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The Team Up Book Post II: Defining Team-Up Books and Collector’s Mania

by  in Comic News Comment
The Team Up Book Post II:  Defining Team-Up Books and Collector’s Mania

So we’ve had Brave and the Bold poppin’ up here at CSBG, and since I am (A) the World’s Biggest Fan of team-up books ever, and (B) in the process of collecting *all* the team-up books, …

Well, I thought I’d do a series of posts ’em.

Let’s start with

A little Q & A

‘Q:  *All* the team-up books,” you ask?  “How many comics is that?”

A:  “My records are a bit of a mess right ATM.  I believe i’ve got 704 comics on my to-be-collected list.  Maybe 705.  I think there’s been a new Brave and the Bold from DC since I updated.  I think I said 710 last time, but my count keeps changing.

Q: “704!  Dear God!  You gone howling-at-the-moon-outside-sans-pants-crazy?”

A: “Quite Possibly.  I DID have over 600 of them, though, although I moved, and some got stolen, and some got disorganized and buried.  So I’m not sure what the current count is.

Q: “That’s… that’s a lot,  What are you calling a team-up book, anyway?”

A: I am sooooo glad you asked.  In it’s most common form, a team-up book features one lead character, such as Spider-man in Marvel Team-up or Superman in DC Comics Presents pairing up with a different co-star each issue.  In one comic the Thing might meet Daredevil, in the next Captain America, then the Guardians of the Galaxy, and then Doctor Strange, and so on an’ on and on with the Thing and a different guest-star every issue.  There are other variants, such as the current (fourth) Brave and the Bold series where BOTH guest stars change every issue. Also, and here’s where it gets sticky…  I’m also collecting anything that FEELS like a team-up book.

Q: i don’t even wanna ask…

A: I’ll ignore that.   Basically, I made a list of 710 comics (and counting) that share some similar characteristics.  Not all of the books share ALL of the characteristics, but MOST share most of them.

Which brings me to my:

Guidelines For Making My List of Team-Up Books

RULE 1!) A team-up book features a rotating cast of two starring characters (or one character and one team) in the lead story.

RULE 1 SUBSECTION A!) Optimally these lead characters should have their NAMES in BIG ASSED LETTERS on the cover.

RULE 1 SUBSECTION B!) Complete sets of titles are good.  There are a few scattered issues of some team-up series that feature more than 2 characters in an issue.

For instance:  There were 100 issues of Marvel Two-In-One published.  Of those, 96 have two characters in starring roles with their names in big letters on the cover.

Four do not. One of these notes that it features “Special Guest-Star Franklin Richards.”   Although poor Frank is only given a small blurb under the picture of the Thing, unlike Doc Strange up there who gets HIS logo printed in bigger letters than the title of the book.  But still, that almost counts.

2 of these feature MORE than two characters, like # 51 below, with a whopping FIVE guest stars.

And one, issue 91, STRONGLY implies, but does not credit, a certain pointy-eared guest star on the cover.

(Spoilers:  It ain’t who you’re thinking it is, Buttercup.)

So, since all of these have a bit of a team-up book-y feel, and since I didn’t want to break up my run of Marvel Two-In-One, they all count as team-up books.

Q: Why the two character rule?

A: So I don’t have to collect Secret Defenders.

RULE 2!A team-up book features a rotating cast.

Superman/Batman, Power Man and Iron Fist, Captain America and the Falcon, and Cable/Deadpool (among others) don’t count.    It’s the same two guys teaming up all the time, and that’s boring.  You suck, World’s Finest!  (Except for 13 issues published between 1971 and 1973.)

RULE 2 SUBSECTION 1!) Likewise, any comic that features only one character in the title is not a team-up book.  Wonder Woman, Marvel Adventures:  Hulk, and Deadpool have all had multiple issue runs as near team-up books, but none of ’em count, because the titular character is given precedence.  Spider-Man Family is an exception, because “Family.”

RULE 3!) A team-up book has serial nature.  I spent ten minutes trying to define serial nature, and didn’t come up with anything comprehensible.  (Really.  My BEST attempt was like: Serial Nature that a team-up book is part of an ongoing series, even if not all issues of a specific series are team-up books.  This makes things SO much clearer eyerollsmileyface.)

For all PRACTICAL purposes, this rule exists to exclude one-shots like the one below.

RULE 3! is slightly arbitrary, but I thought that even assembling a list of all these one-shots would be a lot of work, and I am fundamentally lazy.  Inter-company cross-overs of all types are out as well -  They seem too Big Eventy for team-up books.)

RULE 4!) Any comic with “Team-Up in the title is a team-up book.

RULE 4 SUBSECTION I!) RULE 4! takes precedence over RULE 3!

RULE 5!) Reprints count.  I’m just trying to get every STORY contained in every team-up book, not every actual team-up book.  If, for instance, I own Marvel Treasury Edition # 22 which reprints Marvel Team-up 19, 20 and 21, I don’t need to own actual, original copies of MTU 19, 20, and 21.  However, I don’t need trade collection of reprints with “team-up” in the title.

Essential/Showcase volumes are a Godsend.  I’m a damn school bus driver.  I ain’t made of money.

