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Comics 411: Which Characters Should Marvel and DC Trade?

February 9, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
DC vs. Marvel Comics Image Credit: Marvel/DC 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…

Last time we discussed The 411 Comic Book Awards Here’s what some of you had to say:

“Filthy” Jake Fury: “Batman Imposter is awesome. I read the first trade of Joker and really liked it too.


Al Lobama: “Glad to see two of my picks from last week getting some attention. If you had told me before I clicked that one of them would be Jeff the Land Shark, I don’t think I would’ve believed you.

And if you haven’t read Monsters yet, drop EVERYTHING and do it right now! Right NOW, Butters!”

Noodle: “Best artist is Marco Checchetto, and no one else is even close to second. The guy is absolutely killing it right now.”

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…

Which Characters Should Marvel and DC Trade? 

Before you go off on me in the comments, take a few minutes and think about the “forbidden door” being opened between DC and Marvel. Yes, they have a fierce rivalry and the legal logistics will give any lawyer a headache the size of the Blob but…it almost happened.  

We all remember (don’t we?) back in 1996 when things came together and they put down their weapons and did a crossover with each other. To be honest, I re-read it recently and while it’s still cool, they left a lot of meat on the bone.

DC versus Marvel Comics, a full-on inter-company crossover brought plenty of toys and scenarios to the table, along with the Amalgam and DC Marvel All Access books that followed.

But did you know that it almost brought a character trade as well, thanks to the late Mark Gruenwald on the Marvel side and Mike Carlin at DC? 

“I think Carlin and Grunewald had some scheme,” says Paul Levitz, then DC’s publisher. “I remember an idea being discussed, that we would swap out some characters. I don’t know that it lasted more than one meeting with me or someone just throwing up on the table and saying, ‘Oh, God, that is so much more work than it could possibly be worth.’ I do remember conversations around it. I think the idea was characters that we wouldn’t necessarily miss, but could potentially make more valuable by generating new interest in another universe.”

Realistically you couldn’t use any of the big names so out were Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, and the life. Even the B-list would be too much to deal with. 

But what about just under that? Characters with history, name value, and could be traded without causing too much of a ripple in their “home” universes. Enter She-Hulk and Martian Manhunter. 

“I felt like those were great picks, because at least in terms of power sets, they’re kind of redundant characters,” says Ron Marz, one of the ‘DC Versus Marvel’ writers. “She-Hulk is, well, a lady Hulk. And Martian Manhunter is pretty close to Superman, just green with a big brow. They both would’ve seemed more original in the opposite universe.”

“There was plenty of fan conjecture at the time. The audience was convinced that it was going to happen,” says Tom Brevoort. “There was a nascent internet community in those days, and so many fans were convinced it was going to happen.”

So what happened?

“As we got into the process of constructing the story, we had more of a conversation about that aspect: Do we have to build this into the last issue somehow?” Marz remembers. “Eventually, we got word that it wasn’t going to happen, because legal entities at both companies found it too much of a nightmare.”

“The notion of ‘maybe we leave a character in the other universe at the end of this’ seemed like it would be good fun if we could really make it happen,” Marz says. “I don’t know what could have been done. Would She-Hulk join the Justice League and Martian Manhunter join the Avengers? The X-Men? I don’t think either character had their own title at the time. But for a brief moment, we were thinking, ‘yeah this could be really cool.”

So here’s the fun part? Would that have worked? If not, which characters could work better in the other universe?
You know who I would send from Marvel to DC? Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Silver Surfer, Cyclops, and Doctor Strange. DC to Marvel? Metamorpho, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, and Firestorm. While I like each of these characters where they are, given a new change of scenery could do wonders for their development and give the hosting universe characters a different dynamic when they interact with them. Fun to think about.

Do with that what you will. Which trades would you make? I didn’t even have time to consider VILLAINS! That’s a whole other column! 

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