COMICS’ BRONZE AGE AND BEYOND!
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MARVEL TEAM-UP • MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE • SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP X-MEN/NEW TEEN TITANS • DC COMICS PRESENTS • SUPER-TEAM FAMILY SUPERMAN/SHAZAM SMACKDOWNS • THE BATMAN OF EARTH B(&B)
Volume 1, Number 66 August 2013 Celebrating the Best Comics of the '70s, '80s, '90s, and Beyond!
Comics’ Bronze Age and Beyond!
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michael Eury PUBLISHER John Morrow
COVER ARTISTS Gil Kane and Terry Austin (originally the cover of Marvel Treasury Edition #9, “Giant Superhero Team-Up”; inked in 2012 by Austin from a photocopy of Kane’s 1976 pencils) COVER COLORIST Glenn Whitmore COVER DESIGNER Michael Kronenberg BACK SEAT DRIVER: The Batman of Earth-B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Batman’s bravest and boldest writer, “Zany” Bob Haney
PROOFREADER Rob Smentek SPECIAL THANKS James T. Arnold Michael Aushenker Al Bigley Jonathan Brown Lex Carson John Cimino Chris Claremont Gerry Conway Tom DeFalco Jo Duffy Steve Englehart Jamie Ewbank Danny Fingeroth Peter Gillis David Allen Gold Grand Comic-Book Database Ted Grant Bob Hall David “Hambone” Hamilton
Rich Handley Karl Heitmeuller Heritage Auctions Tony Isabella Dan Johnson David Anthony Kraft Steve Lipsky Andy Mangels Marvel Comics Bob McLeod Allen Milgrom Stuart Neft Yanick Paquette Bob Rozakis Alex Segura Steve Skeates Anthony Snyder Roy Thomas Herb Trimpe Marv Wolfman John Wells
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PRINCE STREET NEWS: The Rejected Team-Ups of The Brave and the Bold . . . . . . . . . . . .6 From the Bible to Young Love, an oddball octet of Batman outings FLASHBACK: We Are (Super-Team) Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 DC’s most unpredictable team-up title has a warm spot in fans’ hearts FLASHBACK: The Other Spider-Man Title: Marvel Team-Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Chris Claremont remembers his Spider-team-time ART GALLERY: Al Milgrom’s Marvel Team-Up Cover Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 FLASHBACK: Idol of Millions: The Thing in Marvel Two-in-One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Ben Grimm’s rollicking ride through 100 (-plus) issues with multiple cohorts and creators BRING ON THE BAD GUYS: Super-Villain Team-Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Really, can two megalomaniacs form a partnership?? GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD: The Search for Swamp Thing #25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Art collector Jim Arnold’s quest for the unpublished Swamp Thing/Hawkman team-up FLASHBACK: Men of Steel: Superman and Julius Schwartz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Super-scribes recall the team-ups of World’s Finest Comics and DC Comics Presents OFF MY CHEST: The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 The Claremont/Simonson Breakfast Club of the Comics Crossover HERO ENVY: Superman vs. Captain Marvel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 An exhaustive look at the rivalry between the Man of Steel and World’s Mightiest Mortal BACK TALK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Reader letters BACK ISSUE™ is published 8 times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614. Michael Eury, Editor-in-Chief. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: BACK ISSUE, c/o Michael Eury, Editor-in-Chief, 118 Edgewood Avenue NE, Concord, NC 28025. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Six-issue subscriptions: $60 Standard US, $85 Canada, $107 Surface International. Please send subscription orders and funds to TwoMorrows, NOT to the editorial office. Cover art by Gil Kane and Terry Austin. All characters TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All characters are © their respective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. Prince Street News © Karl Heitmeuller. Hero Envy © Reckless Sidekick Productions. All editorial matter © 2013 Michael Eury and TwoMorrows Publishing. BACK ISSUE is a TM of TwoMorrows Publishing. ISSN 1932-6904. Printed in China. FIRST PRINTING. Team-Ups Issue
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Original cover art to Marvel Team-Up #133 (Sept. 1983), co-starring Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. Art by Al Milgrom and John Byrne. Courtesy of Al Milgrom. TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
DESIGNER Rich Fowlks
So, you’re a fan of the Bronze Age Batman, are you? Which one? If you read comics edited by Julius Schwartz, your Batman was “The” Batman—a grim but often gabby detective, a shadowy loner who still managed to be one of DC Comics’ most active team players. If you watched Saturday morning animated cartoons, your Batman was reminiscent of the Caped Crusader popularized during the mid-1960s on TV’s live-action Batman camp-fest (which was still in wide syndication during the 1970s)—a tongue-in-cheek do-gooder and surrogate father figure prone to administering public-service announcements at the drop of a cowl. And if you read comics written by Bob Haney (1926–2004), your Batman was a courageous crimebuster who sometimes flew off the handle, went camel-riding and scuba-diving in pursuit of bad guys, was prone to demon- and Atom-possession, mutated into a Bat-Hulk and a Man-Bat, sustained grave gunshot wounds (only to be miraculously healed by the next issue), and had a serial-killer brother and a Super-Son! This “Bat-guy” (as he was nicknamed by his brave-and-bold buddies by M i c h Green Arrow, Deadman, and Metamorpho) flapped his scalloped ael Eury batwings into the faces of the Darknight Detective’s other writers and editors, yet headlined some of the hero’s bestselling adventures of the day. Holy continuity aversion! Who was this Batman of “Earth-B”?? Just in case you arrived late to the party, during the 1970s, most of DC Comics’ heroes existed on what editor “Julie” Schwartz called Earth-One, home of the Justice League of America. Their predecessors, DC’s Golden Age characters, resided on Earth-Two, home of the Justice Society of America. The JSA returned annually in a summer crossover with the JLA, and occasionally Earth-Two heroes received their own series, such as the Spectre in Adventure Comics and the “Super-Squad”—the rebranded Justice Society, augmented by young protégés—in All-Star Comics. Other Earths were created during the Silver and Bronze Ages to showcase topsy-turvy realities (such as Earth-Three, where supervillains ruled) or to house characters previously owned by other publishers and acquired by DC (like Earth-X, home of Quality Comics’ heroes including Uncle Sam and the Phantom Lady). And then there was Earth-B, a world of stories written by Bob Haney. There were no disclaimers in Earth-B comic books warning readers that they were about to experience an imaginary story or witness events occurring on a parallel world. When you picked up, say, 1971’s The Brave and the Bold #98, co-starring Batman and the Phantom Stranger, you were being sold a comic that looked and felt like DC’s other Earth-One titles—heck, that one was even drawn by Jim Aparo, the regular bob haney Phantom Stranger artist (who was soon to become the main B&B artist as well). Then, on page one, you realized that this wasn’t quite the same Gotham Guardian you knew from Batman, Detective Comics, and Justice League of America: This Batman paid a deathbed visit to a civilian friend and was the godfather to his friend’s son (Batman, family guy?). The next issue, a creepy Batman/Flash Continuity on Ice team-up drawn by Bob Brown and Nick Cardy, pictured the Darknight Detective rummaging through the “Wayne family summer home,” In the second appearance of the Super-Sons, not only reminiscing about his childhood as Bruce Wayne … then “stifling a sob” as does the very existence of Batman’s and Superman’s he surveys an inscribed urn containing his parents’ cremated remains. But, wait a minute—Thomas and Martha Wayne were buried, as we’ve seen in offspring smack continuity buffs in the face, but the countless flashbacks to Batman’s origin, where a vengeful young Bruce, World’s Greatest Detective flaunting a photo of his freshly orphaned, swears by their graveside to dedicate his life to eradicating crime! Are you sure this is the same Batman from other DC titles?? unmasked, Bruce Wayne-looking boy adds insult to injury. The Batman of Earth-B was deputized by the Gotham Police Still, you’ve gotta love the goofiness of the Super-Sons— Department and carried a badge (B&B #102), and was so chummy with Gotham’s top cop that he called his colleague Jim Gordon “Commish.” as well the detail from this awesome Nick Cardy cover, He started many a Brave and Bold adventure working alongside the from World’s Finest Comics #216 (Feb.–Mar. 1973). police—as one of the boys in blue (and in his case, gray)—instead of being Bat-signaled in for special cases. This Batman would brashly TM & © DC Comics. 2 • BACK ISSUE • Team-Ups Issue
DC Comics’ Super-Team Family was a fun and interesting title whose run was all too brief. Indeed, at 15 issues, some would say it was little more than a blip on the radar screen of most comic-book fans. Throughout its run, though, readers got to experience a wide variety of match-ups between the company’s superstars with stories that spanned the whole of DC’s universe and its history.
