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Comic Books That Time Forgot: Marvel Team-Up #137 (1984)

Author:

I'm Keith, an aging hard rock and metal fanboy, movie buff, and all around retro pop culture nerd from the Garden State.

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Marvel Team Up #137 (January 1984)

Writer: Michael Carlin

Artist: Greg LaRoque

After fifteen years of avid comic collecting, I sold off the bulk of my comics in the early 1990s. At one time I owned somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 books, but after The Great Purge that had been boiled down to one long box (approx. 400 books) of "keepers." The comics in the "keepers" box may not be particularly valuable, but they're personal favorites that I have always enjoyed reading and re-reading.

Today I wish to present what may be one of the WEIRDEST team-up/crossover books ever produced (Yes, even weirder than Archie Meets the Punisher): Marvel Team Up #137, cover dated January 1984.

The cover of this issue trumpets that it's "Not a Dream! Not a Hoax! Not an Imaginary Story!" Marvel Team-Up was a long running series that usually paired up Spider-Man with a different character every month, but #137 was a special issue of MTU.

For one month in late 1983, all of Marvel's editors were in California appearing at the San Diego Comic-Con. Therefore, the task of editing all of the books that went out that month fell to their assistants. Marvel made a big to-do about how special "ASSISTANT EDITOR'S MONTH" was going to be, and advised their readers that they would probably see some weird stuff that month, since the inmates would be running the asylum. This issue of MTU definitely lived up to that promise in spades!!

Those of you who read comics in the '70s and '80s probably remember those classic, kitschy one-page advertisements for Hostess snack cakes, which featured various Marvel or DC heroes defeating villains with the help of Hostess Twinkies or Cupcakes. In this issue, Michael Carlin (writer) and Greg Laroque (artist) took that idea and turned it into a book-length cosmic adventure, with hilarious results.

Aunt May receives the Power Cosmic... and Marvel continuity freaks break out in cold sweats of rage.

Aunt May receives the Power Cosmic... and Marvel continuity freaks break out in cold sweats of rage.

The Story:

Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) and his Aunt May are attending the circus, and and find themselves seated in the same row as the Fantastic Four, who are on a "family outing" with Reed (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue (Invisible Woman)'s son Franklin. Word gets to the FF that the planet eating demi-God Galactus has been sighted in Earth orbit, so they need to rush back to the Baxter Building and suit up.

Naturally young bratty Franklin doesn't want to leave the circus. Overhearing the commotion, Peter comes up with a solution: leave Franklin in the capable hands of Aunt May (who's an experienced babysitter, don'cha know) till the FF can get back. Everyone's happy, the FF and Spidey head off to the Baxter building, and BLAMMO! Galactus suddenly crashes thru the roof of the arena. Seems he was homing in on the "Cosmic Energy" given off by Franklin, thinking he would make a suitable new Herald of Galactus.

Aunt May throws herself in front of the shot from Galactus' eye beams meant for Franklin, which bestow upon her the Power Cosmic. Galactus thus names Aunt May, now called "GOLDEN OLDIE," as his new herald and puts her in charge of finding new planets suitable for his consumption. Aunt May/Golden Oldie discovers that "Mostess Twinkles" (Franklin's favorite snack) actually have an effect on Galactus' hunger pangs so she at first collects all of the Twinkles in New York, then the world, and offers them to Galactus. Once they've been devoured, they're off to space to find another world for Galactus to suck dry.

Being a kind, grandmotherly sort, Aunt May naturally doesn't want to bring Galactus to any inhabited planets (Careful, May - having a conscience is what got the Silver Surfer in trouble!). While traveling thru space she finds a planet that is, amazingly, shaped like a gigantic "Mostess Twinkle!" The baker who created the planet (an alien who looks like the love child of Pillsbury mascot "Poppin' Fresh" and the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man) tells May that he has been baking these planet-sized treats for hundreds of years, in the hopes that Galactus might finally discover him.

So hey, this works out fine for everyone. Sta-Puft Guy can bake as many yummy planets as Galactus needs, therefore Aunt May no longer needs to hunt new worlds for Galactus to devour. Thus, Galactus releases May from her duties as Herald and she returns to Earth just in time to get Franklin back home and to bed.

Whew!

(Whew!) Believe it or not, all this amazing intergalactic intrigue cost only sixty cents!! Lord, they don't make'em like this anymore. This exercise in absurdity, Marvel style, never fails to make me laugh even after all these years. Apparently it's not a particularly collectible issue, as its current back-issue price will set you back about three bucks.

Marvel Team-Up was never a really dark-and-serious series anyway -- the writers simply seemed interested in simply creating fun stories for fans. For the most part the Team-Up stories were self-contained tales that didn't have any effect on the events in the rest of the Spidey books. There are several odd-ball issues like this scattered throughout the original series' run (which lasted into the mid-'80s), but issue #137 is a long time favorite that's well worth seeking out as long as you don't take your Marvel Universe continuity terribly seriously.

© 2011 Keith Abt

Comments

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on February 20, 2015:

Bummer. I hate hearing about comic books being thrown away! :(

peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 20, 2015:

my brother used to have a wide collection of marvel team magazines and sold them off one day, those unsold ones where thrown into garbage cans

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on April 23, 2011:

Glad you liked it, Mr. Happy. Watch this space because you never know what kind of weird stuff I'm going to pull from the "Keeper Box" next!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on April 22, 2011:

Thanks for sharing this! That's awesome! So cheesy but so great.

I love comic books and wish was a teenager in the late sixties ... not really but it would have been fun.

Cheers!

P.S. Check-out "Scalped", if you get a chance ... something different; by Jason Aaron.