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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Take 10: Marvel's Best Buddy Teams

By Ben Morse

Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. This go around, the Cabal says goodbye one of its personal favorites, as CABLE & DEADPOOL #50 ends is five-plus year run this week, and to honor the oddball teaming of C&D, they've chosen to select their personal choices for Marvel's ten best buddy teams of all time. Keep reading on to learn what duos shined and where you can read more about them on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!


10. WOLVERINE & NIGHTCRAWLER
First Meeting:.GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975)
They're Kinda Like… Drinking buddies
Their Deal: Perhaps no two members of the second generation of X-Men seemed more different than the surly, violent Wolverine and the playful, religious Nightcrawler, but Logan and Kurt Wagner proved the old adage that opposites attract. As teammates, they've always had each other's backs, but as friends, they shared an even closer bond.
Why They Make The List: Wolverine quickly came to enjoy the company of the man he playfully referred to as "Elf," and Nightcrawler came to see Logan as a far deeper, more intelligent fellow than his gruff exterior would indicate. Each allowed the other to display more the reality beneath the surface their fellow X-Men perhaps weren't ready to see.

Titanic Team-Up: On a trip up to the Great White North of Canada, Wolverine and Nightcrawler pay a visit to Wolvie's old team, Alpha Flight, and wind up drawn into their pursuit of the wild Wendigo. Kurt ends up getting blindsided by the beast and taken out of the fight, leaving Logan to go claw-to-claw with the monster, but Nightcrawler teleports back into action just in time to turn the tide. (X-MEN v1 #139-140—1980)
Spotlight Comic: WOLVERINE v2 #6, Nightcrawler meets Logan in a mutant bar to try and help his friend sort his life out


9. WOLVERINE & KITTY PRYDE
First Meeting:.X-MEN v1 #129 (1980)
They're Kinda Like… Surrogate father and surrogate daughter
Their Deal: When young Kitty Pryde first joined the X-Men, she and the feral brawler Wolverine kept their distance from one another, but Logan gradually came to feel a paternal obligation to care for the teenager and keep her out of trouble. As Kitty grew older and became formidable in her own right, in large part thanks to Logan's training, she and Wolverine remained close and the loner began to trust and rely on his protégé as an equal.
Why They Make The List: Relationship between men and women that don't involve physical attraction often end up being the most interesting to follow when it comes to comics. Equally interesting as far as Wolverine and Kitty go has been how she caused him to break from his isolationist tendencies and reach out to become a friend and protector, giving Logan far more dimensions than simply being the scary guy with claws. For his part, Wolvie helped Kitty grow from wannabe into legit X-Man as well.
Titanic Team-Up: When Wolverine's evil former mentor Ogun

lures Kitty to Japan by capturing her father, the malicious martial artist manages to brainwash the young mutant into becoming his personal assassin. Wolverine frees Kitty from Ogun's mental reprogramming and the two X-Men overthrow their mutual tormentor, with Logan delivering the killing blow his young ally refuses to give. (KITTY PRYDE AND WOLVERINE #1-6—1984-1985)
Spotlight Comic: X-MEN v1 #141, in "Days of Future Past," possible future versions of Kitty and Wolverine fights to save mutantkind from the Sentinels


8. IRON MAN & WAR MACHINE
First Meeting:.IRON MAN v1 #118 (1979)
They're Kinda Like… Corporate colleagues
Their Deal: James Rhodes met Tony Stark only moments after the birth of Iron Man, a marine whose helicopter had been shot down right near where the billionaire had been captured by warlords and forced to construct his famous armor. Stark helped Rhodes repair his chopper and they escaped together, then upon returning to the U.S., the former marine became the industrialist's pilot and closest confidante. When Stark faced the demons of his alcoholism, Rhodes took over as Iron Man, and later he received his own armor, becoming War Machine.
Why They Make The List: Tony Stark may be the alpha male of the Marvel Universe, with his wealth, good looks and power, but he still needs a pal to catch him when he stumbles and smack him when he's being an ass. Before James Rhodes became the second Iron Man, no lead character in the history of comics trusted one of his supporting cast enough to turn over his very identity to him on a regular basis. Whether they're teaming or at odds, that trust and respect has always made Marvel's iron men an interesting pair.
Titanic Team-Up: After a period of estrangement, Tony and