CRISIS ON ISSUE-ONE! Super-Team Family #1 (Oct.–Nov. 1975) was an all-reprint issue, a necessity stated in the book’s editorial page due to a deadline crisis. “There was always the intention to do original stories,” says Gerry Conway, who served as Super-Team Family’s first editor. “As you start out with these things, you’re looking for the best way to introduce [a book] on the market, and DC was trying to expand its brand a bit. Plus the intent of the reprints was to use a larger-size format [with a greater page count] without having to involve the expense of all those extra pages.” The stories in the first issue helped to lay down some of the rules regarding what constitutes a team-up. It also presented some wonderful hits from DC’s Silver Age. This issue started out with a classic example of the most enduring team in comics, Superman and Batman. The story, from World’s Finest Comics #175 (May 1968), was “The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads,” which is most notable for being Neal Adams’ first Batman story. The second tale was a Teen Titans story, “Stepping Stone for a Giant Killer,” which first appeared in Teen Titans #19 (Feb. 1969). The story that really stands out in this issue, mostly because it is the most unusual team-up in the book, was GERRY CONWAY “Tempting Target for the Temperature Twins,” from The Flash #166 (Dec. 1966). Here it is two supervillains, Captain Cold and Heat Wave, who team up, determined to put turn up the heat on the Scarlet Speedster and put him on ice for good. The story illustrated how Conway wanted Super-Team Family to reflect less-traditional team-ups, the kind that reader might not expect to see all that often. “One of the things about team-up books like Marvel Team-Up and Brave and the Bold, is that they are sort of out of continuity,” says Conway. “They’re not intended to carry forward the main storylines of the characters. They give you the opportunity to play with characters that aren’t normally put together. In Brave and the Bold, before they found the Batman formula, they had a lot of stories that were offbeat and strange team-ups. You would see
It’s a Family Affair Detail to Dick Giordano’s cover to Super-Team Family #1 (Oct.–Nov. 1975). This first issue reprinted Superman/Batman, Teen Titans, and Flash stories. TM & © DC Comics.
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The Way It Wasn’t (left) The cover of Super-Team Family #2 (Dec. 1975–Jan. 1976), and (below) Dick Giordano’s signed original cover art for same, spotlighting the issue’s new Creeper/Wildcat combo. The powers-thatbe decided that this weirdo team-up lacked commercial punch and truncated Dick’s gorgeous art, bumping it below a snippet from Neal Adams’ Batman/Deadman cover from The Brave and the Bold #69. Note the editorial comment to the artist above the cover art, asking Giordano to enlarge the figures (which was done via Photostatting and a paste-up)—how ironic that in its published version, the figures were reduced! A BIG BI thank-you to Al Bigley (bigglee.blogspot.com/) for putting this unused original cover on our radar. TM & © DC Comics.
these and go, ‘Why would Green Arrow be teaming up with Metamorpho?’ You would look at them and say, ‘That’s pretty odd.’ I think probably the Captain Cold and Heat Wave story was an example of that craziness.” [Editor’s note: For the record, GA and Metamorpho never actually co-starred in the early days of B&B team-ups—instead, the former paired with Martian Manhunter and the latter with the Metal Men.]
THE CREEPER AND WILDCAT Original content began running in Super-Team Family #2 (Dec. 1975–Jan. 1976) with “Showdown in San Lorenzo,” a team-up between the Creeper and Wildcat. This tale was written by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Ric Estrada and Bill Draut. It had the two heroes fighting one another at first, but then joining forces to save a kidnapped boxer. The story’s pairing again reflected Conway’s desire to have some team-ups in the book with characters that you might not have originally thought would work together. “Anytime you can give some characters a different way of approaching the same sphere of problems, you’re in great shape,” says Conway. “I think that was the gift that Stan [Lee] gave all of us in comics, his turning these stories on their heads by introducing real-world concerns. But that only goes so far, so then you have to start having to come up with ways to show how characters perceive things and approach them in different ways. It’s not just how they solve the problem, but how each of them solves the problem and whether that creates conflict or whether it doesn’t. All of that makes it more interesting for the creators and the readers. [Regarding the Creeper and Wildcat team-up,] the less sense it makes, the better. I was going back to the original Brave and the Bold mash-ups where they would team up these random characters. There would be these strange team-ups of characters from different universes. I think that was the Team-Ups Issue
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Before Spectacular Spider-Man offered additional Spidey soap opera and long before titles such as Web of Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man swung out of the editorial offices of Marvel Comics, a plucky little series called Marvel Team-Up fed the demand for more Web-Crawler action well beyond Marvel’s flagship book, The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, the Bronze Age saw the likes of Marvel Tales and Spidey Super Stories. However, those were reprints and kiddie comics, respectively. Launched with a March 1972 cover date, Marvel Team-Up offered exciting new Spider-Man adventures—but with a twist! Mostly self-contained stories free of that pesky continuity complicating Peter Parker’s world in Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up offered done-in-one adventures and a novelty: Every issue featured a special guest hero/heroine/group to “team up” with Spidey. “Marvel Team-Up was a fun mag for people who like to see Spider-Man in action with other heroes (or possibly their favorite hero paired up with Spidey),” says longtime Spider-Man writer and editor Danny Fingeroth of the series’ appeal. (At one point, Fingeroth oversaw all Spider-titles.) “The stories were often only loosely tied into the main Spider-Man continuity, which didn’t mean that there weren’t many memorable stories by talented creators.” On any given month, readers could find Spider-Man paired up with the Hulk, Daredevil, Human Torch, Killraven, Dr. Strange, even the Guardians of the Galaxy and television stars. This conceptual conceit, clean and colorful, became sort of the cherry on the ice cream sundae that was Amazing, Marvel’s groundbreaking title spawned from the imaginations of artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee. And Marvel knew a winning recipe when it had one. Two years into MTU, Marvel launched Marvel Two-in-One, a kindred title featuring team-ups with that other humorous wiseacre, the Thing from Fantastic Four [see article following—ed.]. Like many fans of the series, Fingeroth relished the freewheeling, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to the more flamboyant Spidey pairings. The mix of Spider-Man’s wise-crackery and novelty guestappearances fueled an under-the-radar book that would corral a batch of Marvel’s biggest writers and artists and keep the series firing on all cylinders from (cover dates) March 1972 through February 1985! Fingeroth’s favorite MTU covers include Ron Frenz and Al Milgrom on #135, Ed Hannigan and Klaus Janson’s cover for #140, and Hannigan and Bob Wiacek’s cover on #142. Among Fingeroth’s favorite issues: #100, which united writer Chris Claremont and artists Frank Miller and Janson, and #120, the J. M. DeMatteis/Kerry Gammill/Mike Esposito story that
“Live from New York…” Really, was there an issue of Marvel Team-Up more offbeat than this one? Chris Claremont and Jo Duffy take us backstage of this crazy crossover in this article. MTU #74 (Oct. 1978) cover art by Marie Severin. Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. SNL © NBC.
