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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 117: Marvel and DC Present Featuring the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks (more or less), with each week devoted to a single writer. This quasi-week: Chris Claremont. Today’s page is from Marvel and DC Present Featuring the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans (yes, that’s the official title), which was published by DC and Marvel and is cover dated 1982. Enjoy!

Holy schneikey!

At the height of his power, Chris Claremont teamed up with Walt Simonson to give us one of the most beloved (and best) crossover events in comics history, the one where the most popular teams in both the DC and Marvel Universes fought Dark Phoenix and Darkseid, because why not? As Simonson would prove time and again, if you want giant space epics, he’s the guy you want, and if you want bombastic soap opera, you get Claremont. It’s the best of both worlds!

First, we see the name of the comic, which might have been the first time someone made the pun about the movie, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. I’m not sure if Simonson designed the title or if the wonderful Tom Orzechowski did, but it’s vaguely like the font used on the movie poster, which is keen. (I’m going to say it’s Simonson’s design, mainly because it resembles many of his sound effects, but perhaps Orzechowski created the letters specifically to look like Simonson’s sound effects.)

Claremont doesn’t tell us that Darkseid is speaking, but he does let us know that he’s talking to Metron, and he lets us know that Metron is trying to “breach the wall” and that the creatures who tried were as powerful as he and Metron are, which, of course, means that whoever is talking is very powerful. The very fact that the beings are called “Promethean Giants” (there’s no indication that Darkseid is using the first word adjectivally – it’s part of their name) implies that they overreached themselves, as Prometheus did. Obviously, we don’t know what the wall is or who these powerful beings are, but Claremont does a good job introducing the story.

Simonson, as we’ve already seen, does amazing splash pages, and this is no exception. The Promethean Giant looms in the upper half of the page, leaning from left to right to move our eye that way. Everything on the page moves left to right, so that even though it’s a static page and Simonson doesn’t get to do panel-by-panel storytelling, he still guides us toward the dialogue and thence to the next page. Everything about the artwork and the placement of the word balloons focus us on Darkseid and Metron, so that even though they’re small, the entire page is about them. I hate to keep bringing up the coloring, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it – Glynis Wein offsets the bold yellow of the title with the blue of the floating Promethean Giant, and she frames the page with the yellow in the bottom left corner. The page is balanced very well both in the pencil work and the coloring. Simonson and Wein know what they’re doing. Duh.

This is a fairly intriguing first page, although I imagine readers wouldn’t care too much whether it gets you into the story or not, as the high concept – the crossover – is the draw here. It’s still nice to see that none of the creators phoned it in. It could have happened!

Next: No mutants? From Claremont? In the 1980s? What the crap? See if there are any clues to tomorrow’s entry in the archives!

19 Comments

Oh, well played. A great choice, and a great comic.

And I say that as someone who has a really hard time reading any of the once-beloved Claremont comics of my youth anymore. They just don’t hold up for me. This one, though, I still love on general principle.

Don’t forget that the great Terry Austin was the inker on this spectacular issue. Why he and Simonson have not worked together more often, I have no idea.

Prometheus didn’t overreach himself; that’s Icarus you’re thinking of. Prometheus did the opposite, giving fire — reserved for gods and titans like himself — to mere humans.

buttler: It’s tough reading a lot of Claremont in succession, because he does tend to go on, but when you read one issue, it can still read pretty well. But yeah, once you’ve read a few, you’re ready for a break!

Ben: I forgot to mention Austin, and I apologize. I’m getting better at dealing with colorists, but I’m still not great at explaining all the inking tricks, but Austin is a great one.

Omar: You might want to explain to Prometheus that he didn’t overreach himself while the vultures are eating his liver. I’m sure it would be a great comfort to him! :)

Claremont stuck with Kirby’s original vision of the Giants, broken and shattered Ozymandias-like, floating before the Wall. Later scribes and artists depicted them as being embedded in the Wall.

