Marvel Team-Up: The Golden Child
Marvel Team-Up: Master Of the Ring
by Robert Kirkman, Scott Kolins, et. al.
I bought the first volume to this series a while back, loved it, and recently got the second. There has been no reduction in the quality of this book. This series is Kirkman's love letter to the Marvel Universe, and it's a funny valentine indeed. I'm not much of a Marvel fan, but no comic book in recent memory has given me so much pure Big Dumb Fanboy Pleasure than these collections. The plot threads actually are suspenseful and interesting, but it's the little vignettes and touches of humor that make this series truly great escapist fun.
Savor the moments:
* Dr. Strange muses on dark forces moving in the universe and gravely intones, "Wong, more tea!"
* Punisher meets Blade, they have a Mexican standoff, Blade lowers his weapon and turns away... and the Punisher shoots him in the back.
* Spiderman says that riding with Moon Knight is thrilling, "like riding with Batman or something."
* The titular Golden Boy always teleports away from danger --- into more danger. (The visuals are highly amusing.)
* The Punisher saves the world by brutally shooting a guy.
* Sleepwalker being dispelled as he goes to fight evil because his host body is snoring.
And the cameos! My God, the cameos! Wendigo, Nova, Stilt Man, Black Cat... even that weird-looking bulb-headed old mailman the Fantastic Four used to have. Kirkman's writing is a roller coaster trip --- dizzingly weird scenarious, Grant Morrisonesque day-saving by heroes with a "been there, done that" panache, and disarmingly absurd bits of silliness. Perfect characterizations, as well; Kirkman knows his Marvel universe. Spiderman's beleaguered, witty banter is perfect, as is Wolverine's surly, aggressive manner and Captain America's pained nobility.
The art, especially Kolins' work, matches Kirkman's apt characterizations --- everyone looks different, the builds are heroic but not freakish, and Wolverine remains the right size throughout!
I keep these two graphic novels on my shelf proudly next to Supreme Power, Morrison's New X-Men, and Miller's Daredevil.