Ah crossovers, the ultimate fanservice. Everyone who's ever so much as picked up a comic book has asked what would happen if Spider-Man fought Superman, or which was more powerful, Green Lantern's ring or the Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic. But unfortunately for us, Marvel and DC are now owned by major corporations, and Disney and Warner Brothers don't like each other enough to split the revenue of a comic book, so crossovers are most certainly not in our future. Our past, however? Our past is full of insane and fantastic crossovers stretching back to the seventies. So let's dig back into those classic Marvel/DC crossovers and have ourselves a good time.
10. Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans
After the success of Marvel and DC's first three crossover books, they decided to team up the two most successful comic books they were putting out at the moment. Those being Clairemont's Uncanny X-Men and Wolfman's New Teen Titans.
The two teams are both drawn into space by a conflict between two of the biggest forces of evil in either universe. Darkseid and the Dark Phoenix are at war, and the X-Men and Titans are spacefaring to figure out what to do about it.
Of course, there's also some action from Deathstroke and the Shi'ar as you'd hope, particularly a brief altercation between Deathstroke and Wolverine. Also, Kitty Pride and Changeling's back and forth is fun, and I wish we could have had another major crossover between these groups of characters. There's almost too much going on in this densely packed book.
On the art front, Walter Simonson hits this out of the park and into the parking lot. It's gorgeous on every level. The kind of love for the New Gods he would eventually bring to Orion is more than present here.
9. Batman/Captain America
A crossover book that's also an Elseworlds? Why, thank you very much!
This one is a Batman/Captain America team-up that takes place during World War Two. And it's a fun little throwback to that era of comic books. Plus we get the forties Batmobile, and that is always a cause for celebration for me.
Cap and Bats have a natural chemistry, and, while both are pretty one-note in their portrayals, that sort of "stock heroic white dude" persona is kind of a hallmark of golden age comics, so it's understandable. Bucky and Robin bounce off each other well as respective teen sidekicks, and Red Skull and Joker complement each other well as villains.
Of course, the most notable scene in the book is the one in which Joker discovers that Red Skull is a Nazi and loses his mind over it. The idea that the Joker, even as bad as he is, still can't stand the Third Reich, is kind of great.
This is the only villain-centric crossover on this list, and boy is it an intense one.
In the story, the Silver Surfer enters the skies over Apokolips, searching for a new planet to feed to his master. After being swarmed by Parademons, the surfer summons Galactus, and they begin to work on exterminating Darkseid's minions. Surfer vs Orion is a particular high point, as is what comes afterwards. As Orion is near death, the Black Racer appears to claim him. The full page of the Surfer and the Racer seeing each other is weirdly powerful and beautiful, really a tribute to Jack Kirby at his finest.
Galactus arrives, and begins building his planet destroying machine, only for Darkseid to arrive to stop him. Darkseid unleashes everything he has, including his vicious omega beams, but none of it is enough. Galactus switches on his machine"¦only to find that Apokolips is already a dead planet, and will give him no sustenance. He asks Darkseid why, if he knew this, he fought so hard to stop him. Darkseid pretty much just shrugs. It’s a wonderful little moment where both big bads gain a modicum of respect for each other.
Solid book all around.
Of course, the crossover you always wanted. This is actually the first of two Batman/Spider-Man crossovers, but if I'm picking one, I gotta go with the original.
In this story, Batman and Spider-Man are both having violent nightmares about the tragedies that turned them into the heroes they are. At the same time, experts in New York and Gotham have found ways to force Carnage and the Joker into being reformed. The experts meet up in Gotham to see who has done a better job, bringing their pet psychopaths in tow.
Carnage gets his symbiote out of dormancy and snaps the Joker out of his trance, initiating a team-up between the two. Spider-Man arrives in Gotham to help out with Carnage, but Batman wants none of it. Eventually, the two heroes team-up and take care of each other's nemesis, resolving their own personal issues as they do.
Some incredibly solid J.M. DeMatteis writing on this one, but the star turn is from artist Mark Bagley, who absolutely kills it here. So good.
I love the weird crossovers. The ones that don't seem to make any logical sense on first, second, or even third thought, but somehow wind up being excellent.
It actually isn't that hard to explain the genesis of this one. Back in the late seventies, Marvel and DC had already made two Superman/Spider-Man crossovers and had decided to expand into other characters. Picking the next two characters to team-up was an imperative. But DC and Marvel opted to go with their second most popular characters at the time. And due to the Adam West Batman and Lou Ferrigno/Bill Bixby Hulk television shows, those characters were easy to pick.
The story itself focuses on The Joker teaming up with hyper-obscure Marvel Villain The Shaper of Worlds to acquire a new gamma weapon. Batman and the Hulk fight each other for a while, of course, before joining forces to save the world.
