Time For a Team-Up!

One of the things I used to love the most about comics when I was a kid was the whole idea of the “team up.” The guys have talked about them before on the show a few times, but it occurred to me, as I look at the various events coming this year featuring teams battling each other, that I liked the “coming together” stories much more than the “versus” varieties.

We get glimpses of the team up thrill from time to time whenever Captain America or Cyclops gathers a few folks to be the next iteration of the Avengers or X-Men (which, I know, is getting even more convoluted–I’m not going to touch on that right now, it’s been a long day), but I always enjoyed the team up that happened within some character’s book that would last a few issues.  The first one I remember was when Wolverine showed up in Daredevil #196 (pictured, left) –I’ll never forget the look on ol’ hornhead’s face on the cover: who the hell is this guy?

As we start 2012 in earnest, I wonder what DC will do with the notion of a team-up, or, perhaps more precisely, just how will these kinds of thing work now? I am actually very interested to see how the characters of this New 52 will interact with each other, though I will probably find myself missing the old relationships that much more. As a kid, the friendships between Barry Allen and Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were the ones I was most drawn to—the dynamics between those characters just lent themselves to great scenes, whether in costume/uniform or not.

Barry and Hal were always considered good friends–good friends who were always kind of competitive with each other, much to the bemusement of their girlfriends. The best stories always gave a sense that these guys really enjoyed having super powers, they enjoyed hanging out in civilian attire, just hanging out — but always ready to spring into action. They were supportive without saying a word, just good friends who would always be good friends.

I wonder now, if that dynamic has changed all that much I can’t remember, honestly, just how much of the old universe Barry now remembers, my gut tells me he is vaguely aware of an alternate reality but doesn’t dwell on it too often, and it seems to me that Hal is basically the same, so perhaps aspect of that “best friend” dynamic is there—we’ll just have to see. Interestingly enough, I am actually more interested in Hal coming into The Flash than vice versa, just to see how Manapul will play with their relationship.

The Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent friendship is, of course, timeless, and we all have our own thoughts on it, so I won’t go into it too much here, but I am very interested to see how their relationship develops in Justice League.  I suppose we won’t see much after the first arc (when the book goes into “current” chronology?), but I really hope we see Action Comics embrace the opportunity to tell the stories of a younger, more vulnerable Superman realizing he needs to partner with the rough and tumble (but still learning) Batman.  For me, the idea of watching these two icons discover not only who they are as heroes but who they are in terms of their friendship is as close to “must see TV” as comics can be.  I always appreciated that, however much they may disagree with each other’s tactics, there was always healthy respect and a trust that the results would be for the good of the mission.  I like that Batman thinks of Superman as a Boy Scout—sometimes we need a Boy Scout to remind of us what is right. And, similarly, I like how Batman teaches Superman to make the tough decisions, to let fate play out, to accept that despite his powers, Supeman can’t change everything.

I wonder if watching these kinds of dynamics play out is actually more “inspiring” to young minds than just watching a single character “do the right thing.”  Having two characters debate and argue their points as they approach a problem teaches one to think about different points of view, and it is within that struggle that one understands and realizes his angle, or her morality.

Being a friend can be the easiest thing in the world some days and the hardest thing on others. And with so many incredible character in comics, there is a lot of opportunity to watch characters work together (or not) on various problems. Just off the bat, here a few team-ups/partnerships that I would love to watch this year:

Batman and John Constantine – Now, if it is true that Constantine is hanging out with the members of Justice League: Dark, it’s just a matter of time before he visits Gotham and stirs up particular blend of trouble. I think watching these two in action would be sublime–throw Damien into the mix to really press Constantine on what he’s about could open up a neat relationship between the two. Constantine, of course, is one of my favorite characters of all time, so if he really is accessible, I’d love to see him work with Superman and Wonder Woman, too–why not?

Batgirl and Catwoman – Two great characters that, as far as a know, haven’t hung out together all that much.  I can see Catwoman getting into some tangle that she just can’t bring Bruce into, where she ends up having to ask Batgirl for help, as a last resort. I think the dynamic between the two, complete with Catwoman ribbing Batgirl about Nightwing’s obviously having a crush on her, would make for a great 2-3 issue arc.

Aquaman and Swamp Thing (with special appearances by Animal Man) – I like the characters that are so intertwined with the forces of nature, with animals, plants all that. I can see a story where Poison Ivy has done something way wrong, and Buddy and Aquaman have to figure out how to work with Swamp Thing to make things right.

Not forgetting that Marvel gave me one of my first experiences with team-ups, I would love to to get this new, happy Daredevil re-partnered up with Wolverine, perhaps first with Matt Murdock helping Wolvie’s school on some legal matters.  Daredevil is a natural “go-to” person to go to in New York, but I like to see these heroes dealing with different environments, too.

Mister Fantastic and Wolverine – This is a combination that I have never thought about, to be honest, but now I can’t help but want to see these two working together, immediately. Wolverine always beings out the more primal elements in people, and there’s a bit of me that wants to see Mr. Fantastic just go off, you know?

Some of my favorite scenes in the Avengers books last year were the ones between Spider-Man and Spider-Woman.  No, I don’t necessarily need a romance, but maybe if these two were the only ones that could communicate with this new entity, or found themselves almost adopting a new hero…their dynamic needs more than a few panels.

I could go on a few times, but honestly, I am more interested to read what kinds of team ups you are interested in, so write something below and we’ll talk.

What do you think about team-ups? Gimmicks that are meant to drive sales or opportunities for authors to really flex their muscles, defining new dynamics and writing characters they never get a chance to tackle–or a bit of both? Regardless, I hope we see more of them come our way this coming year.


