"Just what it says on the tin": Professor X Rides a Motorcycle!
Panel from Uncanny X-Men #389 (January 2001), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Salvador Larroca, inks by Art Thibert, colors by Hi-Fi Colour Design, letters by Richard Starkings and Saida Temofonte
Team-Up Comics! Who doesn't love 'em? Answer: the Red Skull. Because he's a Nazi, and also because he always gets second billing.
But what about those books that are designed to team-up two specific characters from the beginning? Like Hawk and Dove...Sam and Twitch...Milk and Cheese! Comics like, say...these!
Ah ha! Do you see what they did there? Clever, clever team-up character names that are phrases or puns! Sadly, the titles are sometimes the cleverest thing about the comic book, but still, what great titles!
It's a little like naming your comic book duo "Dollars and Cents" or "Parks and Recreation." (Say!)
C'mon, you can make up your own by now...it's fun! "Time and Temperature!" "Cash and Carrie!" "Tony Orlando and Dawn!" I would buy every single issue of those.
Which got me thinkin' (and I think you all know how dangerous that can be): what if comic book team-up duos were named after song titles? You know, like "Ebony and Ivory" or "Rum and Coca-Cola" or "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy"? Well, I think it would go something like this:
Working late into the night to finish their temperature control system before their project could be shut down by the government, Dr. Tina Saffire and her assistant Frank Eissman are trapped in the rays of their own invention by rival scientist Dr. Heinz Fahrenheit. When Tina gains the power to turn her body into living flames and Frank becomes a walking, gliding icicle, they decide to team up as superheroes to stop Fahrenheit and his evil hordes of C.E.L.S.I.U.S. (Criminal Empire Launching Sinister Infamous Unpleasant Schemes)! The world may not know their names as scientists...but all will soon know them as the crimefighters called
Fire and Ice!
Despite their difference in rank when they fought side by side in Vietnam, Lieutenant Jerry Saboto and Sgt. Sal D'Angelo developed a grudging respect for each other's survival and battle skills and eventually a fast friendship that survived beyond the Tet Offense to their honorable discharges and retirement in suburbia. But now, thirty years later, when Jerry's son and Sal's daughter, both stationed in Iraq, disappear without a trace, their fathers join forces again to find the truth behind the tragedy. Stonewalled at every stage, Sabato and D'Angelo begin to suspect even the United States Military is keeping secret what happened that bloody morning...could Jerry Jr. and Rosanna D'Angelo still be alive, caught in a deadly web of military intrigue and corruption? It's going to take all the hunting and tracking skills of Sabato and the cunning weaponry and battle expertise of D'Angelo to get to the bottom of the truth when they travel to Iraq as...
Search and Destroy!
When she was young, Jean Spinney was an unusual child, spending her days in the thick wooded fields on her family's ancestral estate among the trees and thickets. Now an adult, Jean must reach into her past to protect her family's name and property...and those of the common people of the land...from the urban invasion of city-dwellers and the bulldozers of the developers. But Jean Spinney has friends who can help...the same friends she had in the woods as a child. Jean can call upon the spirits of the great mystical Women of the Woods: Cordelia, Guinevere, Joan the Wad, Isolde, and Macha. Together, when the twenty-first century threatens the traditions and customs of her quiet, beautiful countryside, Jean summons these spirit to aid her in her battle to protect her land and people. They are the
Five Green Queens and Jean!
Not all heroes are based in today's New York City or Metropolis. In the San Francisco of 1967, it's the height of the Summer of Love...but while peace, harmony, and love are in the air, there's also the threat of "The Man"...Herbert T. Mann, hired to clear Haight-Ashbery of the carefree and bohemian hippies by any means possible. But Mann may send the city into a fiery riot if his vicious plans of extermination against the young people takes place. But the hippies have their own heroes: when college drop-out and enthusiastic imbiber Mark Madison puffs on the magic cigarette given to him by Bob Dylan in a hazy vision, and Virginia "Pepper" Wintergreen pops one of the capsules she inherited from Timothy Leary, the pair are transformed into the Heroes of the Hippies, the Protectors of the Peacenicks, the Flower Child Freaks known as
Incense and Peppermints!
