Though it wasn’t the first time we saw superheroes battle over differing ideologies, the massive success of Marvel’s 2006 event “Civil War” seems to have made the concept of pitting superhero vs. superhero something of a trope in modern superhero events. “Avengers vs. X-Men,” this year’s sequel series “Civil War II” and even DC’s popular “Blackest Night” event have all fed into our fascination with watching our favorite heroes fight one another.
However, if the excitement around the team-ups teased for “Avengers Infinity War” proves anything, it’s that the only thing more exciting than watching two superheroes duke it out, is watching them come together to take on challenges they could never face alone. In another article, we discussed the most epic showdowns between Marvel and DC’s finest, but today we’re going to take a look at 16 universe-spanning team-ups!
16. SUPERMAN & SPIDER-MAN
Five years after the characters originally met, fought and teamed up on the pages of “Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man,” The Man of Steel and ol’ Webhead teamed up again to stop Doctor Doom’s latest attempt at world domination. In “Marvel Treasury Edition” #28 by writers Jim Shooter and Marv Wolfman, and artists John Buscema and Glynis Wein, Dr. Doom’s long-gestating “Project Omega” has the villain placing underground bases in every major city in the world with the intention of causing a planet-wide power outage.
Using a small drone to control the Hulk, Doom sends him to Metropolis to free the energy sucking villain Parasite (the missing piece of his plan). Superman is able to destroy the drone and free the Hulk, but not before he releases Parasite and sets Doom’s plan in motion. Doom also manages to trick Wonder Woman into believing that he and Spider-Man were in cahoots, causing her to attack (and distract) Spidey. After the heroes realize they’re on the same side, Doom and his men kidnap Wonder Woman (and Hulk). As a result, Spider-Man and Superman team up to put an end to Doom’s plans, put the Parasite back in containment and rescue their fellow heroes.
15. GREEN LANTERN & SILVER SURFER
Marvel and DC’s two galactic defenders first teamed up to save their universes in “Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances” by writer Ron Marz, and artists Darryl Banks and Gloria Vasquez. The story follows Thanos travelling to the DC universe in search of a Green Lantern ring to power a weapon capable of destroying the universe.
Thanos pulls Cyborg Superman into the Marvel universe and sends Terrax the Tamer and himself to the DCU. As a result, Hal Jordan (at the time acting as Parallax) pursues Cyborg Superman to the Marvel Universe, where he finds Silver Surfer fighting him. When he escapes, Silver Surfer empathizes with Hal’s desire to redeem himself and bring Cyborg to justice, so the two form an alliance. Hal also manages to convince Surfer to share the Power Cosmic so he can undo the events that led to him becoming Parallax. Meanwhile, after Thanos “helps” Kyle Rayner (the acting Green Lantern) defeat Terrax, he convinces Kyle to travel with him to the Marvel Universe under the guise of stopping Parallax. When Thanos later reveals his plans to destroy the universes, Parallax becomes totally unhinged and Green Lantern and Silver Surfer must unite to take the villains out.
14. SPIDER-MAN & BATMAN
The darker half of DC’s finest had his first encounter with Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man in “Spider-Man and Batman” by writer J.M DeMatteis and artist Mark Bagley. Unlike many of its contemporaries, this crossover does a great job of re-imagining and connecting the character’s origins by making The Joker the one who killed Uncle Ben, and Carnage the one to kill Batman’s parents.
Carnage and Joker end up as unlikely allies after they become the poster children for a new government-sponsored bio-technic computer chip used to pacify dangerous super criminals. When Carnage reveals he’d been faking, he takes the Joker and escapes before destroying his bio-chip and proposing a partnership. Though Batman originally refuses Spider-Man’s help, Batman realizes Spidey’s the only one who knows Carnage well enough to predict his next move. After Bats apologizes, the two jump in the Batmobile and track Carnage to the Joker’s hideout. By the time they arrive, the villains have severed their allegiance due to the Joker’s penchant for theatrics going directly against Carnage’s more direct approach of mass-murder. With the villains now actively working against one another, Batman and Spider-Man are easily able to divide and conquer them.
13. THE UNCANNY X-MEN & THE NEW TEEN TITANS
In the ’80s, few comics were as unanimously beloved as Chris Claremont’s “Uncanny X-Men” and Marv Wolfman’s “Teen Titans.” The similarities between the two comics didn’t go unnoticed by Marvel and DC, so in 1982 the companies collaborated on the crossover “The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans” by writer Chris Claremont and artists Walt Simonson and Glynis Wein.
