For his introduction to ‘The Team-Up Companion’, writer Mike Eury describes what is the essential team-up comicbook and how it contrasts to the team books. My automatic reaction is we really ought to have a Team Companion, just to show the various teams as a collective if only to show how many of them there have been, although that might be a massive volume.
Prepare for a long read as this book is double column but contains lots of art and creator photos in their heyday. It’s also hardly surprising that these team-ups are dominated by DC Comics and Marvel Comics as a means to highlight their more popular characters with lesser characters and raise their profiles. If it hadn’t been created, someone would surely have come up with the idea eventually.
It’s hardly surprising the opening chapter on DC Comics’ ‘The Brave & The Bold’ has a long chapter, ending with a look at writer Bob Hanney’s career and a brief interview with Jim Aparo. I should point out that some of the material for this book is drawn from various early ‘Back Issues’ but when you consider so many of these creators are no longer with us, it’s a significant resource to call upon. If you ever wondered how these stories fitted into DC’s 1960s-70s continuity, they don’t really and most are confined to Earth-B.
Interestingly, ‘World’s Finest’ has a smaller chapter although that comicbook was principally about the relationship between Batman and Superman, mixing their two worlds playing to each others strengths. It did prove that putting a company’s best characters together in a comicbook would sell. Eury also points out that there were other guest-stars later in its run.
Then we switch to Marvel and ‘Marvel Team-Up’, initially with Spider-Man and the Human Torch and fan mail favoured the former for much of its run. Remember me saying about a double splash-page of Spidey and the X-Men in the air from Marvel Team-Up # 53 recently. The actual picture in black and white is shown here as well. The demise of ‘Team-Up’, allowed the rise of ‘Web Of Spider-Man’ with editor-in-chief Jim Shooter rationalising any team-up could be done in existing Spidey books. I do think if there was an resurrection of the title today, it would make more sense to go for unusual team-ups as J.M. DeMattels certainly proved that it could work.
Don’t think this book is all about DC or Marvel team-ups, the Scooby-Do movies, Harvey and western cross-overs also get their own chapters. There are also examples of unusual team-ups across the media.
In the meantime, we have the Thing. His team-up role didn’t actually start in ‘Marvel Two-On-One’, excuse me, ‘Marvel Two-In-One’, but a couple issues of ‘Marvel Feature’ before the transition. I tend to agree with Eury that Ben Grimm is an iconic character who can work in any environment and guest-stars and certainly lasted longer than the Human Torch in a similar role. Not being a passive reader, I realised with reading this chapter than the main difference between ‘Team-Up’ and ‘Two-In-One’ is the latter had a significant run of continued stories with ‘The Serpent Crown’ and ‘The Pegasus Project’ that continued to have later repercussions across the Marvel Earth.
It was rather weird reading about Marvel’s western team-ups and realising that their cowboy comicbooks had a lot of kids, although really young adults, but the template itself was very similar to the modern day Marvel Universe.
Then, for the last few chapters, we’re back to DC Comics and the Superman pairings in ‘Super-Stars’ and ‘DC Comics Presents’ which might have ended up with the same ‘Superman Plus’.
In case you need to check back on which issue some character appeared in, there is a full checklist at the back of the book, although considering the detail elsewhere, I think an index might have been handier.
In many respects, the success of all these team-up comicbooks have largely been because fans always wondered what would have happened if these characters met and these served that purpose. From a continuity point-of-view, you do have to wonder how some tales fit in and the significant super-heroes must be pretty busy all the time.
If you want to relive some old nostalgic memories, this book is useful. For the more younger readers, they might get a yearning for dangers that are not always world-beaters as played out in today’s comicbooks.
(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2022. 255 page illustrated softcover. Price: $39.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60549-112-8. Direct from them, you can get it for $39.95 (US))