Comics 411: Favorite Cross-Company Crossovers

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed the Best Superhero Feuds. Here’s what some of you had to say:

Jake “The Stache” Fury: “Hal vs. Batman was pretty great too.”

Erick Rowan’s Beard: “A couple of greats that aren’t all that complicated include Hulk vs. Thor and Wolverine vs. Hulk.

The big debate around Hulk and Thor has always been who is ultimately stronger. It’s a couple of alpha males: one of which, usually, has the intellect of a young child and the other one is an arrogantly proud god. Generally speaking, I think a lot of people feel that whoever wins a fight is the strongest, and it’s true that the Hulk has come out on top in the vast majority of their battles. When it comes to sheer, all out brute strength, I mean who can simply lift or move the most weight, I’m of the opinion that it’s fairly obvious that the Hulk is stronger. It’s always fun, however, to see a couple of guys who can destroy entire planets through sheer force slug it out.

As for Hulk and Wolverine, I think it also has a bit to do with pride. Even though Hulk is vastly stronger, Wolverine is one of the very few opponents, hero, antihero, villain or whichever label you prefer, that can really go toe to toe with the Hulk, at least with most incarnations. I’m often reminded of fights featuring real wolverines whenever I see these two go at it. Wolverines have been known to take on 1,000 lbs. grizzly bears and run them away from a kill or take on entire wolf packs without the slightest hint of fear and do so with a savagery that’s almost beyond imagination. Hulk and Wolverine are all but unkillable in that Hulk’s body is virtually invulnerable, Wolverine has an indestructible skeleton, and both have highly developed healing factors, so there’s always just a savage brawl when they go at it. In their own way, both are also seen as monsters by some people, somewhat sympathetically in some ways. For the most part, Hulk wants to be left alone and Wolverine is a flawed man who acknowledges his flaws from him, wants to be better, knows that he ca n’t, given the life he probably leads, but keeps trying all the same . ”

Great stuff and thank you to everyone who commented last week! Too many great comments to list so go and check it out!

This week we discuss…

Favorite Comic Book Cross-Company Crossovers
While today an intercompany crossover isn’t anything to get excited about, as we get them on the regular, there was a time when it felt like a big deal! Perhaps the first intercompany crossover was All Star Comics #3 that came out in late 1940 early 1941. The Justice Society of America was created in this issue, combining National Comics’ Doctor Fate, Hour-Man (as it was then spelled), the Spectre, and the Sandman, and All-American Publications ‘ the Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman. National and All-American, separate editorial imprints, shared the unofficial “DC” label due to joint publishing and distribution.

That’s what we’ll be doing this week. The Intercompany/Cross-company/Company crossover, where characters that are the property of one company meet those owned by another company. Before we get started I wanted to mention a few that don’t make my list but I’m sure someone will point out. Like the infestation series years back. While the thought of Star Trek, Transformers, Ghostbustersand G.I. Joe all coming together to fight zombies sounds awesome, this was a number of parallel, separate story lines and no one meets face-to-face. Not exactly the awesome-ness you’d want but I realize trying to get them all together in a semi-cohesive story would have been difficult.

So let’s start with some easy ones. Spider-Man & SNL and the Avengers & David Letterman were cool at the time but I wanted to stick to more comic book company meetups over television. That goes double for the utterly horrible Marvel & Guiding Light crossover. Seriously. stars from Guiding Light appeared in several 2006 Marvel comics and one of the characters on the TV show suddenly gained superpowers. Marvel superheroes traveled to the fictitious town of Springfield to check on her and it was as lame as it sounds. Comic fans scoffed and soap opera fans considered those episodes among the worst EVER!

Also, I never read Charles Barkley & Godzilla. A shocker, I know.

And the last crossover I thought about and decided not to include is death mate. A six-part comic book crossover between Valiant Comics and Image Comics back in 1993 and 1994. No issue numbers but used colors: Yellow, Blue, Black, and Red. In a shocker, the Image half (Black, Red, and Epilogue) came out severely behind schedule and out of sequence. Deathmate Red shipped after the epilogue issue, and despite cover dates from September 1993 to February 1994, the actual publication lag was far longer than six months. The less said about this, the better.

