Thursday, May 2, 2013

All Team-Ups, All the Time!

Doug:  Yeah, we like team-ups around here.  Whether it's our look at the Bob Haney/Jim Aparo issues of The Brave and the Bold or the Marvel Two-In-One 2-parter we're going to review this month, getting our favorite heroes together is always fun.  Sure, the plots are sometimes forced or even border on stupid and the art teams may not always be of the premiere variety...  But there's something about two (or even three or four) characters or teams hooking up for an adventure that can be awesome fun.  Many among you have great memories of the annual Justice League of America/Justice Society of America get-togethers.  Today we want to bring forward all of those memories -- favorite stories, character interactions that were just great, and maybe even some clunkers along the way.

Doug:  I think we talked about this before, but my memory is not as good as most of yours -- who would you like to have seen as a lead in a team-up book besides Spider-Man, the Thing, Superman, or Batman?  I know at one point we had a poll on this subject.

Doug:  To expand the lens, why don't you also discuss characters who you loved together -- not necessarily from a specific memory, but that just seemed to have some chemistry - these could even be members of a super-team, like the Beast and Wonder Man.  And, to broaden this even a bit more, what are some team-ups that, to the best of your knowledge, did not happen but would have been great.  Shoot, I think it would be fun to mix-and-match eras and across publishers too (did anyone read the Legion of Super-Heroes/Star Trek crossover?).  One of my favorite daily stops is Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues!, so if you have any uncertainty at all as to what's expected of you today, a quick hop over there and back should set you straight.


Edo Bosnar said...

Wow, Doug, that's a pretty immense topic. It seems like we discuss favorite team-up stories here quite a bit: I know I did in that recent thread about favorite 10-issue runs ( So I'll let someone else start off that discussion.

As to your other points, I voting for Wonder Woman in that recent poll on potential team-up leads, because in general the other successful team-up titles were usually headlined by a flagship character who is recognized even by non-comic readers. WW fits that bill perfectly, and I think it would have allowed for more interesting stories to be told using her.

As to that last point, I think Power Man and Iron Fist worked really well together, as evidenced by their long-running 'buddy' series. I like that you mentioned Beast and Wonder Man – that was a really amusing aspect of the Avengers stories in which they appeared. I think some other best buds in team books that worked well were Changeling and Cyborg in New Teen Titans, Huntress and Power Girl in JSA, and Wolverine and Nightcrawler in X-men – I like how Claremont gradually developed their friendship, but then it was just cut off once Nightcrawler was taken out of the book.
Another interesting, albeit brief, friendship inside a team-book that often gets overlooked is Power Man and the Red Guardian during Gerber's run on Defenders. Gerber used their discussions to explore certain political and social issues, but without it seeming forced or out of charcter, or, most importantly, without getting too preachy or heavy handed.
Sticking to the 'buddies inside a team' idea, I think a really missed opportunity was the Wasp and Ms. Marvel in Avengers. Of course, we all know what happened to poor Ms. Marvel, but if, say, Avengers #200 had never happened, I could really see a strong and potentially amusing friendship developing between the two of them.

Edo Bosnar said...

By the way, today's post at Super-Team Family/Lost Issues is particularly apt. Personally, I think the Defenders would wipe up the floor with the Titans...

Doug said...

I know my partner has been reading the old Torch stories from Strange Tales -- after she rolls herself out of bed, I'd like to hear how those Torch/Thing stories play as a "buddy book". I know some of those tales are pretty silly...


david_b said...

know this topic has been brought up several times to varying degrees.. I even had a 'open forum' topic last year to ask everyone 'Which team-ups were the best, smoothest, or just didn't work and why..?' or something to that effect. I didn't really want folks to just list fav team-ups, but TELL ME WHY they worked or didn't work.

I never thought Spidey and Torch worked well for compatibility, but 'course that made for some great stories, building off the fact they were basically two hot-heads.

Another more unlikely pairing, when Doc Strange teamed solely with the Hulk, it worked both on a 'master-minion' level but also Hulk's bombastic temper and humor mixed in made up for it. I've mentioned Thing-Hulk team-ups for the best of Martin-Lewis type humor and situational calamities.