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Backpage Pass (left) Original John Byrne/Dave Hunt art to a page from Chris Claremont’s Spider-Man/ Daughters of the Dragon match-up in MTU #64 (Dec. 1977). Courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). (right) Byrne’s flip-side sketches, including the Silver Surfer. TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
“As gifted and impassioned as John is, his opinions are crucial and as empowered as mine,” Claremont says. However, did Byrne’s additional talents and mounting ambition in the realm of conceptualizing and writing essentially auger the dissolution of the MTU crew as the artist began dreaming storylines of his own?
“MUCH MORE OF A WRITER’S BOOK”
Chris Claremont puts it bluntly: “As long as we lasted, yes, there comes a point in every creative team-up where you have two passionate artists and the question arises.” That question did arise, and it led to the end of John Byrne’s collaboration with Claremont, as the prolific and ambitious Byrne opted to instead collaborate with himself as writer on series such as Fantastic Four, Sensational She-Hulk, and DC Comics’ Man of Steel, Superman, and Action Comics, where the Canuck dynamo wrote and drew his books. Claremont points to the success of his X-Men run with Paul Smith, which instantly caught fire, selling in excess of 500,000 copies a month. “If that idiot would’ve stayed, we’d have sold one million a month,” Claremont quips. “He got bored! Artists are so annoying!”
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The writer takes a breath, pauses, then continues. “The thing with Team-Up,” he explains, “because you’re dealing with a different cast every issue, it’s much more of a writer’s book. I had to figure it out. I’d talk to John about the choreography of how things would run, and it was mostly up to me or it was too complicated all the byrne time whereas with The X-Men we were dealing with a set bunch of characters. It was Days of Our Lives.” The pairing of Claremont and Byrne became too successful, especially as Byrne, a writer and creator in his own right, also came packed with a healthy dose of ambition. “He had a vision for the characters and how to tell stories,” Claremont says. “It was becoming less and less compatible with my version, and in the end, [editor-inchief] Jim [Shooter] found a way to give John The Fantastic Four and get the best of both worlds. “He would have TeamUp with me and Dave [Cockrum] on X-Men, and John would have FF and you’d have two bestselling books.” By the mid-1980s, Byrne left X-Men to write and draw a substantial and beloved run of Marvel’s first flagship comic book, “the World’s Greatest Magazine,” a.k.a. The Fantastic Four. Although Claremont and Byrne did not realize it at the time, an era had just ended.
For a self-declared idol of millions, the Thing’s solo series haven’t always racked up big numbers. His first solo outing ran for three years and 36 issues—not a bad run by today’s standards, but slightly underwhelming for one quarter of the Fantastic Four in a book that featured the talents of John Byrne, Ron Wilson, and Paul Neary. His second stab at a solo series in 2005 was even more short-lived: Despite critical and fan praise for the work of Dan Slott, Andrea DeVito, and Kieron Dwyer, it was canceled after just eight issues. Solo series stumbles aside, however, Ben Grimm spent much of the 1970s and ’80s proving that he could sustain a series without the accompaniment of Reed, Sue, and Johnny. For 100 issues and seven annuals, the Thing took top billing in Marvel Two-in-One, teaming up with a selection of A-listers, B-listers, new stars, and never-to-be-seen-agains in a series that saw contributions from most of the big name creators of the post–Stan-and-Jack era. Spider-Man’s team-up title, Marvel Team-Up, had proven that there was mileage in the concept of heroes collaborating and facing off against villains they wouldn’t usually encounter. The final two issues of Marvel Feature that saw the Thing battle the Hulk and team up with Iron Man, then set the stage for a team-up title starring comics’ favorite terracotta everyman. Over the course of 100 issues, MTIO saw contributions from 25 writers, 22 artists, and a collection of over 33 inkers and groups of inkers that suggests the occasional rush job. While some fans believe that the Marvel Two-in-One’s revolving door led to inconsistency and low moments, some of the creators claim that the freewheeling nature of the title was what gave them the creative freedom to craft the series’ high points. During its rare fallow periods, Marvel Two-in-One could be repetitive, aimless, or simply a handy place to tie up plot threads abandoned elsewhere. At its best, however, it allowed writers to evolve concepts and characterizations that would make their way into the wider Marvel Universe and shape it for years to come.
THE EVER-LOVIN’ EARLY ISSUES Issue #1 (Jan. 1974) launched Marvel Two-in-One in dynamic fashion: a standout and surprisingly visceral cover has the Thing punching straight through the Man-Thing’s midriff. The internal art is provided by Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott and instantly showcases Kane’s knack for looking like the quintessential artist for whatever he was working on. The transition from Marvel Feature gives the series a rolling start, with Ben already in transit as the story begins.
It’s Slobberin’ Time! Eventually, you’ll have to stop drooling over this astounding 2005 commission by Jim Starlin, Alan Weiss, and Tom Smith to actually read this article! It’s a recreation of the Thing/Warlock vs. Thanos slugfest from Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2, from the collection of Brian Sagar. TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
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Benji and His Monster Anatomy of a cover, for MTIO #34 (Dec. 1977): (top left and right) Two stages of John Buscema’s cover roughs, and (bottom) the published version, with Klaus Janson inks. Cover roughs courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
consistent plot driver for the title, would bring Deathlok into the Marvel Universe proper, and would see plot threads continuing from issue to issue as Ben foils an assassination attempt on President-Elect Jimmy Carter; travels to England to find a cure for the brainwashed assassin, Deathlok; and battles Hydra and even a mutated Alicia Masters. Although it would also wrap up some storylines from Astonishing Tales, Defenders, and Skull the Slayer, Wolfman’s run had the feel of an ongoing story rather than a series of one-offs: “I don’t remember why I got the title or how, but suddenly I had it. MTIO was not a book I wanted to do. I hate the fake constraints of a team-up title, so I decided that to make it fun I’d do a continued story where the characters would have reasons to keep meeting. That’s why I plugged it into the Marvel Universe more than it had been. As writer/editor, like Stan, Roy, and others, I was able to guide my books the way I felt would do the best job, but I always had my staff go over them, editing and proofreading them as if I wasn’t the EiC. Nobody should edit their own work or you’ll miss everything you do wrong. I wanted to control the direction, not necessarily every little thing.” In addition to his writer/editor run, Wolfman also wrote the title’s third annual, which features a cosmic blonde, repeated mentions of the deaths of many worlds, and intergalactic Monitors. When I ask him if he was rehearsing later themes [in DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths], he’s clear that it’s just an interesting coincidence: “Wishful thinking, as I don’t remember why I did that story. But I do remember liking it.” Wolfman would hand the writer’s chores over to Roger Slifer, who would write the next several issues both solo and in collaboration with David Anthony Kraft and Tom DeFalco, who would script over Slifer’s plot for issue #40 (June 1978). “I had just started writing for Marvel,” DeFalco recalls. “I believe they assigned me to do the plots for a two-part Avengers fill-in and an issue of What If? While they were waiting for the artwork to come in on those jobs, they ran into a deadline thing with the Two-in-One job and asked me if I could dialogue it. Ben Grimm has always been one of my favorite characters, so I leaped at the opportunity.” The dialogue in issue #40 sparkles, particularly because of the contrasts between the various speaking characters. The issue opens with the Thing, Yellowjacket, Matt Murdock, and a street kid named Eugene, and would carry on to feature regal T’Challa, the Black Panther.
