Comic book crossovers have been all the rage since the '70s. The most notable of examples feature in inter-company crossovers, such as Marvel characters appearing in DC books. In the early days, heroes like Batman and Superman fortuitously ran into The Incredible Hulk or Spider-Man. Adventurous times these were, opening the door for further exploration on this front. To date, the trend has yet to show any sign of ceasing. Characters in the Archie comics, Betty and Veronica, are starring in a series where Gotham’s leading ladies visit Riverdale -- Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica. Batman and the Turtles were making waves in their Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle miniseries. Crossovers of this nature seem a perpetual cycle -- evidently, they are profitable.
Among the big league team-ups or versus matches that most people appear aware of are a select few forgotten gems. The big two publishers, DC and Marvel, are not exclusively having all the fun. Real world figures from popular culture have made riveting comic transitions, as well. Additionally, IDW and Image Comics also give their characters a chance to garner the limelight elsewhere. In this list, we'll take a look at 15 comic crossovers that do not often receive their proper due.
15 BATMAN/JUDGE DREDD
The year 1991 ended with an unlikely, but utterly apropos crossover between Batman and Judge Dredd from writers Alan Grant and John Wagner. This creative duo could not be a more fitting pair. Grant’s responsible for the likes of Batman rogues the Ventriloquist and Victor Zsasz, and Wagner is co-creator of Judge Dredd. Theirs is a match made in Heaven that culminates in something quite special -- a adversarial team-up between two of comics most iconic paragons of justice. The tale opens with Dredd villain Judge Death incidentally crossing dimensions and landing in modern Gotham City, where he murders innocents.
After defeating the foe, Batman finds the device that led to the intrusion and is transferred to Dredd’s city of Mega City-One.
Whilst there, he’s arrested by Judge Dredd for vigilantism and sentenced for his crimes. Eventually the Bat’s broken out of holding and returns to Gotham, where Judge Dredd follows to bring Judge Death to justice. Inevitably, they finish victorious with all evil-doers put in their proper place. By book’s end, it seems Dredd and the Dark Knight still aren’t on good terms, yet harbor mutual respect. Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgement on Gotham marks but the first in a series of four adventures for the two.
14 ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR
At this point, it is getting harder to keep track of who Predator has not preyed upon. His most famous match is obviously versus Alien. However, Predator has also been placed opposite Batman (on a few occasions), Judge Dredd, Superman, and even Tarzan. Yes, there exists a story wherein Predator takes on Tarzan -- the late '90s were a swell time. Yet, his unlikeliest of targets dwell in Riverdale. This incredibly bizarre hunter-hunted scenario takes place in the Dark Horse-published, Archie vs. Predator series.
What is supposed to be a relaxing spring break vacation in Los Perdidos turns into a nightmare. During Archie’s trip with his friends, Betty stumbles upon a Columbian artifact that gets her unwanted attention from the Predator. He follows the unwitting youth back home to Riverdale -- insanity that befits a B-horror film ensues from there. Despite Betty’s curiosity being the catalyst for Predator’s interest in the crew, Veronica becomes his primary target. However, that does not mean other lives aren’t lost. The number of casualties are numerous. With all of the above in mind, it is worth noting that the four-issue series sold fairly and was pretty well received. This limited arc is definitely one deserving of remembrance.
13 NEW AVENGERS/TRANSFORMERS
In 2007, Marvel Comics and IDW teamed to produce a compelling and once unlikely crossover in New Avengers/Transformers. Stuart Moore, known then for a run on DC’s Firestorm, penned the script with art from Tyler Kirkham, who’s also crossed paths with both of the big two publishers. The series is limited, featuring only four issues, and finds the Avengers partnering with the Autobots. This partnership between the two teams, as luck would have it, means to alleviate a threat from Doctor Doom and the Decepticons.
As wars are threatened between Eastern European nations, the discovery of Dr. Doom’s wrecked Doombots require the Avengers’ attention.
