Friday Funny Pages: They Grow Up So Fast

     More from the Marvel/DC Crossover Classics!  Today we get a sampling from the X-Men/Teen Titans team-up.  Written by Chris Claremont with art by Walter Simonson, this tale had a hell of a creative match up as well.  There was a great deal going on in this story, Deathstroke of course makes an appearance, and there’s a great X-Men training scene in the Danger Room, but the main gist of the story revolves around an epicly cosmic pairing of Darkseid and Dark Phoenix armed with a plan to conquer the entire universe!  With such massively powerful supervillains working together you’d think the various comic universes would send their heaviest hitters like Superman and Thor or at the very least Green Lantern and the Fantastic Four, but no.  Instead DC/Marvel send in the angsty teen squads to clean up this mess!

     There really isn’t anything inherently funny in this full-page spread.  Here we have the moment when the Teen Titans and the X-Men officially join forces, we see the two leaders, Cyclops and Robin, of course hashing it out with a handshake, while the other heroes have a few individual moments.  What I do find funny is that looking back at this page, nowadays none of these characters are portrayed as kids anymore.  For the most part all of these heroes have taken their rightful place in the pantheons of Marvel and DC and sadly many of them have been relegated to teachering positions, instructing their hipper, younger, and even angstier team replacements.  Of course some of them have gone on to do other things, Storm and Nightcrawler occasionally manage to get away from the X-Mansion, and Dick Grayson and Cyborg are now brushing shoulders with the big guys. 

     Basically I’d like a huge framed print of this, with no dialogue, to hang at the entrance of my house.  That way people would walk into my home and the first thing that would catch their eye would be the Teen Titans shaking hands with the X-men on a giant asteroid in the middle of an insane cosmic weirdscape.  I think that would really get some good conversations started, don’t you?

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: It’s Funny Because It’s True

     The next panel in our Friday Funny Pages crossover series is this one from Batman VS The Hulk!  Written by Len Wein and drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, this team-up might at first seem like an odd pairing, and perhaps it is, but this was actually one of the more interesting (and occasionally more strange) crossovers in the Crossover Classics collection.

     This panel shows us how this Batman/Hulk feud got started, and like any good hero battle it was initiated by the malcontented actions of a sneaky villain type.  Here we see the Joker playing his cards right, as always, and calmly explaining to the dimwitted Hulk why he and his thugs are attempting to “borrow” a powerful gamma powered laser, why it isn’t theft, and how the mean ol’ Batman is trying to get in his way.  As we see in this panel the Joker calmly explains the situation to the Hulk, and to big jade jaws it seems to make sense.  In the Hulk’s defense however the Joker kind of has a point.  The Hulk finds himself in a new town, we all know he’s not the brightest hero on the Avengers, and he sees some type of kerfuffle going down.  Then the smiling happy guy tells him that the brooding guy in the dark clothes is the bad guy, who would you believe?  Clown man or scowl face?  Hulk smash scowl face!  And of course a fight ensues and as we’d expect there is a lot of property damage and Batman reveals his usual bevy of handy resources that he has to deal with such a powerful threat.       

     Those damn villains are always starting some shit!  Last week you will remember that Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor had joined forces against Spider-Man and Superman, this time it’s the Joker and obscure Hulk villain the Shaper of Worlds!  There’s a crazy plot revolving around gamma guns used to strengthen the Shaper of Worlds and a double-cross from the Joker who simply wants to steal the Shaper’s cosmic powers and reality warping properties in order to humiliate and defeat Batman once and for all setting himself up as king of the world.  In the end the heroes win the day of course but not before the Joker wields the incredible powers of the Shaper of Worlds making for some crazy, trippy fight scenes as the Joker bends reality to reflect his twisted psyche.

     All in all I just like this panel because it is mildly amusing, and makes perfect sense with these characters, the Hulk tries his darndest to do the right thing but someone is always playing mind games with the big guy and getting him into trouble.  Overall this was a decent crossover that wasn’t a completely stereotypical multi-publisher encounter.  Next week get ready for more crossover action as two of Marvel and DC’s “teenage” hero teams mix it up!

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Spider-Man VS Superman

Today’s madness begins a special Friday Funny Pages crossover series, I’ve got three or four of these lined up that I think are pretty amusing, at least to me.  The dual franchise images I have planned all come from a trade titled “Crossover Classics the Marvel/DC Collection.”  This particular image dates back to 1975 and the very first Marvel/DC hero crossover.  Written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ross Andru this issue has a plethora of other well-known credits of course spanning both publishers. 

Heralded as “The Battle of the Century!”  This was to be a comic book event like no other, bringing comic fans the best of both worlds Spider-Man and Superman in one amazing series! 

I guess. 

For a long time I was a huge fan of DC/Marvel crossovers, this particular trade was one of my first comic book purchases, but as time goes on the crossover concept has lost most of its spectacle for me.  I don’t know why exactly, perhaps it’s my better understanding of the commercial motivations of the publishers, or the fuel these crossovers lend to the fiery and pointless Marvel vs DC fandom debates, but overall the crossovers don’t do much for me these days.  This could also be in part to the impermanence of the crossovers, they all seem to happen so randomly and without much consequence.  Perhaps if there were some type of stop and go crossover continuity that relaunched every ten years or so when Marvel and DC decide they need money bad enough to team up once again.  Although such a continuity would be rather bland and boring because writers have learned that you can’t really proclaim one superhero better than another because the fans will have a shit fit.  If they showed the Hulk ripping Batman in half it would be a clear Marvel bias, and if Superman were to beat Thor the rivers would run red with DC blood!  If there were ever a Marvel/DC crossoververse the issues would be extremely vague and full of random deus ex machina unifying events that would ensure the heroes never actually fought long enough to determine a victor, but rather teamed up to achieve some amiable end. 

But enough of my comic book rhetoric, let’s talk about this panel.

This panel could, and should, be the entire crossover of Spider-Man VS Superman.  In a straight up fight Supe wins, sorry Spidey.  As much as I don’t really care for Superman at all, there’s just no fight to be had here.  HOWEVER through the magic of the comic book creators involved in this story that is not the only thing this tale was about!  You see the issue did not only see a team up between Spider-Man and Superman, but it also saw the sinister pairing of Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus!  That’s where things get good. 

It just so happens that Peter Parker and Clark Kent are both attending the World News Conference in New York city (so they apparently have been living in the same universe all along, but Superman just hadn’t ever gone to New York? Or heard of Spider-Man?  Silly.) But when villainy strikes Spider-Man and Superman are called into action!  Long story short Luthor and Doc Ock make the two heroes think the other is behind the attack, the villains zap Spider-Man with a mega dose of red sun radiation temporarily giving him powers and strength equal to Superman, and a battle royale ensues!  That is of course until the red sun radiation wears off and we have the two panels shown above, as Spidey realizes he’s no match for the Man of Steel.  

Of course later the two heroes come to an understanding and team up to bring the evil doers to justice and they all live happily ever after!

The one thing that I can still appreciate about crossover events is the sheer amount of goofiness involved in their creation.  Whether it’s uncanny devices like a red sun radiation gun, or transdimensional tournaments of transpublisher celestial beings uniting the two universes together, the zany cleverness and creative effort put into initiating these hero showdowns is always reminiscent of the oldest days of comic books when the cheesy, the harebrained, the unexpected, and the unbelievable were regular elements of these astonishing tales.

Until next time, that is all!