10 Insane Times Superheroes Teamed Up With Their Worst Enemies

The superhero genre loves a good trope. Whether it be a case of mistaken identity, powers misbehaving or something else entirely, there’s always something the genre returns to time and again.

One of the most beloved tropes is that of the Hero-Villain team-up. All too often the superheroes of the Marvel and DC universes have had to put aside their differences with their greatest adversary, suit up, and take on a bigger threat with their foe at their side.

There’s a reason why it’s so successful though, and that’s because the novelty never gets old; writers always find a way to make these onetime collaborations ludicrously entertaining, providing enough thrills, spills and occasionally chills, to warrant another return a few years further down the line.

Of course, with some rivalries outlasting others – both in terms of acclaim and notoriety – it makes sense that some occasions where heroes fought alongside their enemies were more successful than others. The bigger the rivalry, the bigger the impact, and with countless stories from both the House of Ideas and their West Coast rivals having utilised the trope in some way or another, there’s quite a lot to unpack.

10. Thor & Loki – The Surtur Saga

Marvel Comics

Of all the ‘hero joins villain’ team-ups going, Thor and Loki are by far the most famous. The Asgardian duo have the dynamism of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston to thank for that, but while the pair have captivated for years on the big screen, they’ve done so for longer in the comics themselves.

Loki, for a great period of his history, was far less ambiguous than his silver screen counterpart. However, in the finale to Walt Simonson’s Surtur Saga in Thor #353, the Trickster god’s good streak did begin to break through.

The issue itself sees the brothers team-up alongside Odin to vanquish the world-ending threat posed by Surture as he attempts to reunite with the Eternal Flame. It ends in tears, with Odin falling into the pit alongside Surtur, but there’s no denying the image of the All-Father fighting alongside his sons is also one of Marvel’s best.

9. New Genesis & Apokolips – Cosmic Odyssey

DC Comics

Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola’s Cosmic Odyssey is a brilliant comic book, and one that roots itself squarely in the mythos created by Jack Kirby during his time at DC.

When Kirby left the House of Ideas (Marvel) for their biggest rival (DC), he set about creating what many have considered to be his finest work: the Fourth World Saga. In it, he created a world of New Gods, positioning two planets diametrically opposed to each other – one representing all that was good in the universe (New Genesis), and the other, all that was evil (Apokolips).

This was where the likes of Darkseid, Orion, Mister Miracle and Metron were all born, but even after Kirby packed his bags once again, other DC staffers were keen to explore the mythos further. One such writer was Jim Starlin, and in Cosmic Odyssey, he chose to integrate Kirby’s Fourth World with the DC Universe proper.

In it, Starlin united the forces of not only New Genesis and Apokolips, but that of the Justice League too. It makes for one of the most epic stories in DC’s library, and one the discerning fan can’t do without.

8. Green Arrow & Shade – The Archer’s Quest

DC Comics

The Archer’s Quest is probably the greatest Green Arrow story ever told, and right at its centre is one of the unlikeliest alliances going.

First things first, The Archer’s Quest comes immediately after Oliver Queen’s return in the pages of Kevin Smith’s Quiver. Prior to that comic, Ollie had been killed defusing a bomb and was trapped in the afterlife, and though it would’ve been easy for DC to sweep the resurrection trope under the rug, Brad Meltzer instead opted to dissect it fully, examining the real consequences of what it would be like to return from the grave, and pick up all the pieces from that point onward.

It’s a wonderful tale (a must, for DC fans), but one of its most interesting dynamics involves the relationship between Oliver Queen and Shade, who’s commonly depicted as a Justice League villain.

It turns out that, in the event of his death, Ollie had asked Shade to track down and destroy all of his personal belongings so that other villains couldn’t use them to target his family. It’s a brilliant moment in the comic, and one that’s best conveyed by reading the actual text itself – so read it!

7. Spider-Man & Venom – Maximum Carnage/Lethal Protector

Marvel Comics

Though Eddie Brock today (and the symbiote for that matter too) is very much an anti-hero, there was a time where he was Spider-Man’s greatest foe.

Marvel first decided to break the mould and have Brock take on a more heroic identity in 1993’s Lethal Protector (the inspiration for the upcoming solo movie), before having him and Spidey face off against the symbiote’s progeny that very same year in Maximum Carnage – itself a famous comic, thanks to LJN’s 1994 video game of the same name.

Today, Parker and the symbiote are very much allies, but it’s Eddie who has undergone the most change. These two team-ups started a trend that would see the pair fight together on countless other occasions (despite a shaky period at the start of the millennium), and Marvel haven’t looked back since.

6. Hal Jordan & Sinestro – The New 52

DC Comics

Hal Jordan and Sinestro were once allies as two fellow Green Lanterns. Unfortunately for Hal – and for the rest of the Lantern Corps, sadly – Sinestro became enthralled by the Power of Fear (represented by the colour yellow in the comics) and consequently became Jordan’s greatest living enemy.

Despite this, and the fact that Hal even killed Sinestro during a particularly… shall we say, testing time in his life, the two have put aside their differences and fought side by side as friends on numerous occasions – the most famous of which occurred during the first run of GL comics in DC’s New 52 reboot.

