You may have noticed the front and center marketing of Iron Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming. In truth, Iron Man and Spider-Man joining forces is nothing new as the Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler has teamed with just about every Marvel hero at some point or another. In fact, the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man features a team-up of Spidey and the Fantastic Four.
Peter Parker joining forces with other heroes is such a Marvel tradition that the Spidey-starring Marvel Team-Up became a cornerstone of Marvel’s Bronze Age. Each and every issue, Spider-Man would join forces with another Marvel character to have some of the most memorable and strangest adventures of the ’70s and ’80s. Some of Spider-Man’s amazing friends that shared the Marvel Team-Up marquee were profoundly unexpected. So since Spider-Man: Homecoming could be considered essentially a big budget Marvel Team-Up film between Spidey and Iron Man, let us take a look back at some of the most memorable issues of Marvel Team-Up to grace the Bronze Age newsstands.
25. Marvel Team-Up #9 (1973)
Spider-Man and Iron Man
By Gerry Conway and Russ Andru
After an earthquake hits New York, Spidey and Iron Man are thrust into the future and into a time traveler war between Zarrko the Tomorrow Man and Kang the Conqueror. Now for those of you not in the know, Kang is like Marvel’s version of an evil Doctor from Doctor Who while Zarrko the Tomorrow Man is, well, he’s Zarkko the Tomorrow Man. Zarkko is kind of like the backup infielder version of a time tyrant, he’s okay once in a while, but really, his name is Zarkko the Tomorrow Man. But in this Marvel Team-Up, Zarkko has stepped up to the big leagues and has managed to take down the future Avengers. Spidey and Iron Man must save their future comrades, defeat both chronal despots and find a way home. Yes, all in one single issue. These days, this one issue of MTU would be a 12 part event series with 32 crossovers, but back in the day, Conway and Andru loaded a single issue with Marvel madness and thrust it upon a hungry readership.
This issue also serves as a prototype for many Spidey/Iron Man team ups to come, including the one that’s about to break the box office bank. Reading this issue today, one will find it interesting to see Parker and Stark as heroic equals rather than the mentor/student relationship we’ve gotten in all sorts of media. But here they are, in all their 1973 glory, Spider-Man and Iron Man lost in time, fighting two time dictators, and punching people with science. All in one thin, brilliantly realized, crazy pants single issue.
24. Marvel Team-Up #41-42 (1976)
Spider-Man, Vision, and Scarlet Witch
By Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
Remember how we said Marvel Team-Up has a tendency to get bug nuts? Well, strap in because we have ourselves another time travel tale!
This time, Spider-Man, Vision, and Scarlet Witch get transported back to 1672 Salem, Massachusetts where the witch hunter Cotton Mather has taken control of the Scarlet Witch. The whole thing starts in Doctor Doom’s castle and ends as Spidey and Vision fight to save the corrupted Wanda Maximoff from Salem villagers bent on burning them all. Spider-Man and his friends must fight through a crucible (HAH!) of folks pitchforks and torches in order to save their witchy pal from being just another Salem statistic.
So in these issues, we have Doctor Doom, a witch hunter, time travel, an android fighting to save his possessed by a mystical religious zealot witch wife and Spidey trying to survive in a time where there’s pretty much nothing to swing from.
23. Marvel Team-Up #62 (1977)
Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
The creative team of Claremont and Byrne will be all over this list because when these two creative juggernauts got together in the 1970s, that was one of the truly greatest Marvel team-ups of all!
This story features the first team up of Spidey and Carol Danvers, the hero then known as Ms. Marvel. We all know that Danvers as Captain Marvel is coming to the MCU in and it is inevitable that she will meet Spider-Man when she arrives. But the heroic legacy of Danvers and Parker begins here in an issue where the two heroes must battle the Super Skrull. For those not versed in the finer points of cosmic Marvel villainy, Super Skrull is a hyper powered shape shifting alien who possesses all the powers of the Fantastic Four. Imagine getting punched in the face by an invisible stretchy rock fist that’s on fire. That’s Super Skrull! But Ms. Marvel and Spidey find a way to combine their heroic might and defeat the alien villain.
