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DC And Marvel Joined Forces 26 Years Ago For An Epic Crossover

By Mabel Judith Andrady
April 27,2022

When it came down to it, comic books were what mattered most in the 1990s. During the first half of the decade, sales of Marvel and DC comics were at their highest point ever, but what happens when those sales start to decline? The solution came in the form of an unlikely partnership.

At the time, both DC and Marvel were at their highest ebbs. When Superman was killed off, the comics industry went into overdrive. Speculators, who assumed that copies of key books would one day pay for their kids’ college educations in the early ’90s drove the boom.

In an attempt to save the situation, the two competitors turned to each other for a huge crossover. For the first time ever, the heroes of both universes would face off in a four-issue crossover. Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man had crossed streams before, but not in a universe-sprawling, monumental battle like this one between the two. This was a first for us. This was a major undertaking.

Because of the unusually close working relationship between these two titans of the industry, the crossover was possible. As a result, we had a massive crossover event that took up four oversized issues and was everything we’ve come to expect from big superhero events. It was a lot of information to take in. It went by in a flash.

The Evolution Of The Hero

Individual hero storylines were so convoluted that anyone who wasn’t following along was left out in the cold by it. Everything about it screamed the decadence of mainstream comics in the 1990s. Finally, fans had a say in the outcome of some of these battles, deciding the “winner” of the Marvel/DC rivalry by ballot.

The plot is incredibly convoluted largely due to the necessity of providing a reason for these disparate universes to collide. When the Spectre and the Living Tribunal discover each other, it’s a match made in heaven. They decide to use the heroes of their respective universes as pawns in a sort of duel. The Living Tribunal represents Marvel Comics, the Spectre represents DC Comics, and the brothers are meant to represent both universes. Allow them to engage in combat if you will.

The loser’s universe would be wiped clean at the start of the game. However, comics must have a hook to keep readers interested. Even though the story revolves around the collision of two universes, the issues are almost entirely devoted to the conflict between counterparts from each universe. The universes collide, causing a slew of characters to be transported between them. As a result, anarchy reigns.

The Winner Takes It All

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are working with J. Jonah Jameson. The chemistry between Jubilee and Robin is electric. To put it another way, it’s both admirable and almost dizzying how many interactions of this magnitude are packed into the issues at once. It flies by at a breakneck pace. You barely have time to catch up with Thanos and Darkseid’s fight before moving on to the next fight, which is downright chaotic.

While many fights are depicted, only 11 main character-vs-character bouts would ascertain the “winner”:

  • Aquaman vs. Namor
  • Elektra vs. Catwoman
  • Flash vs. Quicksilver
  • Robin vs. Jubilee
  • Silver Surfer vs. Green Lantern
  • Thor vs. Shazam/Captain Marvel
  • Superman vs. Hulk
  • Spider-Man vs. Superboy
  • Batman vs. Captain America
  • Wolverine vs. Lobo
  • Storm vs. Wonder Woman

It came down to Storm vs. Wonder Woman as the deciding factor, as DC and Marvel didn’t have enough data to know how readers would vote on that matchup. Ultimately, Storm prevailed, giving Marvel the victory after six battles. It was a clean sweep for all the other superheroes and villains who took part in the competition.

As the battle between godlike figures escalates, Batman, Captain America, and a character named Access decide to intervene, realizing that these two heroes and their stories are similar to themselves. There is no point in continuing this fight, so they back down and agree to restore the universes to their pre-crossover state, making the crossover meaningless. However, the seed of the Amalgam universe was planted in the final issue.

DC and Marvel Movie: What would it take?

DC vs. Marvel was a messy, thrilling, seemingly impossible, and a true, blue pop culture event that had been in the works for decades before Hollywood realized that these properties could be so valuable. In order for the average reader to fully comprehend, it required a great deal of additional reading, but it worked perfectly for readers who were only interested in getting to the meat of the matter. Why was Spider-Man discussing being a clone? What difference did it make?

During the crossover, the two universes merge briefly, resulting in this strange and brief crossover. Many characters, including Dr. Strange Fate, were born as a result of this collaboration. In the end, it was only for a short period of time. DC and Marvel likely collaborated for the last time ever, regardless of how imperfect it was.

Despite the fact that JLA/Avengers would follow, it was a team-up rather than a versus situation. It was a one-of-a-kind crossover that only happened because it was mutually beneficial at the time of its creation.

When it comes to making a movie like this, some fans may wonder: What would it take? While DC is still trying to find a creative direction for its universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently holds the most sway in the entertainment industry (or perhaps just gives in to Joker-style anarchy). Even so, what happens if the superhero movie bubble dries up? I don’t know. Never say never, and you’ll be surprised what can happen.

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