A hefty hardcover collecting the entire Ultimate Marvel Team-Up series was released on Wednesday. You know where to find my thoughts on the series. What did you think?

General Information

Title: Ultimate Marvel Team-Up
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrator(s): Matt Wagner, Phil Heston, Ande Parks, Mike Allred,
Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Mahfood, John Tottleben, Ron Randall, Chynna
Clugston-Major, Ted McKeever, Terry Moore, Walden Wong, Rick Mays,
Jason Martin, Andy Lee, Alex Maleev, Dan Brereton, John Romita Sr., Al
Milgrom, Frank Cho, Scott Morse, Craig Thompson, Michael Avon Oeming,
Jason Pearson, Sean Phillips, Mark Bagley, Rodney Ramos, P. Craig
Russell, Jacen Burrows, Leonard Kirk, Terry Pallot, Dave Gibbons,
Michael Gaydos, James Kolchaka, Davis Mack, Brett Weldele, Ashley
Wood, Mark Bagley, and Art Thibert
Original Publication Date: August 21, 2002
ISBN: 0-7851-0870-X
Cover Price: $39.99US, $64.00 Can
Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Premise

Spider-Man encounters various characters in the course of his regular
work, and only fights some of them. The collection is set in the
Ultimate Marvel Universe. Each encounter has a different artist or
team of artists.

The method of encounter varies from issue to issue, as does the level
of Spider-Man’s involvement. This doesn’t seem like the “let’s get
Spider-fans interested in these other characters” title I was
expecting. This was a nice way to lay the groundwork for a brand new
Universe of continuity such as the Ultimate Marvel Universe.

The Contents

This contains all sixteen issues of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up
as well as Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special #1, which was an
oversized issue that had a large team of artists. The breakdown is as
follows:
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #1: Spider-Man meets Wolverine and
Sabretooth

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #2-3: Spider-Man meets the Hulk
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #4-5: Spider-Man meets Iron Man
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #6-8: Spider-Man meets The Punisher and
Daredevil

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #9: Spider-Man meets the Fantastic
Four

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #10: Spider-Man meets Lizard and
Man-Thing

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #11: Peter Parker meets all of the
X-Men

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #12-13: Spider-Man meets Dr. Strange

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #14: Spider-Man meets Black Widow
Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Issue #15-16: Spider-Man meets Shang-Chi:
Master of Kung-Fu
Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special #1: Spider-Man encounters Blade,
Elektra, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four

High Point

This is a tough choice. There’s the moment in the Hulk encounter
where Spider-Man told the green guy, and I quote, “Don’t make me
angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” There’s also the highly
entertaining encounters with the Lizard, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and
the team of X-Men. In the end, I think I’ll have to go with the first
Shang-Chi rescue.

Low Point

The art of Jim Mahfood. Some of the art struck me as odd at first,
but Mahfood’s the only artwork I couldn’t start to appreciate by the
end of his contributions. Maybe that’s because he only did one issue
of Team-Up and a few pages of the Special, but it didn’t really
impress me.

The Scores

Staying original when you’re updating a thirty year old comic
series with characters that are up to fourty years old isn’t easy.
What we saw of the Hulk here was much like the Hulk of old. Even the
first encounter between Hulk and Spidey was much like the encounter in
Amazing Spider-Man Annual 3. Still, it wasn’t as repetitive as I’d
have assumed given the premise. I give it 4 out of 6.

As you can see above, there’s quite a variety in the
artwork. Some of the art styles I liked immediately
(including the manga-type stuff,) while others took some time to grow
on me (like the Ted McKeever stuff on the Dr. Strange story.) The Jim
Mahfood was the only stuff I couldn’t get used to by the end of the
book. (That may be because that was the only issue with a story that
didn’t quickly draw me in and make me forget about details in the
art.) The transitions in the art in the Team-Up series happened
between stories, so they could be adjusted to quickly, but the
transitions in the Super Special were occassionally jarring, since it
was one story with 22 different artistic teams. The artwork as a
whole is worth 4 out of 6, but understand that’s an average with a
large spread.

There wasn’t really a single story to be told here, as you could have
guessed by the format. Some of the past stories tie in, and there is
one scene with identical script to an issue in the Ultimate
Spider-Man: Double Trouble
trade paperback, although it has
completely different art. The individual stories were entertaining
enough, though. The Hulk cross-over was the only one that felt really
short. The Fantastic Four encounter was played entirely for comedy,
and the comedy there didn’t amuse me terribly. I give it 5 out of 6,
because the rest was very good.



The characterization is important in a series that’s
basically one guy meeting a wide assortment of different characters.
The only characters in the team-up that weren’t dealt with to my
satisfaction were some of the X-Men, but it’s hard to have ten
distinct characters set themselves apart in a single comic book, so
that’s not something I’m going to dwell on. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was fairly good. With
the exception of the Fantastic Four cross-over, the emotions produced
were those that were supposed to be produced. Fortunately, that
exception is only a single issue in the collection. There weren’t a
lot of lasting impressions, but there were some good moments. I give
it 4 out of 6.

The flow worked in most cases. The exceptions were the
Shang-Chi story, where the artist was saddled with the virtually
impossible task of translating the motions of a martial arts master to
the comic book page, and the Super Special, which was being constantly
interrupted by changing artists. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is an entertaining collection that’ll probably
turn out to be remarkably important for the Ultimate Marvel Universe
in the long run. People who want to follow that continuity should
consider picking up this hardcover. (The existing paperback only
contains the first five issues. I’m unaware of any plans to release
this entire collection in paperback form, although I suspect that will
require two more volumes, making the hardcover the cheaper
option.) I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up receives 30 out of 42.