Marvel: 5 Ways Team Comics Are Best (& 5 Solo Stories Are)

AbraxasOctober 8, 2021


Marvel revolutionized the superhero comic in the Silver Age and hasn’t looked back since. Their respected roster of heroes has presented the superhero in ways that readers found novel and has proven fertile ground for movies, TV, and beyond. One of the most popular aspects of Marvel has always been their powerful superhero teams, assemblages of heroes that have often changed the way people looked at superheroes.

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Team books and solo books both have their place at Marvel, as the publisher has proven adroit at both. Each is a different approach to superheroes, and they both have their place at the publisher. Both have their advantages.


10 TEAM: Teams Are Where Legends Are Built

Captain America Frozen Avengers

Captain America is one of the most inspiring heroes in the Marvel Universe. Now, there’s a chance the character still would have been if he had only been in a solo book all these years. It’s possible, but the probability of it is actually rather low. Cap no doubt benefited from being an Avenger. Seeing him with the most powerful heroes fighting the biggest threats and helping them win made him a legend for modern readers in a way just fighting the Red Skull and Hydra forever wouldn’t have.

Team books are where Marvel’s greatest heroes team up, and it works to build them up. There are plenty of popular heroes who wouldn’t be popular without their team book tenures.

9 SOLO: They’re Where Legends Are Expanded On

Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, and what he does is star in comics. Much like Cap, Wolverine became a legend because of his role in the X-Men books, but it was his solo starring comics that really rounded out the character. Development can be hard in an ensemble setting, and some characters benefit more from getting the spotlight to themselves.

Legends are built in team books, but without a solo book to really get into the nuts and bolts of a character, they’re shallow legends. Team books create the myth, while solo books flesh it out.

8 TEAM: Spectacle Is The Name Of The Game

One of the great things about Marvel’s team books is their spectacle. The Avengers are an assemblage of some of the most powerful heroes, and they battle the most dangerous villains. The Fantastic Four’s adventures take them through big budget sci-fi movie plots on a monthly basis. The X-Men deal with racism while fighting for the people who hate them and protecting themselves.

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Marvel’s team books do an amazing job of giving readers the spectacle they crave. They deliver on widescreen action, writ large, in a way that solo books just can’t a lot of the time.

7 SOLO: Certain Types Of Characters Only Flourish In Solo Books

Non-Stop Spider-Man feature

Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s biggest characters, and for most of his superheroic career, he’s been completely on his own. Sure, he had team-ups and hung out with teams, but he wasn’t a member of any. His years of development all took place in his own books, and by the time he did join the Avengers, he was already a star.

Some characters just work better on their own. Spider-Man is great in a team setting, but without his years solo, the character wouldn’t be as good. It would be the same with someone like Daredevil. They lend themselves well to ensembles now, but that wouldn’t be the case if they started out on team books.

6 TEAM: Some Characters Aren’t Good Solo

Scarlet Witch Darkhold Magic

There are plenty of beloved characters in team books who just don’t work in solo books. Characters like Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and more are all beloved Avengers, but they don’t work well on their own for one reason or another. It’s the same with so many other Marvel heroes who can stand out in a group setting.

So many characters gain a measure of stardom in team books, but when given a chance in a solo book, their hype fizzles out. Conversely, there were some characters who started out in solo books that were canceled but got put onto teams and found success, like the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider.

5 SOLO: Sometimes, The Best Place To Introduce A New Character Is In Solo Books

A lot of times, publishers like to use team books to introduce new characters. This seems like a good way of doing things, but it doesn’t always work. For example, Ms. Marvel is one of Marvel’s best new characters, and she’s a powerful heroine who’s made a name for herself all on her own.

While she’s joined teams, the character set the stage for herself in a solo book before she ever set foot in Avengers Mansion or started hanging out with the Champions. She’s gone through a load of development on her own and established her own brand on her own before moving over to team books, gaining legions of fans. She may have still been marginally popular if she debuted on a team, but she’d never be the star she is right now.

4 TEAM: They’re Where The Marvel Universe Started

fantastic-four-1-jack-kirby-cover

Back at the beginning of the Silver Age, there was just DC, and their biggest book was Justice League of America. The powers that be at Marvel saw that and decided to get back into the superhero game. Their first book was Fantastic Four #1, itself highly reminiscent of one of Jack Kirby’s DC teams, the Challengers of the Unknown.

RELATED: Marvel: 10 So-Called Heroes Who Are Only Good For Their Own Selfish Reasons

Team books were what boosted Marvel comics in popularity. Books like Fantastic Four, The Avengers, and, probably most importantly, Uncanny X-Men made Marvel into the sales titan known today.

3 SOLO: They’re What Made Marvel Work

While team books made Marvel a contender, the solo books gave Marvel its own flair. Sure, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby co-created all of Marvel’s initial books, but it was in the solo books, like The Amazing Spider-Man, where Marvel really set itself apart from DC. Spider-Man was a character like the readers, and this approach showed how different Marvel was.

Marvel got its name from being a more grounded superhero universe, with heroes who had feet of clay and were just like normal people. Its solo titles connected with readers in a way the team ensembles couldn’t.

2 TEAM: The X-Men Changed Comics Forever

House of X teaser feature

The X-Men are the most important concept in Marvel and perhaps in comics in general. The team’s entire purpose isn’t to fight bad guys or explore space and time but to stand up against racism and injustice. One of the reasons the X-Men has worked so well over the years is because of the multiple characters, all from different walks of life, banding together to create a community that exists to fight for civil rights.

Something like the X-Men just wouldn’t really work as a solo book. It’s too big of a subject for any single character, and it needs the multitude of voices and perspectives that a team can give it to do it justice.

1 SOLO: A Greater Variety Of Stories Can Be Told

Thor and Loki Blood Brothers Thor Loki Comic Marvel

One of the things about solo books that make them work so well is that there are so many different stories that can be told with them. Team books are great, but in the end, most of the stories all eventually boil down to the team fighting a villain they can’t defeat alone. Solo books also revolve around action because that’s the nature of the medium, but they allow for a greater variety of stories.

It’s easier to tell stories in a solo book because one doesn’t have to worry about they how they will affect the other characters in their books or anything like that. It’s all self-contained, giving readers stories they can’t experience in a team book.

NEXT: 10 Comic Creators Who Have Done Equally Iconic Work For Both DC & Marvel


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Marvel: The Strangest Alternate Dimensions


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