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In Marvel Comics’ publishing years of 1975–1976, an explosion of new titles had begun. Some were instant successes, such as the All-New, All-Different X-Men, and others, such as Omega the Unknown, still remain relatively unknown today. A number of super-teams got their own titles during this time, such as The Inhumans, The Invaders, and the short-lived Champions. For equal billing, perhaps, the bad guys got their own title: Super-Villain Team-Up. Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner and the nefarious Dr. Doom were chosen as the initial title characters. This combo has historic significance for Marvel Comics as they were the first villains to team together in the Marvel Universe, conspiring against that fab foursome in Fantastic Four #6 (Sept. 1962), “The Diabolical Duo Join Forces.” Marvel counted on the characters’ long-standing villainy to be a catalyst for this new series. Editor-in-chief at the time, Roy Thomas recalls, “The series was Stan Lee’s idea. At least that’s the way I remember it. Stan picked [Namor and Doom] because they were both stars in their own right who might carry a title. So why not team them up?” Bill Everett’s aquatic character, the Sub-Mariner, had been a Golden Age headliner in the Marvel/Timely Universe. By the mid-1970s, Prince Namor had a series of monthly adventures for almost a decade in Tales to Astonish, which transitioned in 1968 into his own self-titled Sub-Mariner, which ran for 72 issues until its cancellation in 1974. As a co-star of the new Super-Villain Team-Up, the Prince of Atlantis would return to a regular title in the summer of 1975. Sub-Mariner was a proven marketable character and one too good for writer and editor Thomas not to publish. “What I liked about the Sub-Mariner is that he is not truly a villain,” recalls Thomas. Roy had earlier penned most of the Sea Prince’s adventures in Sub-Mariner. Prince Namor had been consistently portrayed as a ruler of his aquatic city of Atlantis who nobly tried to protect his citizens and their interests from an often seemingly hostile surface world. Namor’s regal persona is in stark contrast with that of his co-star, Victor von Doom. Doom is a ruler of the European country of Latveria. However, his motives and motivations are not at all altruistic. Doom’s elitist and savage personality had threatened the Marvel Universe for over a decade, with almost endless plots against the planet. Despite his disreputable character, von Doom was, and remains, one of the more marketable Marvel characters. Von Doom had also previously headlined a feature in Amazing Adventures earlier in the decade. The series’ artist, Bob Hall, notes, “Dr. Doom was popular and matching him with other villains seemed like a good idea.”
A ROCKY START As grounded as the concept was for SVTU, the timing and production of the series was not ideal. The series debuted as one of two Giant-Size issues that debuted in the spring and summer of 1975. Marvel produced 68-page, 50-cent editions of its major titles that summer, in addition to launching a few new ones such as Giant-Size X-Men, Giant-Size Invaders, and Giant-Size Creatures. Roy Thomas remembers, “When [Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up] #1 was on the schedule, there was not time to do a new story—it had to be basically a reprint with a few new pages. I don’t think that was a good idea … but it was necessary.” To further complicate its publication, Thomas soon left as the title’s scribe. “I probably intended to write the series longer, but there were
BFF (That’s Brawling Fiends Forever) The “team” of Sub-Mariner “and” Dr. Doom. Cover to Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1 (Mar. 1975) by Ron Wilson and Frank Giacoia. TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
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other things that I preferred to do. I was happy to turn the series over to Tony Isabella’s capable hands, and the series did all right for some time.” The transition from writer/editor Roy Thomas to established writer Tony Isabella was a smooth one. Isabella recalls, “I don’t know if Roy and I ever talked about a purpose, direction, or motif for the series when he asked me to take over the writing. We had much the same sensibilities when it came to superhero comics. So that wouldn’t be necessary. Roy might have been a bit more plot-oriented in his approach to superhero comics. I might have been a bit more character-oriented, but the two of us were definitely on the same page when it came to the basics of superheroes and, especially, Marvel superheroes.” Perhaps Isabella’s character-driven style led him to kill longtime Sub-Mariner character Betty Dean in Super-Villain Team-Up #2 (Oct. 1975). Dean was Namor’s recurring love interest in his 1940s and ’50s adventures. In the Silver Age, Betty had had no contact with the Sub-Mariner until she appeared in Sub-Mariner #8 (Dec. 1968), written by Roy Thomas. In this classic tale, a visibly aged Betty Dean suddenly appears to chide Namor against his war with the surface-dwellers. The contrast between the older Dean and the non-aging mutant Sub-Mariner is aptly depicted by artist John Buscema. A portrayal of aging World War II-era heroes and characters has been a challenging concept for comics creators over the years. Thomas opines, “I didn’t mind others bringing Betty Dean back, although after SubMariner #8, I’d have been happy to let that be the final
word on her. However, I believe Bill Everett did some of those later Dean stories. Who had a better right?” Indeed, Sub-Mariner and Betty Dean were created in the Golden Age by Bill Everett. When Everett returned to write and pencil Sub-Mariner in 1973, he did bring Betty back as a supporting character. Betty was now a confidant to Namor and a guardian and mentor to the Sub-Mariner’s young cousin Namorita. In the new SVTU series, which took place after the passing of Everett, writer Tony Isabella had other ideas for Betty Dean. Isabella notes, “My reasoning went something like this: I needed to have a reason for Namor to ally with Dr. Doom. I teamed up villains who had killed people dear to Namor and upped the ante by having Betty sacrifice her life for Namor. Though I didn’t write the finale of this storyline, the plan was to have Doom help Namor get the vengeance Namor could not achieve on his own. This would leave Namor feeling indebted to Doom.” In last pages of Super-Villain Team-Up #2, Betty is blasted by the sinister Dr. Dorcas and lay dead in Namor’s arms. This issue would also be the last issue for writer Tony Isabella, who was followed by two fill-in writers: Jim Shooter (#3) and Bill Mantlo (#4). SVTU #4 marked the debut of penciler Herb Trimpe, which gave the book’s new writer, Steve Englehart, who started with issue #5, a different reason for wanting to work on the title: “When I went to work at Marvel, in the Bullpen, I sat next to Herb Trimpe and John Romita. They welcomed me into the family. I liked hanging with them, and when I got the chance to work with Team-Ups Issue
When Monarchs Meet A pair of original art pages courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions: (left) Subby’s “disco suit” is on view on the splash to SVTU #2, autographed by penciler Sal Buscema; script by Tony Isabella and inks by Fred Kida. (right) Doom targets Atlantis on this page by Steve Englehart, Herb Trimpe, and Don Perlin. From issue #5. TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc.