22. Marvel Team-Up #127 (1983)
Spider-Man and The Watcher
By J.M. DeMatteis and Kerry Gammill
A Spider-Man and Watcher team up is odd enough, but what about a Very Special Christmas Spider-Man and Watcher team up? That’s right, in the halcyon days of 1983, Spidey set out on a mission to find the missing granddaughter of one of Aunt May’s elderly pals. Spidey finds the girl’s murdered roommate who was killed because the missing girl Spidey is searching for stole some cocaine from the mob. Wow, that’s just dark.
On this very messed up X-Mas, the Watcher appears and helps Spider-Man find and save the troubled teen as the Watcher claims that the young lady’s good health is just as important to the universe as defeating Galactus because of…reasons? The Watcher then defies Watcher code of non-interference to help the endangered girl. Now, that’s a bit of a stretch but seeing Spidey team up with a giant bald moon person to save Christmas needs to be addressed. Especially when this feel good Christmas special also incorporates mob hits and stolen narcotics into the tale. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Charles Dickens ever imagined a Christmas tale where a bald alien being helps a super hero save a junkie from being murdered by drug dealers. I may be wrong though.
21. Marvel Team-Up #86 (1979)
Spider-Man and The Guardians of the Galaxy
By Allyn Brodsky & Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Years before the modern incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, there was a Guardians team from the future that would pay infrequent visits to the present day MU. Modern fans just met a few of these future heroes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, such as Sly Stallone’s Stakar, but there was a time when the 30th century Guardians were the only Guardians. Back in those days, the Guardians were kind of fringe characters in the MU and did not pop up all too often. So when Starhawk (yup, that’s Sly’s character), Martinex (the mirror crystal looking dude played by Michael Rosenbaum in the new film), and the flame haired Nikki popped up in an issue of MTU, it was a rare treat.
It’s kind of funny that Marvel stuck the Guardians with Spidey but only a select trio of Guardians. But even with the abbreviated Guardians roster, this issue is still a blast as Spidey helps the Guardians battle the villains Hammer and Anvil as the pair of thieves try to abscond with some of the Guardians’ future tech. If you’re not familiar with Hammer and Anvil, they are two super strong thugs connected by a power gauntlet. So they only have their powers while cuffed together. In other words, you have a team of future heroes teaming with Spider-Man against the hyper powered murderous version of the two dudes from The Defiant Ones. These days, a Spidey/Guardians joint is a marketing bonanza, but back at the time this issue of MTU was published, it was a fun little curiosity that is totally worth revisiting.
20. Marvel Team-Up #67 (1978)
Spider-Man and Tigra
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
It’s Spidey teaming up with a cat lady in a bikini to take on Kraven the Hunter. This comic might be the most ’70s thing ever. I mean seriously, this comic should have been printed on velvet. Not to mention that the Spidey Tigra team was brought to readers by Claremont and Byrne at the height of their creative prowess and you have a fur flying, mustache pulling romp that is just screaming for a bass heavy softcore porn soundtrack.
So the story starts out with Kraven drugging Spider-Man. Spidey has some weird ass hallucinations that would put an 8th grade anti-drug Health film to shame and passes out. He awakes to find himself at the feet of a lounging Kraven and a chained up Tigra and Spidey must save Tigra and himself. Actually, Kraven just wants to kill Spider-Man, but the Hunter gets his leopard print butt kicked when Spidey frees Tigra from Kraven’s control collar. Tigra is such a fascinating (though underused) character that it’s always nice to see her in action even if the results are a bit cheesecakey.
19. Marvel Team-Up #81 (1979)
Spider-Man and Satana
By Chris Claremont and Mike Vosburg
So in the previous issue of MTU, Doctor Strange was transformed into a werewolf because this comic was awesome. Spidey was desperate to save his wizard pal when Satana, the Devil’s Daughter shows up and offers aid. So now, Spidey must team up with Satan’s girl child to save Doctor Strange from an eternity of chasing his tail and eating people. I love this series.
