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Comics Team-Up Offers Superhero Combinations

What’s better than one superhero in a comic book? That would be two heroes in a comic, which is where the idea of team-up books thrives. Unlike a team book where heroes work together issue in and out, team-up comics focus on different characters working together for one or two issues max.

Last week, Marvel released their newest team-up book with “Avenging Spider-Man” #1 by writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Mauderia. The premiere issue focused on Spider-Man and Red Hulk (Rulk) dealing with monsters overrunning New York City. However, superhero team-ups are nothing new for Marvel.

The first “Marvel Team-Up” began in 1972 and featured Spider-Man working with the Human Torch against Sandman. In fact, Spider-Man was featured throughout most of the series alongside heroes like Thor, She-Hulk, and Captain America. Volume One lasted for 150 issues, ending in 1985.

“Marvel Team-Up” Volume Two arrived in 1997 and while Spider-Man was featured in many issues, other characters were presented as well like Namor, the Sub Mariner, Blade, Doctor Strange, and the Thing. Writer Robert Kirkman took over “Marvel Team-Up” Volume Three in 2005 and presented his own unique hero combinations.

Looking back at past “Marvel Team-Up” volumes in preparation for “Avenging Spider-Man” #1, said about Volume Three, “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 site continued to report that less familiar characters like Darkhawk and Sleepwalker also returned to the Marvel Universe in this series.

There was also an Ultimate Marvel Team-Up book titled, “Ultimate Marvel Team-Up.”

Now, although “Avenging Spider-Man” #1 does not carry the “Marvel Team-Up” banner on the book, readers should see that it’s a new interpretation of this iconic series.

If anything, the title “Avenging Spider-Man” gives it a hip new sound while continuing to present fans with more heroes for the Wallcrawler to fight evil with and explained why it is now a good time for Spider-Man to team up with other heroes.

According to the site, “…Spidey’s membership in two different Avengers team and the Future Foundation has allowed him to interact and establish relationships with an even larger variety of heroes. In the new, ongoing ‘Avenging Spider-Man,’ writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Madureira will explore the dynamic between Spidey and his numerous teammates.”

Although Marvel is grabbing attention for its new team-up book, it is not the only publisher to bring superheroes together for exciting one-shot or two-issue tales.

DC Comics, for example, has had its own team-up book over the years with “The Brave and the Bold.” The first volume of “The Brave and the Bold” lasted from 1955 until 1983. The first series was notable for featuring the very first appearance of the Justice League in “The Brave and the Bold” #28 (It is worth mentioning that the first Justice League featured neither Superman nor Batman).

The second volume featured two miniseries from 1991-92; one was a serious tale with Green Arrow, the Question, and the Butcher while the other was a light throwback to the Silver Age with “Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold.”

DC Comics once again returned to “The Brave and the Bold” in 2007 when writer Mark Waid brought heroes together in different circumstances.

However, it was when writer J. Michael Straczynki (JMS) took over that this series moved in an exciting and dramatic direction beginning with issue #27, featuring Batman and Dial H for Hero.

Throughout his time as “Brave and the Bold” writer, Straczynski presented team-ups from Doom Patrol and the Legion of Super-Heroes to Aquaman and the Demon.

One memorable story was issue #33, where Wonder Woman and Zatana take Barbara Gordon/Batgirl out for a fun, crime fighting night on the town because they knew her life would change forever later when she got shot in the spine by the Joker (i.e. “Batman: The Killing Joke”).

When JMS was working on “Brave and the Bold,” he explained his method to about putting two characters together (in regards to a Joker/Atom story).

He said, “When I set out to come up with a game plan for ‘The Brave and the Bold,’ the first questions I asked were: who has been paired and who hasn’t? Who can we bring in from either end of the spectrum that has never played with that character? Granted, you can go a bit far afield on that if you’re not careful…But in general, it leads to interesting combinations.”

“The Brave and the Bold” Volume Three ended with #35. However, with Marvel bringing a new take to their former “Marvel Team-Up” series, whose to say that DC won’t contemplate pariing up their heroe again.

“Avenging Spider-Man” #1 is on sale now and costs $3.99.