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On July 5, 1976, the following Daily Planet solicitation was published in Metal Men #48, Starfire #2, StarSpangled War Stories #202, and possibly other DC Comics titles:
J a m e s T. A r n o l d
A promotional blurb at the end of Swamp Thing issue #24 (Aug.–Sept. 1976) of the classic first run announced that the next issue would feature a meeting between Alec Holland (who’d been restored to human form) and Hawkman. That story never surfaced, however, since the title was canceled, and left many plot threads from #24 dangling. For the past four decades, “The Sky Above” has remained among the Holy Grails of Swamp Thing lore, with fans trying in vain to find any pages from this story, which was fully written and illustrated, but never published. That is, until February 22, 2012, when eight pages of original art from this story appeared up for auction at Heritage Auctions. Join me now, as we take a one-year journey on “The Search for Swamp Thing #25!”
THE REASON WE COLLECT #1: “Comic books, even rare ones, exist in multiple copies. But there’s only one of each page of original artwork. If comic books are like cocaine, artwork is like crack.” – Tom Field in a cautionary tale as told to David Allen Gold in Playboy (Dec. 2004) Woe be the comic-book collector who first takes this leap to the dark side! I first started collecting original comic art soon after graduating college and getting my first real job way back in 1988. By the time I turned 25,
A Lost Cover—Found! Recently discovered by Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com)—Ernie Chan’s (Chua) original cover art to the unpublished Swamp Thing #25! TM & © DC Comics.
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TM & © DC Comics.
“HAWKMAN BATTLES SWAMP THING IN PORTLAND— Reports come in that Swamp Thing has been sighted in Portland, Oregon, and Carter (Hawkman) Hall is off to investigate. And before the creature of the murk can explain himself, he’s in the middle of a battle royal with the Winged Wonder! What will be the outcome? Ask David Kraft, Ernie Chua, and Fred Carrillo! They’ll tell you to check out the answers in ‘The Sky Above’ in Swamp Thing #25, on sale the week of July 5th.”
insanity. It’s not hard enough to collect “one of a kind” original comic art. My collecting habits evolved (devolved?) to collecting “none of a kind” unpublished comic art. Being one of the items missing from my “Golden ’80s,” I began searching for the art to the original unpublished Swamp Thing #88. I actually found a copy of both the art and script a few years back, but still occasionally search for any more information on this issue. During one of these searches, I happened upon Rich Handley’s www.swampthingroots.com website, with the following blurb: “Just wanted to let you know that the Swamp Thing #25 pages will be in our upcoming Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction, February 22–23, 2012. I’ll send you a link when the art has been processed.” I had never really heard of this Swamp Thing issue before, but the chance to get some pages from an issue of Swamp Thing unpublished for almost 40 years proved to be irresistible. After the thrill of the auction and winning these pages, I began my search for any more art or information on this issue.
Chasing Amy). The art can be split by dividing the comic in alternating pages (a real problem when trying to collect a particular series of pages), or the inker may receive either the first third or last third of the original art pages. While most comic-book aficionados may recognize the penciler for a comic, the inker may be relatively unknown. This may make it harder to find the inker’s pages, but they are usually much cheaper than pages bought directly from the artist. I suspected the eight Swamp Thing pages I had won were from the inker’s [Fred Carrillo] section. These had probably been bought at some comic-book convention in the ’70s or ’80s and had been sitting in someone’s collection for decades. This was somewhat confirmed by Heritage Auctions: Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 9:18 AM Hi Jim, I took the pages in and the consignor told me he indeed bought them years ago at a convention and these were all the pages he had. Sorry we can’t be of more help— My best, Todd Hignite
THE REASON WE COLLECT #3: THE THRILL OF THE SEARCH “The search for the Grail is the search for the divine in all of us.” – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) At this point, I had two hopes. First, either someone else owned the rest of the pages to this story, but did not realize what they were (i.e., “I have some Ernie Chan Swamp Thing pages”), or second, the remaining pages from this issue were in the hands of either the penciler or inker. One of the first “secrets” collectors of original comic art learn is that when looking for comic art from a particular issue, the art is usually split between the artist (or penciler) and the inker (or “tracer”—see
And You Thought You Get Carsick...! At Jim Arnold’s request, Ernie Chan in 2012 recreated the page 6–7 spread of Swamp Thing #25, first in rough then in finished form. From the collection of Jim Arnold. Swamp Thing TM & © DC Comics.
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SWAMP THING #25: The Lost Issue Gallery
(this page and next) A random sampling of pages in both layout and letteredand-inked form. From the collection of Jim Arnold. TM & © DC Comics.
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Super Editorial Run by
“Be Original” DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz, and the first issues of his two Superman team-up series: World’s Finest Comics #198 (Nov. 1970, cover art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson) and DC Comics Presents #1 (July–Aug. 1978, cover by José Luis García-López and Dan Adkins). Photograph from Schwartz’s Man of Two Worlds bio, courtesy of Heritage Comics Auctions (www.ha.com). TM & © DC Comics.
Amongst so many accomplishments during his renowned career, editor Julius (“Julie”) Schwartz had an extraordinary way with DC superhero team-ups. He and his own crack team of writers and artists grouped superheroes from the Golden Age of Comics (the Justice Society of America) and superheroes of the Silver Age (the Justice League of America), and then teamed them all together on an annual basis well into the Bronze Age. He teamed many of these superheroes from EarthOne (the Flash, Green Lantern, and the Atom) with their namesakes from the parallel world of Earth-Two, and did so on numerous occasions. Also during the Bronze Age, Schwartz had Superman, the World’s Greatest Superhero, team up with as many DC superheroes as the powers-that-be allowed. Not to mention Santa Claus. Not just in one team-up book, but two, and we are about to partake in them all.
YOUR TWO FAVORITE HEROES—TOGETHER! When Mort Weisinger retired in 1970 as editor of the Superman family of titles at National Periodical Publications (now DC Entertainment), his books were distributed among a wide range of editors. Action Comics went to Murray Boltinoff; E. Nelson Bridwell was promoted from assistant editor to editor of Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane; Jack Kirby had Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen awaiting him after the
King’s departure from Marvel Comics; and Schwartz would now direct the course of both Superman and World’s Finest Comics (WFC). Julie wasted no time making a big change to World’s Finest: No longer would Batman be co-starring with Superman in every issue; instead, other DC super-stars would appear with the Man of Steel, with Batman scheduled to appear twice a year. Gone from Schwartz’s creative stable were veteran writers Gardner Fox and John Broome, replaced by the relatively newly established Denny O’Neil and Steve Skeates, and up-and-comers Mike Friedrich, Len Wein, and Elliot S! Maggin. The stories had a hipper flare, reeling in more adult themes while, hopefully, not alienating the targeted market of eight- to 12-year-old boys. “I enjoyed seeing Superman teamed up with other characters,” recalls writer Bob Rozakis, “especially since Batman had been doing so in The Brave and the Bold for awhile. But it was also nice to see a Schwartz-team spin on Superman/Batman, after so many years of editor Jack Schiff and Weisinger versions.” O’Neil, Julie’s go-to guy at that time, kicked off Schwartz’s 16-issue run with the timeline-saving third race between Superman and the Flash in WFC #198–199 (Nov.–Dec. 1970). This tale established once and for all that the Flash was a little bit faster than Superman. Dick Dillin and Team-Ups Issue
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Bye-bye, Batman! (above) World’s Finest #199 featured this fullpage house ad drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson touting issue #200’s team of Superman and Robin. Scan courtesy of Andy Mangels. (inset) The Neal Adams cover for that bicentennial issue. (right) From World’s Finest #201. TM & © DC Comics.
