The 10 Strangest Superman Team-Ups from DC Comics Presents

Already the end of the week and I feel like my theme's been more about Superman teaming up with animals than anything else. Let me fix that by talking some of the wild and weird combinations featured in DC Comics Presents. Though Superman's team-up book never received the same accolades as Batman's Brave and the Bold (where you had the winning Bob Haney-Neil Adams creative team), I've always been fond of the series. The very first comic I bought with my own money was an issue of DCP, and I still consider the team-ups with OMAC and the Demon among my personal favorite 80s books ever.

And while those were pretty offbeat, I don't consider them strange enough to make the following list (in order of publication)...

Sgt. Rock
DCP 10/The Miracle Man of Easy Company. DCP's first offbeat combo required Superman to travel back in time, and he does this by accident when an award coated with super-adhesive explodes in his hands over Paris (and they say the Silver Age ended in the 60s) and he loses his memory. Posing as a soldier, he joins Easy Company as "Tag-Along", but to the dismay of his unit, he can't bring himself to shoot anyone! When he finally remembers, he whups some Nazi ass, but allows himself to die in front of Easy, super-holding his breath while they bury him. Once they're gone, it's off to the time barrier.

Masters of the Universe
DCP 47/From Eternia -- with Death! It would take more than three years before Superman teamed-up with another bunch of characters he really shouldn't have. He-Man and Battlecat do share the white bread alter ego theme with Superman, but other than that, are we to believe Castle Grayskull is somewhere in the DC Multiverse? Probably not if Mattel has anything to say about it! The story entails Superman being mind-controlled by Skeletor (oddly never mistaken for Dr. Destiny) to fight He-Man, what else.

Clark Kent
DCP 50/When You Wish Upon a Planetoid. Superman makes the mistake of wishing he could lead both his and Clark Kent's lives simultaneously too close to a dream machine and makes this team-up possible. The twist: Superman is too intent on business to care about Lois, and Clark gets to trash him in the papers. Clark discovers his own secret identity when he sees himself in the mirror without his glasses! Further twist: It's Clark that defeats the Atomic Skull. And then the two heroes look like they're about to make-out and merge with each other. That wouldn't happen in a team-up with Green Lantern. Well... maybe it would.

House of Mystery
DCP 53/The Haunting Dooms of Halloween! But speaking of GL, Clark dresses up as Green Lantern on Halloween when Superman comes crashing through the window! He's actually a kid who, dressed as Superman, has BECOME Superman. All around Metropolis, people are becoming who or what they were disguised at! Which of course means monsters. The big bad is Mr. Mxyzptlk, who has turned Cain's House of Mystery into a fun house full of traps and illusions and imprisoned Lois inside. Not that it's anything like the actual House of Mystery comic. A page 13 by Sergio Aragones would have gone a long way making me like this one.

Atomic Knights
DCP 57/Days of Future Past (that's actually the title, folks). It's 1983 and Mishkin & Cohn predict the world will be a post-apocalyptic wasteland in just 3 years. Didn't vote for Reagan then. Superman gets an electric shock while hooked up to the internet and wakes up 9 years in the future, in a world where armored knights ride giant dalmatians and help Hercules himself fight atomic monsters. Fans of Hercules Unbound may be saddened to hear that series all happened in the Matrix! The upside is, the world didn't end on my 15th birthday.

Santa Claus
DCP 67/'Twas the Fright Before Christmas! Toy-Man's been hypnotizing kids to rob street corner Santas, and one of his weapons accidentally downs Superman near the Fortress of Solitude... at Santa's workshop! You'll be glad to know that in addition to being a DC character, Santa monitors every child in the world via computer monitor and has a simple, but effective bag of tricks. All such stories of course end the same way, with Superman helping to deliver presents and then waking up from a "dream... or WAS IT?!"

