo run is even better. That Batman / Joker team-up : (chef’s kiss). There are a few “Pre-Batman” issues that are cool too. The Atom / Flash team-up in #53 has sweet art by Alex Toth. The Infantino / Anderson cover of issue #72 — The Spectre getting pummeled by “Phantom Flash, Cosmic Traitor” — gave me chills back in the day, for some reason (and still does, if I’m being entirely honest).

I have loads of love for MTU. I acquired #6 (Spidey and The Thing Vs The Puppet Master and The Mad Thinker) along with a bunch of other comics from a neighborhood pal who decided he just wasn’t all that interested in comics. #16 thru #24 were the first ones I bought with my own money, and they have a special place in my Nerd Heart. The Claremont / Byrne issues are stand-outs, too. The Spidey / Sonja team-up is glorious. Holy cow.

I remember being impressed by the four-part Black Widow - Nick Fury - Shang-Chi epic — but looking at it again all these decades later, I think the art is a mess (Leialoha did much better work elsewhere) and the story is yet another iteration of Claremont’s stock “Female Hero Loses Memory, Gets All Weak and Girly” plot. Seriously, that sh** don’t age well.

Mention should be made of GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN — the first five issues feature all-new Team-Up adventures (pretty good ones too) and #6 is a reprint of an early Spidey / Torch team-up.

I missed the two “tryout” issues of MARVEL FEATURE but bought TWO-IN-ONE from issue #1 and onward. Loved the first four or five issues, bought it only occasionally after that.

Then there’s the current SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP comic. I’ve never read it, but lots of people seem to like it.

Hey, speaking of BATMAN / TARZAN (and BATMAN 66 / GREEN HORNET and STAR TREK / PLANET OF THE APES and BETTY AND VERONICA AND RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA etc ) — do we classify those as “Crossovers” rather than team-ups? And what about all those DC / Marvel books that were a thing once upon a time?


Graham said...

I first came on board during the Superman World’s Finest run with Dr Fate, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Atom, Aquaman, etc..... i occasionally picked it up when Batman returned as co-star, but Superman was never as compelling to me as Batman, which is probably why I never really got into DC Comics Presents. I had a bunch of Brave & Bold issues....loved the Aparo art (still do) and as stated, Bob Haney could make any team-up work.

I read MTU more than MTIO....no particular reason why, but I really enjoyed Kerry Gammill’s run with MTU.

pfgavigan said...


For me the team up books were never in the 'must buy' category, but in the 'should take a look at' selection. If I liked one of the characters, and strangely enough I preferred Spider-man in MTU over his solo book and I think it was because he had someone to actually talk with instead of quip to, or if I thought the creatives on the title were particularly good the book would go home with me.

That said, I still don't know just why I bought the MTU featuring Hercules towing the Island of Manhattan back into place. Maybe it was because it was such a goofy 1950's Superman style of adventure.

Say what you will about him, Bob Haney never went quite that far.

Maybe one day we should consider a category like, "The Greatest Bob Haney stories that Bob Haney didn't write."



Anonymous said...

b.t., team-up or crossover? Thats a really specialist question!
And one I can't believe I'm really giving much thought to, but hey - I'm living in a lockdown just now, so its not as if I'm getting out much anyway...
Seems to me the latter term is used more when characters owned by different rights holders are involved, but if Spider-Man/Red Sonja is a team-up, then why not Batman/Tarzan?

I would say Star Trek/Planet of the Apes isn't a team-up because... well, Star Trek and Planet of the Apes aren't actual characters so they can't really be said to team-up as such. So logically we can conclude a team-up is a particular type of crossover, but not all crossovers are team-ups.
Aren't you glad you bought the question up? I hope everyone feels fulfilled now thats been sorted out ;)

Oh, I forgot about Neal Adams' Superman/Muhammed Ali uh, crossover, otherwise I'd have mentioned it as a fave team-up earlier.


Edo Bosnar said...

Sean, the art in B&B #197 is by Joe Staton, with Freeman doing the inks. And I disagree with you about it: I think it was perfect for the story, because they tried to evoke the style of Sprang's art in the 1950s. (Although I'm sure that if regular B&B artist Jim Aparo drew, it would have still been brilliant.)

Anonymous said...

My mistake Edo, so apologies everyone - I really should get in the habit of double checking these things before commenting. (Some day I will actually know what I'm sounding off about!)

In my defence Freeman's style did seem to dominate, and I thought the story would have benefited from being a bit less cartoony.
But thats a fair point about trying to evoke an earlier look.


FlameKeeper said...

