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Superman's Most Epic Team-Ups From DC Comics Presents

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As DC Comics' flagship superhero, Superman is one of the most prominent and arguably the single most definitive and influential character in the entire superhero media genre. In 1978, DC gave Superman his own ongoing team-up comic series, "DC Comics Presents," featuring an impressive list of creative teams that paired Superman with a variety of guest stars from across the DC Universe. Running for over 100 issues including four annual specials, "DC Comics Presents" gave the Man of Steel some of his wackiest and most impactful partnerships yet by spotlighting overlooked corners and characters of the DCU.

With Superman back on the big screen and still on television for the time being, the character remains just as much an icon today as when "DC Comics Presents" ended in 1986. Here are the greatest team-ups over the course of the series, from adventures across the DC Multiverse to the most unlikely partners that Superman ever paired up with in his long publishing history.

The Forgotten Heroes remind readers who they are

"DC Comics Presents" shined a light on some of the most obscure comic properties in DC Comics' extensive library of characters, including Dial H for Hero and Captain Comet. One ensemble the Man of Steel encounters in the series is a collection of overlooked figures that are referred to simply as the Forgotten Heroes. Taking place in 1985's "DC Comics Presents" #77 by Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan, Superman teams with the makeshift team when he stumbles across a group similarly named the Forgotten Villains.

The Forgotten Heroes are comprised of Animal Man, Congo Bill, Cave Carson, Immortal Man, Rick Flag (pre-Suicide Squad relaunch), Dolphin, and Dane Dorrance. The team-up provides readers with a trip into the under-utilized corners of the DCU as its greatest hero works closely with its least appreciated. An adventure through space and time that pits obscure characters against each other, Superman finds that even the unlikeliest hero can lend the most vital support.

A classic Superwoman makes her debut

Though Lois Lane briefly introduces the superhero mantle of Superwoman in 1943's "Action Comics" #60, "DC Comics Presents" features a very different iteration of the character. After being introduced in the 1981 prose novel "Miracle Monday" by Elliot S. Maggin, the character Kristen Wells made her comic book debut in 1983's "DC Comics Presents Annual" #2. Wells, a far-future descendant of Jimmy Olsen from the year 2862, travels back to the 20th century to investigate the mysterious Superwoman.

In the 1983 comic story by Maggin and Keith Pollard, Kristen — a history student from the far-distant future — arrives in the '80s to figure out the true identity of Superwoman, only to discover that she herself is the superhero after she uses her advanced technology to team-up with Superman. A breezy mystery and time-travel adventure all at once, Superwoman's debut is a fun look at the Man of Tomorrow's expansive legacy. In Maggin and Pollard's capable take on the Superman mythos, the Superwoman team-up is equal parts swashbuckling superhero action and subtle wish fulfillment.

Santa Claus checks who's naughty and nice

"DC Comics Presents" gets a little more tongue-in-cheek as it rings in the yuletide cheer with Superman teaming up with a version of Santa Claus in 1984's "DC Comics Presents" #67. Superman's old nemesis Toyman decides Christmastime is the perfect season to launch a renewed vendetta against the Man of Steel, targeting him with lethally programmed toys. Lending unexpected support against this familiar foe is jolly Saint Nicholas, and Santa proves instrumental in helping Superman stop Toyman.

Superman's holiday season adventure is a great reminder that the superhero genre doesn't have to take itself so seriously all the time. At the end of the day, Superman teaming up with Santa Claus not only speaks to the spirit of the season but offers the hilarious sight of Kris Kringle taking down one of the DCU's oldest supervillains. With Superman and Santa delivering toys around Metropolis worth the price of admission alone, the two icons saving Christmas is a fun-filled yuletide treat.

Batman and the Outsiders get super help

After leaving the Justice League, Batman forms his own superhero team that stars in the comic book series "Batman and the Outsiders" by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo. Shortly after its launch, Barr and artist Irv Novick paired the new team with Superman in 1985's "DC Comics Presents" #83. In this team-up, the ensemble takes on a villainous corruption from the Bat Family's Silver Age history reimagined for modern audiences to become a bona fide threat.

In an overlooked moment in Batman's history, Alfred Pennyworth is temporarily killed in 1964's "Detective Comics" #328 and is later revived as the evil Outsider before being restored to normal. When Alfred transforms into the Outsider again, Superman and the Outsiders join forces to stop the villain's return and revert the kindly butler from his monstrous transformation. Both a fun look at Superman and Batman's dynamic after the Dark Knight's exit from the Justice League and a reimagining of a silly Silver Age story, the Outsiders team-up is a great standalone tale.

The Joker makes an unlikely partner

Though Superman primarily teams up with heroes in "DC Comics Presents," he occasionally – and temporarily – works with some of the DCU's greatest supervillains against a common enemy. The most outrageous team-up between the Man of Steel and a villain across the series' run is in "DC Comics Presents" #41, which pairs him with the Joker. Written by Martin Pasko and illustrated by José Luis García-López, the cross-country adventure takes place everywhere from Metropolis, Gotham City, and the Fortress of Solitude.

