Best Shots Review: MARVEL TEAM-UP #1 'Thought Provoking'

Marvel Team-Up #1
Credit: Joey Vazquez/Felipe Sobreiro/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Stefano Caselli/Triona Farrell (Marvel Comics)

Marvel Team-Up #1
Written by Eve L. Ewing
Art by Joey Vazquez and Felipe Sobreiro
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Credit: Joey Vazquez/Felipe Sobreiro/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

There are always two sides to every story, and that fact has never been clearer than in the double-sided Marvel Team-Up #1. When Kamala Khan’s class is invited to a bleeding edge science conference, Peter Parker introduces the keynote speaker: Dr. Yesenia Rosario. Naturally, Dawson’s innovate memory uploading tech draws the attention of the Jackal. Cue super-hero team-up. Writer Eve L. Ewing and penciller Joey Vazquez add their own unique spin on the tried and tested formula of 'Spider-Man and Friends,' with some solid character beats and bold artwork wrapped up in an unconventional format.

The issue moves along at a fair clip, light on story but with oodles of interesting character work. Old age versus youth is very much on the agenda for Ewing here. Kamala suffers in the face of growing adult responsibilities whilst Peter mourns the missed possibilities of the past. It’s a script very much interested in exploring the duality of teacher against student, performance anxiety against cynicism brought on by missed opportunity. Peter feels his achievements are inadequate when compared to Dr. Rosario’s successes, whilst Ms. Marvel feels suffocated by the world’s expectations of her. Peter and Kamala’s supporting cast are always on hand to poke and prod into their troubled and inaccurate perceptions of their situation, rounding out the issue’s themes and ensuring that they are sufficiently explored.

Credit: Joey Vazquez/Felipe Sobreiro/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

From a stylistic point of view, the alternating viewpoints gimmick flows surprisingly well. Ms. Marvel’s perspective is first on the pile, whilst the flipped back end of the book tells Peter Parker’s journey through the same events. When Kamala and Peter’s perspectives meld together in the middle for the final page, its seamless stuff. That said, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the reader only gets two slight variations on 15 pages of comic book here, especially towards those back ends when each character’s perspective becomes less individual because well… they’ve teamed up. Whilst the double-sided approach works on a mechanical level, the complexity of the gimmick necessitates the simplest of plots. The Jackal quite literally strides on to stage without prior introduction, and it all ultimately comes across as a little shallow. A more traditional structure would have afforded a few pages to establish the threat, instead of repeating trodden ground in the span of a single issue by watching the Jackal get beat down twice.

Credit: Joey Vazquez/Felipe Sobreiro/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

Away from the script, penciller Joey Vazquez’s studied figures pop out from the page thanks to his clean, sharp and thick lines. He inks his own work to great effect, cleaving characters from the background to lend a sense of weight and dimension to the page. Vazquez’s knack for expression extends past faces and body language to the clothing he drapes his characters in, which are intricately and accurately creased and starched. To finish things off, Felipe Sobreiro combines flat blocks of texture-less color with subtle use of ben-day dots. All in all, it’s a bold and timeless look that melds old and new styles to great effect.

Marvel Team-Up #1 (or #187 for those who prefer legacy numbering) is an accomplished and confident rebirth of a classic format. Although its flip-book format is much more seamless than it should be, it ultimately hampers the amount of story that can feasibly fit into a single issue; offering only the briefest of tales. Even so, Eve L. Ewing’s intriguing flourishes of characterization make for a thought provoking read, whilst the artistic duo of Joey Vazquez and Felipe Sobreiro offer up a real feast for the eyes. Marvel Team-Up #1 is a worthy pick-up.

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