The Big 'Ol Team-Up Book Post, PART I! Mark Waid's Favorites, Reviewed.

So the Brave and the Bold popped up in Comic Book Urban Legends AND the Snark Blocker last week, and it occurs to me I've never talked about my violent, obsessive love for team-up books.

"Obsessive" as in, "I'm trying to collect all the team-up books."

But my cheerful insanity and the master list of all 710 team-up books I painstakingly assembled for the hunting is a topic for PART II!, which is coming tomorrow.

But to kick the series off, I thought it would be fun to do some quick reviews and commentary on (departing ) Brave and the Bold  (4th Series) writer Mark Waid's favorite team-up issues of Brave and the Bold (1st Series) taken from Wizard Magazine, which I found via this George Perez news-site here.

I figured a relatively short, poppy review post might ease us into the team-up book waters before we get into the shark infested rapids of full blown fanaticism.

5. BATMAN AND Superboy (Brave and the Bold #192) Mike Barr (w), Jim Aparo (a)

Mark Waid:  "This issue is just jaw-droppingly poignant.  It was absolutely the first time any writer underscored the profound difference between inexperienced Superboy and experienced Superman."

MarkAndrew:The main plot with the two heroes fighting Ira "I.Q." Quimby was super-lame, mostly due to only having 15 pages for the lead feature.  But the character interaction was solid, and Long-time B & B penciller/inker Jim Aparo was in absolutely top form here as well, delivering both his characteristic face-punching goodness and some genuine sadness.  Still.  Only Top 50 (outta 148, minus 6 or 7 I haven't read)  MAYBE top 40 on my "favorites" list, for big problems with the "A" plot.

4. BATMAN AND SGT ROCK (Brave and the Bold #124) Bob Haney (w), Jim Aparo (a)

Mark Waid: It's one of the strangest DC Comics of all time. The villains decide the best way to defeat Batman and Sgt. Rock is to force artist Jim Aparo to alter the story to progress to their advantage. Re-reading it was a great primer for working with Grant Morrison, to whom that sort of thing happens five times a week and is no big deal."

MarkAndrew: Yeah, this one's pretty great.  But, given the Bronze Age DC background it was comin' from... well, it wasn't THAT weird.  The Flash was taking the cosmic treadmill to Earth Prime every other week and real-life writer Cary Bates was a JLA villain for a bit.  Unlike the majority of Haney's plots, this one had the slightest whiff of "It's all been done" emanating from it's pages.  Still, the executions three notches above any other pomo DC comic between the golden age and Animal Man, so this is almost certainly a Top Ten on the MarkAndrew list.

3. BATMAN AND BLACK CANARY (Brave and the Bold #91) Bob Haney (w)

Mark Waid:It is one of the very best-drawn comics of all time. It was drawn by Nick Cardy, who was at the absolute peak of his form here. At conventions I'll buy up copies and hand them to my artist friends just to watch their jaws drop.

MarkAndrew: I am in total agreement re:  Nick Cardy being an underrated genius who should be gifted with gold myrh and sacraficaial lambs for his general awesomeness.  But, we have a but.  Cardy's lush, slightly-psychedelic line-work wasn't... Well, alright.  It was pretty damn great on Batman, but not AS fitting for the dark and brooding Bat-Dude as Aquaman, Bat Lash, or any of the romance Books that Cardy provided covers for in his decades long career.

Also the story here in # 91 here was all about Earth-Two, which just feels weird in a Bob Haney tale.

But here's a but to counter that first but:  Cardy might well be the best Black Canary artist EVER, 'cepting the dude who drew # 2 below, and this is one of.... Nah, this is THE greatest cover of the whole series, according to no less an authority than me.  :)  Top 20.

2. ATOM AND FLASH (Brave and the Bold #52) (Actually it's 53.  Gosh.  Wizard was WRONG about something pertaining to comics history.  Imagine.) Bob Haney (w)

Mark Waid: It doesn't have a particularly memorable plot, but is one of the very best-drawn comics of all time, period. This issue is by Alex Toth, one of the finest comics artist who ever lived but drew only one Brave and the Bold."

MarkAndrew: This one loses points with me for an arse-ugly cover where you can barely see the Atom, and, yeah, for the ridiculous (even by Haney standards) plot.  But  once you get past the cover this whole book is loveley from page one to finish.  Top 25.

Sidebar: And it's a damned shame how little of Toth's work has been reprinted, and what little of the stuff that IS out there has ended up in Price-Gouge-A-Rific Archive Editions.  But thank you, Image, for that neat Zorro collection a couple years back.

Sidebar 2: If anyone can secure the rights, I'd.... I'd actually, albeing grudgingly, pay the stoopid fifty bucks for an Alex Toth Hot Wheels Archive.

1. BATMAN AND HAWK & DOVE (Brave and the Bold #181) Jim Aparo (a)

Mark Waid: Top of their list would have to be any of the Alan Brennert-scripted issues of the early 1980s. But my favorite is issue ##181. It's a story about two former teenage heroes who've grown up and have to deal with a world that's not the 1960s anymore.

MarkAndrew: I admit, I have some pretty specific tastes with regards to superhero comics.  In general, I'm a plot guy, less a fan of soap opera tinged super-tales and more about the giant genetically modified three headed space octopuses with explodo-vision holding New Zealand hostage style style comics.

And Brennert's stuff... It leans toward the more character-driven and octopus-free side of the spectrum, for sure.

Still, it's hard to be TOO down on a superhero book that's as patently opposed to Claremont-style bombast and as quietly thoughtful as this one, and it does my heart good to see another writer playin' as fast and loose with continuity as Haney in his prime.  And Jim Aparo is, like, even excellent-er then per usual for this outing.  Top 25, easy.

Postscript: My top five B&B team-ups?  Still working on it, and as I noted above there are a couple issues I haven't read.  But here's some of the nominees: 

# 52: Sgt. Rock, Lt. Cloud and Jeb Stuart, (Because Joe Kubert) 

# 86: Batman and Deadman (Because Neal Adams)

# 96: Batman and Sgt. Rock (NIck Cardy, and Sgt. Rock vs. the devil)

# 112: Batman and Mister Miracle: (Haney and Aparo, with the world's greatest escape artists vs. the Great Damn Pyramid)

# 115: Batman and the Atom (Batman dies, and the Atom animates his corpse to track down the killers by kicking it in the brain)

# 118: Batman and Wildcat (The single greatest plot in the history of comics, which I am unworthy to even attempt to describe)

# 150 Batman and "?" (The last great Haney/Aparo Joint.  And I'm a sucker for the mystery guest bit)  #

# 171 Batman and Scalphunter (I kind of hate the guest-star, but I absolutely loves me some Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art) and

# 178 Batman and the Creeper (the Bob Haney-est of the Alan Brennert written issues)

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