Written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Dough Mahnke, the first arc of the series saw the two Lanterns come together to tackle a larger, and indeed looming, cosmic threat. It’s the kind of threat that tends to see heroes come together with their adversaries, but nevertheless, even as DC struggled to find a voice in 2011, Green Lantern’s unlikely team-up resonated for all the right reasons.

5. Superman & Lex Luthor – Forever Evil

DC Comics

Superman and Lex Luthor embody what is, to many, the most iconic comic book rivalry in the biz. With over 75 years worth of history to draw from, it only makes sense that there’ve been more than a few occasions where they’ve joined forces.

The most recent occasion came in the wake of 2013’s Forever Evil crossover, which saw Lex Luthor saddle up with the Justice League after pretty much saving the world. Superman is obviously reluctant to accept the bald-headed baddie onto the team, and while Lex is no longer a part of that group anymore (spoiler alert, it doesn’t end too well), it was an interesting dynamic to showcase for a dozen or so issues.

During a period where DC were criticised for playing things too safe and too showy, having Supes team up with his worst enemy – while serving on the Justice League, no less – made for a welcome change of pace.

4. X-Men & The Brotherhood – Apocalypse

Raven Software

Though the conflict between the X-Men and the Brotherhood is way more nuanced to be sandwiched in a traditional hero/villain dynamic, they are at least rivals. Both groups – one spearheaded by Charles Xavier, the other by Magneto – both strive for mutant liberation (albeit in difference ways).

Regardless of the intricacies behind these two groups’ relationship, they have joined forces on a whole host of different occasions. The most noteworthy one, however, came during the arrival of Apocalypse, where both groups alerted to the threat posed by the being and put aside their differences to take him down.

In the years following, members of both the Brotherhood and the X-Men have swapped sides, switched allegiances, and even attempted to bring the two groups together. The most iconic coming together still occurred in a fight against Apocalypse though, and with both X-Men Legends II and X-Men: Apocalypse having depicted similar stories, it makes a great deal of sense as to why that’s the case.

3. Black Panther & Namor – New Avengers

Marvel Comics

Namor might not be a villain per se, but he’s certainly not a hero through and through. What’s more is that his kingdom – Atlantis – has long had a rivalry with Wakanda; when prince T’Challa took on the mantle of the Black Panther, and consequently assumed leadership of the African country, that rivalry was always likely to escalate.

Come Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers series, both Namor and Black Panther were now a part of the Illuminati – a secretive cabal assembled by Mister Fantastic and Tony Stark to safeguard the Infinity Gems. Only the best and brightest in the Marvel Universe were accepted, and with both T’Challa and the Sub-Mariner fitting that criteria, both went on to play a pivotal role in the story.

Unfortunately for the team, as soon as everything began to unravel with Thanos threatening Earth once more, Wakanda and Atlantis became engulfed in war against the other. T’Challa’s sister Shuri led the attacks against the undersea kingdom, but the King had to weigh up his duty to Wakanda, as well as that to humanity at large.

The two enjoy a frosty relationship for most of the arc, and their partnership eventually comes back to harm T’Challa in the end, but it made for one of the best things about Hickman’s series nevertheless.

2. Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom – Triumph And Torment

Marvel Comics/Mike Mignola

There’s a long list of genuinely great tales centred around Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom, but had you asked Marvel if the pair would’ve intersected two decades ago, the answer would’ve probably been a ‘no’.

Apart from their affinity for the mystic arts (and their titles), Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom had no reason to intersect. The former, of course, was busy with the original Defenders, and the latter was a Fantastic Four villain through and through.

However, in 1989’s Triumph and Torment, Roger Stern and Mike Mignola collaborated to tell a truly unique tale centred around Marvel’s two most preeminent mystics. Doom enlists the Sorcerer Supreme to travel with him to Hell in order end a long running feud with Mephisto, and visually speaking, there isn’t a Marvel comic quite like it.

It’s a great tale, and while the Doom/Strange partnership isn’t particularly famous, it’s undeniably one of Marvel’s best.

1. Batman & Joker – Dark Nights: Metal

DC Comics/Greg Capullo

There isn’t a rivalry quite as revered (or quite as violent), as the one shared between Batman and the Joker.

The pair have danced a riveting and deadly dance with each other for over seven decades, and though most of the Clown Prince’s acts are beyond the pale, different continuities, interpretations and scenarios have seen The Dark Knight put his loathing for the green-haired psychopath to one side, in the interest of the greater good.

And although 2017/18’s Dark Nights saga wasn’t the first occasion where the Caped Crusader collaborated with the Clown Prince, it certainly made for one of the most impressive. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s swan song to the metal genre (and to the Dark Knight as well, for that matter), was exactly the kind of Batman story fans had been without for years. And though it’s important to remember that Joker is the most detestable comic book character going, there’s something uniquely gratifying in seeing him team up with Bats to put a stop the Batman Who Laughs.

It might not be a vintage team-up, but it sure is one fans won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

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