This team up was supposed to feature the final death of Satana who sacrifices herself to save Stephen Strange – and it actually was her last appearance for quite a while. Like all characters, Satana returned to life, but listen, she’s the devil’s daughter, I’m not going to blink at a little resurrection. But the fact that this issue was supposed to be Satana’s final dark adventure shows that big things happened in MTU. Plus, you know, Satan’s kid helping Spidey cure Doctor Strange from being a killer lycanthrope.
18. Marvel Team-Up #109
Spider-Man and Dazzler
By David Anthony Kraft and Herb Trimpe
Ah, Herb Trimpe. Is there anything more comforting that a ’70s comic drawn by the masterful Herb Trimpe? No there isn’t.
In this issue, Spidey teams up with Dazzler and the Paladin in the heart of the disco era. The trio take on a villain known as Thermo and his death cult of worshippers. Just good old fashioned old school superhero action with Spidey and a mutant with roller skates and a disco ball around her neck taking on a super powered death cult. The ending of this issue is kind of odd as Thermo is freed from his madness and is hugged by his wife and Spidey and Dazzler leave together, we are left with a sad Paladin wishing he had someone. Sad Paladin needs to be a meme.
17. Marvel Team-Up #25 (1974)
Spider-Man and Daredevil
By Len Wein and Jim Mooney
These days, with the complexities of the Marvel Cinematic and TV Universes and with the Sony Marvel team up, we’ll probably never see a live action team up between New York’s premiere vigilantes Spider-Man and Daredevil. But you can scratch that itch with this story as the Wall Crawler and the Man Without Fear join forces to take on a bunch of furries! That’s right, Daredevil and Spidey must team up to take on the Unholy Trio, a “classic” villainous team made up of Ape-Man, Bird-Man, and Cat-Man! You know why Frank Miller had to steal Kingpin from the Spidey rogues gallery to bolster the Daredevil rogues gallery? Because of Ape-Man, Bird-Man, and Cat-Man, that’s why.
In all seriousness, this issue is a fun little superhero slugfest as the team of Murdock and Parker must save a kidnapped girl from three killers. No multi-part crossovers, no navel-gazing, no political agenda, just two super heroes punching a guy in an ape suit.
16. Marvel Team-Up #12 (1973)
Spider-Man and Werewolf by Night
By Gerry Conway and Ross Andru
One of the coolest things about this issue (other than it being a team up between Spidey and a classic werewolf) is that it is written by Gerry Conway, the legendary creator who wrote “The Death of Gwen Stacy.” This was published right after Conway killed off Gwen and in this issue, the writer got to explore the ramifications of that death, so it’s a sort of sequel to one of the most classic and tragic Spidey tales of all time.
To get away from his grief, Peter Parker travels to San Francisco. After Parker arrives, he keeps getting attacked by a werewolf (been there Pete!). Spider-Man fights off Werewolf by Night until the monster transforms back into his human form, a young man named Jack Russell (yes, really). Russell explains to Spidey that an evil stage magician named Moondark took control of Russell’s werewolf form and sent him to attack Spidey. Spidey and Werewolf by Night track down Moondark and the evil magician ends up getting killed to death after Spidey accidently kicks Moondark into a magic portal that leads to the ledge of the Golden Gate Bridge. Man, Conway likes tossing pretend people off famous bridges.
And listen, as a company rule, we here at Den of Geek love ourselves some Werewolf by Night, so this issue was a pleasure to read. And its place in Spider continuity make it unexpectedly historically important as well.
15. Marvel Team Up #95 (1980)
Spider-Man and Mockingbird
By Steven Grant and Jimmy Janes
We mentioned in our Satana entry that MTU did feature events that were important to the overall tapestry of the Marvel Universe. But this issue might be the most important issue of the all because it features the debut of Bobbi Morse as Mockingbird! That’s right, Bobbi Morse, long time Avenger, ex-wife to Hawkeye, feature player on TV’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and star of her own greatly missed award winning solo comics Bobbi Morse first donned her battle togs and took up the Mockingbird identity in the pages of Marvel Team-Up.
