Review: Marvel Team-Up #53

Marvel Team-Up #53 cover
Cover by Dave Cockrum

Marvel Team-Up #53
Published and © by Marvel, January 1977

Title: “Nightmare in New Mexico!”
Synopsis: Hulk stumbles across a deserted New Mexico town and soon comes to blows with Woodgod. Plus, Spider-Man and the X-Men!

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Frank Giacoia

Review: John Byrne’s first opportunity to draw the all-new, all-different X-Men turns out to be a middling affair. Writer Bill Mantlo seems most interested in developing his Woodgod creation, with the X-Men shoehorned in as little more than glorified cabbies delivering Spider-Man to the fray. Meanwhile, Byrne’s art shows potential but is still pretty rough. The X-Men are barely recognizable as the characters who would put him on the comic-book map. There are some solid images, particularly of the Hulk, but Frank Giacoia’s inks largely overwhelm Byrne’s pencils. Ultimately, this one is a fairly typical issue of MTU from this era.

Grade: B

Cool factor: John Byrne draws the X-Men!
Not-so-cool factor: Frank Giacoia inks the X-Men!

Notable: First John Byrne X-Men art. … The “Mail It to TeamUp” letters page includes an LoC from cartoonist Fred Hembeck.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a Whitman variant and a 10p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant.

Character quotable: “ Hulk likes town – even with funny smell!” – Hulk, real-estate appraiser

Editor’s note: This review was written Dec. 30, 2021.

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