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.