Before donning the Mockingbird garb, Morse kicked around the Marvel Universe for a bit in books like Ka-Zar but this issue of team-Up features Morse becoming a big time player as she dons the mask of Mockingbird for the very first time in order to save the life of Nick Fury. Of course, this issue started the long association between Mockingbird and SHIELD as Spidey was witness to the rise of a pretty important and beloved character in Marvel history.
But sadly, no werewolves.
14. Marvel Team-Up #131 (1983)
Spider-Man and Frog-Man
By JM DeMatteis and Kerry Gammill
Leap-Frog was one of Daredevil’s earliest villains. C’mon Murdock, Unholy Trio? Leap-Frog? What the heck was up with you villains? Luckily, when Daredevil began fighting real villains like Elektra, Bullseye, and Kingpin, animal kingdom losers like Leap Frog were all but forgotten.
But in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #121 (Spider-Man and the Human Torch battle the Speed Demon. It’s good, read it), a lonely portly young lad named Eugene Palilio finds the old Leap-Frog battle suit and dons it to become the heroic Frog-Man! In MTU #131, Frog-Man returns to help Spider-Man battle the evil but beautiful White Rabbit because Marvel really was a furrie convention for many years. Just with more bank robberies.
In all seriousness, this JM DeMatteis scripted issue is all heart and humor and holds up as Marvel does its own street crime version of The Wind in the Willows, just with more punching.
13. Marvel Team-Up #112 (1981)
Spider-Man and King Kull
by JM DeMatteis and Herb Trimpe
Ah, more DeMatteis brilliance. Plus Herb Trimpe art and a Marie Severin cover? Pure heaven! In the previous issue (Spider-Man meets Devil Slayer, hell yeah, Devil Slayer! So metal!) Spider-Man was bit by an evil serpent person. In MTU #112, Doctor Strange sends Spider-Man’s astral form back into the past to find a cure. 10,000 years in the past to be exact where astral Spidey meets the great Robert E. Howard literary creation King Kull! Interactions between the mainstream Marvel Universe characters and the Howard pantheon were few and far between back in the day despite the rousing success of Conan the Barbarian, so seeing Spider-Man interact (even if it is in ghost form) with the legendary King Kull is pure nerd bliss.
Truly, this is an example of what makes Marvel Team-Up so awesome. Readers got to see Spidey and other Marvel characters battle side by side with characters that they would be unlikely to meet anywhere else. And in this issue, we get to see a ghost Spider-Man team up with an ax wielding king of ancient Atlantis to battle evil snake people. It is glorious.
12. Marvel Team-Up #24 (1974)
Spider-Man and Brother Voodoo
By Len Wein and Jim Mooney
This book often acted as a chance for Marvel to bring some of its oddball fringe characters into the mainstream Marvel Universe, and here we have the first appearance of Brother Voodoo outside his own features! Yes, Brother Voodoo! Jericho Drumm, a witch doctor hero who has merged with the deceased spirit of his fallen brother to become a champion against black magic!
In this issue, Spidey travels to New Orleans to help the good Brother defeat the evil Loa Moondog. Spidey basically fights Moondog’s thugs while Brother Voodoo does the mystical heavy lifting, but it’s just really cool to see these completely incongruous heroes together. And again, where the heck are you going to see a New Orleans witch doctor ghost hunter demon slayer team up with Spider-Man? So thanks Marvel Team-Up!
11. Marvel Team-Up #137 (1984)
Aunt May and Franklin Richards
By Mike Carlin and Greg LaRocque
Now we have a sort of Spider-Man adjacent team-up as Peter Parker’s dear old Aunt May teams up with the son of Reed and Sue Richards to take on Galactus. And no, I’m not kidding. In this unforgettable and absolutely hilarious story, Aunt May transforms into (wait for it) Golden Oldie to become the latest Herald of Galactus. With Franklin, the new cosmically powered senior citizen forgoes her Matlock reruns to lead Galactus to a planet other than Earth so the Devourer of Worlds can satiate his endless hunger.