Hi, MTU #12 (Spidey & Werewolf by Night) was my first off-the-racks purchase, got Marvel Feature #11 (Thing & Hulk) a few weeks later, I guess I liked the 2 fer 1 deal.

I think I prefer MTU to MTIO, because even though both books had a lot of uneven writing, I think MTU had more enjoyable stories throughout its run. The art work too is something to consider, as a few MTIO artists had trouble drawing the Thing.

The first handful of MTIO are good, Steve Gerber ya know, tying in with Daredevil & Defenders, but then it kind of drops off for me after that. The Thor - Egyptian god stuff was ok, but the next good story is the Project Pegasus, issue #50 (Thing & Thing) is good & I always like me some Impossible Man.
On the other hand, for MTU, I think the first 20 issues, or so, are a lot of fun, the Human Torch & Ghost Rider in a Christmas themed issue, teaming up with Valkyrie & Nighthawk, the whole time travel arc, the Big Man & the Crime Master, not to mention the stories by the already mentioned team of Claremont and Byrne.

Agree about Super Villain TU, except for #9, I think, that crosses over with the Avengers.

Anonymous said...

Checking out the cover gallery for DC PRESENTS at the GCD, to see if it jogged my memory...

There are a handful of later issues drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez but they’re mostly gummed up by incompatible inkers (Steve Mitchell, Frank McLaughlin and Joe Giella). #24 is an All-Garcia-Lopez job co-starring Deadman and it’s quite nice.

The handful of issues pencilled by Jim Starlin are likewise weakened by ill-chosen inkers, except for #36, inked by Judo Jim himself.

#54 (co-starring Green Arrow) features typically slick Don Newton / Dan Adkins art.

Saving the best for last : #66 (co-starring The Demon) is drawn by the great Joe Kubert and it’s STUNNING. Can’t believe I forgot this one!


Killraven said...

I was a regular on all the Team-Up books, including SVTU!
Brave & the Bold #118 was my first, billed as Batman and Wildcat co-starring the Joker. Aparo art was just beautiful. I stayed with them, not missing many, thru the rest of the '70's.
The Marvel Team-Up mag had some suspect stories but I wasn't passing on any of the Byrne run even if just to look at the pretty pictures! I started there at #36 with The Frankenstein Monster of all people.
I seem to remember having a lot of fun with Marvel-Two-In-One. Probably, like some have said, because of Ben's personality. The first was #12. Recently bought the Project Pegasus trade, for those memories.
I only got a couple of years with DC Comics Presents, but bought quite a few . Again mostly driven by the art.
As for Super Villain Team-Up, was a regular buyer off the spinner and got them all back via TPB a couple of months ago. Want to see a pages long hand to hand battle between the Red Skull and Dr. Doom? It's here, and on the moon no less!

Redartz said...

Took me a bit, but I'm back; thanks for all the excellent comments everyone!

Groove- and thanks to you for the info on World's Finest. I hadn't realized they had Superman team ups aside from the obvious Batman appearances. Just not the DC expert, I'm afraid.

Scott D Parker- that's impressive; there were a BUNCH of those Brave and the Bolds. Your enthusiasm for them is inspiring me to take a further look at them. I haven't read that many, mainly the Adams Batman issues.

HB- a couple of interesting points you make. Sal B certainly could be considered the Marvel "House Style" for the Bronze age. He was the ubiquitous interior artist as Gil Kane seemed to be ubiquitous on the covers.
Also, you're right that Ben Grimm was an ideal character for team-up action. Most of the time,anyway, he was in pretty good spirits and the epitome of humor. On the other hand, you have Spider-Man / Peter Parker. Far be it from me to down my favorite character, but one thing I've noticed recently. I've been picking up some of those "Essentials" volumes and reading Pete's adventures again for, in many cases, the first time in decades. And it didn't hit me before, but reading them now old Petey seems often to be a bit cranky. Or at least a bit depressed. Or is it just me...?

Mike W- those Gerber issues of MTIO you mentioned are favorites of mine. Steve did indeed seem to tie many of his titles together in crossovers. Look how often Man-Thing showed up. And everyone seemed to join forces with the Defenders...

Sean and b.t.- you caught me ! Totally missed the ball on Super Villain Team-Up. Which was a pretty intriguing concept, but like some have mentioned, it didn't quite seem to hit the mark. Perhaps the focus on Doom and Namor was a bit limiting. What might have been done with some odder pairings, say the Puppet Master and Killgrave, the Purple Man (who's controlling who?_...

b.t.- good call on the Giant Size Spider-Man issues! Number 5 with Man-Thing (there he is again, just pops up everywhere) and the Lizard. Great book. Also, Scooby Doo Team Up is a joy! One of very few modern books I've picked up. It is thoroughly enjoyable, and lots of fun. Love how they toss ANYONE into that book. Even my beloved Sugar and Spike made an appearance...

