By DeimosMasque 1 Comments
When I was but a lad of sixteen-years-old, Marvel and DC comics put together a huge crossover event. It was something that didn't happen often. The first attempt was X-Men and Teen Titans (which was originally going to be a multi-comic series that just didn't happen) and except for the never referenced cross-overs Marvel and DC never really did anything before or after Marvel vs DC, Amalgam Comics and the later All Access series.
What did they do? They came together, shared talent and put together the free-for-all battle that the Marvel Zombies and the DC Freaks always wanted. Superman vs Hulk, Namor vs Aquaman, Quicksilver vs Flash. And while I don't agree with everything that happened in those comics (Namor loses to Aquaman? Wolverine vs Lobo? Really!?) it was something new, different and amazing!
The fan voted battles went pretty predictably. Superman beat Hulk, Wolverine beat Lobo, Spider-Man beat Superboy, Storm (?) beat Wonder Woman and Batman beat Captain America. The X-Men won (it was 1996) and the DC won nearly everywhere else.
But the "Brothers" that were the embodiment of the Marvel and DC universes didn't just destroy one universe or the other. Instead they merged them, and for one month (and a second month later) the Marvel and DC universe became Amalgam.
The Amalgam Universe suffered in the same way many stories do... all the writers weren't aware of what the other writers were doing. So the Amalgam Universe is a series of doubly or triply merged characters, fake continuity errors and questionable writing/art. And yet, I hold it out as the real Golden Age of comics. An age we'll never see again.
It was an age where Marvel and DC were so willing to work together that they could make this mini-series, make the Amalgam Universe and do it all; despite the fact that DC was owned by Warner Brothers at the time. It's a time will never come again. As the corporations that own DC (Time Warner) and Marvel (Disney) make it an "us versus" them situation, and treat it rather fairly.
So before I get to the Amalgam comics themselves lets talk about the best parts of Marvel vs DC.
- Tim Drake and Jubilee were perfect for each other: They got an issue an a half to pursue their love, yet it seems so perfect. Tim was the overachiever of Batman's Robins. Jubilee was the first of Wolverine's sidekicks who was the real sidekick, who learned from him and became something new. They had some short scenes in the Marvel vs DC comics and than All Access dealt with Jubilee coming to Gotham. And then it was never referenced again. Unfortunate because I really saw them romantically working.
- Thanos and Darksied were perfect sides of the same coin: Seriously, one looks for the Anti-Life Equation, the other seeks Death as his consort. They are perfect mirror images of themselves. Probably not by accident since Jack Kirby made Thanos after his New Gods comic failed in DC. The Eternals, the Deviants and the Titans of the Marvel Universe owe DC for not finding the New Gods as being worth a comic series.
- Lobo vs Wolverine: While its was a stupid match up, I found that honestly Wolverine winning off panel and just smoking a cigar to be a great set of sequential storytelling. It left how the actual fight went to the readers imagination. While it was a poorly decided versus, it was told rather well.
- Wonder Woman is Worthy: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." And Wonder Woman is worthy! She's the only character shown to be worthy besides Captain America and Beta Ray Bill. Superman? Nope! Batman? Nope! It's Wonder Woman who is worthy. She deserves that distinction!
- Captain America vs Batman: Four things!
- The first one. As they fight Batman says "We've been at this for hours. We could battle for days and not have a winner until one of us drops from exhaustion."
- Second that the whole battle came down to one throw. Batarang thrown, Shield thrown. Cap throws a bit too early and the sewer they are fighting in flushes out, throwing off Cap's aim. Batman waited moments later, he knew Gotham's sewers better and thus he won. What I loved about this fight was that very little of it was shown and it came down to Batman knowing his environment better than Captain America did.
- That this whole fight was so short, we had to use our imagination and determine the last three (min) hours of the fight and determine how it went. It's amazing. It's all about how we see it. I see it starting on the streets, then moving to the roofs. Then finally Batman takes it to the underground and Cap gets lost... unfamiliar and in a dark enviroment that Batman clings to, Cap just can't keep up. Hours later, one throw solves the fight.
- The ending... after Amalgam: "And they see... a child witnesses his parents gunned down... swearing vengence... unselfishly devoting his life to protecting those who cannot protect themselves... from the nothingness of a blighted soul, he fashioned a dark guardian and joined others in battle...he became one among many... but remained forever unique."
"And they see... a young man with willing spirit and weak flesh, subjecting himself to experiments so he can fight a great evil... a man whose battle carries him across decades to a harsh, cynical world that needed him even more, and was even less willing to admit it... he found new enemies... and new allies... he became one among many... but forever remained unique."
I never realized how much Captain America and Batman were so similar but so different. But since that moment sixteen years later, I still think of Captain America and Batman as being the same concept driven in other directions.
Okay got through the things on Marvel vs DC... let's talk Amalgam. There are five comics from the first wave of Amalgam Comics that I view as great ideas.
- Legends of the Dark Claw - Nice play on Dark Knight. Let's face it the combination of Wolverine and Batman is the only thing anyone remembers. Well maybe Superman and Captain America. But Dark Claw... Larry Hama... Ray McCarthy... Jim Balent. That's one of the best creative teams put on a single book. Now granted this is one of the first flaws in the Amalgam Comics.
Dark Claw's references make no sense with Bruce Wayne: Agent of Shield, add to that he's supposed to be Logan Wayne and has the same back story as Bruce. Add to that that they called Barbra Gordon "the Huntress' in Bruce Wayne: Agent of Shield and you have a huge problem.
I blame it all on the Marvel people were not told what the DC people were going to do.
- Assassins: Catsai and Dare were amazing characters. Once again we have the issue that Catsai is Elektra, Storm and Selina Kyle mixed when they had already Selina Kyle as the daughter of the Red Skull (er Green Skull.) But outside of this it was a great story that was just good. It could have totally continued as a story.
- Doctor Strangefate: Here is where things got very interesting. We got Solomon Grundy/Hulk mix in Shulk. Zatanna mixed with Scarlet Witch and White Witch. And Jade Nova the mix of Frankie Ryder and Guy Gardner. Then we get the Doctor Fate helmet removed and who is under it? Not Stephen Strange or Kent Nelson... it was Charles Xavier. Charles FREAKING Xavier. The strongest mind on the planet, made the strongest sorcerer in the Amalgam Universe. And he fails to contain Access you feel it.
Honestly I could go on all day and night about the Amalgam Universe and how it showed us what DC and Marvel could do when given the same source material. But that's not entire point here. The point was that this singular point in time was the Golden Age of comics.
Not from a time period scale, but from a cooperation scale. Never before had Marvel and DC ever interacted to this level. And they will never do it again. WB and Disney will make sure that won't happen. And this becomes the sad thing about being a comic book fan.
In this situation neither company can accept that they have anything to receive from the other company. They haven't done a crossover since 1997. A year after Amalgam.
And it will never happen again. Basically, Corporate America has kicked in and the WB and Marvel... the WB and Disney have decided to stand alone. Making the biggest mistake a weakening medium could make. To not help each other, to view each other as only competition rather than realizing how much they could achieve by not being direct competitors but being co-operative competitors. Considering that, there is the New 52, and Marvel's constant event comics... imagine if they worked together for readers rather than doing a bunch of shock events to get more readers.