You see, the reason that Galactus is so ravenous is because the inhabitants of the planet he tried to eat before Earth collectively committed mass suicide to avoid being devoured by the Eater of Worlds. Umm, ha- ha? That’s kind of dark for a humorous parody issue. But hey, Marvel brings the funny back as Golden Oldie and Franklin lead Galactus to a giant Twinkie in space. In order to devour the Twinkie planet, Galactus must do battle with the Pillsbury Dough Boy! At the end, it’s all revealed to be a dream (or is it?), but who can forget an issue that juxtaposes a parody those old school Hostess comic book ads with mass planetary cosmic suicide?
10. Marvel Team-Up #4 (1972)
Spider-Man and the X-Men
By Gerry Conway and Gil Kane
This issue is pretty significant. Firstly, the first three issues of MTU featured team-ups between Spidey and the Human Torch. It seemed like Marvel’s original idea for Team-Up was to have a co-feature between Peter Parker and Johnny Storm, but with issue #4, Marvel began the idea of rotating guest stars. Secondly, at the time of MTU #4’s publication, the X-Men title was a low selling reprint book so this team-up was a rare X-Men appearance of the early ’70s. And what a team up it was as Spidey and the original class of X-Men join forces to take down Morbius the Living Vampire. Mutants, heroes, vampires, all rendered by the great Gil Kane. And now vampires have joined the lycanthrope, devil slaying, voodoo awesomeness that was Marvel Team-Up! All we need is The Frankenstein Monster to complete this creepy pantheon of coolness.
9. Marvel Team-Up #36 (1975)
Spider-Man and The Frankenstein Monster
By Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema
Hey, look at that, it’s like I planned it or something!
After being knocked out while stopping a routine robbery, Spider-Man wakes up in a castle in the Balkans, or Germany, or Sweden or something next to the Frankenstein Monster (similar things happened to me in my college days). Spider-Man finds himself prisoner of the evil Baron Von Shtupf, the Monster Maker. Wait, Baron Von Shtupf, the Monster Maker? Really? O-kay.
Anyway, seeing Frankenstein and Spidey together was such a treat for any kid who lived for classic monsters and super heroes. But usually a Frankenstein and Spider-Man mash-up only took place in 1975 with Mego dolls, but there they were in MTU #36. Conway actually finds some good pathos in the Monster character which isn’t an easy thing to do when writing a comic that has the sheer grapefruits to name a character Baron Von Shtupf, the Monster Maker. This issue is just overflowing with Bronze Age glory as history’s greatest monster and greatest super hero immerse themselves in shlocky glory.
And it’s not over yet because…
8. Marvel Team-Up #37 (1975)
Spider-Man and Man-Wolf
By Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema
More werewolves. Hell yeah, you have a mad scientist, a super hero, Frankenstein’s Monster, and now, a werewolf that once fought evil in space!
At the end of MTU #36, when Frankie and Spidey join forces, it is revealed that Baron Von Shtupf, the Monster Maker has an ally and it’s none other than the astronaut son of J. Jonah Jameson, the feral Man-Wolf! It’s a nice touch by Conway to use Man-Wolf in this monster mash instead of Werewolf by Night because of the personal connection to Spider-Man. The former John Jameson has a brawl with Frankenstein that harkens back to Universal Monster glory of yesteryear (Dark Universe, take note).
Again, through all the silliness, Conway finds time to explore the themes of being an outsider as Spider-Man proves that he can fit into any story even a Universal inspired creature feature starring a villain named Baron Von Shtupf, the Monster Maker.
7. Marvel Team-Up #135 (1983)
Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde
By Bill Mantlo and Ron Frenz and Mike Esposito
Bill Mantlo, the writer that created Rocket Raccoon, Rom, and so many other Bronze Age moments of awesomeness, presents an absolutely atmospheric team up between Kitty Pryde and Spider-Man as the two heroes must find a way to escape the hideous Morlocks. In 1983, it was a rare treat to see the ultra-popular X-Men interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe outside the X-books, and this issue was a sort of MU coming out party for the young Kitty.
