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With Friends Like These: Batman's Most Contentious Team-Ups

With Friends Like These: Batman's Most Contentious...

By Meg Downey Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

When you’re a super hero with as many connections as Batman, you’re bound to end up working with partners pretty regularly. It’s the curse of popularity in the super heroic world. Of course, when you’re a guy who is as traditionally...well, let’s just say difficult to get along with as Batman, some of those team-ups are going to be a little more challenging than others.

Let’s take a look at some of the Dark Knight’s most challenging forays into the world of partnering.


Harley Quinn

How could we start anywhere else this week? Batman’s team-ups with Dr. Quinzel are maybe not as rare as you might think. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, you probably noticed that they just got a full-on animated movie about one of them. Batman and Harley Quinn is...well, it’s about Batman and Harley Quinn taking on a scheme where Poison Ivy and Floronic Man plan on turning humans into plant monsters like Swamp Thing.

Though Bruce will probably never admit it, he’s had several opportunities to ensure Harley’s locked away in Arkham for good, and he never seems interested in pursuing it. In fact, there have been several times where he’s ended up vouching for her progress and rehabilitation. Batman may not always agree with Harley Quinn’s methods, but over the years, the two of them have developed a sort of mutual respect.

The recent animated movie is only one current example of this unique partnership. In the world of comics, you can catch the currently running HARLEY QUINN AND BATMAN digital first series, which is a spinoff set in the universe of Batman and Harley Quinn and Batman: The Animated Series and is all about Harley striking it out on her own away from Joker once and for all. And we’d be totally remiss if we didn’t point out the strong partnership between Batman and Harley in the Injustice universe. Since the start of this fighting game franchise, Harley’s developed into one of Batman’s closest allies and is a huge presence in the recent Injustice 2.


Guy Gardner

Okay, so people not getting along with Guy Gardner isn’t really that unusual. It’s pretty fair to say that he’s an acquired taste, especially when you’re stuck on a team with him. Guy isn’t known for taking orders well, and he’s pretty famously anti just about every form of authority you can imagine. So you can probably guess how things go down when you force him to work in close quarters with the famously disciplined Batman.

The most iconic of these team-up moments happened in JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL where Guy challenged Batman to an unarmed fight despite...y’know, being on the same team and everything. Apparently he’d just up and had it with being Bruce’s subordinate. After some heckling, Bruce “agreed” to the challenge and promptly knocked Guy cold with only a single punch to the face.

Needless to say, the rest of the JLI had never been more excited to watch tension in their ranks boil over.


Hal Jordan

Man, what is it with the Dark Knight and the Green Lanterns of Earth?

Just like his corps-mate Guy, Hal has had some trouble seeing eye-to-eye with Bruce whenever they’re put on a team with one another, which is pretty unfortunate considering how much time they end up spending together while working with the League.

To really get a look at the way Hal and Bruce handle each other as a team, you can take a look at the first issue of the 2007 relaunch of DC’s famous team-up series, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. Hal and Bruce are forced to take on a case together without the rest of the League to act as a buffer between them and...well…

The case is solved, but let’s just say neither of them are all that happy to be stuck with one another.

On top of that, Hal was famously able to get revenge on Bruce’s Guy Gardner punch-out during GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH. Bruce was unwilling to trust that Hal had actually been resurrected and Hal used this preoccupation to deliver a decisive surprise hit right to the Dark Knight’s nose. Needless to say, Guy was a pretty big fan of that moment.


The Joker

No, no, you read that right. The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime actually have worked together before as “allies” a few times over the years. It’s just not usually a pleasant experience for either party involved.

To get a great example of this dysfunctional duo in action, you’ll need to go vintage with 1982’s BRAVE AND THE BOLD #191 for a story titled “Only Angels Have Wings.” In it, the Joker is “framed” (heavy on the scare-quotes there) for the murder of the Penguin and Batman is forced to actually, for once, clear Joker’s name. They end up investigating the crime together (no, really) and uncovering the truth—the whole thing was actually an elaborate set up by Penguin.

To make things even weirder? At the end of the day, it’s Joker who actually brings Penguin in for his crimes.

Want a more recent example? BATMAN: EUROPA finds Batman being forced to team up with the Joker on what amounts to a desperate road trip across Europe after they learn they’re both infected with a deadly virus. Along with plenty of memorable banter between the two unlikely allies, it also features a Batman/Joker fight against a giant art deco robot and a climactic battle against Bane. Speaking of which…
 

Bane

As a villain most famous for breaking Batman’s spine, it’s pretty hard to imagine Bane and Bruce as anything but mortal enemies (seriously, you can see just how much they hate each other in BATMAN VOL 2: I AM SUICIDE and BATMAN VOL. 3: I AM BANE.) But believe it or not, they have worked together before.

During the NO MAN’S LAND event, Lex Luthor was on the cusp of “buying” Gotham as it crumbled into ash, intent on rebuilding the city in his own image. To do so, he enlisted Bane as an “enforcer” of sorts, bringing him in from Santa Prisca to help him destroy records and otherwise keep the remaining vigilantes and heroes at bay while he set up his plan. However, after a run-in with the Joker in the ruins, Batman is able to convince Bane to leave Lex’s employ all together.

It might not be a heartfelt moment of real teamwork, but it certainly counts for something. Better yet, shortly after the No Man’s Land status was lifted from Gotham, Bane set out on a quest to destroy Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits. This, admittedly, wasn’t because he was actually looking to help Batman—Bane and Ra’s have some bad blood all their own—but hey, one less Lazarus Pit in the world is one less Lazarus Pit, no matter who does the work.

So which is your favorite of Batman’s more unusual team-ups? And is there an unlikely partner you’d like to see the Dark Knight paired up with? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t even think of missing out on this year’s Batman Day this Saturday, happening at a comic shop, bookstore or library near you!


Batman Day is this Saturday, September 23rd! Look for articles celebrating the Dark Knight and Harley Quinn all week on DCComics.com leading up to the big day. To learn more about Batman Day and to find a participating shop near you, click here.

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