Monday, September 7, 2015

MARVEL TEAM-UP #61

Stan Lee presents: SPIDEY and the TORCH -- together!
”NOT ALL THY POWERS CAN SAVE THEE!”
Author: Chris Claremont | Artist: John Byrne | Inker: Dave Hunt
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Dave Hunt | Editor: Archie Goodwin

The Plot: As Spider-Man cleans up in the Baxter Building, he's attacked one at a time by what seem to be the individual members of the Fantastic Four. The wall-crawler is thrown from the building and rescued by the Human Torch.

The two young heroes return to FF headquarters to find the Super-Skrull waiting. A fight begins, which travels down to the Penn Station rail yard. There, while the Torch fights the Skrull, Spider-Man rigs up an electrical trap. The Torch is subdued and Spider-Man lures the Skrull into his trap -- but it fails, and the Skrull advances on the lone web-slinger.

Continuity Notes: This story begins shortly after last issue’s conclusion, meaning this is still the same night as Spider-Man’s, Yellowjacket’s, and the Wasp’s fight with Equinox (though by issue’s end, it's the next morning).

The Torch explains to Spider-Man that Super-Skrull had been trapped inside an Indian “soul catcher” by Tigra in MARVEL CHILLERS #7, who had entrusted it to the FF, and that the Skrull presumably escaped during the Equinox altercation.


The police, led by Captain Jean DeWolff (in her infuriatingly eccentric thirties roadster), arrive at Penn Station to aid Spider-Man and the Torch. DeWolff is accompanied by Iron Fist’s pal, Lt. Rafael Scarfe. Also, as she drives toward the yard, she requests assistance from Lt. Kris Keating’s special powers task force but is told he's unavailable.

Also of note is that when we first catch up with DeWolff and Scarfe, they're just wrapping up their report on the Equinox situation from the past two issues.


The Penn Station fight is observed by partygoers aboard a huge ocean liner offshore. Among the attendees is WOMAN magazine editor Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel -- who will be Spider-Man’s co-star next issue.


My Thoughts: Another solid hit from Claremont and Byrne. Byrne has said that Super-Skrull is one of his favorite Fantastic Four villains, and he certainly seems to enjoy drawing the guy. Funnily, despite his affection for the Skrull, Byrne would never use him in his lengthy FANTASTIC FOUR run -- though he would pit him against both ALPHA FLIGHT and NAMOR.

The action here is entertaining enough, and as usual it's great to see Spider-Man use his scientific acumen to rig up a trap for Super-Skrull (even if it doesn't work this time) -- but what I really like about this one are the continuity nods. Claremont references MARVEL CHILLERS, a short-lived Tigra vehicle to which he contributed one issue (though not the issue noted here, but Claremont’s installment will be built upon in an upcoming TEAM-UP). He brings in Lt. Scarfe from his IRON FIST run, though for some reason this Scarfe looks a little off from his normal portrayal – odd, since Byrne has been the character’s regular artist for some time.


Claremont also name-drops Kris Keating, a character who should be very familiar to readers of my Roger Stern Spider-Man reviews. And, lastly, he provides a cameo from Carol Danvers, whose series he also writes. It's stuff like this that really get me invested in the Marvel world. Not every story needs to be good. I can appreciate a clunker just as much as a masterpiece -- heck, sometimes more than a masterpiece -- if it's rife with little cross-pollinating continuity nods like these. They're not overt -- Scarfe appears with no footnotes to IRON FIST for example -- and that makes them sort of like bonuses for those in the know, without penalizing a reader for not getting them. They build the world subtly, without bashing you over the head -- just the way good continuity should be utilized.

2 comments:

  1. The Torch explains to Spider-Man that Super-Skrull had been trapped inside an Indian “soul catcher” by Tigra in MARVEL CHILLERS #7

    That's...not exactly the place I would have expected Super-Skrull's last appearance to have occurred. 70s era Marvel was crazy fun weird.

    Among the attendees is WOMAN magazine editor Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel -- who will be Spider-Man’s co-star next issue.

    Again, I love this way of setting up the following team-up. Makes a series that should feel very episodic less so.

    Funnily, despite his affection for the Skrull, Byrne would never use him in his lengthy FANTASTIC FOUR run

    Maybe he felt it was too obvious, yet not so obvious that he couldn't NOT use him (I mean, Byrne was gonna use Doom no matter what, but maybe he felt he could get away with not using Super-Skrull)?

    . They're not overt -- Scarfe appears with no footnotes to IRON FIST for example -- and that makes them sort of like bonuses for those in the know, without penalizing a reader for not getting them. They build the world subtly, without bashing you over the head -- just the way good continuity should be utilized.

    Well said. I also like the way, at least during Claremont/Byrne run, that MTU is one of those series that gets used to tie up loose threads from other series/storylines, but in a way that, if you don't know the original story, it still works, but if you do, you get a little something extra out of it.

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    1. "That's...not exactly the place I would have expected Super-Skrull's last appearance to have occurred."

      Yeah, a Tigra/Supe-Skrull fight seems like it would be a little one-sided!

      "Again, I love this way of setting up the following team-up. Makes a series that should feel very episodic less so."

      Yes, though unfortunately that technique isn't long for the series, at least not the Byrne/Claremont stuff. After next issue it becomes very much an episodic affair, being mostly all one- and two-part stories.

      "MTU is one of those series that gets used to tie up loose threads from other series/storylines..."

      It definitely is, resolving Equinox last issue, bringing back Super-Skrull here, resolving Iron Fist's dropped plots, showing an X-Men "side story" when Havok pops up, etc. Though I read the full Claremont run a few years ago -- he did about thirty issues -- and it seems like it was mostly only during his brief time with Byrne that he did this sort of thing.

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