Sunday Slugfest - Marvel Team-Up #3

A comic review article by: Keith Dallas, James Redington, Jason Sacks, Ray Tate
“The Golden Child: Part 3”

Keith Dallas

The third issue of Marvel Team-Up proves that this title isn’t going to be a series of unconnected and arbitrary “one-shots.” Robert Kirkman has crafted a story arc that organically involves a diverse Marvel Universe cast.

At the end of the second issue, Wolverine and Spider-Man “teamed-up” in New York City against new mutant menace, Paul Patterson. When Wolverine impaled one of Paul’s arms with one of his adamantium claws, the youth seemingly exploded. At the very least, Paul completely vanished. While that battle raged on, Doctor Doom had materialized in Latveria.

In this issue that Doctor Doom attacks the Fantastic Four in their own Baxter Building. However, there’s something “off” about the FF’s nemesis: his pronouncements are confused, and his armor resembles… something familiar. Once Doom stuns the heroes, he flees, at which point Dr. Strange enters the scene to confer with Reed. Strange has detected a penetration of our dimensional barrier. Meanwhile, an explosion occurs in an unnamed small town. When the dust settles, a smoldering Paul Patterson lies unconscious at the center of the blast, and the Hulk happens upon him…

The glory of Marvel Team-Up emerges in the combination of Scott Kolins’s unique style and expert storytelling, Robert Kirkman’s dead-on characterizations, and the sense provided to the reader that the entire Marvel Universe is at this title’s disposal.

In my review of Marvel Team-Up #1, I didn’t understand why so much space had been devoted to Peter Parker’s interactions with his teacher colleagues. By MTU #3, I understand the formula. Before the action erupts, the MTU creators want us to get at least a glimpse of the human side of these super-heroes. My favorite part of MTU #3 is also the most mundane: the Fantastic Four at their breakfast table. The dialogue and depictions of this scene are a delight, culminating in Susan Storm (as always, the most mature member of the group) upbraiding the men for their behavior. It is a scene full of charm and humor.

One cannot help but smile when Reed quickly brings his two children through a teleporter to “Aunt Crystal” before tackling Doom. A sleeping massive Lockjaw lies in the foreground while the background shows that Crystal is definitely… preoccupied. Reed could not have chosen a worse time to deposit his kids on her, it seems.

Also of note is Scott Kolins’s Thing; he is painstakingly detailed and emotes with wide range: mischievously happy when pushing Johnny’s buttons, surprised at Sue’s reprimand, righteously furious opposing Doom, meek when Dr. Strange appears. These emotions are conveyed through Kolins’s art without aid of dialogue.

MTU has quickly become my favorite on-going title. Each issue so far has delivered an entertaining mix of witty dialogue, intriguing developments, wonderful character moments and the presentation of a wonderfully crowded Marvel Universe where you’ll never know who will show up…, even just for a panel.

James Redington

SO… how was it?

It was pretty good. The writing is the best part about this book though. Kirkman does a great job of nailing the personalities of the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange and provides a great Thing versus Johnny Storm moment, which is always great to see no matter how many times we have seen it before. Nice to see Kirkman having fun with the characters, portraying them how they should be.

The plot is simply this: Strange feels something wrong in the Universe, Doom attacks the FF, and Strange turns up to help them with some knowledge as to why/how Doom has returned from the dead this time. That is the main plot. However, there is an interesting Hulk moment and also the last page is a shocker. Well, it’s not really a “shocker,” but it is interesting. When you read further into the comic you realise that there is a lot more going on. I had to go back and read things again, especially after the end of issue “shocker” page. Kirkman nails all the FF and “Doom.” Strange is a character I am not too familiar with, but I have read enough to know what Kirkman is doing is in character; his Strange talks like he does in those cartoons I have seen.

The art was average in places, and in some scenes way above average. The Strange stuff was great, as was the Johnny/Thing fight. The art seemed to lose its style during the Doom fight. I felt the inks were maybe a bit too heavy in places. There is an amazing attention to detail on some of the pages, and again when I re-read the comic I started to enjoy and feel the art a lot more than my first read. I think Scott Kolins is definitely one to watch. The bold cover catches your eye, interesting stuff – the only bit I didn’t like was that the FF in the mystic ball didn’t look as good as they could have. I think that maybe the inks were a little bit too strong again.

This latest Marvel Team-Up series is shaping up to be something special, and I can not wait to see what happens next and where these guys take it. Can Kirkman do no wrong?

