Crossovers started way back in the days of “oversized” editions—also called Treasury Editions—like Superman vs. Muhammed Ali. The first one was titled, “The Battle of the Century: Superman vs. Spider-Man,” and was created by the legendary Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Neal Adams, and John Romita, Sr. It was a classic. A few followed, and sold very well, which led to the publishers united to form Amalgam Comics—a publishing house that focused on uniting the two publishers’ major characters, literally, in books like “Lobo Duck,” “Superman the Super Soldier” and Justice League X[-Men].” It was then that the crossover went from curiosity/labor of love to an attempt to pull money out of pockets. The art of it disappeared, and most of the crossovers sucked.
THE TOP MARVEL/DC CROSSOVERS … AND NEWS OF A NEW ONE TO COME!
That’s not a typo. Which Marvel character will meet which DC character? Here’s a hint: The book will launch in April, just a few months before each character will be featured in a major motion picture.
Hit the break for more.
Bleeding Cool recently released information that Marvel and DC are planning a 12-issue SPIDER-MAN MEETS BATMAN series that will span the lives of each character, showing various meetings “through time.” I recently told the industry that they need to generate hype and that a great way to do it would be returning to the Bronze Age tradition of interpublisher mixing, and it looks like they took my advice. Most Marvel/DC crossovers have been horrible, but the true gems still stand out today as eminently readable, timeless classics.
Of course, not all have been Marvel/DC. But like most superhero stories and events, the best have been from big two. Here’s the only ones you need to know about:
Before we start, I’m going to give a mention to “DC vs. Marvel,” the 1996 battle royale crossover, because of what it did. Each issue, a Marvel and DC hero would fight, with the outcome determined by reader voting. Very cool concept. In execution, it was just decent. But we did get to see Aquaman fight Namor, Flash race Quicksilver, Thor vs. Shazam…Even Elektra and Catwoman mixed it up.
10. Avengers/JLA (tie). Well, not really. Long before any “official” crossover, The Avengers in issues #70, 85-86, and 147-48 met The Squadron Sinister (a.k.a. Squadron Supreme), a clear parallel to the JLA. It was pretty darn cool. These are actually my favorite kinds of crossovers. DC did this too, in the pages of Superman (in which he met The Kookie Quartet, Cobweb Kid, and Sub-Moron in The Inferior Five #10), but it wasn’t nearly as good because it wasn’t played straight. And if I’m mentioning this, then I should also throw in X-Men #107, in which Chris Claremont created the Imperial Guard who were clearly based on DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes (artist Dave Cockrum has just come to Marvel from DC, where he’d been drawing…you guessed it!). And then there was the time that Walt Simonson threw Kent into a few panels during his legendary Thor run. Pick up the Simonson Thor Omnibus if you haven’t already for an example of how great comics were in the 1980s.
10. Marvel Team-Up #14 (tie). Robert Kirkman relaunched the Spidey-meets-person-of-the-month title back in 2008, and the book was surprisingly good. I highly recommend it if you’re into fun, quirky superbooks. Plus, in issue #14, Spider-Man meets Invincible!
9. Hulk vs. Superman. I’m putting up this one because it was written by Roger Stern and drawn by the always fantastic Steve Rude. It’s not a great story (but also not an awful one), but the art is probably the best from any crossover, ever.
8. Batman/Hellboy/Starman. A 1999 two-issue mini written by James Robinson and drawn by Mike Mignola. Mostly I dug this one for the art, but the story was pretty good, too. The villains are Nazis and The Joker.
7. G.I. Joe vs. Transformers. The original series, six issues, which came out in 2003. I actually read this all the way through. It’s for younger kids (10-14, probably) but it’s much, much better than you’d expect.
6. Archie Meets The Punisher. Frank Castle tracks his prey into Riverdale, where he meets up with Archie’s crew at a school dance. Written by Batton Lash, and drawn by both John Buscema (on big Pun) and Stan Goldberg (on the Archies). Yes, it’s kitsch, but it’s wonderful. With cameos by Millie the Model, Josie and the Pussycats, Katy Keene, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and a mention of Doc Strange. Note: Punisher has also met Eminem, if you’re looking for pure weirdness. But don’t look too hard for that one. It’s pretty awful.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8, wherein the “new jack” black and white indie animal team met the most important anthropomorphic indie hero of all time. Fun story.
4. Batman vs. Hulk. The second “oversize” crossover book, by Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, wasn’t quite as good as the first, but the really cool thing about it was that although DC (predictably) threw Joker into the mix, on the Marvel side we had…Shaper of Worlds(!), an esoteric Hulk villain from 1972.
3. JLA/Avengers by the team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez. The “real” crossover, not like that silly one I put in above. I’m such a jerk, ruining this list with clutter. And yet, if I didn’t, I think I’d be hard pressed to come up with a sufficient number of comics that I could actually recommend. Crossovers usually suck, as I said above. As for this one: The story didn’t make a lot of sense (cosmic drivel) but the art? Every page is poster worthy. This was Perez at his prime.
2. The Battle of the Century: Superman vs. Spider-Man (1976). Bringing in all A-list talent: Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Neal Adams, and John Romita, Sr., Marvel and DC started out with a great, all-ages story that didn’t bother to go into a big cosmic “how are we both here” kinda thing. Note: Do NOT confuse this with Marvel Treasury Edition #28: Superman and Spider-Man, in which the pair fought The Parasite and Dr. Doom, and met up with Hulk and Wonder Woman. That one is bloody awful, despite that it was written by Jim Shooter and Marv Wolfman with art by the great John Buscema.
1. X-Men/New Teen Titans. With writing by Chris Claremont and art by Walt Simonson, DC was wise to leave this one in the hands of Marvel staffers—it was phenomenal. The best Marvel/DC cross-over of all time, and still a great read.