A more subtle approach was the occasional teaming of Black Panther and Daredevil, especially those early Barry Smith-drawn DD issues. The two seemed to have an immediate groove going, without too much introspective analysis in dialog, like 'How does DD work in the dark as well as I do.., never having been raised to hunt in a jungle?', etc, etc...

I also liked Flash and GL team-ups, while both can have fairly bland personalities both always seemed very comfortable together, power- and personality-wise. Same was true for Flash and Ralph Dibny.

Doug said...

Supposedly Hawkman and the Atom were brochachos in the Silver Age. I wonder if any of our readers, steeped in DC lore, could leave a comment in support of that.

David, I always enjoyed the DD/Panther team-ups.

Angel and Iceman were long-running partners, too -- even within the X-Men. The Hulk Annual that Karen and I reviewed last summer that featured those two erstwhile Champions was a fun one!


Matt Celis said...

Spidey & Torch and Spidey & DD always work great. Spidey and Torch are peers and clearly enjoy each other; Spidey and DD work in the same urban milieu and both have supersense(s). Almost always enjoy team-ups of these guys.

There oughta be a team-up comic book starring Aquaman. It'd be great to see other characters thrown into an unfamiliar undersea world with Aquaman as their guide and partner in crimebusting. For a guy with domain over 70% of the planet, he sure is underused.

Doug said...

I would have absolutely no patience for...

Bat-Mite and the Impossible Man


MattComix said...

Spidey seemed to have good chemistry with just about everybody due to his everyman hero status and wise cracking nature. Batman as well due to being a non-super powered detective was always a contrast to whatever powered hero he was teaming with.

I honestly think Superman and Batman had a good chemistry which is why I've always found it irksome that everybody gets off on wanting them to fight or be at odds. It might make some sense when they first meet but they would get over themselves and work together sooner rather than later IMO. Of course I'm thinking more in terms of actual Batman rather than the psycho-ninja Batman that passes for the character in modern comics.

I think these team-up titles were were a blast but it's also possible they contributed to the eventual rise of superhero books having all crossover, all the time in the form of the now standard "events" which have pretty much eaten issue to issue storytelling alive.

Matt Celis said...

World's Finest was one of my favorite comics. It is a shame that the publisher decided Batman is an a-hole ninja who can't get along with anyone when in fact it's well established that he is a nice, agreeable fellow and best pals with Superman.

J.A. Morris said...

I think Cap or DD could have headlined a team-up book during the Bronze Age. Daredevil worked well with other heroes before, during and after "the Miller years".

MattComix is right about recent Superman/Batman stories. I think this is a by-product of Miller's 'Dark Knight Returns'. Most writers treat that story like it's the Holy Bible of Batman and feel compelled to copy its depiction of Batman. Never mind that it takes place in the future.

Mike said...

Everybody stole my thunder already -- my all-time favorite team-up mag was Powerman/Iron Fist. I think businesses like "Heroes for Hire" is precisely what would happen if super-powers were for real.

And, I too think Superman/Batman is an excellent team-up. They work great together, but authors always have them fighting which to me is just plain lazy writing. The place to see them team-up properly is in the animations. The Superman series has a 2-parter titled "World's Finest" which are still my favorite superhero episodes. And they worked together great in all the JL cartoons.

As far as what I'd like to see ... in DC how about if Jonah Hex comes to today and teams up with Batman or Green Arrow. Or on the Marvel side, Conan goes through a timewarp to team-up with Wolverine.

Doug said...

As to specific issues, I haven't read Marvel Team-Up #38 (with the Beast and the Griffin) in decades, but I recall that being a very cool issue when I was a kid. I also really liked the long arc that followed shortly with the Vision, Wanda, Moondragon, etc. Karen and I reviewed that storyline a long time ago.


david_b said...

Mike, I started collecting some Silver WF for the spendid Adams or Swan covers and Swan interiors lately, but I have a love-hate thing with them..

Seems to me the typical lazy stories later around '69/'70 was always 1) an unknown villain making trouble, and 2) at the end either Batman or Supes is revealed to be impersonating the other or 3) the villain's mask is ripped off to reveal either Bats or Supes.

Wasn't much deviation there, but they were harmless television-type stories for easy consumption much like most of Silver DC.

Which isn't really bad at all..!!