Mantlo, Frenz, and Esposito build a sense of drama and terror as the salivating Morlocks (for some reason, not mutants) crawl out of the sewers on a terrifying kidnapping spree. The story opens with the ‘locks kidnapping of the kids Kitty is babysitting and things get even more 1980s horror from there. Spidey and Kitty defeat the Morlock leader and save the day in this claustrophobic beauty of a comic. It also serves as a bit of other-dimensional foreshadowing as the Ultimate Universe versions of Kitty and Spidey would be romantically linked decades later, but this issue is the first time the mutant hero and the Wall-Crawler shared a marquee.
6. Marvel Team-Up #74 (1978)
Spider-Man and The Not Ready for Prime Time Players
By Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum
Wait, what? Yes, not a dream, not a bad acid trip, not a good acid trip, it’s Spider-Man teaming up with the original cast of Saturday Night Live. Yes kids, Laraine Newman is an official part of Marvel continuity. If your brain doesn’t melt from seeing Bill Murray and Gilda Radner sharing a page with Peter Parker, are you ready for an appearance by Stan Lee himself? But it isn’t all fun and games, as Spidey and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players have to battle Silver Samurai, but somehow, his inclusion just enhances this too-fun-for-words story. And yes, John Belushi in his Samurai Delicatessen garb does indeed go sword to sword with Silver Samurai, Marvel’s greatest swordsman.
Everything that’s great about comics, comedy, the 70s, and really, just life in general is jammed into this issue. Sadly, the Marvel/Saturday Night Live team up thing did not become an annual event. Imagine Luke Cage meets Eddie Murphy, New Mutants meets Wayne’s World, Silver Surfer meets the Coneheads…the possibilities are endless. Also, can you tell I haven’t watched SNL since like 1992?
5. Marvel Team-Up #128 (1983)
Spider-Man and Captain America
By JM DeMatteis and Kerry Gammill
Today we call it cosplay, but back in the long long ago (1983), they called it a photo cover. Whatever you call it, MTU #128 spots a cover featuring two actors decked out as Spidey and Cap. Believe me, this thing may look a bit stiff now, but that popped off the spinner racks back in ’83. Under the unique but awkward by today’s standards cover, JM DeMatteis and Kerry Gammill delivers another gem as Cap and Spidey team up to take on the repellant half human, half rat creature known as Vermin.
DeMatteis would go on to use Vermin to great effect in his classic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man so it’s really fun to see the writer pen an early appearance of the man rodent. And it’s always fun to see Spidey and Cap get together to battle a sewer monster. In truth, DeMatteis’ take on Vermin is front and center as the writer makes the disgusting creature an object of the reader’s sympathy.
DeMatteis hits all the right notes in this early predictor of cosplay and the issue remains a pure example of the magic of MTU.
4. Marvel Team-Up #69-70 (1978)
Spider-Man and Havok and Spider-Man and Thor
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
First off, anytime we get to see John Byrne draw Havok in his classic gear is okay with us. But these two issues of MTU are bombastic super hero slugfests that pull heroes from different parts of the Marvel Universe to great effect.
The story opens with a villain known as the Living Pharaoh attacking Havok and Polaris. Spidey comes to the two X-Men’s aid and helps battle the ancient Egyptian king. Claremont manages to throw in little references to current X-Men and Spider-Man continuity and keep the action moving forward. At the time, Polaris and Havok were in the periphery of the X-Men so it was awesome to see them get the spotlight.
Later, the Living Pharaoh transforms into the Living Monolith, a giant honking stone god that Spidey compares to Thanos himself. Our heroes needs a major power up and wouldn’t you know, a literal Deus Ex Machina shows up in Thor and one of the greatest slugfests in Bronze Age history gets even bigger as mutants, Avengers, and Spidey all take the fight to the Living Monolith in a team up that defines the words fun and epic.
3. Marvel Team-Up #79 (1979)
Spider-Man and Red Sonja
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
We covered just how cool it was to see Spidey team up with Robert E. Howard creation King Kull, but it was even cooler to see the Howard adjacent addition to the Marvel pantheon Red Sonja join forces with Spider-Man. When the ancient Hyborian wizard Kulan-Gath arrives in the present day to wreak havoc on modern day New York City, the spirit of Red Sonja possesses Mary Jane Watson to stop her immortal enemy.
