DC and Marvel would benefit from team-up books like Brave and the Bold

Almost since the birth of superhero comics, fans have been ecstatic when their favorite heroes team up. While larger teams like The Avengers and Justice League have brought fans some of the best superhero adventure stories, titles featuring smaller teams also have their place.

Although the original Justice League debut featured a team of seven, the series that put them together specialized in smaller teams. Superheroes had banded together in groups since the 1940s All Star Comics and world best. Later series like Brave and the brave and Marvel Team Up would capture the same excitement as readers’ favorites join forces or newer characters that fans might soon fall in love with. Although both publishers have considered returning these series to print, these efforts were only limited series and mistakenly abandoned the random nature of team building by attaching titles to specific heroes. But the randomness is what the fans want.

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While DC’s monthly team-up adventures took place in the familiar Brave and the brave series, Marvel had its own title, aptly named Marvel Team Up. In titles like these, fans have had a constant rotation of random superhero team-ups. Readers might be faced with the most unexpected team-ups like Hawkman/Aquaman, Spider-Man/Human Torch, and Namor/Doctor Strange. The appeal of these titles lies in the opportunity for fans to read casual adventures, who can pick and choose from the entire comic book list. Characters as mainstream as Batman or as obscure as B’Wana Beast could pop up at any time, and for fans who had a particular fondness for obscure heroes, that was welcome.

With the Big Two’s shrinking variety of titles, a title focused on keeping the lesser-known heroes in print would benefit the Big Two and their readers. If publishers want to invest each new generation of readers in their universe—and keep older fans happy as well—they want as many of their heroes as possible to remain accessible and regularly in the spotlight. The likes of Etrigan the Demon, Ka-Zar, Darkhawk, and Kamandi may not be able to sustain a solo book in 2022, but they can certainly spark readers’ interest in an adventure wrapped in one. This works well for readers when they can expect a steady flow of these fun, random team-ups. These titles can also serve as fertile ground for introducing new heroes.

The format also allows writers to explore interesting dynamics between different heroes, such as contrasting the dark violence of Punisher with a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Fans can witness the fun of small team-ups at success and praise Mark Waid’s power Batman/Superman World’s Finest run. Researching these team-ups can also lead to longer-lasting alliances, potentially creating the next iconic duo along the lines of Green Arrow/Green Lantern. However, fans must be able to see these stories unfold in order for these friendships to last, and a solid creative team is essential.

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In a market where publishers have concerns about which heroes can sustain their own title, an untitled series could prove resilient and be of great value to collectors and readers. When Mark Waid and DC were revived Brave and the brave In 2007 the book was well received and ran for 35 editions with a fun selection of new teams and revivals of older teams. Fans enjoyed a series that wasn’t overly tied to the major events of the time, and the more casual reader had access to a series that didn’t require the reader to be up to speed on the main books. Although Marvel revived their Marvel Team-Up in 2019, they limited the series to 6 issues and only explored a handful of characters.

To their credit, DC has been exploring the art of random team-ups for the past five years, giving fans a sudden crossover of DC heroes with characters from the Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, as well as the Excellents Batman/Wonder Woman Miniseries from 2018. Not to mention the current miniseries Aquaman/Flash: Voidsong. But the limited nature of these titles made it difficult for customers to buy into these adventures long-term, and they often felt more like fleeting gimmicks than genuine character investments.

To make the most of their rosters, publishers should invest in titles that bring these heroes (and villains) out of the dark and remind fans of their existence. Since the big two work with a large pool of creators and senior writers who are always happy to take on new work, bringing their talent to these heroes could make the obscure characters stand out and make them relevant to a new generation. Not to mention that team ups often sell and random adventures are the best entry point for new readers to get into comics.

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