Forgotten Heroes/Villains
DCP 77-78/Triad of Terror. A bunch of obscure villains from DC's past are trotted out just as forgotten heroes make their comeback. Since then, all the good guys have been players - Animal Man, Rick Flagg, Dolphin, Rip Hunter, Congorilla, Dane Dorrance of the Sea Devils, even Immortal Man - but the villains... not so much. By the end of the second issue, this thing has featured Space Cabbie, Chris KL-99, and introducing Creepy Gills in her Neck Girl! This thing has everything AND an appearance by the Monitor.

Swamp Thing
DCP 65/The Jungle Line. While Superman's first team-up with Swampy in DCP 8 was predictably a battle between the heroes and Solomon Grundy, the second was written by Alan Moore and pencilled by Rick Veitch. In this eerie story, Superman is exposed to Kryptonian fungus that makes his health and powers deteriorate. Heading south to die, he is found by the Swamp Thing who helps him come out of his fever dreams.

Elastic Four
DCP 93/That's the Way the Heroes Bounce! The comic creates a new elastic villain called the Malleable Man just so it could say Elastic Four on the cover. The other three are, of course, Plastic Man, Elongated Man and Jimmy Olsen AKA Elastic Lad. It's all tentacle fingers until the Malleable Man slinks into the Fortress of Solitude's massive keyhole (yeah, that's a security risk) and uhm, his powers get past their time limit. Cuz he was damn near undefeatable with them before that, right?

The Phantom Zone Villains
DCP 97/Phantom Zone the Final Chapter. Steve Gerber hands in this "untold tale of the pre-Crisis universe", Jor-El discovers the Phantom Zone and finding unsuitable for escape from doomed Krypton, it's put to use sending the planet's worst criminals in exile. You'll never read a more disturbing description of their crimes as the Superman universe brushes against the early Vertigo style. As the Villains think of escape, Bizarro stages a huge opposite destruction of Krypton on Bizarro World. Throw in a weird crystal heart floating about space absorbing people, Mxyzptlk freeing the Villains, New York burning under a giant kryptonite asteroid, and Superman not knowing what the hell just happened, and you have a not quite team-up in the style of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow... that completely contradicts that story!

So there you have them, my picks for strangest team-ups in the pages of DC Comics Presents. Maybe you have your own favorites. Don't be stingy, share!

10 comments:

Sea-of-Green said...

Ha! Great list!

NOW, how 'bout the ten strangest Batman team-ups from the original run of Brave & Bold? ;-)

Siskoid said...

You really think it would only be 10 books long?

My thoughts on a lot of them can be found in the Archives... when I used to make B&B fight Marvel 2-in-1.

I should bring that feature back.

Robert said...

Is that the end of Superman teamup week? I was hoping you'd get to Superman and Lucy Ricardo.

De said...

I thought the Superman team-up with Amethyst was pretty nutty.

Siskoid said...

Robert: All my research and knowledge came from comics, but watch for a Strange Team-Up Extra next week!

ShadowWing Tronix said...

I had the Clark Kent one when it first came out, and got the MOTU crossover (an attempt to promote the MOTU comic, there was a "sequel" in a few DC comics of the time as well, where Superman gets drawn back to Eternia--only a few pages long) in back issue.

Another "why?" team-up was with the Thundercats, to promote the Wildstorm series. I'd say feel free to miss it, but I just reread the Thundercats/Battle of the Planets crossover, and that turned out to not be as bad as I remember it (while still having some major flaws beyond being boring), so I'm not sure I trust my memories at this point.

Siskoid said...

Obviously, a week is too short to cover everyone Superman's been with (the skank), so it'll probably be something I return to.

I mean, even pairing him up with Aliens or Predator is an odd idea, right?

Anonymous said...

superman and the quix bunny was an odd one.

-arch 14

Siskoid said...

Yes, you did see Monday's post, right?

Jeff R. said...

Sadly, no love for the TRS-80 Whiz Kids this week...

From DCCP, I'd say you hit all of the non-Ambush Bug-involving high points for wierdness, other than maybe the first Superboy Prime story.

 

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