Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 2

Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 2

First Published: August 2006

Contents: Marvel Team-Up #25 (September 1974) to #51 (November 1976); and Marvel Two-in-One #17 (July 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Bill Mantlo, Jim Mooney, Sal Buscema, Ron Wilson, and others

Key First Appearances: Jean DeWolff, Wraith

Story Continues From: Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 3

Overview: As a New York City-based character, Spider-Man continues to be the center of attention in the Marvel Universe, and in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, as seen in this second Essential volume.

As with the first volume, Marvel Team-Up partners the various Marvel characters with their most recognizable hero in Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. While most of these stories are one-and-done, we do see some multiple-issue story arcs. Spider-Man moves from one team-up to the next, all as part of the same story. For example, see the Defenders story in issues #33-#35; a multi-part story focusing on the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in issues #41-#44; and the Iron Man arc from issues #48-#51. This last story arc introduced NYPD Captain Jean DeWolff, one of the few officers that recognize Spider-Man as a hero working with the police, and Jean’s brother-turned-villain, the Wraith.

The Human Torch makes the last of his appearances as the lead feature in Marvel Team-Up #36 in this Essential. However, the Human Torch would still cross paths three more times with Spider-Man in this title over the run of the book.

What makes this Essential?: Is this really an Essential title? Absolutely not, when looking at the significant moments of the characters’ life stories. However, this title, as well as the other team-up books from Marvel and DC, is the perfect way to introduce a new reader to a world of characters. From this volume, a reader could go explore the adventures of Iron Man, Thor, The Fantastic Four, The Defenders, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Killraven, and many others. So give this a read and see what interests you next!

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
Marvel Team-Up #25 – Spider-Man & Human Torch
Marvel Team-Up #26 – Human Torch & Thor
Marvel Team-Up #27 – Spider-Man & the Hulk
Marvel Team-Up #28 – Spider-Man & Hercules
Marvel Team-Up #29 – Human Torch & Iron Man
Marvel Team-Up #30 – Spider-Man & Falcon
Marvel Team-Up #31 – Spider-Man & Iron Fist
Marvel Team-Up #32 – Human Torch & the Son of Satan / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 1
Marvel Team-Up #33 – Spider-Man & Nighthawk / Essential Defenders Vol. 2
Marvel Team-Up #34 – Spider-Man & Valkyrie / Essential Defenders Vol. 2
Marvel Team-Up #35 – Human Torch & Doctor Strange / Essential Defenders Vol. 2
Marvel Team-Up #36 – Spider-Man & the Frankenstein Monster
Marvel Team-Up #37 – Spider-Man & Man-Wolf
Marvel Team-Up #38 – Spider-Man & the Beast
Marvel Team-Up #39 – Spider-Man & Human Torch
Marvel Team-Up #40 – Spider-Man & the Sons of the Tiger
Marvel Team-Up #41 – Spider-Man & Scarlet Witch
Marvel Team-Up #42 – Spider-Man & the Vision
Marvel Team-Up #43 – Spider-Man & Doctor Doom
Marvel Team-Up #44 – Spider-Man & Moondragon
Marvel Team-Up #45 – Spider-Man & Killraven / Essential Killraven Vol. 1
Marvel Team-Up #46 – Spider-Man & Deathlok
Marvel Two-In-One #17 – The Thing & Spider-Man / Essential Marvel Two-in-One Vol. 1
Marvel Team-Up #47 – Spider-Man & the Thing / Essential Marvel Two-in-One Vol. 1
Marvel Team-Up #48 – Spider-Man & Iron Man
Marvel Team-Up #49 – Spider-Man & Iron Man 
Marvel Team-Up #50 – Spider-Man & Doctor Strange
Marvel Team-Up #51 – Spider-Man & Iron Man

If you like this volume, try: the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up series from 2001 & 2002. The Ultimate universe was created by Marvel in the early 2000s as a way to tell stories featuring their most popular characters without the 40+ years of continuity weighing them down. The stories mirrored many of the original character stories but told to match the modern society. For example, teenage Peter Parker did get a job at the Daily Bugle, but he was helping out on the paper’s website.  For Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, the entire series (16 issues and one special) is written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art from a variety of artists. These issues serve as a way to introduce many Marvel characters into the Ultimate Universe, so the first appearances of Ultimate Hulk, Ultimate Iron Man, Ultimate Daredevil, etc. My personal favorite was issue #14, where Spider-Man crossed paths with the Ultimate version of Black Widow. The art is done by Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise) who was the perfect choice to show teenage awkwardness of Peter against the sleek beauty of Natasha. The entire series has been reprinted multiple times in multiple formats, so it should not be a challenge to track these issues down.

Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2

Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2

First Published: February 2005

Contents: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #32 (July 1979) to #53 (April 1981); Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1 (1979) and #2 (1980); Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13 (1979); and Fantastic Four #218 (May 1980)

Key Creator Credits: Bill Mantlo, Jim Mooney, Roger Stern, John Romita, Jr., Mike Zeck, Marie Severin, and others

Key First Appearances: Marcy Kane, Dr. Morris Sloan, Steve Hopkins, Roderick Kingsley (Hobgoblin), Nathan Lubensky

Story Continues From: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1

Story Continues In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 3

Overview: Welcome back to the continuing adventures of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (PPTSS). This book remains a companion book to Amazing Spider-Man, but focuses primarily on Peter Parker and his collegiate life.

This volume breaks out into two separate sections – the first is written by Bill Mantlo, continuing the stories he started in Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1. Mantlo wraps up the Carrion storyline, but not before bringing in the Lizard, the Iquana, and the Swarm. Following another appearance by Morbius, Mantlo concludes this run of PPTSS with a crossover with Fantastic Four, another title he was writing at the time.

The second section picks up with issue #43, as Roger Stern takes over writing duties on the title. Stern brings back the Vulture and the White Tiger, and introduces two new characters into Peter Parker’s life – Nathan Lubensky would become a long-time tenant at Aunt May’s boarding house, and Roderick Kingsley, a background character in PPTSS, but will don the Hobgoblin costume when Stern moves over to Amazing Spider-Man.

What makes this Essential?: I really want to give this a strong recommendation. I do. I like to think of PPTSS as the little book that could. But, the simple fact remains that this title plays second fiddle to every other book that Spider-Man appears in each month. You need to be a hard-core Spider-Man fan to want this volume. The stories are not bad, per se. Some of them are quite good. But each issue just reminds the reader that there are other stories you should be reading, which can be found in the Essential Spider-Man and Essential Marvel Team-Up books.

Footnotes: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1 and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13 were also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man 9.

If you like this volume, try: the Spider-Man newspaper comic strip, which started in January of 1977. Originally done by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., this was a syndicated comic strip that told stand-alone stories not set in the continuity of the Marvel Universe. Other comic notables, such as Larry Lieber, Paul Ryan, Alex Saviuk, Joe Sinnott, and Roy Thomas, have helped out on the strip over the years. There have been a few collections of the early years of the newspaper strip. If your local newspaper does not carry the strip, it can still be read online at several websites.

Essential Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 1

Essential Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 1

First Published: November 2005

Contents: Marvel Feature #11 (September 1973) and #12 (November 1973); Marvel Two-In-One #1 (January 1974) to #20 (October 1976); and #22 (December 1976) to #25 (March 1977); Marvel Two-In-One Annual #1 (October 1976); Marvel Team-Up #47 (July 1976); and Fantastic Four Annual #11 (July 1976)

Key Creator Credits: Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, Roy Thomas, Bill Mantlo, Jim Starlin, Gil Kane, Sal Buscema, Ron Wilson, and others

Key First Appearances: Tarin, Blacksun

Story Continues In: Essential Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 2

Overview: It’s Clobberin’ Time! Welcome to the solo adventures of Ben Grimm, one-quarter of the fabled Fantastic Four. Being the blue-eyed idol of millions is not easy, but the Thing pulls it off as he encounters all kinds of heroes across the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Two-In-One actually started in the pages of Marvel Feature. That title had been the starting point for the Defenders and had recently been home to Ant-Man & Wasp storyline. The final two issues of Marvel Feature featured Ben Grimm teaming up with the Hulk and Iron Man. The end of issue #12 promised a Thing team-up with Man-Thing in the next issue, but two months later, it was Marvel Two-in-One #1 that was on the newsstands. Marvel Two-in-One remained a bimonthly book until finally going monthly with issue #15.