A 'so cool' Bronze purchase for me was a NM copy of MTU 5, great Kane art with Spidey and ol' Vision versus Puppet Master &
Monstroid. Beautiful cover ~ Vish wasn't used anywhere near his power capacity unfortunately, but harmless early Bronze fun regardless.

Karen said...

Since Doug asked for it, I have to say the Torch/Thing stories in Strange Tales are a heck of a lot of fun, although completely silly. Ben pretty much acts like a kid, not the WWII vet he's supposed to be, and the two fight with each other as much as they do with their foes. And the villains! Good grief! Paste Pot Pete, Plant-Man, the Beetle, and a bunch of other losers. The chemistry between Johnny and Ben is great and the stories are really hilarious.

mr. oyola said...


I am so glad you mentioned Beast and Wonderman! Actually, I always liked to think of them as lovers in an open relationship. .. I just kind of imagine them cruising Christopher St. in a pre-AIDS New York City between missions with the Avengers. There was just something flamboyant about both of them that was emphasized when they were together. Later when Morrison had Beast say he might be gay during the NEW X-Men run I was like YEAH! But then he took it back.

But uh, that was a different kind of team-up.

My wish for someone to be part of team-up series is a different member of the Fantastic Four, Sue Richards! She is my favorite member of the foursome (with Ben a close second, of course) and not enough is done with her outside of the group and outside of being a wife and mother. I think a team-up would serve well to develop her, and her caring and sympathetic personality would make her conducive to team-ups.

Garett said...

I'd like to see a Green Lantern teamup book. Always liked his character, and playing off another character's personality may bring out his personality more. Dr. Fate would be an interesting guest--both have zappy powers, but one is rational, the other magical.

How about Tarzan and Conan? Both are primitive dudes, but with quite different personalities.

In Brave and Bold, I like the Sgt. Rock/Wildcat/Deadman teamups, even though I don't have a particular love for those characters on their own. The Rock and Deadman matchings are unusual, and Wildcat is given more personality as alter ego Ted Grant. The Black Canary teamup in #107 came off well too.

Captain America and Black Panther in Tales of Suspense 97-100 is a good one, with the heroes battling Zemo, and Cap's bubbling romance with Agent 13 thrown into the mix.

Garett said...

How about the Justice Society teaming up with the Invaders, to fight some nazi villains in WW2? Red Skull, Lex Luthor, Solomon Grundy and Hitler!

I read a couple stories with the original Green Lantern and the Harlequin...not quite a teamup, but an interesting pair. Villainess in love with the hero.

William Preston said...

For TEAM team-ups, I liked when FF and the Inhumans got together.

Loved the Spidey-Nightcrawler team-up in ASM whatever-ishes-it-was. They made a great pair, visually and temperament-wise, and their powers complemented each other.

WardHill Terry said...

One of my all-time favorite team-ups was Man-Bat and the Demon in the first dollar-comic Batman Family. Mostly because of the comment uttered by a Gotham City police officer in the story, "Cripes, whatever happened to heroes that look like heroes? Those two are the ugliest suckers I've ever seen!"
Also like Paul Levitz's buddying-up Timber Wolf and Blok in Legion. Great exploration of character rather than super-powers. Just remembered how much I enjoyed Secret Society of Super-Villains! Mostly because it was Captain Comet team-up book. With characters who didn't show up as regularly in the other books!

Anonymous said...

Peanut butter and jelly!

Spidey in Marvel Team Up was wonderful because he was basically a young wise cracking kid who generally played off well against the guest characters in his book. His encounters with the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) were always great because they were more or less the same age, and had the same adolescent issues, although Johnny was more of a hothead (both literally and figuratively!) than Petey.

I would have loved to see Hercules as the lead in a team-up book; unlike Spidey or even the Thing (both average Joe personalities), Herc's bombastic personality would have been an interesting mix paired up against say, Daredevil : "By the beard of Zeus! The red garbed one fights as if he hath eyes at the back of his head! Pluto himself could not have wrought such magic!".

As for teamups that did not happen but would have been great, I always wonder how Captain America and the Punisher would have gotten along. I'm well aware there's a recent comic out there with them together already but it's post-Bronze Age, so I haven't bothered with it.

