It has been too long since the Man-Thing was spotlighted on this blog! Not to mention the awesome title Marvel Team-Up and Spidey! Of course the overwhelming majority of issues featured the web-slinger (some had the Human Torch), and he was the franchise at that point without a doubt. The creatives behind this one, were names that are synonymous with Bronze Age comics, but specifically the X-Men, and the greatest run that title has ever known (let’s be honest, will ever know).
But back to Manny and Spidey- in this issue, we see these two heroes that couldn’t be more different, working together to achieve a greater good. These two must put an end to the fearful villain known as D’Spayre, and to vanquish him, is to conquer your own fears. This is obviously a very challenging thing to do for anyone, even a superhero. We know that Man-Thing can sense and exploit fear, but what happens when he must face an adversary that can instill fear in his opponent? And we all know Spidey has doubts and fears even without any prodding, so an easy fight this will not be!
Now, onto this great creative team! We all know Chris Claremont (writer) is “Mr. X-Men” and rightfully so, as he crafted so many of the personalities we love(d) for a very long time. He also created a few new characters that have stood the test of time. His frequent collaborator, was John Byrne (pencils, cover and interiors). His pencils and creativity helped the duo raise the bar for all the titles at Marvel, but specifically the X-Men. But, don’t sleep on this material, because both men were at the top of their game on this run of Marvel Team-Up as well! Inks by Bob Wiacek (cover inks by Josef Rubinstein), colors by Phil Rachelson, letters by Bruce Patterson, and edited by Archie Goodwin!
As most comic book readers know, the Amazing Spider-Man was the flagship title, and almost always had the best stories. Every once in a while though, the sister title, Spectacular Spider-Man would churn out something cool. It had its share of solid creators working on it, and usually dealt with something a little more off-beat. This particular issue shows Spidey, as he’s wrapping up capturing the villain from the previous issue (the Smuggler), but his night gets a little crazier than he thought it would. After finally packing up the costume for one night, Parker decides to call Debra Whitman and ask her to accompany him to meet Aunt May’s new beau, Nathan Lubensky for dinner the following day. We see that Debra has some pretty deep feelings for Peter, but we know his mind is elsewhere. The story has some nice little moments, and is definitely one that you should seek out!
Anyone that lost track of Spidey after the tumultuous Silver Age is really missing out on some great stories. Everyone knows of the excellence of Gerry Conway, but a couple of other scribes did the old web-head justice as well, and one of them is certainly Roger Stern. He wrote this story along with a few others in this title, and later took over the main title as well, and really made strides in the life of Peter Parker and his surrounding cast (Mary Jane especially). The art team is a great one too, and we have “Jubilant” John Romita Jr. (pencils), and Jim “Madman” Mooney to thank for that. The colors were provided by Ben Sean, the letters by Jim Novak. Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a cover by “Lanky” Frank Miller and Joe “The Rube” Rubinstein!
The few issues I own of this title are enough to make me want to hunt down the rest, for sure. Not only that, but also hunt down any other offerings from Bill Mantlo. This guy is so underrated, it’s comical. Just dig into his works, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Look at this awesome cover by Frank Miller and Josef Rubinstein! The interiors by Sal Buscema are quite impressive as well, so don’t think this is just a cool cover and fluff on the inside! Merry Christmas! Enjoy!