The team-ups collected here are a mixed bag – some issues flow right into the next issue, adding another character into the mix. Other issues seem to come out of nowhere – perhaps a fill-in issue that had been sitting in a file cabinet somewhere in the Marvel bullpen. The Fantastic Four and Alicia Masters make numerous appearances in these issues, and could be read side by side with the Fantastic Four title during this era – keep Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 7 and Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 8 handy while reading this book.

What makes this Essential?: This is a great book to give to any reader, young or old, to introduce the Marvel Universe. Ben Grimm is the “everyman” of the Marvel U, — there are numerous logical connections that help make sense of Ben teaming up with diverse characters such as Thor, Man-Thing, Golem, and the Black Widow. While a lot of familiar Marvel writers and artists took turns on this book, the notable name to look for here is Ron Wilson. Ron’s first issue was #12, and he remained one of the main artists on the title for the remainder of the book’s run, as well as the follow-up series, The Thing

Footnotes: Marvel Two-In-One #21 is not included in this Essential volume. That issue teamed the Thing up with Doc Savage. Marvel no longer holds the rights to publish Doc Savage, so it could not be included in this Essential.

Who’s Who / Reprinted Elsewhere:
Marvel Feature #11 – The Thing & the Hulk
Marvel Feature #12 – The Thing & Iron Man / Essential Captain Marvel Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #1 – The Thing & Man-Thing
Marvel Two-In-One #2 – The Thing & Sub-Mariner
Marvel Two-In-One #3 – The Thing & Daredevil / Essential Daredevil Vol. 5
Marvel Two-In-One #4 – The Thing & Captain America
Marvel Two-In-One #5 – The Thing & the Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Two-In-One #6 – The Thing & Doctor Strange / Essential Defenders Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #7 – The Thing & Valkyrie / Essential Defenders Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #8 – The Thing & Ghost Rider
Marvel Two-In-One #9 – The Thing & Thor
Marvel Two-In-One #10 – The Thing & Black Widow
Marvel Two-In-One #11 – The Thing & the Golem / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #12 – The Thing & Iron Man
Marvel Two-In-One #13 – The Thing & Power Man
Marvel Two-In-One #14 – The Thing & the Son of Satan / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 1
Marvel Two-In-One #15 – The Thing & Morbius
Marvel Two-In-One #16 – The Thing & Ka-Zar
Marvel Two-In-One #17 – The Thing & Spider-Man / Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 2
Marvel Team-Up #47 – Spider-Man & the Thing / Essential Marvel Team-Up Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #18 – The Thing & the Scarecrow / Essential Marvel Horror Vol. 2
Marvel Two-In-One #19 – The Thing & Tigra
Marvel Two-In-One #20 – The Thing & the Liberty Legion / Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 8
Marvel Two-In-One #22 – The Thing & Thor
Marvel Two-In-One #23 – The Thing & Thor
Marvel Two-In-One #24 – The Thing & Black Goliath
Marvel Two-In-One #25 – The Thing & Iron Fist
Marvel Two-In-One Annual #1 – The Thing & the Liberty Legion / Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 8

If you like this volume, try: The Thing comic from 2006 by Dan Slott, Andrea DiVito, and Kieron Dwyer. This eight-issue series put Ben Grimm back in the spotlight of his own title. Ben finds himself flush with money, so he moves out of the Baxter Building and sets himself up in a penthouse apartment. He starts to hang out with the millionaire superhero crown (Tony Stark, Kyle Richmond), which puts him in the sights of Arcade, Sandman, and many other villains. In the end, Ben finds that the money is not the solution to all of his troubles in life. Dan Slott has a wonderful grasp of Ben Grimm, and I wish this series had performed better to last longer. This is definitely a hidden gem from Slott’s catalog of great titles. The entire series was collected into one trade paperback, The Thing: Idol of Millions.

Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 1

Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 1

First Published: March 2005

Contents: Hero For Hire #1 (June 1972) to #16 (December 1973); Power Man #17 (February 1974) to #27 (October 1975)

Key Creator Credits: Archie Goodwin, George Tuska, Steve Englehart, Billy Graham, Len Wein, Tony Isabella, Bill Mantlo, Ron Wilson, and others

Key First Appearances: Luke Cage/Power Man, Noah Burnstein, David “D.W.” Griffith, Claire Temple, Stiletto, Discus, Black Goliath

Story Continues In: Essential Luke Cage, Power Man Vol. 2

Overview: Framed for a crime he did not commit, Carl Lucas is sent to Seagate Prison in the deep south. Lucas volunteers for an experiment conducted by the prison doctor, Noah Burnstein. Doused in a mixture of chemicals, Carl Lucas finds himself with steel-hard skin and solid muscles. Lucas makes a prison break and goes on the run to clear his name. Playing around with his name, he takes on the new identity of Luke Cage and takes on the name to become Power Man, a hero for hire.

Over the course of these stories, Cage sets up shop in Times Square, above a movie theater that only shows westerns and run by would-be-filmmaker D.W. Griffith. Dr. Burnstein returns to set up shop in New York City, aided by Dr. Claire Temple, who quickly becomes the girlfriend of Cage. Cage is eventually able to get his record cleared, and becomes a true hero for the people in downtown New York City, provided their money is green.

Fighting a mix of street thugs and one-appearance villains, Cage does get to tangle with Dr. Doom early on in issues #8 and #9, when he is hired to track down some robots. When Doom bails on the payment, Cage travels to Latveria to collect his $200. Sweet Christmas! Another notable event occurred in issue #24, when Dr. Henry Pym’s lab assistant, Dr. Bill Foster, takes a dose of Pym particles and becomes Black Goliath. He would later drop Black from his name, going by just Goliath, and he would appear in and out of costume up until the events of Marvel’s Civil War.

What makes this Essential?: Again, this is a border-line essential book. With an African-American leading his own title, this is an important change for the lily-white look of Marvel Comics to date. The problem I have is that this reads like a comic-book adaption of Shaft and the other blaxploitation features of the early-1970s. Cage is a better character, and I think we should be thankful that the character has grown well past his early origins. As an early study on the character, you could consider giving this a read. However, you might be better skipping ahead to Essential Power Man & Iron Fist Vol. 1, when his partnership with Danny Rand helps offset the over-exaggerated rage of Luke Cage.

Footnotes: Luke Cage is one of the first African American characters to have his own title. The first is attributed to Dell Comics, which published a two-issue western called Lobo in the mid-1960s.

If you like this volume, try: the Milestone Comics properties from the mid-1990s. Released by DC Comics, Milestone was created by African-American artists and writers that felt they were under-represented within the comics industry. Creating an entirely new universe of characters based around the fictional city of Dakota, titles in the line included Hardware, Static, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and later Shadow Cabinet and Xombi. Several of the characters have moved into the DC Universe proper and have been included in comics as well as the Young Justice cartoon series. There are various collections on some of the titles, but you may need to dive into the back issue bins to track down all issues of the various series.

Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1

Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 1

First Published: February 2005

Contents: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (December 1976) to #31 (June 1979)

Key Creator Credits: Gerry Conway, Sal Buscema, Archie Goodwin, Bill Mantlo, Jim Mooney, Frank Springer, Frank Miller, and others

Key First Appearances: Lightmaster, Razorback, Hypno-Hustler, Carrion

Story Continues In: Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2

Overview: Following the long-established comic trend of duplicating success, Marvel introduced another Spider-Man title to the newsstands in 1976. Currently featured each month in Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel TalesMarvel Team-Up, and Spidey Super Stories, a new title was added to the list with Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (PPTSS).

In a column in issue #1, writer Gerry Conway explained that this new title was added to help give more room to feature the supporting cast of characters in Spider-Man’s life. We got longer stories involving Glory Grant, Mary Jane Watson, the White Tiger, and others. This title gave us more access to Peter Parker’s life beyond the red-and-blue costume.

Familiar foes like the Tarantula, the Vulture, Morbius, and Kraven make appearances in this run. But the new foes introduced are a mix of intriguing challenges (such as Lightmaster and Carrion) to downright pop-culture bad guys anchored in the 1970s (such as Razorback and Hypno-Hustler). In addition, a long story arc involving White Tiger and the Sons of the Tiger tie in with the popularity of martial arts at that time.