Okay first off, talk about a fish out of water story. Red Sonja, the chain mail bikini clad She-Devil With a Sword in modern day New York. Second off, Red Sonja possessing MJ Watson? Is there ancient Hyborian magic say that says only a ginger can possess gingers? Whatever the case, a Red Sonja possessed MJ is a twist of genius in this story that just has to be read to be believed.
This issue was so strong that Marvel and current rights holders to Red Sonja Dynamite Comics published a five part sequel to it in 2007. You know an issue of MTU is legendary when there’s a five part follow up! Seeing Red Sonja and Spider-Man swing into action together was (at the time) a once in a lifetime experience as two characters that couldn’t be more different battle a classic Howard villain. I would totally read a Mary Jane possessed by Red Sonja comic! It’s too bad we never got to see Conan himself come to the pages of MTU, but this bit of brilliance by Claremont and Byrne more than makes up for it.
2. Marvel Team-Up #59-60 (1977)
Spider-Man, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp
By Chris Claremont and John Byrne
Byrne and Claremont are absolutely legendary because of their run on Uncanny X-Men, but their work on MTU was just as amazing. The creative duo’s team-ups weren’t bogged down in countless spinning plotlines, they were simple superhero tales with humor, pathos, and wall-to-wall action and should serve as a modern day textbook on how to spin a super hero yarn.
In these issues, Spidey teams up with the husband and wife team of Hank Pym in his Yellowjacket identity and the Wasp as the trio of heroes take on the half fire/half ice menace of Equinox. Equinox was once a sick child that was caught in the explosion of his scientist father’s lab, so there is plenty of pathos with this little known but powerful and tragic villain. Claremont and Byrne waste no time getting to the heart of each character. In fact, at the end of the first issue of this two-parter, (forty year old spoiler) Hank Pym seemingly dies, and Wasp’s reaction is so spot on that a reader has no choice but to buy in.
No, Hank isn’t dead, but the twists and turns in this perfect yet simple tale will keep even a hardened modern day comic loves in a lather.
1. Marvel Team-Up #1 (1972)
Spider-Man and the Human Torch
By Roy Thomas and Ross Andru
We mentioned before that at first, Marvel Team-Up looked like it was going to be a monthly team-up book between Peter Parker and Johnny Storm. If the whole darn series was as strong as the first issue team up between Spidey and the Torch, then that idea would have been an excellent one. By the way, in the early days of MTU, the Human Torch would occasionally take the starring role of the book. Over the course of the series, Torch teamed with Hulk, Iceman, Thor, Son of Satan, and Doctor Strange.
This is a Christmas tale that sees Spidey and Torch go up against Sandman. The heroes battle Sandman all over a festive NYC until it is revealed Sandman was just on his way to deliver a gift and visit with his old mother. How heartwarming!
Actually, this debut issue of MTU establishes the more sympathetic heart of Sandman, a facet of the character that would play into many future comic appearances. This softer side of Sandman also played a role in Sandman’s only film appearance. Come on, tell me Sandman wasn’t the best part of the otherwise stinky Spider-Man 3, and that characterization began in this story.
In addition, Roy Thomas has the Parker/Storm banter down while Ross Andru delivers eye popping artwork that makes this a bundle of super hero team up perfection. If all that isn’t enough, during the course of the Christmas adventure, Spider-Man rescues a tall and athletic looking African-American woman from a mugger. Years later, it is revealed that the woman in question was none other than Misty Knight, so Marvel Team-Up #1 retroactively became her first appearance!
So there you have it. We could have mentioned so many more teams like Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, Valkyrie, Dominic Fortune, Moondragon, Doctor Doom, Falcon, Luke Cage, Wonder Man, Black Widow, and so many more. But before you go see Spider-Man join forces with Iron Man on the big screen, we want you to hit your local back issue bin and experience the glory, wackiness, and wonder of Marvel Team-Up!