The story follows DC’s big bad Darkseid attempting to resurrect the Phoenix and harness its power to break through the Source Wall and claim the mystical power of the Source for himself. Both teams are alerted to Darkseid’s plans and set off individually to stop him. However, after the Titans are defeated and captured by Darkseid’s Parademons, and the X-Men are defeated and captured by Deathstroke, the teams get their chance to meet and escape. In the battle following Darkseid’s awakening of the Phoenix, Raven and Professor X are able to psychically weaken the Phoenix enough to allow Cyclops to communicate with the remnants of Jean Grey. Being reminded of her former life enrages the Phoenix, causing her to turn on Darkseid and destroy him.
12. BATMAN & CAPTAIN AMERICA
In “Batman and Captain America” by writer/artist John Byrne, a WWII-era Captain America and Bucky are called in from the front lines for a secret mission that takes them to Gotham City and leads to a team up with Batman and Robin. In the comic, Red Skull hires The Joker to steal “The Gotham Project,” an advanced nuclear bomb Red Skull plans to use to blow up Washington DC.
Early in the book, Batman and Cap briefly team up to fight some Nazis, but it isn’t until later when the two fight as Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers (when Steve is ordered to keep an eye on Bruce, who is believed to be involved in the robbery) that they figure out each other’s secret identities. Realizing they’re on the same side, the pair (along with their sidekicks and an assist from a strangely patriotic Joker) thwart the Red Skull’s plans together.
11. SPIDER-MAN & GEN 13
Though this technically happened while Wildstorm and Gen 13 were still a part of Image Comics, the Wildstorm Universe has since become an official part of the DCU, known as Earth-50 so we’re counting it! “Spider-Man/Gen 13” by writer Peter David and artists Stuart Immonen and Joe Rosas, sees Peter Parker in San Diego on assignment to photograph the band Black Lung Disease at a concert the Gen 13 kids also happen to be attending.
Peter is running late, so he arrives to the concert as Spider-Man, where he’s attacked by Glider, a mercenary hired to track Gen 13 by a former I/O security agent seeking revenge. Hoping to use Spidey as bait, Glider uses a white noise device to disable his Spider Sense so she can covertly attach a tracking device. When Spider-Man falls into the arms of Gen 13’s Freefall, they take him to their nearby HQ to recover. Glider attacks the next day, accompanied by mercenaries and her employer, but when the battle is taken to a nearby school where her daughter is enrolled, Glider tries to call off the attack. Her employer refuses, so Glider turns on them and takes them out, effectively ending the battle.
10. DAREDEVIL & BATMAN
In “Daredevil and Batman,” by writer D.G. Chichester and artists Scott McDaniel and Gregory Wright, the two brooding heroes meet for the first of two entries on this list when Batman tracks Two-Face and the Marvel villain Mr. Hyde to NYC. Meanwhile, Daredevil is working a case about a string of robberies which all ended in murder. After the two heroes tussle, they realize they’re working the same case and begrudgingly agree to work together.
The pair eventually deduce that Two-Face and Mr. Hyde have stolen a computer chip that, when given access to organic brain tissue, can operate as powerfully as a human mind. Two-Face plans to trick Mr. Hyde into supercharging the chip (killing Hyde in the process) so he can harvest and use it later. Much like the Batman/Cap crossover, this book tries to tie the heroes’ mythos together by making Matt Murdock and Harvey Dent friends from Law School, so when the final confrontation with Two-Face occurs, Matt is able to appeal to what’s left of Harvey to help them stop Mr. Hyde.
9. GEN 13 & FANTASTIC FOUR
The teens of Gen 13 made what would be their final appearance in the Marvel Universe (though not on this list) in “Gen 13/Fantastic Four,” by writer/artist Kevin Maguire. The story takes places during Gen 13’s time in New York City, and the two teams cross paths when Gen 13 member Roxy’s interdimensional pet alien Queelock is captured by the Fantastic Four.
