Every fanboy and fangirl on the internet are buzzing about Batman fighting Superman and will soon be bickering about Team Captain America fighting Team Iron Man in “Civil War.” Personally, I love and hate it. I love it because it proves that these characters are still very important and relevant and I hate it because some people are taking the debate too far. Seriously, stop harassing people simply because they share a different opinion. No one deserves to die simply because they really disliked a movie about an alien fighting a man dressed as a bat. I’ve been a Superman fanatic since I was eight, and I’m not about to send Zack Snyder a letter bomb for treating Superman poorly. The mainstream still thinks we’re all angry virgin boys hiding in our parents’ dark basements, and wanking off to “Star Trek” erotica.
Don’t perpetuate the stereotype, please. Remember: It’s all bullshit and it’s bad for you.
That said, the whole versus angle really makes me think back to 1996 when the whole idea of superheroes clashing wasn’t a new idea, but the whole concept of companies crossing over was bold and daring. These days we have superhero shows aplenty, and they’re all crossing over in to one another. Constantine from NBC finished his run on The Flash from WB, and the Flash from WB is appearing on Supergirl from CBS. It’s a goldmine for fans and fans alike! In 1996 we were hoping through and through for another potential Superman movie, so when Marvel Comics and DC Comics crossed over in to one another to compile a massive battle royale, it was beautiful. I loved it then and I still love it now. Every now and then I pull the graphic novel compilation out of my box and re-read it.
It’s a fun and silly bit of fandom that allows some of the big wigs at both companies to come to an understanding and make their characters all come together like action figures in a sand box. The series has no complexity, but it does offer up a fun little premise behind it. You see, the DC and Marvel universes are living and breathing entities that are both somewhat conscious of themselves and get in to some kind of debate with one another. In an effort to end the squabbling, they decide to pit their greatest champions against one another and both universes come colliding with each other. I fondly remember visiting my comic book shop and picking up a pack of trading cards that were promoting the crossover before the actual comics came out. The trading cards featured various minor characters battling one another and some heavyweights, too.
If you were lucky you’d have a card showing Superman fighting Hulk, or Batman fighting Captain America. Other times you got Magneto fighting Dr. Polaris, or Deadshot battling Punisher. Either way each pack featured a card where you could mark down your choices for who’d win in the throwdown of the decade, and you’d send them through the mail. Back then whenever these companies took polls or had contests, we old nineties folgies used snail mail for literally everything! You have to love the speed and convenience of E-mail, don’t you? Either way, the only mash up I cared about was Superman battling the Hulk. Of course, I thought Superman should win and rightly so. Superman could just chuck the Hulk in to space. The End. When I finally bought the trade paperback, it was a surefire entertaining throwdown of the decade that helped me remember why I loved comic books and superheroes so much.
Apparently the Marvel and DC Universe entities are big babies and the heroes are all pretty much pushed in to battling one another. So not only do the superheroes cross over, but their alter egos do, too. It’s neat watching Clark Kent the reporter meet Peter Parker the photographer. It’s also really entertaining to see Bane about to break Captain America’s back only for Cap to knock him down for the count with his shield. The trade paperback goes in the way you’d expect. A lot of exposition is had, and superheroes and villains begin crashing in to one another, realizing they have to essentially fight or else their universe is doomed.
Suffice it to say some of the matches are spectacular, while some just kind of made me roll my eyes and quickly turn the next page. Namor fighting Aquaman in particular is ridiculous only because everyone knows Namor is superior, and he wins by squashing Aquaman with a killer whale. Then there’s the excellent match between Quicksilver and The Flash where the Flash wins the match. The funny part of the match is that both men are so fast that what seems like a four hour fight ends in literally seconds to us normal folk. There’s also a wonderful bout between Storm and Wonder Woman, both of whom preach sisterhood and peace, but are forced to fight one another regardless.
Logically we know Storm should win, as she is a goddess, so Storm whoops Wonder Woman’s keister with her supernatural abilities and manages to cradle the defeated Wonder Woman in her arms and convey as much remorse as humanly possible. Hell, Wonder Woman manages to pick up Thor’s hammer and she still can’t defeat the almighty Ororo Munroe. I also really enjoy the fight between Green Lantern and Silver Surfer. While GL and Nova fighting would make more sense, I guess we had to inject Silver Surfer in to this battle somehow. Of course since Silver Surfer is a wise warrior and GL is just the young Kyle Rayner at the time, Silver Surfer does knock the young warrior in to oblivion, despite Kyle being able to concoct some pretty bad ass weaponry and armor for the herald of Galactus.
There’s also the big match of Wolverine and Lobo which ends with Wolverine winning because, you know, he’s Wolverine. Marvel’s clawed bad boy won everything in the decade. While a lot of the battles are shown, some of just skimmed over, allowing fans to have their little moments. We get to see Steel battling Iron Man, Hawkeye battling Green Arrow, Man Thing fighting Swamp Thing, and the like.
Of course the big showdown I was hoping to read was Superman and the Hulk and it didn’t let me down. While Superman and Hulk essentially are very strong and very intelligent, Superman is more of a God than anything, so he crushes Hulk, but more reluctantly than anything. It’s Superman, of course. There is no real main bout that occurs in “DC vs. Marvel Comics.” The companies just took their most popular characters of the decade, pitted them against one another, made some compromises here and there, and let the chips fall where they may. it’s funny how little the nineties reflect today’s idea of popular.
Back then Iron Man’s fight only got one panel. Today he’d likely be one of the main bouts featured with another heavyweight comprised of metal. Who knows? If you collected the cards, they filled in the holes by supplying matches that weren’t featured in the trade paperback. There’s the card featuring Joker against Green Goblin, and Two Face and Jigsaw. The whole affair is epic, but still one of the most memorable crossovers I’ve ever read as a comic book fan. It was very highly touted and hyped, but didn’t have much of an effect on canon as we know it. At the end of the crossover, the DC and Marvel Universe entities kind of come to a compromise and decide to come together in a symbiosis creating the awfully weird and surreal Amalgam Universe.
For those unaware, this involved a long line of comic book one shots where we were able to see some of Marvel and DC’s biggest characters combined in to one. So Batman and Wolverine made the Dark Claw, Superman and Captain America made Super Soldier, Green Lantern and Iron Man made Iron Lantern, et al. It’s one of the weirdest bits of fan service ever concocted, and the issues are still very rare today from what I’ve read. I still own a few of the issues from Amalgam Comics to this day, but the crossover is never mentioned by either comic book company today. Like the DC vs. Marvel Comics era, it was all just one big stunt that came and went faster than fans could process it. It still holds a nice little place in my heart as a neat dose of nostalgia and a great gimmick with big aspirations.