Movies & TV / Columns

Comics 411: A Look at Intercompany Crossover Events

November 18, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
DC vs. Marvel Comics

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…


 
A couple of weeks ago we discussed The Best Superhero Costumes Here’s what some of you had to say:

Wheeljack84: “The costumes are the best parts of these characters. That’s why it always annoys me when they make movies and are constantly taking the characters out of them.”

Spacecowboy: “Uncanny X-force gave Wolverine and Deadpool gray/black variants that are so badass. They’re fitting for the X-men’s kill squad.”

Erick Rowan’s Beard: “When I think of the best superhero costumes, I generally try to think of superheroes who’s costumes go hand in hand with them. I mean, Superman wouldn’t be Superman without his costume, it’s just not the same without that S, or shield as he’s called it in some books, and that red flowing cape with the all yellow S on it. Batman is all about the costume, same with Spider-Man and Iron Man. Spawn and Venom are the costumes, quite literally.

I like the outfits Thor has been drawn with over the past decade as they look more like something a warrior would wear. You know, they look more like armor or some sort of chainmail that you’d see a Viking warrior wear back in the 8 or 900s AD.

I always dug Wolverine’s costumes as he was one of the few characters who’s costumes would get seriously messed up a good deal of the time. Bullet holes, rips, tears, burned off him, etc. and it makes a lot of sense in his case as his primary power is the ability to heal from virtually anything. Wolverine is Wolverine with or without a costume. To me, it’s the claws, the hair, the sideburns and the overall attitude that are the constant keys to his look rather than his costume. Remember during the 90s how he’d sometimes be drawn with the wildly exaggerated hair and sideburns so out of control that you’d think they were tufts of fur or something that were part of his mutation? I always dug that look because he just looked so damned feral. One thing that’s always bothered me about the mask is that whenever he puts it on, the artist drawing him makes his muttonchops disappear. The entire lower portion of his face is revealed but, unexplainably, the sideburns are gone.

I also like the Punisher’s “costume” or however you’d like to label it. It’s not fancy, it’s not bright, it’s not intricate but it says all there needs to be said about who Frank Castle is, what he’s about and what he believes in. When you see that white skull on a black canvas, you automatically know who it is and what’s up.”

El Atomico: “I’m with you on Dr. Fate. I still remember seeing him in a comic book for the first time as a kid, and I thought he was so impressive and majestic looking. When I started trying to create my own superheroes, many were very influenced by his look.
Lots of great choices, in the article and in the comics. Some more I’m partial to:
Daredevil (red)
Black Panther
Iron Fist
Booster Gold
Hulk’s ripped purple capris :)”

LITMnooch: “I’m a sucker for the Scarlet Spider, it’s as 90’s as you can get with pouch belt and matching pouch ankle straps but also it’s Ben Reilly rushing to make a costume with no money using plain red spandex and a stolen spider hoodie from a store.

The scene where May dies and Peter is there but Ben is on the roof in rain was the first time as a kid a comic made me cry as if just lost my Nian a few months prior. Right in the feels. Poor Ben.”

JackOfClubs “So many cool costumes to think of. I like Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider jacket. Brown & Yellow Wolverine is iconic. The Punisher’s Skull. Doctor Strange’s cape and cowl. John Constantine’s red tie and brown coat…I could write my own article lol”

Benjamin Kellog: “Superman, hands down. Borrowing liberally from circus strongmen and acrobats was one of the smartest moves Siegel and Shuster ever made, because it made Clark stand out in all the right ways from anything else on the newsstands, and even as the genre exploded in popularity and hundreds of imitators crowded around him, his is still the look that most attracts my eye no matter the era. To answer the other question most of you might have at this time, I prefer the original “red underwear on the outside” version; otherwise, your average citizen in trouble sees a giant blue blob heading toward them and starts fearing it’s Batman, exactly the opposite of the hope Supes represents when he’s at his best.
Honorable mention to Booster Gold, an overachiever who tried way too hard to make a first impression, but at least he could color-coordinate like a champ. I really oughta get around to reading JLI someday…”

Conrad bane: “Theres something about fleischer superman that I love, the really long floppy cape, dark blue suit and that “S” design. It’s crude but it works.”

Ken Wood: “Spiderman should probably win. So many of his variants are great, from Scarlet Spider to Ghost Spider, Vemom to Miles.
Batman definitely deserves a mention here, as do many of his fellows and villains. His look just draws you to him. Add characters like Nightwing, Cat Woman, Harley Quinn and the Joker. His comics just have a long lineup of cool looking characters.
Punisher. Just looking at him, you know he’s a badass.
As far as X-Men go, there are plenty of just awesome looking ones. Some of my favorites include Emma Frost, Chamber, Xorn, Magik, The Cuckoos and Warlock. There are just so many, I could keep going and going.”

Tayo Jones: “Best costumes for me:
Daredevil Red Costume
Moon Knight
Hawkeye (classic costume. Modern look sucks)
Nightcrawler
Mr Terrific
Mister Miracle
Power Girl
Thor
Spider-Man
The Question”

RAWmachine: “Punisher Skull white boots
Wolverine’s yellow with black tiger stripes
Judge Dredd”
So many great comments! Big thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!

This week we discuss…

Comic Book Intercompany Crossovers
The other day Hasbro announced a crossover of some type between its Transformers line and Marvel Comics’ Uncanny X-Men set for some time in 2021 as part of its Transformers Collaborative line, as announced on the official Transformers Facebook page. No word on if it’s a toy line or comic book one but it could easily be both and it got me thinking about some past intercompany crossovers, both good and bad. 

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, Ghostbusters, and 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 Deathmate. 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 of 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, G.I. 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 You, which 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 Punisher, or 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 hit 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 him weakened from a jungle virus. You get the picture.

We’ve seen Superman & He-Man, Superman & Orson Welles, Superman & Jerry Lewis, even 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 who it involves is JLA & Avengers. A crossover between DC and Marvel’s biggest superteams was years in the making. 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 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 big 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 favorite? How about one you’d like to see today?

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

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