And so it was in the previous century, when the greatest powers in music aligned to produce its greatest song, the pinnacle toward which the musical arts had been crawling ever since man first banged a hollow log.
As I'm sure you've already guessed, I am speaking of
THE MONKEY'S UNCLE.
Composed by the greatest composers in living memory, the Sherman Brothers. Performed by the greatest band in history, the Beach Boys. Sung with the signature sound of She Whose Voice Can Be Compared Only To That Of God Herself, Annette Funicello.
It's not just that each participant is the apex of their own art. They complement one another so well that the whole is, inconceivably, greater than even the sum of its parts. The sharp knife of Annette's voice cuts through the smooth Beach Boy butter and spreads its harmonies thick upon the hearty white bread of the Sherman's lyrics: "I'd live in a jungle gym / in order to be with hi-i-im / I love the monkey's uncle and I wish I was the monkey's aunt."
Sometimes I just sit and watch the record of it, marveling at what the gods hath wrought.
But then I grow sad, knowing there is no such Great Confluence for my beloved comic books.
I'm not even talking about putting the greatest artists, writers, and letterers together. I'm just talking about getting the characters together! Or, to put it another way...
Why is there no definitive Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman story?
Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman always were the three pillars of the DCU. At first it was an accident based on their popularity. But lately its an actual philosophical position at DC (although it strategies, particularly with regard to Wonder Woman, don't always follow through on that position).
What could be more natural than putting those three characters together? Well, lots of things, actually. Pillars, almost by definition, stand at a distance from one another; that's how they hold things up. It's very hard to get the Big Three together, and to figure out how they relate and what they should do. If you doubt me, read the World's Finest Showcase, where Batman and Superman were forcibly and awkwardly joined at the hip for decades. And that's just two of them.
- Matt Wagner actually wrote a story for them called Trinity. Honestly, it bored me to tears, and I never finished it. Can you tell me that it was the definitive Big Three story?
- Brad Meltzer tried it in JLA, where they did nothing but sit around a table and jibe at one another like Buffy's supporting cast.
- Jeph Loeb's "Advent of Supergirl" arc in Batman/Superman featured by the Big Three, but I know of no one who thinks well of that story or how they were portrayed.
- Keith Giffen is writing them in the Four Horsemen miniseries. Giffen's dialog ticks work for less well-defined characters, like the ones he played with in JLI, but in this comic it's so out of character it makes the mind reel. Not even Giffen can get away with having Batman say, "Shut. Up. You."
- Mark Waid tackled them in Kingdom Come, but, frankly those didn't seem like Superman and Wonder Woman much to me at all.
- Frank Miller? Well, the less said about that, the better.
One of the problems is, there's no historical precedent to rely on. DC's full of god-awful old stories that a creative writer can re-tell brilliantly. But there isn't one for the Big Three's first meeting. The original story of Batman and Superman's first meeting is STUNNINGLY imbecilic, even by Silver Age standards (they happened to be sharing a cabin on an ocean cruise; yes, really). I really don't think either of them had ever appeared with Wonder Woman until the first JLA story in 1960, where their knowledge of and friendship with one another was simply asserted as a preexisting fact. And, no, a panel or two in a JSA story doesn't count.
Is it possible that no single story could do them justice? Are the icons grown so large that no one write can have all of the in hand? Is it necessary that when you move the pillars together, the stories come crashing down around them?
You tell me.