Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comics Blogs: Super-Team Family

I just found an AMAZING blog that sucked away a few hours of my time the other night: Super-Team Family.  This blog had me laughing out loud at some of the funnier team-ups (Captain Carrot and Flaming Carrot, anyone?), but it also got me thinking about team-ups in general and how much I miss those old "Family" books from DC Comics.

 For those of you who don't remember the word "Family" was used by DC in the 1970s (mostly) to describe the secondary characters who surround a primary character. Thus, Superman Family had Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Supergirl, Krypto, and others. Batman Family would include Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Man-Bat and others.

A classic original that
inspired the blog
These were giant-size issues (100 pages for 60 cents are the ones I remember best) These two titles were favorites of mine back in the day before the direct market took off because I got to read characters who didn't warrant their own book but were too interesting to sit on the shelf. Most of these issues featured shorter stories (about 8 - 11 pages) and sometimes the same storyline would move through the entire issues (with Robin working on part one, Batgirl on the second, and so on). These were great fun to read.

I loved team-ups and still do. In fact, I've got several of the team-up omnibus books that are put out by Marvel and DC (these are 500-page, b&w collections of classic issues: Marvel has their "Essential" line and DC has its "Showcase Presents" collections). My favorites of these included Marvel Team-Up (Spidey & someone), Marvel Two-In-One (the Thing and a guest star) and the granddaddy of them all, the Brave and the Bold, which featured Batman teamed up with everyone from Black Canary to Zatanna.

Another Classic Original
Crossing Company Lines
Of course, these all featured team-ups within the same company. It wouldn't be until the mid 1976 that we finally got the cross-over that we had all been waiting for: Superman vs. Spider-Man. This issue blew our young minds because there was no interdimensional jumping around, no Earth-1 meets Earth-M; it pretty much skirted the entire issue and just had Metropolis and New York City existing on the same planet and treated it as though their meeting was bound to happen eventually. As I said, totally mind-blowing stuff back then!

This was just the first of some high-profile DC/Marvel team-ups. Another Supes/Spidey would follow, as would Batman vs. The Hulk, and then we would even get some amazing team-ups like X-Men and Teen Titans, plus JLA/Avengers. Finally, we even started getting some cool team-ups outside of comics: The X-Men met Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series, Batman fought the Predator (more than once, actually), and there have been numerous others that were cool and fun to read.

One of my favorite
original team-ups
One of the most fun, for me, was something that sounds incredibly stupid, but it actually works on many levels: Archie meets The Punisher. This was written by the brilliantly funny Batton Lash (remind me to talk about his brilliant work on Radiactive Man, some day) and published in 1992.

The story was simple: The Punisher is after a crook named "Red" and follows him to Riverdale. By coincidence, Red looks just like Archie. The Punisher goes undercover at Riverdale High School and a combination of action and comedy ensues in a fairly realistic story that stays true to all the characters. In fact, I clearly remember a scene where the Punisher is walking around Riverdale and realizes that this small town --innocent and welcoming -- is exactly part of the reason he is fighting: There are places that are not evil and he can help keep them that way. You can just imagine Frank thinking that this is the kind of place he would have moved with his family -- to raise his kids in a clean, small town without crime or the threat of danger -- if only fate had not taken such a tragic turn against him.

Bring on the Blog: Super-Team Family LIVES
But as much fun as those real super tem-ups were, Super-Team Family gives us even more of "The Greatest Team-Ups that Never happened... BT SHOULD HAVE!" An Origin Story reprinted from his blog:

Sunday, April 4, 2010
My favorite comic book series of all time was "The Brave and the Bold", which featured Batman teaming up with a different guest star each month and was illustrated by the great Jim Aparo. I was disappointed with its cancellation at issue #200 because there were still so many team ups that I wanted to see. Bored one day, I decided to create covers of issues that I wished would have happened but never did. 

I began with team ups from the DC Universe that the company never got to and posted them in a forum that I frequent. They were well received so I began to do some more and even take requests. Pretty soon I was branching out to more obscure DC characters, Marvel characters and beyond. At this point I have made well over 100 covers and a friend suggested that I begin this blog and feature a cover a day. OK, that sounds like a good Idea, so here I go. I will post the covers alphabetically at first and then any new ones that have been created in the interim. Enjoy!

A few notes:
- Each cover was created by manipulating existing artwork using Microsoft Paint.
- My goal was to only include characters that never actually appeared in The Brave and the Bold and use artwork by Jim Aparo whenever possible.
And here we go!

His first image is Batman and Air Wave (a minor character that I always had a soft spot for... both dad and son). Next he gives us our first cross-company team-up: Batman and Alpha Flight. Some other cool early works include Batman and Godzilla, Batman and Black Orchid, Batman and Conan, and Batman and Elektra.

One of the cool things for an old fanboy like me is that I can often spot where he lifted the original artwork. Elektra is obviously a reversed imaged (i.e. flipped horizontally) from the cover of Daredevil #181.

So far, the author of this blog has posted almost 600 cover mock-ups. I have looked at a lot of them, but I doubt I've even hit half of them. So I can't really give you an informed  favorites list, but here are some that I really liked.

Batman and Doctor Strange:

Batman and the Guardians of the Galaxy (I really love that he used an image from the classic Hugo Strange captures Batman storyline from the 1970s):

Batman and Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern: I really liked this version of Green Lantern best. The latter Hal Jordan stories were good, but his recent resurrection really annoyed me.

Batman and Kiss: (I have the Treasury Edition that he got the Batman image from -- I really loved those Treasury comics... hmmm. I sense the topic for another blog coming on).

This one looks completely believable -- exactly the sort of thing that would happen if Jonah Hex met Batman:

This is a really cool cover showing Batman and Man-Thing:

Moving beyond the Batman team-ups, we find a very believable Spider-Man and Nightwing:

I also like it when he does some "jokey" covers based on a theme, like teaming up heroes with the word "Mister" in their name: Mister Terrific, Mister Fantastic and Mr. Incredible.

Black Canary and Black Bolt (the idea of them giving s concert is literally earth shaking!):

And, of course, the obvious Wonder Woman and Wonder Man:

There you go, 10 of the Super-Team Family covers that I really enjoyed. They are not a Top-10 list of favorites, though, as I just haven't had time to go through all of them to find the ones that really speak to me.

Visit the site and find your own favorites!

See you here for Netflix Friday!


  1. I'm glad you like the blog. Stay tuned as I still have 300 covers that have yet to be posted and I am making more all the time...

  2. 300 more? WOW! You are amazing and prolific. I'm definitely going to keep my eyes on your work.