Book review: The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told

 

ImageI figured I’d start off a new blog with a review of an old friend. The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told was one of umpteen hundred of books I sold way back when to pay the bills. When I suddenly saw a copy up on Amazon for under three bucks, I had to snag it. It arrived yesterday and I read it straight through at one sitting.

If a lot of companies (cough-cough-D-fucking-C-cough) would remember how good comic book stories used to be, it might actually sell more books. Almost every tale in this book is an example of a good story. A good number of them are also simply classic tales that made is so the garbage that is today’s comics could even exist. Unfortunately, a good number of creators and the new breed of “fan” won’t even look at anything that was written before 1990, or, perish the thought has a word balloon on the cover.

The book opens with three old Superman tales. The first has Luthor, Prankster and Toyman teaming up to fail against the Man of Steel. It’s fun but quaint, with every male character looking like burly or outright doughy guys. Superman and the Dynamic Duo go back in time to solve the mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask, and Robin meets Superboy.

The next two-part story is a team-up that never happens, in which Aquaman and Green Arrow swap balliwicks to tackle two escaped convicts with grudges.

After that, you’ve got two of the stories that started it all: “Flash of Two Worlds”, which introduced the concept of Earth-Two, parallel Earths, and brought all the characters of the Golden Age back into play; and “Crisis on Earth-One/Crisis on Earth-Two”, which started the annual Justice League/Justice Society team-ups. Both are the Silver Age at its finest, and if you are a comic book fan and haven’t read them, please close your browser and go stick your head in a bucket of water.

Adam Strange and Hawkman, the Flash and the Atom, the original Teen Titans (sans Wonder Girl), and Green Lantern/Green Arrow follow. This is a Silver Age artwork treasure trove! Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, Alex Toth, Bruno Premiani, and Neal Adams and Frank Giacoia.  The GL/GA tale is the first of their pioneering storyline in which the two heroes drove across the country, searching for the American Dream about a decade before Hunter S. Thompson did.

The final three tales are a bit more modern: Dick Dillin provides the pencils for the tale of Tomar-Re’s first rather disastrous mission as a Green Lantern, Jim Aparo details a meeting between Batman and the Creeper, and Alan Moore and Rick Veitch have Superman meeting Swamp Thing. Moore, for all his yen of deconstructionism, could write a helluva comic story, and this is one of his best using someone else’s characters.

For the variety of artwork, story-telling, and simple style, The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told is very hard to beat. It’s also hard to beat in terms of pivotal stories and comics that were both fun and enjoyable. It can usually be found in hardcover or paperback on Amazon fairly cheaply these days, so if you don’t already own it, I would recommend you get yourself a copy.