Thing I love about this cross over was it was back in the day when they would sort of pretend DC and Marvel occupied the same world (so while it was all cosmic and what not, it didn’t have to be about crossing realities and so forth).

Plus, the wrap around cover was golden. Love that Wolverine is not only on the back page, but is 3rd to last (behind a Sprite-era Kitty Pryde). If this book came out now, he’d have Scott’s place, no question

Love this comic. It was my very first introduction to Darkseid & the New Gods mythos, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Although the X-Men are much more central to the plot & the Titans are really just along for the ride (Probably inevitable with Claremont as the sole writer). it’s still a cracking good story. And man, Simonson & Austin were on FIRE for this one.

It also contains what’s probably my favorite Wolverine line ever: “Huh. I spook the bird lady. I wonder why?”

Thing I love about this cross over was it was back in the day when they would sort of pretend DC and Marvel occupied the same world (so while it was all cosmic and what not, it didn’t have to be about crossing realities and so forth).

I much prefer it that way for these types of crossovers. Not only does it let you get to the cool stuff more quickly & simply, it’s just plain COOLER to imagine Marvel & DC sharing one universe.

For some reason I always thought Marv Wolfman wrote this comic, but now I’m not sure why I thought that (outside of the obvious fact that it was going to be either him or Claremont).

Eh, Hercules freed him eventually, and his liver always grew back. Guy can’t even overreach himself at a bar!

More seriously, the gods punished all sorts of people, and not all of them were overreachers. The gods were jerks, really, right down there with people who use comment boards to make pedantic hypercorrections.

Yeah, damn them!!!!

I think they were called “Promethean” both because they reached for something reserved for higher mortals and they were punished. Either way, it’s a good adjective!

This is one of those things I could see going either way, but I think even though Prometheus didn’t overreach himself by the standards of the reader, by the standards of the civilization he was a part of where everyone knew that stealing fire from Zeus would be frowned upon by Zeus, and everyone knew how petty and vengeful the gods were, I could see why someone would say he overreached in the context of his era. He had to know the risk he was undertaking and how bad the retribution would be if caught.

Man is Walt Simonson awesome by the way. Great choice.

Another great choice, thank you! This is actually what drove me into reading and collecting the Perez-Wolfman Titans, seeing them in this book.

Maybe it’s because I grew up with them, but I kind of have to admit I like Claremont’s purple prose from this era.

Thanks for posting!

Earl,

It’s not just you; I find Bronze Age purple prose charming in the right circumstances. There’s a fine line between good Claremont, or Tomb of Dracula Wolfman and the lesser stuff, though.

X-Men/ Teen Titans was such an enjoyable comic. I’ve reread it more than any other crossover.

Next: No mutants? From Claremont? In the 1980s? What the crap? See if there are any clues to tomorrow’s entry in the archives!

Spider-Woman and Marvel Team-Up are two possibilities. We’ll see later today if I was right about either of those guesses.

I don’t think the nature of the Promethean Giants’ crime is the reason for their name. I think they’re called the Promethean Giants because they’re imprisoned in – and possibly originate from – the Promethean Galaxy, which is called the Promethean Galaxy because it’s where the Source Wall is. Prometheus being responsible for the creation of mankind in Greek mythology and the Source being responsible for the creation of all life in the universe in DC cosmology.

The Greeks changed their minds about it, in fact. Hesiod treats Prometheus as a villain and Zeus as inherently righteous; Aeschylus treats Prometheus as a heroic figure and the gods as total jerks.

I LOVE THIS COMIC! One of the top 25 single issues ever published (yeah, I said it. Can’t take it back now.)! I was totally invested in both series when this crossover came out, and man, was it a homerun!! Didn’t even know who Walt Simonson was at the time, but have to agree that Terry Austin did an amazing job. By the way, collected Claremont from X-men #109 til his final Uncanny issue, STRAIGHT. He & Byrne got me into collecting, so now you can blame something else on this outstanding talent.

In one of the Titans letters pages Wolfman says that X-Men/Titans #2 would be written by him and drawn by Perez. Never happened obviously.

Sigh.

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