Rhodey find themselves reunited under the worst of circumstances, captured by the Mandarin, their armors deactivated by the villain's anti-technology field. War Machine manages to escape with the help of Force Works member Century, and later returns with an army at his back to help Iron Man put the finishing touches on halting the Mandarin's dreams of conquest, repairing their friendship in the process.
Spotlight Comic: BLACK PANTHER #23, Iron Man teams with Rhodey's Sentinel Squad against the Black Panther and Storm at the height of Civil War hysteria


7. CABLE & DEADPOOL
First Meeting:.NEW MUTANTS v1 #98 (1991)
They're Kinda Like… The odd couple
Their Deal: Deadpool first entered Cable's life as a mercenary hired to kill the mutant soldier, and the duo remained at odds for years, but recent circumstances forced Wade Wilson and Nathan Summers to become first allies and then the most unlikely of friends. Deadpool sincerely believed in Cable's plans to try and change the world for the better—even if he drove him nuts every step along the way—and while a rift grew between the two when they were on opposite sides of the Civil War, they eventually reunited.
Why They Make The List: There's certainly some depth to the strange friendship between Cable and Deadpool, but at the end of the day, they're just fun to watch. Wade's manic psychosis playing off Nate's bemused god complex proves good for a barrel of laughs any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Whether it's Nate paying Wade in secret to perform mercenary jobs for him to boost his buddy's self esteem or 'Pool's disturbing dreams involving Cable and sunscreen, these two will always put a smile on your face.
Titanic Team-Up: Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cable and Deadpool have one last hurrah before the former rides off into the sunset of

"Messiah CompleX," defending the ruins of Providence from a trio of Marauders. Cable saves his buddy from a beating by Sabretooth by blasting the feral mutant right off the island and then the odd couple teams one final time against Gambit and Sunfire before Deadpool bids his only true friend an emotional, if quirky, farewell. (CABLE & DEADPOOL #42—2007)
Spotlight Comic: CABLE & DEADPOOL #19, as Cable ages back to adulthood, Deadpool tries and play mentor to his buddy with entertainingly disturbing results


6. CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON
First Meeting:.CAPTAIN AMERICA v1 #117 (1969)
They're Kinda Like… War veterans
Their Deal: Sam "Snap" Wilson, a respected community leader who fell on hard times and became a mob racketeer, originally became the Falcon as an unwitting pawn of the Red Skull, who erased his criminal personality and steered him towards becoming Captain America's partner hoping to have a sleeper agent. However, even after Cap and Falcon learned of Wilson's true origins, both forged past what had come before and with Steve Rogers' help, Sam continued on as a proud and moral hero, in and out of costume.
Why They Make The List: At the time that Captain America took on Falcon as a partner, the idea of one of comics' most famous characters teaming with a black man may have seemed radical, but it quickly became evident that neither Steve Rogers nor Sam Wilson saw the other as simply a skin color. The Cap-Falcon relationship has always been less about race and more about two men who consider themselves to be equals. Sam Wilson remains one of the few characters not intimidated by the iconic Sentinel of Liberty, willing to call him out on his faults, making him one of Cap's most invaluable allies.
Titanic Team-Up: Facing the lethal marriage of advanced

technology with base human emotion, Cap and Falcon were tasked to find and dismantle the Madbomb, a sonic weapon able to drive any within its range insane and turn them violent created by Mason Harding for the Royalist Forces of America. The patriotic pals quelled a mad riot in Harlem before battling their way through hordes of psychotic civilians to disable the device. (CAPTAIN AMERICA v1 #193-200—
Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA #177, Cap's retirement forces the Falcon to fight alone


