Saturday, 4 August 2012

Top 5 Team-Up Books: Marvel Two-in-One

In Silver medal position in my run down of my personal list of the top 5 team-up books, just edging out Marvel Team-Up, is Marvel Two-in-One starring the ever lovin', blue-eyed, idol o' millions, Benjamin Grimm.

2 - Marvel Two-in-One (Marvel Comics)
Marvel Two-in-One #1 (January 1974)
Pencil Art by Gil Kane, inks: John Romita

The concept of a Thing team-up series originated with Marvel Feature #12 - #13 (September 1973 - November 1973) and continued for 100 issues from January 1974 to June 1983.  I was lucky enough to pick up the first Marvel Feature issue that paired the Thing with the Hulk, how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to read a comic with a cover like this:

Marvel Feature #11 (September 1973)
Pencil Art by Jim Starlin, inks: John Romita
Obviously there were a lot of other true believers who bought it as well because Marvel Editor-in Chief Roy Thomas decided to launch an ongoing series of team ups featuring the Thing and gave the scripting job to one of the most imaginative writers of the Bronze Age, the late, great Steve Gerber. Gerber kicked off the series with the Man-Thing, as illustrated above, and carried on with his off-beat tales for 9 issues before handing over to a young Chris Claremont.  Post Gerber the title was overshadowed by the more commercially successful Marvel Team-Up, however, writers had a bit more freedom with Ben's character development than with Spidey and the title gathered momentum until it reached a creative peak with the Pegasus Project storyline in issues #53 (July 1979) - #58 (December 1979) written by Ralph Macchio and Mark Gruenwald with art by John Byrne and George Perez. 

Marvel Two-in-One #53 (January 1979)
Pencil Art by John Byrne, inks: Joe Sinnott
The series continued with increasingly inferior stories, much as Marvel Team-Up did in the early eighties, until it was cancelled and replaced with a solo Thing title.  Why have I ranked Marvel Two-in-One higher than Marvel Team-Up? One of the reasons, ironically, is probably because of a story featuring Spider-man in Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 published in 1977.

Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977)
Art by Jim Starlin
This Annual, written and drawn by Jim Starlin with inks by Joe Rubenstein, featured Thanos, the Avengers, Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and a truly heroic Spider-man is a cornerstone story in Starlin's Thanos epic and adds to the development of the Marvel Universe.  Other issues in the series also contributed to the shared continuity of Marvel in a more substantial way than Marvel Team-Up did. So Marvel Two-in-One earns the Silver medal, which title will earn the Gold?  There is probably no reader of this post who has any doubt regarding the series that will be ranked number one but you had better check back to make sure you are right.

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