While the Gen 13 kids go out to explore NYC (leaving Queelock unattended in their room), we see Reed Richards and Sue Storm tracking an emerging alien presence in the Atlantic Ocean. The alien’s presence drives Queelock crazy and he escapes the hotel room while rapidly growing in size. After Spider-Man and Human Torch manage to capture Queelock and bring him back to the Baxter Building, Gen 13 soon arrives to rescue their friend. Almost needless to say, a fight breaks out between the teens and the Fantastic Four. When it becomes clear Queelock is growing in size to fight the now kaiju-sized alien approaching NYC, the teams come together to protect the city.
8. BATMAN & SPIDER-MAN (II)
Spidey and The Dark Knight teamed up again on the pages of “Batman & Spider-Man” by returning writer J.M. DeMatteis and artists Graham Nolan and Gloria Vasquez. This time around, Ra’s al Ghul has manipulated the Kingpin into assisting him in his latest attempt at world domination by infecting Vanessa Fisk with a strain of cancer. Ra’s promises Kingpin he’ll supply Vanessa with the cure only if he activates a machine he possesses that’s capable of putting all of New York City under water.
When Spider-Man and Batman intervene, Kingpin reveals Ra’s al Guhl’s plans before allowing the two to board his private plane to help him stop Ra’s. When the heroes arrive and successfully disrupt his plans, Ra’s admits defeat, but claims there was never any cure for Vanessa’s cancer. Later, Talia delivers the cure to Batman, who gives it to Spider-Man, who then delivers it to Kingpin, saving Vanessa’s life.
7. SUPERMAN & FANTASTIC FOUR
DC’s first superhero met with Marvel’s first superhero team in “Superman/Fantastic Four” by writer/artist Dan Jurgens and artists Art Theibert and Gregory Wright. The story has Cyborg Superman tamper with a Kryptonian crystal containing a message from Superman’s father, Jor-El, to trick Superman into believing it was Galactus who caused the destruction of Krypton. He does this so he can follow Superman to the Marvel universe and tap into Galactus’ power for himself.
Hoping to get more information on Galactus, Superman travels to the Marvel universe to visit the Fantastic Four. Cyborg Superman secretly disables the FF’s defenses, allowing Superman and Reed Richards to be kidnapped by Galactus, who conscripts Supes as his new herald and endows him with the Power Cosmic. Meanwhile, Cyborg Superman tricks the rest of the FF into teaming up so they can free them. Superman is able to break free from Galactus’ control when he locates an inhabited planet to be devoured, and he and Reed manage to reverse Galactus’ planet-devouring machine, rendering him powerless. They only agree to return the machine to normal after Galactus vows to only harvest uninhabited worlds.
6. AZREAL & THE PUNISHER
For a short period of time in the ’90s, after Bruce Wayne had his back broken by Bane, a vigilante named Jean-Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azreal, took up the mantle of Batman. In the 1994 comic “Batman and Punisher: Lake of Fire,” by writer Dennis O’Neil and artists Barry Kitson and Matt Hollingsworth, it’s this Batman that has a brief team up with The Punisher.
Punisher arrives in Gotham to stop his archenemy Jigsaw’s plan to use stolen rocket fuel to burn Gotham’s water reservoir. Azreal has been tracking the same case, unaware of Jigsaw’s involvement. After chasing separate leads, the two meet at an old church set up as a trap to kill Punisher. Azreal saves his life before recognizing Punisher as a criminal. The two team up when Punisher convinces Azreal that he’s his best bet at taking down Jigsaw, though Azreal vows to take him in later. They work the case together for a bit, but after a fight with Jigsaw’s henchmen, Punisher escapes, preferring to work alone.
5. SILVER SURFER & SUPERMAN
In “Silver Surfer/Superman” by writer George Perez and artists Ron Lim and Tom Smith, the mischievous Impossible Man and the semi-villainous Mr. Mxyzptlk meet in a random pocket universe and concoct a game to trade opponents. The issue opens with Superman battling The Impossible Man (masquerading as the Super Skrull) on a fake Krypton, while at the same time Silver Surfer is battling Mr. Mxyzptlk in a miniaturized version of Metropolis.
Though Impossible Man originally believed this would all be a harmless game, Mr. Mxyzptlk has far more sinister intentions. Realizing his mistake, Impossible Man turns against Mr. Mxyzptlk and the two have an epic battle where they take the shapes of some of both universe’s heaviest hitters. Ultimately, Mr. Mxyzptlk is defeated by the teamwork of Impossible Man, Silver Surfer and Superman. Silver Surfer then uses the Power Cosmic to return Metropolis to its normal size before returning home with Superman to stop a Skrull invasion Impossible Man set off while “method acting” as the Super Skrull.
