From Top to Bottom: Comic Crossovers

by Matt

Welcome to the 3rd edition of the weekly "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week I took a look at the Top and Bottom of comic moms. This week, I take a look at intercompany comic crossovers (that is a mouth full) and I present my Top 3 Best Comic Crossovers along with those that shouldn't have seen print.

I was reviewing some of my old monthly orders through mailordercomics.com the other day and I noticed that the new (well, it was ordered about a year ago) Batman/Spawn crossover was canceled. Now, I am a HUGE sucker for crossovers, and even though I don't follow Spawn or Batman all that much, I HAD to get this book.

Company crossovers follow 3 different formulas: either it is a full team-up with one universe visiting another, a mishmash of the characters in the same universe (see Amalgam) or somehow the characters have always existed in the same universe. I am not a huge fan of the Amalgam-type crossovers, so you won't find those here. But I am a huge fan of seeing characters from separate universes interacting. Crossovers rarely matter in the scheme of things; they are all about having fun. We all want to see heroes from separate universes smack the crap out of each other before they figure out that it was all just a misunderstanding and then team up to defeat the evildoer. Some company crossovers have been fantastic and others have been pretty close, most were not bad and some were complete disasters. In researching this, I have found that there are a ton of them out there - and I think I have them all! Here are my Top 3.
I am a huge Backlash fan. I loved the Kindred series, I loved his solo series, I just really love Backlash. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that Spider-Man (Ben Reilly no less!) would be teaming with a B-level character like Backlash and it would be drawn by Backlash creator Brett Booth himself! While this wasn't in continuity or a crossover that was really demanded, this was meant to be fun. The Venom/Taboo symbiote angle was well-played, the idea behind the team up was good, in short the execution of this crossover just screamed fun. Of course, it helps if you are a big fan of both characters.

This was one of the rare crossovers that actually impacted continuity in a major, major way. Stormwatch discovers a meteor heading towards Earth and they send a team to blow it up, and, ultimately, bring back Aliens to Skywatch. The Aliens massacre all but a few aboard and the original team of Wildcats goes to investigate and rescue. Battalion is the only surviving member of the Stormwatch team; all the rest were killed by the Aliens. This led to Stormwatch being discontinued and the series itself being canceled, but it did also lead to the formation of the book and team called the Authority. I love this crossover because it actually affected the book and team in continuity. I have a soft spot for Stormwatch and was so shocked after reading this book. It really lived up to the famous comic mantra that this changes EVERYTHING!

The grand daddy of them all! Busiek and Perez knocked this book right out of the park. It exceeded my expectations. We got the best of both worlds, highlighting what makes the DC and Marvel universes unique and fun. We also got to see the teams fight and then we got to see them as if they were in the same universe. Aside from the writing and the insanely detailed art (I could not imagine an artist other than Perez), it was the little things that made this crossover my all-time favorite. I loved that heroes were treated differently on both worlds, that magic, the Speed Force, the Infinity Gems (and many other things) didn't work in different universes. The geek in me also loved trying to find every single incarnation of the each member of the Avengers in #4. This was a dream crossover!

Honorable Mentions: There are sooo many crossovers out there that it was hard to narrow down my top 3 favorites. so I will recommend a few more: Batman/Spider-Man (the one Bagley drew), the Nexus/Madman jam, Hellboy/Starman/Batman and the first Superman/Aliens series are also among my favorites.

And here are 3 crossovers that shouldn't have happened. In ANY universe!

I admit that I haven't read this. However, just the idea is silly enough to make it onto this list. If I find this book in a 25 cent bin I'll probably snag it, just to satisfy the voyeur in me.

2)Gen13/Generation X
The first crossover between these 2 teams had some redeeming value which was called Art Adams. The second crossover was so bad that I totally have forgotten what it was all about. All I know if that it was painful to get through it. More painful than the first one, which at the time I didn't think was possible. And if I had a choice, I would rather buy the Punisher/Archie crossover at FULL PRICE than read this one again.

It took me years to finally read this book. I bought it because like I said, I am a sucka for these type of books. Eventually, I decided to read it. After reading it, I sold it on eBay with a bunch of other crappy Image books and I have not looked back. This book represents what goes wrong with a crossover book. I thought Wolverine would be a good crossover with any character but he couldn't pull Badrock. And who wants to see a crossover with Badrock? Was there really demand for that like JLA/Avengers or Batman/Spider-Man? That would be like taking a corny Marvel character like Gladiator and team him with Supreme. Oh wait, they already did that. Crossovers only work if there is demand to see them together or if they both are similar type characters. That is what made even Team 7/Team X work better than Badrock/Wolverine.

After writing this, I thought about characters that would make excellent crossovers. So next week, I will present my Top 3 choices for crossovers that should happen and I will also give my Bottom 3 for crossovers I hope will never happen!


Dan said...

And here I thought this was going to be about crossovers, like X-Men: Messiah Complex or World War Hulk. Oh, well. Another time, another column.

That said, I love these inter-company one-shots too. I had the new Spawn/Batman on order too.

The General said...

I can almost guarantee that -if I read it- the Archie/Punisher crossover would be at the top of my list.

I'm a bad fanboy because generally, I can't get into crossovers like these. I can never shake the feeling that they never "matter." Which is why I think that Alien/Stormwatch crossover might actually appeal to me.

Dan said...

I can't believe you didn't go with Punisher Meets Archie. Not only Archie and Punisher, but also... Die-Cut Cover!!

Jon Quixote said...

The first Predator/Batman! Where is the first Predator/Batman?? Your credibility is shot, Mr. Matt.

Chris Ware said...

I don't remember what it was about, but I do know that I enjoyed the Top Cow/Marvel crossover. I think it was called Devil's Reign?

Patrick Gaffney said...

You let off the true number one. The Chris Clarmont/Walt Simmonson X_MEN/ TEEN TITANS. The page with Dark Phoenix and Darksied is one of my all time favorite pages in comics. Just perfect. And I'm not even an X-man fan.

The General said...

"And I'm not even an X-man fan."

Sometimes you say things just to make me cry, don't you Patrick?

Patrick Gaffney said...

If it makes you feel better Tyler, I do have eight volumes of Essential X-Men and one of Wolverine.

I hope that fact will ease your pain.

Matt said...

Both (yes, there were 2 of them!) Puinsher/Archie comics had silly covers.

And I haven't read the X-Men/Titans yet.

Batman/Predator is one of my faves. Just not one of my top faves.

Bill Ritter said...

Batman/Grendel (the first one) is among the best.

Batman/Spawn (McFarlane issue) is also a strong crossover.

Daz said...

I have enormous love for the first Batman/Judge Dredd crossover, it is geek-tastic in so many ways.