What makes this Essential?: This is a borderline essential book. Spider-Man was the most popular character at Marvel in the mid-1970s, and would be soon making the jump to television with the live action series, so introducing another title featuring Peter Parker made sense. However, within the first year, there were two fill-in issues, so I wonder how much effort was ongoing to make sure the book shipped on time. Compared to the stories in Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up at this same time, I feel like these stories are a step below in quality. For the Spider-Man fan, this should be a must read. For the casual Marvel fan, you could skip over this and just concentrate on the Essential Spider-Man line of books.

Footnotes: Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #22 and #23 were also reprinted in Essential Moon Knight Vol. 1.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #6 is a reprint issue from Marvel Team-Up #3. A new introduction and final pages were included, and a few panels were re-worded. This did lead into the Morbius storyline beginning in issue #7.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #11 appears to be a filler issue that was originally intended for Marvel Team-Up. The issue is written by Chris Claremont, the then current scribe on Marvel Team-Up, and this would be the only issue of PPTSS that Claremont would write. No reference is made in the story to the previous or following issues.

If you like this volume, try: the Complete Frank Miller Spider-Man released in 2002. This collects various issues that Frank Miller drew involving Spider-Man, including Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #27 and #28, which are found in this Essential. There is also a cover gallery of the numerous covers that Miller did involving Spider-Man over the years. This is a great volume to read some classic stories done by one of the modern masters of the comic industry.

Essential Super-Villain Team-Up Vol. 1

Essential Super-Villain Team-Up Vol. 1

First Published: September 2004

Contents: Dr. Doom stories from Astonishing Tales #1 (August 1970) to #8 (October 1971); Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1 (March 1975) and #2 (June 1975); Super-Villain Team-Up #1 (August 1975) to #14 (October 1977), #16 (May 1979), and #17 (June 1980); Avengers #154 (December 1976) to #156 (February 1977); and Champions #16 (November 1977)

Key Creator Credits: Roy Thomas, Larry Lieber, Gerry Conway, Bill Mantlo, Steve Englehart, Wally Wood, George Tuska, Herb Trimpe, Bob Hall, and others

Key First Appearances: Prince Rudolfo, Andro, Cynthia Von Doom, the Shroud, Tyrak

Story Continues In: Essential Avengers Vol. 7

Overview: Bring on the Bad Guys! With so many comics told from the perspective of the hero, sometimes you want to view the world from the other side of the confrontation.

For most of this book, the focus is on Dr. Doom, ruler of Latvia. The stories from Astonishing Tales deal with Dr. Doom trying to stop a rebellion, which turns out be organized by Red Skull. Doom’s attention is soon turned towards the Black Panther, as a skirmish develops between Latveria and Wakanda – not the first time that’s happened, and certainly not the last time either.

When the actual issues of Super-Villain Team-Up starts, it’s between Dr. Doom and Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Depending upon the needs of the story, Namor has been both hero and villain over his many years in comics, and we see that in this volume. It starts out with Namor and Doom in conflict, which is then turned into an uneasy alliance of sorts. While battles rage between Namor and the Atlantean warlord Attuma, which crosses over with the Avengers title, Dr. Doom must continue to stave off rebellion. But the mysterious Shroud shows up — but is he hero or villain?

Towards the end of the run, the publishing schedule got quite erratic. The title came to an end, but the final storyline was wrapped up over in the pages of the Champions, with the team loaded with former X-Men facing off against Magneto. The Red Skull makes another appearance in the final two issues published a year apart.

What makes this Essential?: This really is not an essential book. There, I said it. Hate me or love me for it. What we have here is a loose conglomeration of stories that are grouped together under the banner Super-Villain Team-Up (SVTU). Given the number of various talents that worked on this throughout the 1970s, this was never intended to be one giant story. Instead, we get Writer 2 picking up on the story threads left by Writer 1 two years ago in a story, and continuing them for three issues until Writer 3 came in and changed the threads completely.

Personally, I would have rather seen (and still hope to see someday) an Essential Doctor Doom volume. Collect his various appearances all over the Marvel Universe in one edition. That would be much more interesting to see collected then this SVTU collection.

Footnotes: Super-Villain Team-Up #9 and Avengers #154-#156 are also reprinted in Essential Avengers Vol. 7.

Super-Villain Team-Up #15 was a reprint issue, with stories from Astonishing Tales #4 and #5 (included in this volume). The cover is included in this Essential.