Mike Romo is auditions and works in Los Angeles. You can reach him through email, visit his Facebook page, connect with him on Google +, collect his tweets on Twitter and see his pics on Instagram as mikeromo.


  1. I could totally see Constantine coming into the current Batman run. With Court of Owls being more and more like a nursery rhyme to Bruce, constantly evading capture and with its supernatural-esque ties into early Gotham, I could see Bruce calling up John, asking whats what.

    And, I mean, Snyder writing Constantine? Yes.

  2. Nice article.
    I was a fan of the brief flirtation that was going on between Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel.
    I made perfect sense when you think that a girl with powers would be one person that Peter wouldn’t be constantly fretting over.

  3. I completely agree that team-ups are better than versus. This is probably why I loved Brave and the Bold. Team-ups like Etrigan the Demon and Aquaman shouldn’t work, but yet, it did.

    Personally, I would love to see Steph Brown (either as Spoiler or Batgirl) and Damian team-up once again. What Bryan Q. Miller was able to do within the pages of Batgirl with those two characters was fantastic and only served to whet my appetite to see them back together again. DC has confirmed that Stephanie exists in the new continuity, even if we haven’t seen her yet. Let’s hope that we won’t have to wait long until she’s exchanging barbs with Damien once again.

    While on the subject of Steph Brown, I would really like to see her team-up with the new Tim Drake. Would there be any hint of a prior relationship between the two? Any chemistry? Or, would their relationship start over at square one?

    Lastly, I wonder what could be done with an OMAC / Mr. Terrific team-up. Could the world’s third smartest man free Kevin Cho from the grasp of Brother Eye? What kind of traps and evil plans could Maxwell Lord devise that only the combined brute strength of OMAC and intelligence of Mr. Terrific overcome? I don’t know, but I would love to find out.

  4. I love all your Team-up recommendations, but most of all the Daredevil one with going to Westchester. This idea is so phenomenal. The entire direction that DD has been going this year lends itself perfectly to this crossover.

    I really wanted to see the X-Men:Legacy crew run into someone else in space, Nova, or some time vortex Guardians of the Galaxy action.

  5. Great article. It nails exactly what’s been bugging me about all this “AVX” ballyhoo.

  6. Totally agree!! Superhero friendships and team-ups make for some of my favorite comics. One of my recent favorites was Batgirl and Supergirl fighting a bunch of Draculas. And Power Girl and Terra (and her cat) were my favorite parts of the Palmiotti/Gray run on the book.

  7. I think some characters work better as team-ups. I never cared for reading Punisher solo, but loved when he would show up in Daredevil or Spider-Man.

    Thing and anyone is always a winning combo (as long as you’re not talking about sales – ouch!).

  8. @Mike: Ya got a taste of Wolverine/Daredevil when Logan sued the Hellfire club last issue. Granted it was only a few panels, but I thought it was fantastic.

    This isn’t neccessarily a traditional “team-up”, but I’d love for DC to take this opportunity to explore the Wonder Woman/Batman relationship from the JL:U animated series. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of them having feelings for each other, and the New 52 seems like the perfect time to get it on.

    • You need to read JLA issue 90. Joe Kelly develops a relationship between them during the Obsidian Age arc which culminates in Diana using J’onn’s magical martian meditation chamber (possibly not its real name) to do a bit of soul searching as to whether it would work out. What follows is how Diana imagines the possible outcomes of a relationship with Bruce.

  9. I’ve always been curious as to how the honchos over at Marvel/DC decided which characters could team-up with the other. How do they decide whether one writer gets to have Gambit guest in one issue and not in another? If it were all about sales, would Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool show up in every comic?

    I sadly suspect there’s a good deal of politics and/or apathy involved but would be interested to know how they make the sausage.

  10. Valeria Richards and Amadeus Cho…

  11. Good week to pickup the DD/Spidey team up crossover Waid is doing.
    Also–OMAC/Frankenstein and Animal Man\Swamp Thing

  12. if you’re talking across companies i would die for a Hellboy/Hellblazer story. Within DC I’d like to see Constantine, Etrigan and Tommy Monaghan. I think Tommy and John would get along well. And full circle a Hitman/Punisher story with Batman and Daredevil involved would be amazing, throw in some Mawzir and Bullseye and sold.

  13. Love the Mr. Fantastic and Wolverine team-up. Hope Hickman takes over Wolverine after Jason Aaron to make that work. Not that I can afford it, but still.

    I kind want to see Flash and Hal’s first team up that was brought up in JL, but I imagine that’s covered in one of the multitude of Tom vs. The Flash I listened too. Aquaman and JL Dark would be cool (even if it ends up being similar to the JMS Brave and the Bold issue), and I like the preview of Resurrection Man 5 which shows Mitch having a history with Deathstroke. Would love to see more of that, especially with how they interact. I know Stormwatch is going into creative flux (quick aside, dying to see Tomasi take that over just so he gets Manhunter back) but having them run into Batman or Deathstroke would be fun too.

  14. I want more Winter Soldier and Wolverine team-ups.

    Also Invisible Woman and Rocket Raccoon

    Actually I want a Rocket Raccoon team-up book where he teams up with everyone ala Deadpool team-up

  15. always a big fan of team-ups, esepecially in one shot format. The Brave and the Bold is one of my all time favorite series because of that. Taking two characters who never really should interact and putting them into an odd adventure together…its just good times.

  16. Winter Soldier and the new Scarlet Spider would work well I think…