I heard it said that a great super hero is how well you can mix him with other characters. In Spidey’s long history, he’s teamed up with a lot of different people, both within the Marvel universe and outside it. As such, I feel that I should talk about his best team-ups. Keep in mind, these are what I enjoyed the most for character interaction and significance, not a countdown, nor a complete list. If I listed all the team-ups Spidey did, I’d be writing all night.
Eddie Brock hates Peter Parker. In fact, Eddie’s happiest time that I’ve ever read was when he thought he killed him. But when Carnage reared his ugly head, the two took action to end the madness. It’s funny, mostly because Venom’s a dark reflection of Peter if he didn’t have the mantra about great responsibility to guide his actions. And I’m sorry, but bonus points for Spidey staring in dumbfounded shock as he swings alongside Venom on the trail while the anti-hero is singing “Strangers in the Night.” The last time they really teamed up and it clicked was during Maximum Carnage, where Venom was the one advocating that murdering a monster like Carnage was not an evil act, and Spidey was close to agreeing with him.
Spidey’s had a lot of major girlfriends, but only one was a full-on partner in crime-fighting. Felicia Hardy started off a foe, but as she fell in love with Peter, she reformed to be the closest thing he had to a partner. Of course, Black Cat’s shadier nature often puts her at odds, but then there’s all that wonderful sexual tension as well. If there’s a ever a girl that got Peter’s bad girl fantasy going, it’s her.
-Ben Reilly aka the Scarlet Spider
It’s so sad that the Clone Saga caused such a backlash against this character. Ben Reilly was the infamous clone, a part of super villain the Jackal’s twisted scheme to make Spider-Man suffer for the death of Gwen Stacy. Initially, Peter thought his clone died, when in fact he left town. Traveling the country under the name Ben Reilly (taken from Uncle Ben and Aunt May Reilly Parker’s names), he only came back when Aunt May was sick and near-death. At first, Peter thought Ben was there to try and steal his life, but changed his mind after the clone risked himself to save Peter when letting him die would have given him what he wanted most. Ben eventually became a fellow hero, the Scarlet Spider, and became another partner of Spidey. While Peter was more experienced and serious, Ben had a lighter attitude due to not having to go through some of his friend’s more traumatic experiences. It was also fun having essentially two Spider-men for the price of one, making bad jokes and bouncing off the walls in combat. Even after Ben became the main Spidey, the two were still a great team. I lament that Ben was killed off, because even though he was a clone, he was one of the best partners Peter ever had.
-The Fantastic Four
The first time Spidey met Marvel’s First Family, it was an attempt to join the group so he could make money. You think a relationship would go sour after such a start, but Spidey’s become something of a member of the extended family of the FF. While he’s closest to the Human Torch, Peter looks at all four as the siblings he never had. And even though he’s proven that he can take them in a fight (one time, they were mind-controlled and actually trying to kill him), he’s still one of the people they trust with helping them out. In fact, when the Torch seemed to die, it’s revealed that he left his spot on the team to Spidey in his will. And even after the Torch came back, Peter still is counted as a member of the FF’s new group, the Future Foundation. After all, he’s still family.
Matt Murdock and Peter Parker had teamed up plenty of times, but it was when they were both tracking the serial killer called the Sin Eater that they truly became friends. During that case, Daredevil was on the side of letting the law deal with it, while Spidey wanted payback for the loss of a friend. In the end, Matt pulled Peter back from the brink. It’s not just when they fight crime that the click, but when they turn to each other for support that the team-up really works. When Peter was driven to despair and trying to ditch his real identity because of all the pain it caused him, he turned to Daredevil, who had at the time done something similar. The most powerful moment though was when, after Daredevil had his life put through the ringer by Mysterio while the hero was trying to save a baby’s life, losing even his love Karen Page to death, Matt asked Peter what was the point, and why he should even bother trying anymore. Peter’s simple response? “You saved that baby Matt.” And that was all that was needed to be said.
It’s the team that should not work. Peter Parker’s a nice guy who simply tries to do the right thing, and refuses to take a life. Logan is one of the most grizzled veterans of combat in Marvel, and often sees the importance in putting down monsters. But that’s probably why it works. They’re essentially Marvel’s version of a buddy cop movie. And the two of them have nearly limitless willpower to push on through regardless of how tough the fight is. More often than not, they balance each other out enough during an adventure to see the job done.
I can hear you all saying “WHAT?” even as I type this. This is my first outside normal Marvel team-up on the list, but it started as a normal Marvel team-up. See, Marvel used to have the comic rights for Robert E. Howard’s works, like Conan. Red Sonja was based off of a Howard creation that then got reworked into the Conan comics as an ally. During an issue of Marvel Team-up, her sorcerer nemesis Kulan Gath possessed a modern man, forcing Spider-Man to face him. Mary Jane followed him, and encountered Red Sonja’s sword, which called out to her. Taking the blade in hand, MJ became the conduit for Red Sonja to return and fight along the webslinger. It was so insane that it was awesome, so much so that decades later, when Sonja became the comic property of Dynamite, they had a crossover mini-series, dealing with Kulan Gath returning and turning New York into a more Conan-esque savage world. Spidey had to re-team with Red Sonja, and it did not help that she was in the body of Peter’s wife as they faced demonic versions of his foes, chief among them being Venom. And besides the fun of seeing MJ in a chain-mail bikini, one can’t help but enjoy the always serious and brooding Sonja alongside our favorite wisecracking hero.
I’ve already mentioned Batman and Spidey’s team-ups during my similar article during Batman-month in October. Just to reiterate, the two are similar enough, particularly in their origins and the kind of villains they fight, to get along. But they’re also so different, especially since Batman is a brooding, rich, highly trained human and Spidey’s a funny, poor, superhuman. The fact remains that the two are the best cross-company team, and there’s even a rumor that current Spidey writer Dan Slott and Batman writer Scott Snyder may have the two team up again. Please, let that actually happen.
First off, the storyline they first met in, Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, is the first such crossover ever conceived, and a blueprint for all comic crossovers since. It’s mandatory if you’re a comic fan to read this one once. That said, it makes sense that these two would be the ones to make that team-up. Besides both being the most popular characters for their own companies (this was back before Batman stole Superman’s title), Peter Parker always struck me as a deconstruction and reconstruction of Clark Kent. While Clark has the cool job, the awesome powers, and the respect of essentially everyone he meets, Peter has the worst job in newspapers, his superheroics screw up his personal life, and a lot of people distrust or outright hate him. The reconstruction part is that it doesn’t stop him from being just as decent and good a man as his alien counterpart. They may have only teamed up twice during the Silver Age, but their chemistry as a team was so good that the stories seemed to write themselves. If there was a crossover I’d love to see again as much as Spidey/Batman, it’s this one.
The irony of solo characters is that they often have cooler team-ups than the characters who are only ever part of a team. Here’s hoping that as comics continue, we see more awesome teams appear.