Friday, July 19, 2013

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up - mixing fun with your superheroes

I don't buy any monthly comics from the "Big 2" (Marvel and DC) anymore and have not for a few years now.  And I buy very few collections, if any (mainly I will borrow things through the library, but I did break down and get the Kirby Kamandi omnibi and will indeed be getting the new Sandman series by Neil Gaiman & JH Williams III).  The reasons for this require a longer posts - or series of posts - but I don't feel like going into that right now, so let's just call this a preamble and get on with it.

Superheroes are supposed to be fun. Sure, there's room for angst and gritty and serious (just like there's room for tropical and wild berry and tart-n-tangy in the Skittles family), but there's a sense of wonder that is built into the genre and is part of what makes it distinct, in my opinion.  And that sense of wonder is part of why I read superhero comics, and part of why I was, and am, more a DC guy than a Marvel guy.

That said, one of the comics from the past decade that I find myself returning to, and a run I finally completed at last year's CGS Super Show, is Ultimate Marvel Team-Up (surprise! you never saw that coming, did you?).  I bought the first 8 issues off the rack, when they were first published, and have no idea why I did not keep up with the series, at the time.  But it is great.

Initially, I was drawn to the series because of the run of artists on the book - open with Matt Wagner, followed by Phil Hester & Ande Parks, then Mike Allred, Bill Sienkiewicz (SIN-KEV-ITCH!), John Totleben, et al. - but I was also a fan of Bendis's having read some of his early crime books as well as some short stories in Negative Burn.  And this book gives me what I want from a superhero comic - wall to wall fun (I think that Sienkiewicz mini-run is probably rather dour, but Bendis would still have Ultimate Peter Parker throwing quips along with webs).  Bendis is just having a blast with these stories and the art is phenomenal.  All of the artists bring their A-game, and the diverse styles only add to the luster of this series, for me.  

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up is a premiere book, and it's too bad it stopped publication before its time.  Though, maybe that's a good thing, because the 16 issues + special are some stellar examples of good, fun superhero comics.


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