It's another enjoyable story, plus it has Killer Moth in it, so I obviously love it.
This is actually the second Batman/Punisher crossover, technically. But since the first was between Frank Castle and Knightfall's temporary Batman Jean-Paul Valley, this is the one you probably want to read.
In the story, The Punisher returns to Gotham, chasing crime boss Jigsaw, who has allied himself with The Joker. When he arrives, it doesn't take him long to run into the Batman. The dynamic between the two is pretty solid as Punisher is convinced that he and Batman are on the same side, no matter how clear Batman makes his hate for him.
Some character sacrifices are obviously made, as a truly accurate Batman/Punisher crossover would just be Batman kicking the living hell out of Frank Castle for 22 pages, but both characters still feel well served. Plus, the scene in which Joker realizes Frank Castle doesn't intend to take him in alive is a pretty solid one.
All-in-all, a fun crossover that fans of either character should definitely check out.
4. Superman/Silver Surfer
This one's a weird pairing, but one that I really enjoy.
In the story, the hyper-powerful imps of the Marvel and DC universes (the Impossible Man and Mr. Mxyzptlk, respectively) challenge each other to a trick-off. Each one will go bother the other's arch-nemesis, and whoever pulls the best trick wins. And so our story is mostly composed of Superman and the Silver Surfer being just super annoyed.
The high point comes when Impossible Man and Mxyxptlk start to fight with each other by rapidly shapeshifting into various Marvel and DC heroes and villains in a high octane version of rock paper scissors. Superman and the Silver Surfer are actually a better match than you'd think. The Surfer's cold detachment is a nice counterpoint to Superman's kindness and humanity.
Unlike many of the crossovers we're gonna talk about, this one isn't a "worlds at stake" actionfest. Hell, Supes and the Surfer don't even fight, but that's for the best. It's a fun little story, and its relative smallness earns it its charm.
3. Fantastic Four/Superman
Easily the best delivered book on the list. This one comes up with everything you could possibly want to see out of this combination of characters and throws it straight on the table.
The story starts with Superman receiving a once-lost transmission from Krypton. This one reveals that Krypton's destruction WASN'T natural like we all assumed. Krypton was destroyed"¦by Galactus! Supes goes to the Fantastic Four for help and advice. Unfortunately, when he finally goes to face Galactus, Supes is corrupted by the power cosmic and turned into Galactus' new herald. The FF are sent up to save him alongside a shocking ally: Cyborg Superman. This is brilliant.
For those who don't know, Cyborg Superman, aka Hank Henshaw, first appeared in a group of horribly disfigured astronauts created to parody the Fantastic Four's origin. In fact, the best scene in the book is one in which Henshaw and Reed Richards recount their origins and notice the similarities and tragic differences.
A fun crossover that taps its full potential.
2. Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man
Come on, you had to know this was coming.
As the first Marvel/DC crossover, it has very obviously earned its place on this list. And it's a really fun story.
Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus, both recently thrown in jail by their respective heroes, decide to team up and pit them against each other. Later, when Clark Kent and Peter Parker are both covering the same news story, they are tricked into suiting up and going up against each other. Luthor blasts Spider-Man with a ray to make him super strong, allowing him to actually hurt Supes. Eventually the ray wears off and Spidey finally stops punching Superman and agrees to talk. They talk it out, and go to find their nemeses, beating them up, and throwing them in jail once more.
An incredibly fun crossover that lives up to exactly what you want to see out of it. Also, some really strong moments between Peter Parker and Lois Lane. All in all, you couldn't ask for a better first crossover.
I know a lot of you probably assumed this spot would belong to Marvel vs DC, which is indeed a fun diversion, but it skews closer to thoughtless blockbuster for my tastes.
Instead, I feel no qualms in putting Kurt Busiek and George Perez' JLA/Avengers at the top of this list by a wide margin. The story is not just a love letter to the concept of the crossover, but to the entire Marvel and DC universes as a whole. It's comic booking perfection, and I can't help but love it. Every little moment is incredible.
Issue One, in which the two teams first encounter each other and each other's world has all the perspective readjusting for both teams you'd want. Issue Two is every possible fight scene you could hope for between the two teams. Issue Three is a great reality shift story that has the single most powerful moment of the series, and Issue Four is the all-out climax that had to happen.
The scene in which the JLA and Avengers see all the hardships and misery they will have to endure in the future, and decide to go through it anyway, for the good of both their worlds? That thing makes me tear up every single time. A powerful and fun story that cements itself as the best a Marvel/DC crossover can possibly be.
Also, Hawkeye calling the Justice League "Squadron Supreme wannabes" might be the high point of comic books as a medium.