5. BEAST & WONDER MAN
First Meeting:.AVENGERS v1 #151 (1976)
They're Kinda Like… The class clowns
Their Deal: When Wonder Man emerged from being "dead" for years and became a probationary member of the Avengers, he immediately bonded with his teammate, Beast, who took it upon himself to reintroduce Simon Williams to the world after he had slept away years of his life. The two shared common interests like theater and literature, but perhaps more importantly, Beast provided Wonder Man with a guide to an unfamiliar landscape he could count on, and Simon Williams gave the bestial Hank McCoy a true friend who saw past his physical appearance to the man inside.
Why They Make The List: Among a team of billionaire playboys, peak human super soldiers and literal gods, Beast and Wonder Man found themselves the odd men out of the Avengers, a fun-loving furball with a vocabulary as big as his feet and a man who could move mountains with his muscles, but whose painful shyness proved his greatest vulnerability. Both were underdogs in the midst of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and when they got together you couldn't help but root for them to score the upset.

Titanic Team-Up: On vacation in Los Angeles, Beast and Wonder Man come under fire from Simon's old enemy Lotus Newmark. Fending off attacks from both the armored mercenaries Armed Response and the massive It the Living Colossus, the pair of former Avengers manage to expose Lotus's criminal empire and end her cover as a legitimate businesswoman. (AVENGERS TWO: WONDER MAN & BEAST #1-3—2000)
Spotlight Comic: WONDER MAN: MY FAIR SUPER HERO #2, Beast tries to help Wonder Man reform the lethal Ladykiller


4. CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY
First Meeting:.CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
They're Kinda Like… Big brother and little brother
Their Deal: When Steve Rogers became Captain America and got shipped overseas, the U.S. government assigned him a sidekick in the form of James "Buchanan" Barnes, but while Cap initially expressed concern about a young boy riding into battle with him, those fears quickly dissipated when he realized Bucky could hold his own in a fight like few others. Rogers thought he lost Bucky forever when he seemingly perished disarming a weapon launched by Baron Zemo, but many years later the prodigal son returned as the Winter Soldier, a brainwashed mercenary who Cap managed to snap out it. Today, with Rogers dead, Bucky has become the new Captain America.
Why They Make The List: It's great to have a hero, but living up to your idol's expectations can be a chore like none other. Likewise, it's nice to have somebody look up to you, but a lot of pressure to never falter in their eyes. Cap and Bucky both made each other better heroes because of their mutual respect and the responsibility each felt to his respective partner. For a long time we only knew bits and pieces of their relationship, but the last few years worth of stories in CAPTAIN AMERICA have opened up amazing hidden chapters and given the duo far more depth.
Titanic Team-Up: Barely freed from his programming as the Winter Soldier, Bucky

hops a plane to England in hopes of thwarting a terrorist plot by the Red Skull and Cap follows in hot pursuit. Without even planning to work in tandem, the veteran partners end up assisting one another in spite of themselves, beating back the new Master Man and putting a crimp in the Skull's plans. (CAPTAIN AMERICA v5 #18-21—2006)
Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA 65TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, flashback to a classic World War II adventure starring Cap and Bucky


3. THE THING & THE HUMAN TORCH
First Meeting:.FANTASTIC FOUR v1 #1 (1961)
They're Kinda Like… Brothers who fight—a lot
Their Deal: When Reed Richards took that fateful trip into outer space that gave birth to the Fantastic Four, along with his girlfriend Susan, he also brought along his best friend Ben Grimm, doomed to be the Thing, and her brother Johnny, the future Human Torch. As the FF became a family, the playful and often immature Torch did his best to lift the morose Thing out of his frequent doldrums, but often went too far with his pranks. Though they drive each other nuts, the Torch and Thing consider one another to be like brothers.
Why They Make The List: Many of us have that brother or sister who drives us nuts—and the rest of us may have found friends who fill that role—but who at the end of the day we still love because, hey, they're family. Ben and Johnny embody those two guys who will beat the crap out of each other for hours on end, but the minute somebody else takes a shot at one guy, he's got to contend with both. There's a refreshing realism in two heroes who don't get along perfectly, but at the

same time, couldn't be closer.
Titanic Team-Up: Ben comes to his burning bud's aid when Johnny finds himself over his hothead against the awesome Dragon Man. While the Fantastic Two manage to put the reptilian wrecker away, they end up practically destroying State University's campus in the process—no doubt Reed ended up footing the bill. (HUMAN TORCH #12—2004)
Spotlight Comics: FANTASTIC FOUR: FIRST FAMILY, the origin of Ben, Johnny and the rest of the FF is re-told