When Superman's old enemy the Prankster resurfaces with a new plot, the Man of Tomorrow agrees to work with the Joker to track down a crime lord's secret stash. Racing against the Prankster to recover this dangerous contraband first, Superman and the Joker make the ultimate oddball partnership. An appropriately wacky team-up, Superman's brief partnership with the Clown Prince of Crime revels in the chaos erupting between the two working together.

The Freedom Fighters defend America's soul

The most patriotic superheroes in the DCU are Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, who originally came from Earth-X — an alternate universe perpetually caught in the never-ending carnage of World War II. The Freedom Fighters arrive in the DCU just in time to ring in the Fourth of July and help Superman protect the soul of the United States in "DC Comics Presents" #62. Written by Bob Rozakis and Dan Mishkin and illustrated by Irv Novick, the story feels particularly prescient as the heroes face domestic terrorism during the holiday team-up.

With everything from a spotlight on the Freedom Fighters in action to a cameo from President Ronald Reagan, the 1983 story is unabashedly rah-rah in its Independence Day-related themes. The issue shines a light on one of the DCU's most under-appreciated and overlooked superhero teams as it succinctly reminds readers how cool the Freedom Fighters are. As American as baseball and apple pie, this Superman and the Freedom Fighters' team-up is the perfect showcase for the DCU's own spirit of liberty.

The former Captain Marvel aids Superman against a magical foe

Before he was known as Shazam and started appearing in movies like "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," the magically empowered Billy Batson was referred to as Captain Marvel. Officially joining the DCU via a licensing deal between DC and Fawcett Comics that continued until DC simply purchased Fawcett in 1991, Captain Marvel and his extended cast primarily live in the alternate universe of Earth-S before their world merges with the DCU. Writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, with artist Rich Buckler, provided Superman and Captain Marvel with one of their earliest team-ups in 1981's "DC Comics Presents" #33.

The mischievous imp Mister Mxyzptlk uses his omnipotent abilities to swap powers and costumes between Superman and Captain Marvel. The multiversal adventure serves as an excellent overview on all the ways the two iconic heroes differ as they work together to be restored to normal. Considering Captain Marvel was one of Superman's biggest sales rivals in their previous publishing history, the chance to see the two heroes together is a genuine treat.

Clark Kent has an identity crisis

One of the most mind-bending issues of "DC Comics Presents" has Superman and his civilian alter ego Clark Kent split into two separate entities and embarking on a team-up to merge together once again. Taking place in "DC Comics Presents" #50 by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Curt Swan, the issue sees the Man of Tomorrow split between his two personas after being subjected to futuristic alien technology. To make matters worse, this fissure occurs as the classic Superman villain Atomic Skull resurfaces, forcing the mild-mannered reporter and the Last Son of Krypton to figure out how to work together to save the day.

By separating Superman and Clark, the story offers a surprisingly existential look at the Superman mythos and the character's concept of identity. The two personas are able to have a frank discussion between themselves as they scramble to stop a supervillain and restore their shared status quo. A fun twist on the series' team-up premise, Superman and Clark turn their identity crisis into a full-blown sci-fi adventure.

The Supermen of two worlds collide

With DC boasting a full multiverse that includes separate universes for different publishing eras of its comics, the original version of Superman that debuted in 1938 was established as living on Earth-2 while the main DCU was Earth-1. In the first annual special issue of "DC Comics Presents," Marv Wolfman and Rich Buckler brought the Supermen of two different universes together for the ultimate multiversal adventure. A plot involving the Lex Luthors of their respective worlds prompts the Men of Steel to pool their resources, but even a pair of Kal-Els might not be a match for the Luthors' evil Superman — the wicked Ultraman of Earth-3.

Wolfman and Buckler took full advantage of the creative possibilities of a multiverse, making this Supermen team-up one of finest stories in "DC Comics Presents." The two Supermen get to compare their similarities and differences while facing a sinister team-up between their arch-nemeses and their morally inverted doppelganger from Earth-3. Full of fan-favorite moments and action worthy of having two Supermen work together, "DC Comics Presents Annual" #1 is a reality-spanning bonanza.

Captain Atom showcases his cosmic potential

One of Superman's most cosmically powerful team-ups of them all was a three-way partnership with Firestorm and the Captain Atom of Earth-4 in "DC Comics Presents" #90. More than just having Superman join forces with two high-flying superheroes who can transmute matter on an atomic level, the issue marks the final appearance of the original Captain Atom. Shortly following this team-up, Earth-4 was merged into the main DCU and Captain Atom was reimagined as a completely different character moving forward.

