Review by Frank Plowright
By 1974 the idea of teaming Spider-Man with other heroes had proved such a moneyspinner that Marvel introduced a giant-sized quarterly title to provide more of it, so this collection features the first three of those alongside regular issues of Marvel Team-Up from 1974.
Pretty well the only highlight of a consistently poor Volume 2 was Gil Kane’s art, but while he continues to provide the issue covers, he only draws one story. The art is graceful, but it’s an ordinary teaming of Iceman and the Human Torch. Len Wein again resorts to the cliché of the heroes fighting each other before settling the villain, which also happens when Spider-Man teams with Daredevil, Shang-Chi, and Hulk, and is only just avoided when the Human Torch meets Iron Man. The impression given is that it’s a useful way for Wein to fill a few pages without having to bother with a plot. However, the volume’s lowpoint is down to Gerry Conway who has Manhattan island separated from its bedrock foundations and towed out to sea to be held for ransom. Not to worry, because Hercules tows it back into place.
Credit where it’s due, though, as Conway also writes the volume’s highpoint. 1930s Pulp hero Doc Savage recedes further into history with every passing year, but his revival stirred ripples of interest in 1974, and Conway conceives a neat teaming with Spider-Man during which each hero remains in their own era. Ross Andru really shines on the 1930s sequences, but Jim Mooney is professional without ever delivering a memorable page of art, and he draws the bulk of the volume.
Add Dracula and Thor to the names already mentioned, and this is a selection more reliant on Marvel’s long term heavy-hitters, with Brother Voodoo and the Falcon the only two guest stars other than Iceman not to host their own titles. The Doc Savage story is an unexpected treat, but too much of the remainder is poor or ordinary. Maybe things will pick up with Volume 4.
If you’d prefer cheaper versions of the same stories, most are split over Essential Marvel Team-Up Vols 1 and 2, but in black and white.