PFG- "The Greatest Bob Haney Stories that Haney Didn't Write". Love it...

Unknown- good mention of the use of some of Spidey's forgotten villains in MTU. They even brought back the Looter / Meteor Man. Who would've thought...

Anonymous said...

"What might have been done with some odder pairings..."

If you want odd Redartz, try the last two issues of Super-Villain Team-Up sometime - #s16 & 17 - with the Red Skull and the Hate-Monger. Also featuring Arnim Zola, just in case there weren't enough Nazis in the story already.
#16 especially is one strange comic. You have to wonder what Marvel editors were thinking...


Anonymous said...

I do wonder if SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP might have been more successful if it had followed the MTU template, with different “Guess Star” villains teaming up with Dr. Doom every issue instead of just Doom and Subby paired up all the time. I remember getting a twinge of excitement when the Red Skull showed up as Co-Star late in the run, but by then the book was pretty much on life support.

The title of the book was always a bit problematical — does ANYBODY really think of Subby as a super-villain, then or now? It’s always risky to create expectations that you don’t deliver on. Remember when there was a “War of the Super-Villains” in IRON MAN? You see those words and your 13-year-old brain thinks “OMG this is gonna be AMAZING!” But then it turned out to be just Modok Vs The Mad Thinker with Yellow Claw and a bunch of D-listers making cameo appearances, all fighting over a Cosmic Cube wannabe maguffin . The phrase “anti-climactic” doesn’t begin to cover it.


Anonymous said...

The main problem with Super-Villain Team-Up was the writing imo, b.t. At least a book like MTU could get away with formulaic stories, but that can't be done with a series about super-villains so easily. I mean, how do you write it without basically glorifying villainy? That takes some thought.

Namor was the hero figure really so the book could be written more or less like any other Marvel title, instead of doing something interesting with Doom.
A shame really, as there were some good ideas in there... like the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime on tour in Latveria. With a bit more thought that could have made for a great story. Same goes for the one with the FF and Henry Kissinger (who shoulda been cover co-star with Doom for that issue!)


Humanbelly said...

Hooo- Sean, I was thinking your last comment, there, about a millisecond before I read it-! Sadly, I think he'd have the loopy, one-dimensional Red Skull thoroughly beaten in the complex-villain department.

I think I only have one or two issues of SVTU-- (Was one of them where Reed gave Namor that black suit that helped him not die out of the water. . . or something?). From the get-go the premise seemed flawed to me, 'cause the hook in team-up books is how different "regular" heroes interact and work together for the common good. It's about the personalities as much as anything. As soon as you start using conquer-the-world level characters (Doom, Magneto, Red Skull) the scope of their ambitions wipes out any enjoyable nuance to their characters-- megalomania becomes their overriding trait. Subby avoids this mostly 'cause he does get grounded in reality most of the time (Imperious Rex-ing aside--). Team-up books also work because they mostly rely on one on-going Star, and then perpetual guest stars, right? So, how does that transfer to a Super-Villain model? You'd have to have a regular, mid-level super-villain who is charismatic enough to engage readers (carry the book); is powerful enough to be a threat, yet willing to take-on other villains on a gig-by-gig basis; and somehow they'd have to "succeed" from month to month, doing-- what? Robbing banks? Taking buildings hostage? Getting revenge on arch-foes? Without them actually trying to become Good Guys (ala Thunderbolts), what the heck kind of stories would be worth reading? Nah-- I don't think the series was a solidly thought out idea from the get-go. . .


Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, those last two issues of Super-Villain Team-up (which had a troubled publication history, #16 came out almost 2 years after #15, while the conclusion in #17 was published almost a year after the first part) were really interesting.
I'd also say they're probably the best in the entire series. I remember that's what I thought when I read the whole run in Essential format about 10 years ago - I haven't pulled that book off of my shelf since then, but after all this time, that story, and maybe the cross-over with the Avengers and the introduction of the Shroud are the only things that stick out in my memory.

FlameKeeper said...

Hi, I was unknown before.
HumanBelly, you're thinking of Submariner #67. I agree about the reasons why the series didn't work, it would rely on the heroes showing up, defeating the stars of the book to work. I DID like the Red Skull-Dr. Doom fight though

Humanbelly said...