Jason Sacks

I hate to admit it in public, but I love quarter bins. I haunt them at my local comic dealer, and look forward to them at local comics conventions. In those bins can sometimes be found real treasures. Right next to the endless stacks of Valiant comics, Justice League spin-offs and early Image books can often be found some more recent comics that are at least interesting. I found the first issue of Wanted in a quarter bin, several issues of the wonderful current She-Hulk revival, issues of the Losers and JSA, and on and on.

I’m not saying this to brag - I'm sure there are many fans who do the exact same thing as me, based on the attendance at the cheapo tables - but I’m saying this to explain my reaction to MTU #3. In my head, when a new comic comes out I separate it into one of three piles: a comic worth cover price, a comic worth buying from the quarter bin, and a comic that’s not even worth a quarter.

MTU #3 is the epitome of a perfect quarter bin book. It’s professionally written, decently drawn, has nice production values... overall, a decent, solid comic book. But there is nothing special about it, nothing that separates MTU #3 from its peers. It’s a fine ten minute read and a pleasant diversion. It is, simply, a solid mid-line Marvel comic. Average, solid, a bit predictable but quite fun. Kirkman writes a fun Fantastic Four, and Kolins’s art is pretty solid. I didn’t understand the two-page interlude with the Hulk here, but I’m sure future issues will explore that sub-plot further.

Sad to say, but in today’s market, when there are so many good comics out there, this comic really isn't worth $2.25 a month for me. Your mileage may vary.

Ray Tate

A brief summary of my surface thoughts on Marvel Team-Up "Golden Child" Part Three? What happened to parts one and two? Ah, Doctor Strange. Hmmn, he's a bit wordy, but it's really kind of what you expect from Dr. Strange. Look at that. Moon Knight’s in the book just because he’s a part of the Marvel Universe, and this universe ironically happens to be more cohesive than what’s left of the DC universe. Ah, the FF. The Thing playing a joke on the Torch. Oh, good. Somebody remembers fun. So that’s what he means by part three. Dr. Doom! Oh, yeah. Mark Waid’s Doom sucked. Let’s see what Kirkman can do. Doing fine, and what the hell! Sonuva... Let me read this again.

The third issue of Marvel Team-Up is a fun, fast-paced adventure starring super-herodom’s favorite family, the Fantastic Four. Dr. Strange makes a fitting cameo appearance, as it seems that Dr. Doom has defeated the dark dimension of the dead, yet again. Of course, that’s only the scratch of the surface. Because after you finish the book, you will find that you must go back and read it over again. Kirkman surprises the reader, and it’s not a surprise that makes one reach for the vomit bag.

Robert Kirkman once again visits the Marvel Universe: one not in nauseating flux. The Fantastic Four are all present, and they’re happy. Super-heroes being happy. I can’t believe it. The dialogue is quite character-fitting and hilarious. The interplay between the members of the FF remind the reader that comic books can be fun and can be fun again. All it takes is a writer willing to buck against trendy misogynist pap--Identity Crisis, War Games--and incompetent drivel--“Avengers Disassembled,” “Sins of the Past.”

Kirkman shows that you can surprise without killing or maiming a character. Sue gets out of this book alive! Imagine that! He shows that you can characterize heroes that actually do good. Dr. Strange for instance upon visiting the FF casually repairs the hole that Dr. Doom made in the FF’s wall. He doesn't have to do this. It’s just a courtesy. His is not the only moment of warmth. Sue entertains Val through a creative use of her force fields, and you know what? Sue is fantastic. Kirkman shows her to be strong of will, a powerful super-hero, a mother and a wife, and she does not appear weak for one moment.

Kirkman balances out the characterization of Sue. He makes all the FF sound and behave as themselves. Little things accumulate to produce the well-rounded personalities of the team. The Thing has just been working out. The Torch is preparing for a hot date. Reed is tinkering with some new invention. Not once do you question the dialogue or the actions of the cast, and this aspect keeps you engrossed in the story to such an extent that you forget you're reading. Sub-consciously the illusion is that you’re visiting your old friends the FF and Dr. Strange as they protect the world from Dr. Doom.

The artwork by Scott Kolins, which openly foreshadows the surprise ending, invites the reader to share in the lives of these fine heroes. He opens with Dr. Strange sensing a disturbance in the cosmic balance or what have you, and he draws Dr. Strange in the classic mold. The good doctor does not seem creepy--although his power creeps out Ben Grimm who displays his disconcertion in a series of subtle expressions; amusing given his rocky countenance. The FF also look like the FF you remember from Kirby and Lee days. Reed’s pliability is well rendered. Johnny’s flaming not only when physically igniting, and Sue’s cute as she entertains Val, explosive when she tries to put an end to the age-old one upmanship between Ben and Johnny and funny when an emergency interrupts her final success.

What can I say. Marvel Team-Up is just so much fun, and fun is a welcome change of climate.

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