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Joe Giella provided the artwork, and would illustrate all the WFC Superman team-ups under Schwartz’s watch. In late 1970, Superman also teamed with Robin (WFC #200), written by Friedrich. Comics’ short-lived relevancy period was well underway when Schwartz took over WFC, most notably in another Schwartz book, Green Lantern/Green Arrow. In #200, America’s involvement in the Vietnam War had sparked student protests at Hudson University where Dick (Robin) Grayson attended classes, although it wouldn’t be long before more traditional science-fiction trappings propelled the tale. “At the time,” remembers Friedrich, “I was very concerned about social issues and wanted to bring them into the stories I wrote. It was a culturally and politically turbulent time, and in my small way I was part of it. I’d been brought up reading superhero stories where ‘good wins out over evil.’ What I wanted to address as a young writer was the question of what was evil: It wasn’t about robbing banks and jewelry stores, it was environmental degradation, war, and prejudice. “Julie actually seemed to encourage the social commentary, but always pushed me to incorporate it into the traditional good guy vs. bad guy conflict format—that is, there had to be a physical battle of some sort every couple of pages. If I could make that battle about a current social issue, that was a bonus. I was inspired by O’Neil’s work for Julie, though I was a lot more raw (and perhaps more radical) than Denny.” In 1971 Superman teamed with Green Lantern (WFC #201), written by O’Neil; Batman (#202) by O’Neil; Aquaman (#203) by Skeates; Wonder Woman (#204) by O’Neil; the Teen Titans (#205) by Skeates; Batman (#207) by Len Wein; Dr. Fate (#208) by Wein; and Hawkman (#209) by Friedrich. Relevancy was not at the forefront, yet there were some wild and interesting highlights. “Punish me, Daddy! I deserve it!” wailed an ashamed Superman in WFC #201, draped over the giant knee of his father, Jor-El, as the angry, apparently alive (in enlarged form) Kryptonian scientist viciously spanked his son. It remains a disturbing image, although once the Man of Steel realized it was an illusion, the situation improved as “Daddy” faded away and Superman and Green Lantern thwarted a dastardly plan by evil magician Felix Faust. O’Neil utilized relevancy in a creative way in #202, positing that mankind’s pollution problem adversely affected the Man of Steel’s fleet of Superman robots, so much so that Superman was forced to scrap them all. One remained at large, however, causing havoc in the Middle East for Lois Lane and Batman. The highly acclaimed Aquaman series by Skeates and artist Jim Aparo may have been canceled at the beginning of 1971, but Skeates still had a Sea King tale to tell in WFC #203. Next up, on a ravaged Earth in a possible future came the plea of a desperate robot to Superman and Diana Prince, Wonder Woman in WFC #204: prevent the death of an unspecified individual at a campus riot in 1971 or watch helplessly as the robot’s world comes to be! When one man’s racism, male chauvinism, extreme desire for law and order, and egomaniacal tendencies were absorbed by an alien computer and disseminated amongst the townspeople of Handley Park, including the visiting Teen Titans, Superman came to the rescue to defeat the menace and set everyone back on the straight and narrow. This tale in WFC #205 is an interesting take on the complex nature of man, complete with a fire-breathing dragon.
New Doom Patrol. Although, I should point out, before that, I did dialogue #49 (Superman and Shazam!) over Roy Thomas’s plot. I’d stepped in to help out on deadline crunches by dialoguing a few stories by Roy previously (a couple or three issues of All-Star Squadron, as I recall), so I don’t know if I was Julie’s or Roy’s choice to do that particular job. “Anyway, I guess Julie between those jobs and what I had been doing for him on Supergirl, which was being launched around that time into its own ongoing title from out of Superman Family, where I had been writing the strip—as well as the Jimmy Olsen strip—he felt I could handle the flagship guy.” Dan Mishkin recalls, “I remember only two things about the Aquaman story in DCCP #48. One is how excited I was to be working on an actual Superman story: I’ve been a huge Superman fan for about as long as I can recall. And, of course, Julie Schwartz was to me a figure of mythic proportions, since I started reading comics as the Silver Age was beginning, and always favored DC over Marvel (though I read everything, and from way more than those two publishers). “The other thing I remember about that first Superman story was that the script was late, because my wife gave birth to our first child about three weeks earlier than expected,” Mishkin says. “So I had to call Julie from a pay phone in the hospital and meekly explain that we would not be able to hand the script in the following week (Gary and I tended to divide up the labors on the comics we worked on together once we worked out the story outline together, and this was one that I was scripting). Julie was stern about my ‘excuse,’ and playfully so, I believe, but that wasn’t something I was totally sure of at the time. “The team-up (which was more of a ‘split-up’) with Clark Kent in DCCP #50 was probably our true start on Superman. Where the previous case had been one where Julie directed us to come up with an Aquaman story, this was one that Gary and I generated out of our own enthusiasms. It seemed like a cool idea to do a special 50th issue of the book with an outside-the-box pairing like that, and Julie agreed. “One of the things I very much liked about doing this story was that we hit what I think is an important theme regarding Superman: that’s it’s not just his alien powers but his humanity that makes him the hero he is. It’s the values he learned from his adoptive parents, and (as so poignantly executed in the first Christopher Reeve movie)
his understanding that those powers did not extend to staving off the deaths of those he loved. Another thing that’s interesting to me about that issue, and about the Atom and Atomic Knights team-ups as well, is that they were chockablock with bits of Silver Age continuity— using the Controllers’ Miracle Machine as the means to split Superman/Clark into two people, as well as having the resolution turn on the memory of his failure to save Ma and Pa Kent’s lives. “More Silver Age goodies showed up in the Atom story I wrote for the following issue, where Professor Hyatt’s Time Pool was a key feature, as was the carved-in-stone metaphysics of the DC Universe that said that a person traveling back in time could never encounter his or her past self.” According to Dan Mishkin, “One of the things going on in the stories of the time at DC (this had actually begun with writers a few years older than Gary and me, like Wein, Wolfman, Englehart, and Gerber) was that there was more room to make the characters something other than stock figures or cardboard cutouts. And I remember listening to Len one time, on a panel at a con before I got into the business, talk about how adding that stuff was fine with Julie as long as you first made the mechanics of the plot work. The Atom story was an
The Gang’s All Here… …except for Aquaman! DCCP #38’s (Oct. 1981) centerfold poster pinup, shown in original art form (courtesy of Heritage) and its color print form (courtesy of Jim Kingman). You might consider this artist George Pérez’s warm-up for the character-crammed Crisis on Infinite Earths, which he’d illustrate four years later. TM & © DC Comics.