THAT'S RIGHT! Thank you for the memory-nudge! (That's also, like, my only Subby issue--)
Thanks for the timely show-up---!


Redartz said...

Flamekeeper- thanks for the reveal! Always nice to gain a name from the ranks of the "Unknown". Welcome, glad you're chiming in. And yes,there were some fundamental challenges to the premise of SVTU.

Anonymous said...

Well, from a readers point of view Super-Villain Team-Up seemed poorly thought out, thats not necessarily the case for Marvel.
My understanding is that a significant reason for publishing the mag was to trademark "super-villain", while in turn - in the ongoing Big Two hyphen wrangle - DC put out Society of Super Villains.
The funny book biz, eh?


Humanbelly said...

Ohhhhh wow-- I can totally see that, Sean. One forgets that both companies did well by raiding/snatching-up other small-fry publishers' forgotten or defunct properties by then, and they'd be VERY aware of finding ways to trademark, copyright, and otherwise protect anything they could get away with. Esp after the Two Captain Marvels dust-up. . .


FlameKeeper said...

Same here HumanBelly, I had that one and the last issue (to get the #100 value stamp naturally). Recently I've been picking up some Sub-Mariner's in my LCS back issue bin, there was a stretch with Sal B's art that looks good.
I think you are right Sean, don't they co-own the name Super-Hero or something like that?

Just picked up MTIO #18 & 19, to fill a gap, haven't read them yet, but at first glance the Ron Wilson/Mooney-Adkins Thing in 18 looks much better than the Sal B/Don Heck Thing in #19.
But the Kirby cover on 19 is nice.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure FlameKeeper. Generally Marvel used a hyphen to differentiate their stuff from DC's, which is why its Spider-Man and not Spiderman, but I think thats right that there was something different about "super-hero"... it might well be they could both use it for some reason (probably a dispute agreement).

Although it must all be different these days, surely? With the rise and fall of other publishers since the 70s, and the 21st century boom in superhe... uh, super-hero flicks it must be a generic term by now.


Anonymous said...

A few final thoughts on this subject:

My favorite Subby / Doom team-up pits the two Mondo Monarchs against Modok and the Cosmic Cube in SUB-MARINER #47- 49, by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan. The first two issues of that epic are actually a bit of a meandering mess (and Mike Esposito’s inks are VERY hit-and-miss) but #49 hits the ground running, pretty much non-stop Villain-On-Villan Action from cover to cover, and Frank Giacoia’s confident inks bring out the mood and dynamic swagger in Colan’s pencils. Great stuff.

With Marvel going all-in on the Supernatural / Monster Craze in the early 70s, it’s almost surprising they didn’t attempt a regular MONSTER TEAM-UP book at some point. Closest they came was issues #2 and 4 of GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF co-starring Frankenstein and Morbius, respectively. Of course there were the Dracula / Werewolf and Dracula / Frankenstein crossover / battles in their individual titles too; Morbius and Man-Wolf teaming up against Spidey in GIANT-SIZE SUPER-HEROES #1; Brother Voodoo, The Golem, The Living Mummy, The Scarecrow, Satana etc all popping up in MTU and/or MTIO; and that weird-ass Monster Supergroup one-shot in MARVEL PREMIERE by Mantlo and Robbins.


Anonymous said...

Now you've gone and done it b.t., bringing up Frank Robbins...
Actually, to be fair Steve Gan's inks on the Legion of Monsters did make him look better than usual - admittedly a fairly low bar to clear - but anyway you still have the Mantlo problem. "I am he who is called Starseed!" Er, what?
Yeah, weird-ass sounds about right.

Thanks for the pointer on those Sub-Mariner issues. That sounds like something worth looking into, as I really like the Conway/Colan Doom story from Astonishing Tales #8. Which now I think about it could have been a model for how to do a Super-Villain Team-Up story in an interesting way (if you think about it as including Mephisto).


Humanbelly said...

Boy, over on the COMIC BOOKS: THE BRONZE AGE Facebook page, I got swiftly and soundly snarked at for criticizing the Robbins art on that League of Monsters issue of Marvel Premiere. . .


Anonymous said...

HB : For the record, I’m a HUGE fan of Frank Robbins, but I totally understand why some people can’t stand him, so you’ll get no snark from me.

The Legion of Monsters one-shot is baffling. If you thought The Champions line-up seemed random, how about Ghost Rider, Werewolf By Night, Morbius and the friggin’ Man-Thing — all teamed-up to fight some glowing golden Greco-Roman cosmic Demi-god reject from a bad Star Trek. I do like the art tho! ;P


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