2. SPIDER-MAN & THE HUMAN TORCH
First Meeting:.AMAZING SPIDER-MAN v1 #1 (1963)
They're Kinda Like… High school rivals
Their Deal: Shortly after becoming Spider-Man, Peter Parker invaded the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, hoping to become a member, and while he didn't end up joining the team, he certainly made an impression, particularly on fellow teenager the Human Torch, Johnny Storm. Over the years, Spidey and the Torch grew from bitter rivals for publicity and respect to close friends, leaning on one another in times of crisis.
Why They Make The List: Perhaps no ongoing friendship in the Marvel Universe has produced more mirth over the years than the never-ending game of one-upmanship between Peter Parker and Johnny Storm. However, on a more emotional level, readers have gotten to grow over the years alongside these characters and their relationship, as they matured from insecure and jealous teenagers desperate for one another's approval to adults who can jab each other but still lend an ear when their buddy's going through hard times—and of course no matter how old they get, they'll still be webbing and burning each other's boxers.
Titanic Team-Up: With the Fantastic Four enduring rare bad publicity as a result of

Mr. Fantastic temporarily taking over Latveria, Johnny turns to his pal Spider-Man—no stranger to negative public sentiment—for advice. Their conversation gets interrupted by Hydro-Man, and after the heroes dispatch their foe, Spidey helps the Torch get back in the good graces of nearby onlookers, despite having enjoyed his brief time as the more popular of the two. (FANTASTIC FOUR #512-513—2004)
Spotlight Comics: SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH, five memorable meetings through the years between the Wallcrawler and his fiery friend


1. LUKE CAGE & IRON FIST
First Meeting:.LUKE CAGE, POWER MAN #48 (1977)
They're Kinda Like… Twin brothers from different mothers
Their Deal: Luke Cage—then Power Man—and Danny Rand—aka Iron Fist—first met when the nefarious Bushmaster blackmailed Cage into attacking Fist's lover Misty Knight and her friend Colleen Wing, and the quartet teamed to turn the tables on the villain. Luke and Danny decided to continue teaming as the Heroes For Hire, taking on jobs as super-powered bodyguards and private investigators. The organization would disband in the wake of Danny's seeming death, but after his return years later, Cage and Fist have remained close and continued to watch each other's backs, including currently as members of the New Avengers.
Why They Make The List: Initially, two characters with seemingly nothing in common got thrown together because neither could sustain an ongoing series on their own. As time went by, we came to see that the teaming of a jaded, street smart tough guy with a laid back, philosophical master of the martial arts produced both entertaining stories and genuine good feelings. Initially, the fun resulted from watching Luke and Danny struggle and often fail to relate to one another's worlds, but the more everlasting enjoyment has come from seeing two men who could not be more different on the outside form a remarkable bond and come to care for one another because on the inside of each lies a good man.
Titanic Team-Up: Cage joined Danny in pursuing his enemy, Master Khan, back to

K'un-Lun, the ancient mystic city where Iron Fist had been raised and trained, only for the duo to find the former paradise overrun by the malevolent plant creatures, the H'lythri. The Heroes For Hire rallied the remaining warriors of K'un-Lun to defeat their enemies and Iron Fist bested Khan, but at the price of severing the link between Earth and his adopted home. (POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #74-75—1981)
Spotlight Comic: NEW AVENGERS #27, the former Heroes For Hire reunite in the New Avengers


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