This graphic novel, a continuation of the Marvel Team-Up run by Robert Kirkman, is actually two totally separate stories: The Master of the Ring and Titanus War. The Titanus War is the story that’s been alluded to since the start of this series, so it’s odd that it didn’t receive top-billing, but whatever.
During the first story-arc, The Golden Child, I focused a lot on how Kirkman got around updating the “different hero every month” motif with the “six month long story” trend, and this time is no different.
The first story focuses on the third-tier villain The Ringmaster, as his retrieval of an all-powerful ring that was once held by the Mandarin. This gives him epic power levels, which he in turn employs against Spider-Man and Moon Knight, culminating in a large green explosion cliffhanger.
I really hope you enjoy that green explosion, because we’ll be seeing it often.
See, the explosion is how Kirkman ties the different threads of this story together this time, and how he gets around the restrictions of writing Marvel Team-Up in the new millennium. Every story functions as a short-but-serviceable one-shot that ends with one or both heroes seeing the explosion and leaving to investigate. After this is repeated several times all the heroes converge upon the Ringmaster, and his ring is shot off by the Punisher. Actually, the entire finger is shot off. The conclusion of the story is actually fairly quick, meaning much buildup to little fizzle, though this does serve to add an ironic twist to a fairly standard narrative. This is, after all, the Ringmaster. There’s only so much one can do.
We then move on to The Titanus War, which is a bit of a misnomer as well, as Titanus is a bit of a much-ado-about-nothing villain. The team-up here is facilitated by Doctor Strange, going back to his “Secret Defenders” roots and assembling the heroes to fight Titanus, who ends up committing suicide when his delusions about his would-be bride come to light. The highlight of the entire collection has to be the chapter focusing on Titanus’s past, in which his narrative more and more refuses to match the images given. This is graphic storytelling used very well. Full marks, just for that.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“This is graphic storytelling used very well. Full marks, just for that.”