Monday, September 3, 2012
The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans, or "When Dudes in Their Underwear Shake Hands"
Fresh off the The X-Men and the Micronauts debacle, here's a team up more to my liking. It's the Marvel and DC presentation of The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans (September, 1982), a fat, slick beauty of a book. This is the pivotal moment where both teams gather with counterparts from each conveniently facing off, or grasping hands in greeting. Well, the Raven/Wolverine moment isn't exactly a meeting of similar characters, but you get the idea.
Kitty's body is playing it smart even if her mind is unfortunately letting her down. We need to trust our bodies more. Sometimes the mind plays tricks on us, but the body is always honest. In this case, Kitty is right to hide behind Colossus rather than approach Changeling. That green freak would only make some clumsy sexual advance, and then keep it up non-stop, transforming into snakes and octopi while groping her. And no one on either team would raise a hand to stop the little pervert. Probably has his erect penis poking out of his waistband-- Changeling's idea of "playful flirtation"-- which is why artist Walt Simonson chose to hide the kid's crotch behind Starfire's hair.
I haven't read this in a while, but I remember it being an effective meshing of both teams' continuity, with Cyclops having to deal with the heartbreak of seeing his beloved Jean Grey resurrected in her evil Dark Phoenix form and Darkseid teaming up with Deathstroke the Terminator to kick the snot out of both teams. As you can see from the dialogue and thought balloons in this image, it features Chris Claremont at the height of his powers doing a bang-up job capturing the essence of all the cross-company characters, throwing in little references to past events, showing his encyclopedic knowledge of then-current comic books.
You know, sort of how he was always name-dropping the good ones in Uncanny X-Men or having minor characters that parodied Cerebus the Aardvark or whatnot. That stuff always made me feel I wasn't wasting my time reading comics, that they really were the intellectually stimulating yet action-filled pieces of sequential literature we always claimed them to be.
While I can't remember all the story details, I do know Claremont, Simonson and inker Terry Austin knocked me right out with this book when I was 14 and a fan of both teams. It was perfection, just everything I wanted in a team-up of Teen Titans and Uncanny X-Men. The epic climax with Dark Phoenix showing up and sacrificing herself for love (I believe) and then the denouement with all the players kind of hanging out in their civilian clothes left me feeling for Cyclops in a wistful sort of way for a couple of hours, but I read it ten to twenty times in two days and that kind of spoiled the mood. I still have it, along with a run of the original "Dark Phoenix" issues of Uncanny. I should re-read this comic and see if it holds up better than The X-Men and the Micronauts.
It should. Although Changeling is probably twice the degenerate the Entity is any day of the week.