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ear and inside out. But when I started describing what I wanted to do with this issue, he threw up his hands and said, essentially, ‘I don’t really get those kinds of stories, but if you want to give it a try, go ahead.’ I wrote it, turned in the script, and he never said another word about it, which, in those days, used to worry me a little, especially since I thought I had done a particularly good job on it. “Not long after,” Kupperberg continues, “I asked Julie, ‘I turn in scripts to you (by then I was doing not only DCCP, but writing regularly for him for Superman, Action Comics, Superboy, Supergirl, and the syndicated Superman newspaper strip) and you never give me any feedback. Am I doing okay?’ And he replied, ‘If you weren’t, believe me, I’d have plenty of feedback for you!’ So, with this one, as usual, I handed my script into the great void, and the next I saw of it was when it was printed … and Julie had given it to Gray Morrow to draw! My jaw dropped, which got a big laugh out of Schwartz. ‘I thought you’d like that!’ Man, did I ever! Gray was one of the great illustrators in comics, and he just killed that script! It was a very downto-Earth, human and interior-driven story, and he just made Clark and Superman look so real. It’s still one of my favorite of any art job on something I’ve written, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some of the best draw some of my stories.” In 1984 Superman teamed with Vixen (DCCP #68) by Conway, Swan, and Anderson; Blackhawk (#69) by Evanier, Novick, and Dennis Jensen (inker); the Metal Men (#70) by Kupperberg, Saviuk, and DeZuniga; Bizarro (#71) by Bridwell, Swan, and Hunt; the Phantom Stranger and the Joker (#72) by Kupperberg, Saviuk, and Jensen; the Flash (#73) by Bates, Carmine Infantino (pencils), and Hunt; Hawkman, with Hawkwoman (#74), by Rozakis, Mishkin, Saviuk, and Tanghal; Arion, Lord of Atlantis (#75) by Kupperberg and Tom Mandrake (artist); Wonder Woman (#76) by Mishkin, Cohn, and Ed Barreto (artist); the Forgotten Heroes (#77) by Wolfman, Swan, and Hunt; the Forgotten Villains (#78) by Wolfman, Swan, and Hunt; Clark Kent (#79) by Kupperberg, Swan, and Al Williamson (inker); and Shazam! (Captain Marvel) (DCCP Annual #3), by Thomas, Joey Cavalieri (co-writer), and Gil Kane (artist). Highlights included an appearance by Albert Einstein in DCCP #69 (May 1984). The Superman/Flash team-up in #73 noted Flash’s manslaughter charge, which was playing out in his own book. The Var-El saga concluded with an ultimate sacrifice in #74 (can’t have too many Kryptonians residing on Earth, apparently). In a pre–Crisis on Infinite Earths event taking place in #76, the Monitor and Harbinger observed—from their concealed spacecraft—Superman and Wonder Woman in team action. Schwartz was given a story assist credit on the 1984 DCCP Annual. At the end of #78, the Monitor shifted to his true purpose (although he didn’t explain what it was) after months of surveying DC’s superheroes and supervillains. The Forgotten Heroes (and Heroine) were Cave Carson, Dolphin, the Immortal Man, Animal Man, Rick Flagg, Congo Bill, and Rip Hunter. The Forgotten Villains boasted the Enchantress, Mr. Poseidon, the Faceless Hunter from Saturn, the Atom-Master, Kraklow, and Ultivac. “DCCP #70, with the Metal Men, was my suggestion,” recalls Kupperberg. “I always liked the characters, way back when from the original Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, and Mike Esposito run in Showcase. Kanigher created the feature and wrote the first script literally over a weekend to fill a sudden hole in the book’s schedule, but they were such great characters, fully formed in that first story. It was a goofy little story, but the Metal Men themselves had a goofy side to them, so it seemed to work. And penciler Alex Saviuk’s work always kind of reminded me of Andru’s, so he definitely nailed the Metal Men. Plus Tony DeZuniga’s inks never hurt anybody, so it was a really nice-looking issue. “I know for sure that DCCP #72, with the Phantom Stranger and the Joker, was instigated by Julie,” says Kupperberg. “The Stranger was another favorite character, again one that I was introduced to in the stories reprinted in Showcase, and then in the 1969 series that had that amazing run by Jim Aparo. With the heritage of those stories by Kanigher, Joe Orlando, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, and others, the Stranger just totally intimidated me, although I had written him in that 1978 gangbang of Showcase #100, but there he was just one of dozens of characters. The addition of the Joker was definitely a Schwartzian touch, and the combination of those characters seemed to give me an excuse for a third appearance by Maaldor.”
Random Tandem (top) Cover to DCCP #72 (Aug. 1984) by Alex Saviuk and Dick Giordano. (bottom) Klaus Janson inks Carmine Infantino on #73’s cover. (background) Eduardo Barreto’s cover to #80 (Apr. 1985), with the Legion. TM & © DC Comics.
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Have you ever walked across an empty high-school football field and put your fist in the air? If you have, it is likely you have seen the film The Breakfast Club, one of several of director John Hughes’ movies that came out of the ’80s and dealt with the teenage experience. The Breakfast Club focuses on five teens from different cliques brought together for a Saturday detention. As the day goes on, and they learn how to cope with boredom, we find them ripping away the masks that society has placed on them. The film takes the characters, and viewers, on an emotional rollercoaster. In the end, the characters found that, while they appear different, their souls share many things in common. While the film accomplished this in 1985, comics fans know of a superhero crossover work that accomplished a similar feat in 1982. In the early ’80s, DC Comics and Marvel Comics agreed to a series of crossovers, in the spirit of the vastly popular Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man treasury edition published in early 1976. [Editor’s note: For the full story, see BACK ISSUE #61.] After two tabloid team-ups,
a Superman/Spider-Man sequel and Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk, the publishers let logic prevail and decided to cross over their two highest-selling titles. Marvel’s major moneymaker was Uncanny X-Men, piloted by writer Chris Claremont. Across town, DC’s top title was The New Teen Titans, spearheaded by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Each book focused on a team of young superheroes trying to make a name for themselves. In the summer of 2012, I had the pleasure to speak with Chris Claremont about his work on this project. Claremont reminds BACK ISSUE that the ongoing crossover agreement established that the companies would alternate creative teams for these endeavors. Marvel had produced Superman/Spider-Man and DC, Batman/Hulk, so “the pendulum had swung back.” This was a Marvel production from the get-go. X-Men/Titans fell under the editorial direction of Marvel’s Louise Jones [now Simonson]. “Louise and I sat down in our editorial meeting to figure out what to do,” Claremont recalls, “and I was pitching her my initial Team-Ups Issue
From the superart team of Walter Simonson and Terry Austin, the wraparound cover to 1982’s Marvel and DC Present the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans. X-Men TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. Teen Titans TM & © DC Comics.
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The Gathering As writer Jonathan Brown explains, Simonson’s design of this splash page speaks volumes about each character’s personality. X-Men TM & © Marvel Characters, Inc. Teen Titans TM & © DC Comics.
