01/06/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 166 page softcover graphic novel. Price: £13.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84856-695-8.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
When I was a youngster, the highlights of cross-overs between the two main rival American comicbook companies was having their lead characters meet, have a bit of a fight and then discover it was the bad guys they had to battle. The first of these being a Giant-Size Treasury featuring Spider-Man and Superman in 1976 and then again in 1981. The hardest part was accepting that New York and Metropolis being on the same planet let alone in the same reality. It took the Watcher in 'What If...? # 1' to neatly explain that it was an alternative reality so as not to mess up continuity too much. The point is, these things don't happen very often.
With 1995, the two realities met again as some shenanigans to appease the new generation of comicbook fans and to see who would win in certain battles and as then editor Mark Gruenwald says, they took it a stage further as the two realities merged and they became composite characters.
As you might have guessed, most of this mini-series was built up around battles, not helped by the fact that the heroes were told that if they didn't fight each other then they would lose their own world. Some of these battles were obviously mismatched and wouldn't have been difficult to predict. The Hulk was always likely to come out second-best against Superman. Quicksilver is really a slowpoke compared to the Flash. I was surprised that Wolverine could beat Lobo but I suspect the main man was just a little too complacent with his easy victories over the years. I'm not going to give all the details here, suffice to say the merged realities came about because, overall, a draw was met. Breaking the deadlock was down to the Batman and Captain America but why spoil how it happens but it's on a big scale.
If you're familiar with the Marvel and DC Universes and even some of the replacements for some of the characters that had happened in the 90s then you should have no problem following this story. There are a lot of interesting touches like having Perry White and J. Jonah Jameson in the same editorial office and things like that happening. If anything, it was odd seeing Superman and Spider-Man being side-lined than being in the thick of things as would be expected. That isn't to say that they didn't have their time in the sun but they were less pivotal.
The story is epic-length and I suspect this mini-series reprint will allow another generation of comicbook fans to speculate over battle victories. Whether this will ever allow another such cross-company battle will depend on fans and money but this should whet your appetite for now.
Kudos to writers Ron Marz and Peter David to making it work and a mammoth art task from art teams Dan Jurgens & Josef Rubinstein, Claudio Castellini & Paul Neary and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez & Kevin Nowlan. An interesting event.
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