After the cosmic supervillain Rayburn surfaces, Superman, Firestorm, and Captain Atom band together to stop him before their worlds are destroyed. Captain Atom was initially published by Charlton Comics before its superhero characters were acquired by DC in 1983 (via Power of Comics). Atom's "DC Comics Presents" story by Paul Kupperberg and Denys Cowan marks a rare DC appearance for the character before the Captain Atom superhero legacy was rebooted completely.

Superboy-Prime makes his grand introduction

Not all Clark Kents are created equal, and this becomes abundantly clear for Superboy-Prime, the Superboy from Earth-Prime, which is presumably based on the real world where DC characters only exist in fiction. "DC Comics Presents" #87 by Elliot S. Maggin and Curt Swan introduces the character who, despite Earth-Prime's premise, develops the powers of Superman when he comes of age. This leads him to encounter the Superman he grew up reading about in the comics just in time to help the Man of Steel return to his universe.

While Superboy-Prime's debut blends both coming-of-age sensibilities with unabated fanboy wish fulfillment, the character has a much darker future beyond this one-off appearance. After his world is destroyed, Superboy-Prime grows jealous of the surviving DC heroes and becomes a murderous antagonist that threatens to destroy their universe to replace it with his own. An innocent introduction for someone who becomes a recurring supervillain for the entire multiverse, "DC Comics Presents" #87 is an amusing metatextual tale that serves as the springboard for something far more sinister.

The Doom Patrol herald the coming of Ambush Bug

Before Deadpool, DC had its own wacky superhero who regularly broke the fourth wall and acknowledged his awareness of being a comic book character — Ambush Bug. Created by Paul Kupperberg and Keith Giffen, Ambush Bug was initially introduced as an antagonist, making his debut in 1982's "DC Comics Presents" #52, prompting Superman to team-up with the Doom Patrol. Shortly after his defeat in the issue, Ambush Bug experiences a change of heart and attempts to become a superhero himself, albeit in his own irreverent way.

But before he turns face, this story has Ambush Bug targeting Metropolis city officials while the Doom Patrol's latest team member, Negative Woman, loses control of her newly acquired powers. As Superman and the Doom Patrol race to bring Negative Woman back to her senses and contain the resulting damage, Ambush Bug appears at the worst possible time to complicate matters. A bit of a departure from his later appearances, the zany nature of Ambush Bug's personality is still present in his debut, hinting at more self-aware hilarity to come.

The Masters of the Universe stage an epic crossover

One of the biggest surprises in "DC Comics Presents" is a crossover between Superman and the Mattel multimedia fantasy franchise "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe." Written by Paul Kupperberg and illustrated by Curt Swan, the team-up unfolds in 1982's "DC Comics Presents" #47 and marks the first intercompany comic book crossover between the two properties. This meeting of champions is no cheap cash-in but a beautifully rendered tale that brings the Man of Tomorrow to the fantasy world of Eternia.

Scheming to find a way to defeat He-Man, the evil Skeletor uses his dark magic to mind control the Man of Steel and turn him against Prince Adam. After the opening skirmish, the two heroes work together to take the twisted warlord down together in a sweeping epic for the fate of Eternia. A fun team-up between two pop culture powerhouses, Superman and He-Man cross paths again in comic books years later to similar fan-favorite success.

Martian Manhunter helps introduce Mongul

Sometimes it takes an alien to beat an alien and "DC Comics Presents" introduces one of the more memorable recurring Superman antagonists to date with the interstellar despot Mongul. Len Wein and Jim Starlin created Mongul in 1980's "DC Comics Presents" #27, the first of a two-part story that sees the tyrant targeting Superman through his friends. Kidnapping Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to coerce Superman to follow his commands, Mongul pits the Last Son of Krypton against Martian Manhunter, the last Martian.

Coming out the gate swinging, Wein and Starlin make Mongul leave an impression on the Man of Steel, straining his relationship with J'onn J'onzz in the process. As ruthlessly cunning as he is a physical challenge for Superman, Mongul completely upends Clark Kent's life to get what he wants. Though Superman and Martian Manhunter eventually reconcile, the threat of Mongul remains an open one that continually menaces the DCU decades later as one of its most formidable foes.

Swamp Thing saves the Man of Steel

Alan Moore helped completely change the creative trajectory and public perception of the comic book medium in the '80s with a few titles — one of which is a universally celebrated run on the series "The Saga of Swamp Thing." The plant-based superhero and Superman collide in 1985's "DC Comics Presents" #85 by Moore and "Swamp Thing" artist Rick Veitch in an instant classic. With Superman infected by a mysterious extraterrestrial fungus, he begins to hallucinate and unleash his powers, with only Swamp Thing able to save the day.

An excellent showcase in which Swamp Thing endures the full might of Superman's wrath as the Man of Tomorrow begins to grow dangerously out of control, Moore and Veitch's story feels like an extension of their series. In contrast to many depictions, Superman is portrayed more as the antagonist while Swamp Thing takes on the role of the peacemaker and compassionate figure. A superhero thrill ride and character study all at once, "DC Comics Presents" #85 is the finest issue of the entire series.