inspiration, which was, ‘If you are going to do X-Men and you are going to do the Teen Titans, you go for the primo adversaries in both houses. As far as I was concerned, for DC that obviously meant Darkseid, and if you are going to go with dark, there was only place to go in X-Men and that was Dark Phoenix.” Claremont’s pitch placed Darkseid at the Wall, from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World/New Gods mythos, summoning forth the Dark Phoenix. As he was finishing his pitch, luck strolled by. “As soon as I finished, Walter [Simonson], who was coincidentally walking by, stuck his head in and said, ‘Did somebody say Darkseid?’” Upon learning that this crossover would feature this Kirby-created villain, Simonson signed on as artist for the project after a two-minute conversation. This brought together the major components of the creative team—it was now time for them to craft an amazing tale. The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans presupposes a world in which DC heroes coexist with
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Marvel’s, a “Crossover Earth” (or Earth-Crossover) first introduced by writer Gerry Conway in 1976’s Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man. This was done to save time and get into the story instead of wasting time concocting a reason for one group to cross into the other’s universe. It also allows for a certain theme to be established early on with little explanation. As noted, a big portion of this work is young people coming to see that surface differences are not necessarily as concrete as they appear. In a world that has both the Teen Titans and the X-Men, we find that the teams know of each other. This allows the Titans to adopt the usual misunderstanding of the X-Men as villains, simply because of their mutant heritage. Titan Cyborg demonstrates this early on when he thinks, “This used to be a skyscraper till it got trashed by the X-Men. Media describes ’em as outlaws. I wonder why the Titans have never tangled with them.” Chris Claremont, when speaking of the choice to place the characters on Earth-Crossover, talks about how it allowed for amazing moments: “The delight with this concept was that we had moments of stark terror walter simonson combined with a lot of moments of just sheer effervescent fun.” Claremont points to two splash pages rendered by Simonson as examples of the artist’s ability to catch much detail in one page. The first splash features the teams’ introduction. In the center of the page we find Robin and Cyclops shaking hands, since they are the leaders of the two groups. While your eye might first start at the central figures, if one travels around the page, you can see how Claremont’s words on top of Simonson’s art convey much information about how these characters react with one another. In our discussion, we will start our observations at the bottom and work our way up. It is here we find Raven and Wolverine examining each other, and their words remain unspoken. Raven thinks about the rage that builds in Wolverine and notes that it frightens her. Wolverine, being true to his character, sees that he freaks out what he calls the “bird lady.” The next pairing we find is Starfire engaging Storm in a handshake. No words are spoken, but we see how the outgoing nature of the two comes through as Simonson depicts their mouths as open. Continue north and we find the quintessential teenage experience, puppy love. This comes in the form of Kitty Pryde watching Changeling. In her head she notes their similar age, and that “He’s kinda cute, too.” As we reach the top of the page, we see many of our male figures (Colossus, Cyborg, Nightcrawler, and Kid Flash) standing with their arms down and chests out. It almost seems as if these adolescent men are sizing each other up, the way young men often do. Finally we come to Professor X, who is in the arms of Colossus. The X-Men’s adviser has his eyes on Wonder Girl, who meets his stare. This is an interesting pairing. These two figures are often seen as the wisdom providers of the teams. In the picture one can see that perhaps they have found a soothing commonality in the other. This is all portrayed in the chaos of space, a place that has been made that much more chaotic as these teams join forces. The story continues past this initial introduction, as we begin to see the distinctions between the two groups break down. Romantic interests in the teams heat up as characters become curious about their new comrades.
“The heroes whom we deem worthy are beautiful because they inspire us to be better and invoke those magical thoughts that keep us in lofty places soaring among the stars…”
THE REAL RIVALRY ®
by J o hn “THE MEGO STRETCH HULK” Cimino
The most important event (or explosion) in the history of comics was the debut of Superman, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, in Action Comics #1 (June 1938). This character took the industry into a bold, new direction and gave rise to a whole new landscape of superheroicstars, all of which were trying to make a name for themselves and cash in on the enormous success of the Man of Steel. The most flagrant copycats were taken to court by DC Comics, beginning with a character called Wonder Man, who was doomed after appearing in just a single issue. Soon, from out of the offices of Fawcett Publications and the minds of Bill Parker and C. C. Beck, came a new champion of good by the name of Captain Marvel. Debuting in Whiz Comics #2 (Feb. 1940)— really #1, as the earlier #1 was simply an “ashcan” edition of the same stories printed up for copyright purposes, the numbering was later changed. The “World’s Mightiest Mortal” soon developed into something much more extraordinary, something much more … well, charming than a mere copy of Superman. Through much of the Golden Age, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. Captain Marvel Adventures sold 14 million copies in 1944, at one point being published biweekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the “Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine”). Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish-fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. Billy Batson typically narrated each Captain Marvel story, speaking directly to his reading audience from his WHIZ radio microphone, relating each story from the perspective of a young boy (now, that was cool). Detective Comics (later known as National Comics Publications, National Periodical Publications, and today known as DC Comics) sued Fawcett for copyright infringement in 1941, alleging that Captain Marvel was based on their character Superman. After seven years of litigation, the National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications case went to trials court in 1948. Although the judge presiding over the case decided that Captain Marvel was an infringement, DC was found to be negligent in copyrighting several of its Superman daily newspaper strips, and it was
Big Brawl Duking do-gooders, in 1978’s All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58. Cover art by Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano, with colors by Adrienne Roy. TM & © DC Comics.
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Screen Gems (top left) DVD cover art for 2010’s Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. (top right) Tussling titans in the 2005 Justice League Unlimited episode “Clash.” (bottom) The Big Red Cheese as seen in 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe game. (bottom inset) Buckler’s altered redo of the Superman vs. Shazam! cover, for Alter Ego #85. TM & © DC Comics. Alter Ego TM & © Roy and Dann Thomas.
new “Lexor City” is jaw-dropping: windows shatter, buildings collapse, and the city gets totaled. It’s a nice back-and-forth fight where Superman begins to take the edge and gets the better of Captain Marvel. The ending of the battle also pays homage to their legendary Kingdom Come battle, in which Captain Marvel is holding Superman in a bear hug and calls down his magical lightning to strike Superman in the chest, causing him tremendous pain. But Superman breaks free from Captain Marvel’s grip and makes the Big Red Cheese the target, and now the magical lightning changes Marvel back into Billy Batson. As Billy tries to walk away and shout “Shazam!” again, Superman holds the boy’s mouth shut and says, “Fight’s over, son.” One of the highlights of the episode was the speech Captain Marvel gave the Justice League at the end of the episode, as he focused on how much the League has changed as heroes. ENJOYED THISseem PREVIEW, No longer happy to just IF doYOU the good fight, they jaded— CLICK THIS and to those complaining aboutTHE howLINK muchTO of ORDER a stubborn ass IN PRINT OR DIGITAL FORMAT! Superman was, they ISSUE likely agreed with Captain Marvel. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe video game (2008) While this is not just a Superman vs. Captain Marvel fighting game (because so many characters are in it), you can play this legendary matchup at anytime. Both heroes are some of the best and most powerful characters to play in the entire game, and using them will bring you hours of fun. With all their moves and abilities at your disposal, every fight is right out of the comic books and onto the screen. There can be no doubt that this is truly one of the most fun and addictive games that any Superman or Captain Marvel fan could ever play. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies direct-to-DVD movie (2009) This animated feature does a great job of adapting the original first six issues of the Superman/Batman DC series onto the screen. However, due to ISSUE time the Superman/ BACK #66 “Bronze Age Team-Ups”! Marvel Team-Up Two-in-One, Batman and Captain Marvel/Hawkman battleand royale does Super-Villain Team-Up, CLAREMONT and SIMONSON’s Xnot end exactly like it didTeen inTitans, the DC comics. It’s a tremendous Men/New Comics Presents, Super-Team Family, APARO’s Batman of Earth-B(&B), fight nonetheless,HANEY withand Captain Marvel getting Superman/Captain the better Marvel smackdowns, plus artscrap and commentary by BUCKLER, in the one-on-one, hand-to-hand with Superman. ENGLEHART, GARCÍA-LÓPEZ, GIFFEN, LEVITZ, WEIN, and a But one has to assume that Supes andanew Batman areAUSTIN. victorious classic GIL KANE cover inked by TERRY with their teamwork and “castling” maneuver even though (84-page FULL-COLOR magazine) $8.95 you never see the ending of the(Digital battle. Edition) $3.95 http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1067
Alter Ego magazine #85 (2009) Cover shows Superman and Captain Marvel slugging it out from the cover of All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58. But artist Rich Buckler (who is the artist on the original comic back in 1978) did this cover with a little twist. Can you spot what’s different? Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths direct-to-DVD movie (2010) The premise of Crisis on Two Earths is borrowed from 1964’s Gardner Fox-scripted Justice League of America #29–30 entitled “Crisis on Earth-Three!,” as well as 2000’s Grant Morrison-scripted JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel, but is not an
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