Even among the whispered histories of the great artists, only a few know the rumors of master of surrealism Rene Magritte's amazing otherworldly powers to step into his own paintings: to leave behind his bowler hat, to hide among a legion of floating men, to smoke what looks like a pipe but is not a pipe, and to fight with two paint-smeared fists the sinister schemes of the Pop Movement and their faithful representation of the world as it is, becoming the only force in the world of art who can halt the plots of Andy Warhol and his deadly Soupcan Squad. Aided only by his loving wife Georgette, and a cowardly talking dog surrealistically named After the War, Magritte must never cease in his battle. But don't call him a superhero: he'll chuckle and point to the image of himself on the front of his own comic book and tell you "Ceci n'est pas une superhero." When surrealism is spooked, there's only one team they can call:
René and Georgette Magritte with their dog After the War!
Orphaned after Auschwitz, the last survivor of his family, Max Eisenhardt vows to use his superhuman magnetic powers to destroy humanity for allowing the extermination of millions of people. Meanwhile, half a world away, Boris Bullski steps into a suit of electronic heavy metal armor to become one of the Soviet Union's most powerful weapons...but is he working for the KGB, or for himself? They don't trust each other, but they must join together...or die! They are
Magneto and Titanium Man!
(hey, wait a minute...)
And then, they all team up. Crisis on Infinite Jukeboxes, anyone?
Hank McCoy dances with Mary Jane Watson and Bobby Drake dances with Gwen Stacy in panels from X-Men and Spider-Man #1 (January 2009), script by Christos Gage, pencils, inks, and colors by Mario Alberti, letters by Jared K. Fletcher
And, speaking of comic books...here's an unusual comic cover mural:
X-Men Forever v.1 #2-6 (February-June 2001), art by Kevin Maguire, Andrew Pepoy, and Paul Mounts
(Click picture to X-cess-size)
This is X-Men Forever...not the Chris Claremont ret-fest currently going through its second run in the back alleys of continuity over at Marvel, but the original 2001 miniseries intended to capitalize on the success of Avengers Forever, which was a limited series based on pretty straightforward events through the history of Avengers, making them as complicated and twisted as possible. X-Men Forever is based upon X-Men, which naturally has one of the most confusing backstories since Star Wars Episode 3.5: Why is Lord Vader Sitting in His Quarters and Sobbing Uncontrollably?. Really, you explain Widget to me, huh? It was Kitty Pryde all along? I call shenanigans.
X-Men Forever is probably best remembered as the limited series where some of the supporting characters in the X-Families were visually tweaked to look more like their counterparts in the X-Men movie. Because that gives the later X-artists a chance to tweak up the blue filter over glamour photos of salad heiress Rebecca Romjin. For example: as seen in this expertly retouched photograph of Ms. Romjin with some comic book geek or another:
And then there's this curious cover mural. You can't argue that the cover artist is a powerhouse: Kevin Maguire, one of the great visual artists of today's comics world (and those digs at comics tracers were not pointed at you, Mr. M.) did the interiors and covers of the series, but I'm baffled at the covers. It's clearly supposed to be a mural of the main characters standing against a giant "X" (rented from X-World, your local headquarters for giant Xs, just behind the Long John SIlver's off of Route 22 in Berwyn). Forgive the doesn't-quite-fit-together matching of the covers (it's likely explained by tighter trimming of the cover images than Maguire expected), but where the Sam Scratch is the cover to issue #1?
I've looked up and down, through internet and outer, through longbox and short, and I've been unable to find a matching corner of that mural for ish #1. Here's what all the databases tell us is the sole direct edition cover of X-Men Forever #1:
And here's an alternate Dynamic Forces cover by J. H. Williams, also unrelated to the mural:
...annnnnnnd...that's about it. Theoretically there should be an upper left alternate cover that completes the mural, but if there is, I've never seen it. So it must be lost to time and consciousness, X-Men Forever.
It kind of makes sense that there isn't a first issue mural puzzle piece: there's five main characters in the series, each of whom's represented on the subsequent five issue covers. So unless the first issue would be Wolverine saying "Hey, bub! I do not appear in this series!", there really isn't another character to put on a theoretical first issue cover to match the others. It probably doesn't exist.
But: if it does exist you've got it, why not take a photo or scan of it and send it in? And in the meantime, may I humbly offer my proposal for a mural-completing cover to X-Men Forever #1?:
The brief undeath and death again of Hank McCoy from Earth-2149 (the Marvel Zombieverse) in panels from Marvel Zombies #3 (April 2006), script by Robert Kirkman, pencils and inks by Sean Phillips, colors by June Chung, letters by Randy Gentile