Review: Marvel Team-Up #54

Marvel Team-Up #54 cover
Cover by Gil Kane

Marvel Team-Up #54
Published and © by Marvel, February 1977

Title: “Spider in the Middle!”
Synopsis: Things go from bad to worse as Spider-Man finds himself imprisoned, with Hulk and Woodgod, within the mysterious Tranquility Base.

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Mike Esposito

Review: John Byrne’s art takes a significant leap forward from his Marvel Team-Up debut (see review), with Mike Esposito’s inks proving to be a significantly better fit. Sadly, Bill Mantlo’s script isn’t as strong. Both guest stars are one-note, “Hulk-smash!” types, while Woodgod’s constant referencing of “the scream” never quite makes sense. Also not making sense: Why does this issue’s big bad, Major Del Tremens, look like Mr. Spock hanging out on the bridge of the Enterprise? If Mantlo knows, he doesn’t explain here. Still, this isn’t a bad outing overall, and the conclusion promises more fun ahead.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “To think MTU used to be a third rate title!” – Martin Lock, Comics Unlimited #43, March 1977

Cool factor: At this point in his career, John Byrne just kept getting better every issue.
Not-so-cool factor: Bill Mantlo doesn’t yet have a grasp for Spider-Man’s banter.

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:Man gives us the SCREAM!!” – Woodgod, a bit obsessed with “the scream”

Editor’s note: This review was written March 2, 2022.

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