Q: So. 704 comics, huh? Why? I mean, aren’t some -even most – of them going to be pretty much crap-on-stick? Did anyone really pour their heart into writing Super-Team Family?

A: Well, quality varied.  But If you just read the main four long-running team-up titles you’ll find work by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, (separately) Chris Claremont, John Byrne (together) Frank Miller, George Perez, Jack Kirby, Neal Adams,  EC’s Johnny Craig, Steve Gerber, the under-appreciated Ramona Fradon, Alex Toth, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, J. M. Dematties, Kieth Giffen, Gil Kane, Law and Order’s Alan Brennert, Jim Aparo…  And the list goes on.  Lots of talented folks, although only a few of the dudes I listed had way long runs.  Aparo.  Claremont and Byrne were on Marvel Team-Up for a decent while.

But, yeah, if I wanted to read quality comics I’d probably be better off tracking down, say, Simonson’s Thor run.  Or the Kitchen Sink Spirit reprints.  Or Peter Bagge’s Neat Stuff.   (All of which are on my list.)  But I’m a format and genre fetishist, I guess.  I don’t follow characters so much (exceptions:  Stegron, the Kryptonian Thought Beast and Infectious Lass)  but I’ll buy any damn comic with a pirate on the cover.  And I’ll generally be very happy with my purchase -  My critical standards drop to damn near ‘nill when dealing with formats I have a thing for.

On a sociological sense, it’s probably derived from some kind of screwed up hunter gatherer instinct, and some kind of strange type-A need to create orderly patterns.  On an intellectual level, I realize that owning 710 team-up books will not make me more spiritually fulfilled or make me more attractive to women or anything.  But I’m compelled to do it.  I’m afraid that if I examine my motivations here too closely I’ll find out there’s something really wrong with me.  (Nervous chuckle.)

There’s a few more reasons:  They’re relatively cheap:  I’ve dug somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 applicable books out of the 25/33/50/75 cent boxes.  And they’re not hard to track down -  I only used the internet for 3 out of my 600+ issue collection -  The rest came from comic shops and cons in the Michigan/Iowa/Illinois area.

There’s some small utility to having big, long, fairly-unbroken-‘cept-for-a-couple-reprints-runs of a given series.   As a comics history fan, it’s useful to have fairly long, fairly complete runs of DC and Marvel titles, just to get a sense of stuff like the changing production values, page counts, and the different types of advertisements that ran in the books.

But, honestly, that’s like .013% of the reason I’m doing this.  I just enjoy the heck outta reading damn things.

Here’s the list.  If any of you have any alterations of suggestions, I’d like too hear them.

1-17:  Action Comics 584-600
18: Action Comics Annual # 1
19-166: Brave and the Bold (1st Series) 50-56, 59, 61-200
167-182: Brave and the Bold (4th Series) 1-16
167-283: DC Comics Presents # 1-97
284-287: DC Comics Presents Annual # 1-4
288-293: Dead Again 1-5
294: Deadpool Team-Up Featuring Widdle Wade
295: DC Special Series # 8
296-297: DC Super-Stars 15, 18
298-303: Giant Size Spider-Man 1-6
304-305: Giant Size Super-Villain Team-Up 1-2
306-310: Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up 1-5
311: Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up Special
312-313: Marvel Feature 11-12
314-463: Marvel Team-Up (1st Series) 1-150
464-474: Marvel Team-Up (2cd Series) 1-11
475-499: Marvel Team-Up (3rd Series) 1-25
500-506: Marvel Team-Up Annual 1-7
507-606: Marvel Two-In-One 1-100
607-613: Marvel Two-In-One Annual 1-7
614-626: Plus Books (Various 1 and 2 shots from 1997)
627-628: Showcase 55-56
629: Shuriken Team-Up 1
630: Spider-Boy Team-Up
631-637: Spider-Man Family (2cd Series) 2-9
638-644: Spider-Man Team-Up 1-7
645: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Treasury
646: Superman vs. Shazam! Treasury
647: Superman vs. Wonder Woman Treasury
648-654: Super-Team Family 2-3, 11-15
655-671: Super-Villain Team-Up 1-17
672-676: Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok’s 11 1-5
677-679: Tales of the Thing 1-3
680-695: Ultimate Marvel Team-Up 1-16
696: Ultimate Marvel Team-up Special
697: Western Team-Up
698-710: World’s Finest Comics 198-201, 203-205, 208-210,212-214

Edited to Add:

711-715: Crossroads 1-5
716-722: _____ and Deadpool 43-49
723-726:  DC Double Shots
727-774: Marvel Comics Presents No. 48-50, 52-61, 64-71, 96-122

So in the next few weeks, months, or years, I’ll go down the list, explaining WHY some things are there and others aren’t, and also doing kind of a group review of the various runs.

And, hey, if I’m missing anything, let me know!

In the next couple months I’ll go down the list… Or sideways through it, offerin’ some critical-type commentary and defending my choices in regards to the above rules.  And complaining about how I CAN NOT find Deadpool Team-Up anywhere in the real world.

It’ll be fun!  (At least for me.)

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