Let’s cleanse our palette with Spider-Man meets Ren & Stimpy. Simple, fun, new reader friendly, and Spider-Man fights Powdered Toast Man. I read the G.I. Joe & Transformers crossover back in 1986 and haven’t picked it up since. I seem to remember it being a fun read. It was a four-issue limited series produced by Marvel Comics and set in the contemporary Generation 1 continuity. The Transformers, GI Joe, and Cobra fight for control of Power Station Alpha and there was some confusion because both Optimus Prime and Megatron had been killed off in the main title. Maybe this one was another cool idea, poor execution.

speaking of execution, Punisher & Eminem was…interesting. In promoting his 2009 album, ‘Relapse’, the rapper teamed up with Frank Castle in the two-part Eminem/Punisher: Kill Youwhich ran in XXL Magazine and on Marvel.com. The Punisher was used to odd pairings, having survived a round with Archie & The Punisher. While that may be the most mismatched pairing, it came out pretty good. 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisheror The Punisher Meets Archie, was a one-shot comic book intercompany crossover published under two separate covers by Marvel Comics and Archie Comics, but with the same interior content. The Punisher has made a deal with the government to hunt down a notorious drug dealer named “Red” who is hiding in Riverdale. The deal requires him to forgo his normally lethal methods and apprehend the suspect instead of killing him, since the federals wish to interrogate Red about the drug trafficking on the East Coast. Oh, and “Red” looks exactly like Archie! A fun mix-up adventure. Not as fun? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Archie crossover.

Archie would meet up with another unlikely character in Archie & the Predator. Yes, the most dangerous alien in the galaxy comes to Riverdale and it’s surprisingly…entertaining. I won’t ruin the end but the Predator meets a challenge he can’t overcome.

This next one is a personal favorite, even though it never quite hits its mark. I’m a fan of Tarzan so of course I was looking forward to Tarzan & the Predator. It has its moments but doesn’t stand among the best. Still, it’s an idea I’d like to see revisited.

Another idea that sounded great was Star Trek & X-Men. Too bad it missed the mark on so many levels. The 1996 one-shot by Scott Lobdell and Marc Silvestri had all the makings of something special but became a mess when it tried to be clever with continuity from both series. This team-up spawned two sequels that are pretty much forgettable.

Also forgettable, Darkman vs. Army of Darkness, which is sad. You’d think a miniseries between two Sam Raimi movies would click on some level but this one fell flat. On the flip side, I only read it once or twice but Robocop vs. terminator is a pretty cool read.

Which comic book character has the most crossovers, Superman is at the top of the list. Superman vs. Aliens finds him stranded on an asteroid that happens to have Kryptonian atmosphere, making Superman weak and vulnerable to the Alien Queen. Superman vs. predator has weakened him from a jungle virus. You get the picture.

We’ve seen Superman & He-Man, Superman & Orson Welles, Superman & Jerry Lewiseven Superman & the Nestle Quik Bunny! One of the most well known and well done was Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Done back in 1978, it features the two in a battle for the title of Earth’s greatest champion. They must fight each other before the winner can fight the evil Scrubb leader Rat’Lar.

Batman has had his share of notable crossovers too. Batman & The Beatles from 1970 saw Batman and Robin looking into the rumors of “Paul is dead”. Oddly enough, for copyright reasons, the Beatles were referred to as Glennan, Saul, Hal, and Benji. Batman & Judge Dredd, Batman & Predator, Batman & Sherlock Holmes, Batman & Captain America, and so on. Even Scooby Doo. If I had to choose my favorite, the first Batman & Grendel stands out tremendously and still holds up today. Just a great read and a great looking book.

Perhaps the one most people will mention as their favorite or the best, due to whom it involves is JLA & Avengers. A crossover between DC and Marvel’s biggest superteams was years in the making. he is pretty much a no-brainer. It was first in development in 1979 with a target date of 1983. The creative team of writer Gerry Conway and the late, great artist George Pérez were set but politics and behind-the-scenes disputes was its downfall. Thankfully, two decades later, the project became reality with Pérez joined by writer Kurt Busiek. As expected, it was a great success.

then there is DC vs. Marvel Comics/Marvel Comics vs. DC. Two godly brothers who personify the DC and Marvel Universes become aware of the other’s existence, and challenge one another to a series of duels involving each universe’s respective superheroes. The losing universe would cease to exist. The story had an “out of universe” component in that, although there were eleven primary battles, five outcomes were determined by fan vote. Hit or miss, depending on who you ask, but a solid effort.

Here’s the point where I turn it over to you. What’s your favorite intercompany crossover? Least favourite? How about one you’d like to see today?

And please, no one says KISS vs. Doctor Doom. It’s been done.

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!

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