4. BATMAN & DAREDEVIL (II)
Following their last team up in “Daredevil and Batman,” this pair was reunited in the follow up “Batman/Daredevil: King of New York” by writer Alan Grant and artists Eduardo Barreto and Matt Hollingsworth. This time around, Daredevil is the one visiting, and turns up in Gotham to try and figure out why Catwoman is selling information on the Kingpin. When Batman interferes and ruins Daredevil’s plans, the two agree to work as partners and get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
After figuring out it was Scarecrow who bought the documents, Batman and Daredevil track him to New York where he’s already started poisoning Kingpin’s men, upending the NYC underground. The heroes soon figure out that the fear-induced gang wars were just a distraction for Scarecrow’s real plan: to pump gallons of fear toxin into the air, plunging the city into chaos. Tracking him to the Statue of Liberty, Kingpin arrives to kill Scarecrow with Batman and Daredevil following close behind. Batman is able to distract Kingpin long enough for Daredevil to take out Scarecrow, whose fear toxin has no effect on The Man Without Fear.
3. GEN 13 & GENERATION X
Gen 13’s second encounter with members of the Marvel Universe came via two different stories that saw the team coming together with Marvel’s X-Men off-shoot, Generation X. The first, “Gen 13/Generation X,” by writer Brandon Choi and artists Arthur Adams, Joe Chiodo and Martin Jimenez, saw Gen 13 villain Trance and his gang of “Freaks” kidnap Jamie, a young mutant with the ability to teleport.
Gen 13 investigates the kidnapping, and eventually track down and attack the Freaks to free Jamie. Meanwhile, the Generation X team locates Jamie using Cerebro and sets out to save him. When Generation X arrives, the Gen 13 team mistaken believes they too want to take Jamie and attack. However, their battle is quickly interrupted by X team’s nemesis Emplate, who forms an alliance with Trance and helps him escape. With Jamie’s help, the two teams come together and travel to Emplate’s dimension, where together they’re able to defeat the villains and return home.
2. WONDER WOMAN & SPIDER-MAN
If you read our last article highlighting some of the times Marvel and DC’s heroes went head-to-head, you’ll remember that the 1996 “Marvel Versus DC” (or “DC Versus Marvel,” depending on the issue) crossover event dealt with two cosmic entities that were the living embodiment of each publisher’s universe. Another character introduced in that arc was Axel Asher, a.k.a. The Access, the latest in a line of heroes tasked with preventing the two universes from merging into the Amalgam Universe. This includes returning heroes and villains who have crossed over to their proper universes.
The character received his own four-issue miniseries titles “Unlimited Access” in 1998, and in the first issue by writer Karl Kesel and artists Pat Olliffe and Gregory Wright, we see Spider-Man and Wonder Woman team up to stop the villains Mantis and Juggernaut. After Mantis attacks Empire State University, where both Peter Parker and Axel are students, Spider-Man jumps into action. Mantis summons the Juggernaut to help him, and the two easily subdue Spidey before Wonder Woman arrives to even the odds. Together with Access, the two are able to defeat the villains and return everyone to their proper universe.
1. THE JLA & THE AVENGERS
The long-awaited team-up between the multiverse’s finest superhero teams finally came in the mini-series “JLA/Avengers” by writer Kurt Busiek and artists George Perez and Tom Smith. The story deals with Krona, an exiled member of the Oan race, gaining the power of entropy and destroying entire universes in an obsessive quest to understand how they’re created. Marvel’s Grandmaster, a cosmic entity obsessed with games, offers to give Kroana the answer if he can best him in a game pitting the JLA and the Avengers against one another in an interdimensional scavenger hunt (with Krona given the side of the Avengers and Grandmaster taking the JLA).
When Captain America and Batman realize what’s happening, Cap allows the JLA to win. However, Krona refuses to accept defeat and uses his powers to steal the knowledge from the Grandmaster directly. In retaliation, Grandmaster combines the universes with Krona trapped at the center. However, this creates an unstable universe which quickly begins to crumble as Krona realizes universal creation comes from destruction. The teams finally unite to stop Krona, and in the end we see the villain turned into a “cosmic egg” that will hatch into a new universe in a trillion years.
What are your favorite Marvel / DC team-ups? Let us know in the comments!