Based on decades of experience, my favourite type of superhero comic is the team-up, where characters from different strips get together as allies. The more disparate the characters the better, as it creates an intriguing ‘what if?’ effect if the stories combine different timezones, genres, or styles (Batman and Sgt Rock; Spiderman and Werewolf by Night; The Punisher and Archie for instance.)
When I was a kid the announcement of Superman vs Spiderman drove me nearly insane. Not only were the characters published by different companies, they came from different and fully-developed fictional universes, each with their own geography, flow of time, laws of physics, theologies and implicit rules of storytelling. I lay awake wondering how these would be resolved, one time even dreaming that the characters were hurtling towards me down a long science-fiction-style tunnel lined with incomprehensible devices…
The actual story was rather disappointing as it dodged all of the incompatibility issues; the characters simply met up. It was just taken as read that neither they or their vast supporting casts had ever met before; Metropolis and New York both fitted on to America somewhere; the relatively realistic Spiderman was meeting a guy who could pull planets on chains and had a menagerie of super-pets. Despite this disappointment I was still excited by the next big team-up – (“‘Superman vs Muhammad Ali’? How will that work?” etc.) and so on until today (“I wonder who’s in the next part of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?”).
So the possibility of participating in a senses-shattering team-up myself – right here, in the real world – holds considerable allure…
While I have just started a glacial progression around piers real and imagined, younger, fitter men are planning to get round the whole lot in a two-week Odyssey that has been described as ”On the Road” meets “On the Buses”.
Piers are the phallic symbols of our desire to own the motherly sea; our Victorian forefathers covered them with the lace dressings of amusement to prevent the working class getting too excited. Since then they’ve rotted slowly, like Britain’s empire and its self respect.
Those from Birmingham are perfectly placed to write about an ephemeral British seaside because that’s what the seaside is to them: a ghost, a Vaseline-smeared Shangri-La cobbled together from Carry On films, hazy childhood memories and nostalgia for a bygone era.
This looks fantastic. And you can support their heroic efforts in various ways – details on their site.
Presumably the tour will include one of the piers near me – so if at all possible I’ll try and hook up with the Pier Reviewers, colliding worlds in the pier-visiting team-up of the century.