If you like this volume, try: the Secret Society of Super-Villains (SSSV) from DC. This came out during the mid-1970s, around the same time that SVTU was on the stands. DC’s story had a team of villains assembled (Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, Mirror Master, Sinestro, Star Sapphire, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Darkseid, and many more) working together to take on jobs that they couldn’t do as solo criminals. Much like SVTU at Marvel, the SSSV storyline continued in other DC books long after the comic was cancelled. DC has recently collected the entire SSSV storyline into two hardcover collections.

Essential Punisher Vol. 1

First Published: March 2004

Contents: Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974), #134 (July 1974), #135 (August 1974), #161 (October 1976), #162 (November 1976), #174 (November 1977), #175 (December 1977), #201 (February 1980), and #202 (March 1980); Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 (1981); Giant-Size Spider-Man #4 (April 1975); Marvel Preview #2 (July 1975); Marvel Super Action #1 (January 1976); Captain America #241 (January 1980); Daredevil #182 (May 1982) to #184 (July 1982); Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #81 (August 1983) to #83 (October 1983); and Punisher #1 (January 1986) to #5 (May 1986)

Key Creator Credits: Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Frank Miller, Steven Grant, Ross Andru, Mike Zeck, Bill Mantlo

Key First Appearances: Frank Castle/Punisher, Jackal, Moses Magnum, Tarantula, Jigsaw, the Trust, Bruno Costa, Huntress

Story Continues In: Essential Punisher Vol. 2

Overview: After watching his family slain by mobsters, war veteran Frank Castle starts a one-man war against crime by any means necessary, including murder, kidnapping, extortion, coercion, threats of violence, and torture.

One of the Punisher’s early targets was Spider-Man, based on the fair and balanced reporting from the Daily Bugle. The Punisher tangles multiple times with Spidey before working out an uneasy alliance – they both realize they are working towards the same goals, but their individual methods go against each other’s principles. The Punisher’s vendetta also crosses paths along with way with Captain America and Daredevil.

The Punisher, being of questionable mind and judgment, reasons that the majority of the criminals he needs to target are already in prison. He surrenders himself to authorities and ends up being sentenced to prison, much to his delight and the sheer panic of the other prisoners.

What makes this Essential?: I will admit, I have a strong dislike of this character. Comics have always been an escape for me, into worlds with Kryptonian aliens or a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider. At the end of the day, I know characters like Superman and Spider-Man are not real. However, the Punisher can be real. We see too many instances in reality where someone becomes their own version of the Punisher, wanting to deliver judgment on those that did them wrong. By my thinking, heroes should bring the villains to justice, but not administer justice.

So, trying my best to be objective and only think of Frank Castle as a truly fictional character, the Punisher does play a prominent role in the Marvel Universe. He is arguably the second most important or influential character created by Marvel in the 1970s, behind Wolverine. He’s been the subject of numerous comic series and multiple movies. A lot of the comics in this collection are hard to come by, so this is a great way to read about the first decade of the character. If you are a fan of the Punisher, you should own this Essential if you do not own the issues.

Footnotes: Early editions of this Essential misspelled Frank Miller’s name on the cover as “Millar”.

Amazing Spider-Man #129, #134, and #135 were also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 6.

Giant-Size Spider-Man #4 was also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 7.

Amazing Spider-Man #161, #162, #174, and #175 were also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8.

Amazing Spider-Man #201 and #202 were also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 9.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #15 was also reprinted in Essential Spider-Man Vol. 10.

Captain America #241 was also reprinted in Essential Captain America Vol. 7.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #81, #82, and #83 were also reprinted in Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 4.

If you like this volume, try: the one Punisher comic I wholeheartedly endorse is The Punisher Meets Archie from 1994. In a joint venture between Marvel Comics and Archie Comics, the comic was released by both companies. Each company had a separate cover, but the inside contents were identical. John Buscema drew the Marvel characters, and Stan Goldberg drew the Archie characters. The Punisher is contracted by the government to bring in a drug lord by the name of Red, who is hiding in the small community of Riverdale. Castle infiltrates the school as a P.E. teacher and targets Archie Andrews who bears an uncanny resemblance to Red. The Punisher eventually finds his target, and takes him alive, much to his chagrin. Sadly, this book has never been reprinted, so you will need to dive into some back issue bins to track down this title.