1:26pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Letterman Meets the Avengers? The Many Celebrity Superhero Comic Crossovers
It's the team-up few saw coming, with Marvel's X-Men '92 comic book series bringing in real life the Flaming Lips for a guest appearance in the series' sixth issue, due for release in August.
This mixing-up of fact and fiction is nothing new for superhero comics, however. Indeed, there's a long tradition of seemingly unthinkable real-world guest-stars in universes more suited to fantastic, uncanny and amazing heroes. Here are nine examples of previous pairings you might have missed.
Where they met: Superman No. 62 (1950)
When Orson Welles — dressed, handily, in the costume he'd wear for his contemporaneous movie Black Magic — is accidentally kidnapped by Martians and learns of an upcoming invasion, no-one will take his warnings seriously due to that whole War of the Worlds radio hoax. Thankfully, the Man of Steel is ready with an open ear (and the superpowers to fight off all trouble).
Where they met: Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Nos. 139, 141 (1971)
Trying to summarize the plot of the two-part Don Rickles plot from Jack Kirby's classic Jimmy Olsen run isn't an easy task: suffice to say that the plot involves Olsen and Rickles' previously-unknown doppleganger "Goody Rickles" sentenced to a 24-hour death sentence, while the "real" Rickles complains to fictional television chief and secret ruler of the criminal underworld Morgan Edge. Oh, and Superman's in there too, trying to save the day.
Where they met: Daredevil No. 133 (1976)
In our world, the metal-bending abilities of Geller might be more slight-of-hand and power of suggestion than anything supernatural, but the Geller of the Marvel Universe is so mighty that he doesn't just help Daredevil defeat a telepathic villain and his mind-controlled tank, but Daredevil actually says to the magician, "I may not have your abilities, but I've got this certain inner sense of my own" when referring to his own superpowers. So when will he show up in the Netflix series?
Where they met: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978)
At the height of Ali's fame, it seemed as if he was unbeatable — a suggestion only helped by this special comic book that pitted him against DC's Man of Steel in a boxing match where the outcome would decide the fate of the Earth, which Ali managed to win — before taking on another alien champ and defeating him, as well. As if that wasn't enough, the epilogue to the whole story sees Ali reveal to Superman that he's figured out the hero's secret identity, but will keep it to himself because he's a good guy. Difficult to believe that the story was created with input from Ali's inner circle, isn't it?
The Cast Of Saturday Night Live/Spider-Man
Where they met: Marvel Team-Up No. 74 (1978)
As luck would have it, the one time that Peter Parker manages to attend an SNL show is the time that John Belushi is attacked by a supervillain determined to steal a valuable ring that the comedian had received from a fan. It's not just Belushi that gets some time on-panel, however; also making appearances in this one-off story are Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner and Lorne Michaels.
David Letterman/The Avengers
Where they met: The Avengers No. 239 (1983)
Along similar lines to the SNL plot, when former Avenger Wonder Man showed up as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman — with some old-time teammates in tow — his slot was interrupted by an attack by an aspiring supervillain who manages to stymy the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Thankfully, Dave was on hand to take care of business, with the assistance of Paul Shaffer, who apparently thinks things like "So far the audience seems to think this is all some nutty put-on!" while tinkling the ivories. Now it can be told!
John Walsh/The Outsiders
Where they met: The Outsiders No. 17-19 (2004)
The host of America's Most Wanted was called in to help Batman's occasional super team track down a man behind a child prostitution ring in a three-part storyline from a decade ago, and the portrayal of the real-life TV host is a genuine curiosity: on the one hand, he's sincere in his desire to help the superheroes, but on the other, he's also shown to be happy to work outside the laws to achieve his ends. So… good for those who wanted to imagine Walsh as a law-breaking vigilante, if nothing else.
Tim Gunn/Iron Man
Where they met: Models, Inc. No. 1 (2009)
Things got even stranger when Project Runway's Gunn guest-starred in the debut issue of high fashion caper Models, Inc.. In a second story unconnected to the main plot of the series, Gunn ends up donning one of Tony Stark's high-tech suits for himself when a villain attacks an exhibit he's organized of Stark's former armors at the New York Museum of Fashion. (Well, he is a fan of making it work, after all.)
Where they met: Eminem/The Punisher No. 1 (2009)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the meeting between Slim Shady and Marvel's favorite psychopath was played as a wacky buddy comedy in this one-shot produced to promote the former's album Relapse. The two found themselves teamed up when — and I promise this is really the premise — the Punisher has to save Eminem from an assassin who has been hired by an extremely thinly-veiled parody of the Parents Music Resource Center. (No, really; the group was called the Parents Music Council, which is about as thinly veiled as it's possible to get without being legally actionable.) Don't worry; Marshall Mathers III got some revenge by chainsawing the assassin's fingers off, because… comics…?