AVENGING SPIDER-MAN's Place in the MARVEL TEAM-UP Legacy

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Avenging Spider-Man #1 is out today, the first issue of a new series from writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Madureira. The goal of the book is to team Spider-Man up with other heroes from throughout the Marvel Universe, with the first arc seeing Spidey teaming up with the Red Hulk.

Sound familiar? It's essentially the latest incarnation of Marvel Team-Up, a title with nearly 40 years of history at Marvel Comics. Clearly, Marvel likes the idea of pairing Peter Parker with other characters in their roster, and in fact have published five other past series dedicated to that very purpose.

Here's a look at the history of Marvel Team-Up, up until now. (Honorable mention goes to 1974-1983 series Marvel Two-in-One, the same basic idea except with The Thing in place of Spidey.)

 

Marvel Team-Up, Vol. 1 (1972-1985)

Number of issues: 150

The original series also lasted the longest, and co-starred Spider-Man in nearly every issue with just a few exceptions, such as a couple of Hulk-centric issues in the early '80s and the infamous "Assistant Editors' Month" installment where Aunt May became a herald of Galactus named "Golden Oldie." (Calm your decades-displaced rage; it was just a dream.)

With contributions from some of the most notable names of the era (including Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Chris Claremont and J.M. DeMatteis), Marvel Team-Up began with the familiar duo of Spider-Man and the Human Torch, and along the way teamed Spidey up with everyone from Iron Man to Brother Voodoo to Havok to Jack of Hearts. Plus, in perhaps the comic's most significant legacy, it's the series that brought the world Frog-Man, who made his debut in Marvel Team-Up #121.

 

Spider-Man Team-Up (1995-1997)

Number of issues: 7

In the '90s Marvel didn't want to go even go one week without releasing a Spider-Man book, so in addition to Web of Spider-Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man, they created Spider-Man Unlimited, a quarterly title that shipped when there were five Wednesdays in a month.

Then in 1995 Marvel added another quarterly Spider-Man book, Spider-Man Team-Up. Effectively a new Marvel Team-Up, the book only lasted seven issues and actually starred the Ben Reilly version of the character (impact webbing!) for most of its run. Still, a lot of top creators worked on the series — Kurt Busiek, Steve Gerber, Mark Waid, Darick Robertson, George Perez and more — and issue #5 featured the long-awaited team-up between Ben Reilly, Gambit and Howard the Duck.

 

Marvel Team-Up, Vol. 2 (1997-1998)

Number of issues: 11

Soon after Spider-Man Team-Up ended, the second volume of Marvel Team-Up began — this time a monthly series from the creative team of Legion of Super-Heroes writer Tom Peyer and artist Pat Oliffe, fresh off of the critically acclaimed Untold Tales of Spider-Man.  

The first issue starred Spider-Man and Generation X, but by issue #8 Spider-Man had been replaced as the book's anchor by Namor, who perhaps not entirely coincidently was featured through much of the thematically similar '70s series Super-Villain Team-Up. The book was gone by issue #11, proving once again that it's tough to sell a Namor series, even if he's teaming up with Captain America and Iron Man.

 

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (2001-2002)

Number of issues: 16, plus the Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special

The still-new Ultimate world got its own Marvel Team-Up in 2001, with Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis joined by a different artist on each arc. And he worked with some of the best, mainly folks who don't normally do superheroes, including Matt Wagner, Phil Hester & Ande Parks, Mike Allred, Bill Sienkiewicz and Jim Mahfood. Sixteen issues were followed by an overshot one-sized titled Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special, featuring a ton of characters and artists from Ashley Wood to James Kochalka.

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up introduced many classic Marvel characters to the Ultimate Universe for the first time, which actually ended up causing a bit of a continuity kerfuffle. In Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #9, the Fantastic Four appear pretty much in their classic forms — yet when it came time to launch Ultimate Fantastic Four, Reed Richards was much younger than originally depicted, among other discrepancies. The issue was deemed non-canon, which should have probably been obvious all along given that the story involved Skrulls invading Marvel's offices.

 

Marvel Team-Up, Vol. 3 (2004-2006)

Number of issues: 25

The most recent Marvel Team-Up was written by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, who was joined initially by artist Scott Kolins. While this MTU wasn't strictly limited to Spider-Man stories, it started and ended with the character playing a prominent role, and he even teamed up in issue #14 with Kirkman's Image Comics creation, Invincible. 

The series also introduced new character Freedom Ring, and favored teaming up large groups of characters rather than just pairs — such as the affectionately titled "League of Losers" comprised of Darkhawk, Speedball, Dagger, Araña, X-23, Sleepwalker and Gravity.

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