- Mike 'Garett, it would be an honour to claim you as an honourary Trinidadian!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

I always loved the team-up books. For MTU one of my favourites from years ago was #135 when Spidey and Sandman fought the Enforcers and Sandman threw himself on the grenade to save Spidey. For Brave and Bold, I liked the Batman/Deadman team-ups...and the Batman/Creeper stories were pretty cool too. And let's not forget DC Comics Presents with the Superman team-ups...there were some cool stories in there too.

As for some classic pairs, what about Valkyrie and Hellcat in Defenders? They had a really good friendship, which was unfortunately ignored in the later issues.

Mike W.

Garett said...

Awesome Mike! I accept this great honour. I'm packing my bags and will be on the first flight to Trinidad!!

I like your idea about a Hercules teamup book. He's a fun character, and I can see different chemical reactions with other characters.

Somehow I can't see Cap approving of the Punisher, but I suppose under the right circumstances I can see them teaming up.

I just realized that if you ever come to Canada, we can present you honourary toboggan! : ) Tobago, toboggan? Well, it's late. We'll take you sledding. : )

William said...

Love me some team-up books. One of my all-time favorite comic runs was the Byrne/Claremont Marvel Team-Up era. I have the trade that collects them all (almost) and I love love love it.

In pro tennis, it was once said that the best doubles team in the world is John McEnroe and anybody. Well I think the greatest superhero team-up ever is Spider-Man and anybody. Back in the day (before the dark times, before the Empire) Spider-Man was the ultimate everyman superhero. He was the perfect one-and-done team-up partner for just about any other hero in the Marvel U. Spidey is powerful, but not too powerful, and he has a great personality that plays well with both serious characters like Wolverine and Thor, and with more lighthearted folks like the Human Torch and Beast. This makes him very versatile, and as a result 'ol webhead has teamed up with pretty much every other Marvel character at one time or another.

Nowadays I don't know what's up with Spider-Man. (I think he's Doc Ock or something like that) and he's a regular member of just about every super team in the MU, except the X-Men. Uhg! Talk about losing the script. What's wrong with these new writers? Spider-Man may be a great Team-Up guy, but he's definitely not a TEAM guy.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Sorry to be a latecomer to the party...

In one of these discussions a while back I wrote that that I thought Nick Fury would be a great team-up book anchor. Think of the possibilities!

He could be recruiting heroes for secret SHEILD missions or even villains for "Suicide Squad"-type adventures. Or he could be trying to take down a hero gone rogue or simply be involved in a classic he/she's-a-goodguy-but-misunderstood comic book plot.

Fury: "The president has ordered me to take you in, Hulk. You gonna come quietly?"

Hulk: "No."

As far as DC goes, Wonder Womamn would be a great choice for the reasons Edo lays out.

Green Lantern would also be a good choice because his powers allow him to go anywhere on earth or in the universe, so there's no reason he wouldn't be meeting up with various different folks. All of the sci-fi heroes could be involved.

And of course Deadman's power is to possess another person's body so he'd be a natural too. Plus, you'd be able to involve all of the supernatural/magic-based characters really easily with him.

Inkstained Wretch said...


Regarding the Ray Palmer and Katar Hol, when the latter's title was canceled and the Atom's sales began to dip (After Gil Kane left the title) somebody in DC decided to combine them into The Atom and Hawkman:

Sounds kind of like a 70-80s TV cop show doesn't it? The reason was that Hawkman had made several appearances in the Atom's comic before, so there had been a sort of try-out already. Hawkman's presence was probably due to Robert Kanigher, who was writing Atom at the time and had also written Hawkman's classic 60's run as well. He must of really liked the Thangarian cop.

It only lasted seven issues, #39-45. I haven't read any. They're hard to find and haven't been collected anywhere that I know of.
But the concept is so novel I'd love to read them. Some writers have periodically nodded to it by having the two heroes being good buddies.

jim kosmicki said...

I believe the second Showcase Presents volume of Hawkman reprints has the Atom and Hawkman issues. I can remember that one of my friends when I was in grade school had a box of comics from his uncle who was in the military. It had the first Fourth World books that I ever saw, but it also had an issue of Atom and Hawkman. So I knew that it had existed, but the earlier poster was correct that these were never easy issues to find as back issues.

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