Upon their arrival, the Avengers have a tough time gaining any ground, which results in Spider-Man’s eventual capture. Optimus Prime decides to take a team of Autobots to offer Earth’s Mightiest Heroes some much needed assistance. Megatron’s fascination with Spider-Man’s mutated powers make the latter's rescue a complicated affair. As far as the Decepticon is concerned, Spider-Man holds the key to his garnering even more unparalleled power. Of course, in the end, the Autobots and Avengers are successful and all is relatively well. That said, the series does conclude with implications of another threat looming. This crossover has yet to receive a follow-up.
The DC Universe and the world of Wildstorm collide in this inter-company crossover that places the Man of Steel on the same side of a fight as the ThunderCats. Written by the prolific Judd Winnick (Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batman: Under the Hood), a bulk of the one-shot’s narrative takes place on the streets of Metropolis. On Thundera, ThunderCats antagonist Mumm-Ra attempts to use magic to breach the ThunderCats’ hideout. After learning that there exists a second Eye of Thundera, the powerful orb from which the ThunderCats’ power derives, retrieving it becomes his new goal. The orb’s location, however, is not on Thundera. Rather, it’s housed in another dimension, somewhere in the city of Metropolis.
Mumm-Ra tasks Mutants, his followers, with visiting the alternate dimension and finding the Eye of Thundera. As they prepare their cross-dimensional traversal, an attack from the ThunderCats incidentally lands both groups in Metropolis. A case of mistaken intentions puts the Wildstorm heroes at odds with Superman, as the Man of Steel believes one of the group is attacking bystanders in the street. Of course, the rest of the team gets involved and Superman dispatches them with ease. Once the tension subsides and everyone begins to understand they’re on the same side, Superman works with the ThunderCats to secure the Eye of Thundera.
As Eminem geared up for his return, after having taken a five-year hiatus for rehab purposes, a clever bit of marketing coincided with the release of his album, Relapse. Marvel Comics and Em teamed to place the performer squarely in the middle of a Punisher storyline. Apparently, the idea from the crossover stems from an XXL magazine shoot, where a magazine editor proposed that the rapper should be depicted in a manner befitting a Marvel character. Being a huge comic fan himself, Em loved the idea and ran with it.
Before long, Eminem was mimicking Frank Castle’s look and then not long thereafter, he starred in a comic alongside the famous vigilante.
Writer Fred Van Lente of Deadpool and Co. and Slapstick fame, scripted the comic, which opens at an Eminem concert. After the show draws to a close, no one but the Punisher stands in Em’s, and his entourage's, way. When the vigilante refuses to move, Em and his crew get aggressive, prompting Frank Castle to take aim and fire. Unbeknownst to him, Eminem is caught in a battle between Barracuda and Punisher. His poor luck lands him on a boat, tied to the vigilante. The one-shot ends with the musician brutally killing Barracuda and saving the life of Frank Castle.
10 THE UNCANNY X-MEN AND THE NEW TEEN TITANS
This fitting team-up hit store shelves in 1982 and at the time, both of the team’s books were experiencing incredible success. In a shrewd move, DC and Marvel joined forces for a crossover. It goes without saying that their efforts were nothing short of lucrative. X-Men scribe Chris Claremont scripted the book, entitled The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans. Walt Simonson, who began work on Thor in 1983, and Uncanny X-Men’s Terry Austin were the illustrators.
Convinced by Metron that Phoenix can help unearth what lies beyond the Source Wall, Darkseid aims to syphon powers and memories from her X-Men teammates. The deceased Phoenix appears to her team as an apparition, begging for help. One Teen Titan, Raven, has a vision of Phoenix destroying the world, resulting in their traveling to X-Mansion. Their arrival triggers an attack from Parademons, who believe the Titans are X-Men. In the interim, the Marvel team battles Darkseid’s forces, led by Deathstroke. The crossover is packed with great story moments, incredible character interactions, and developments that serve the strengths of both publishers’ continuities. For instance, Kitty Pryde and Changeling/Beast Boy flirt in a manner that would instantly land them a ship name today, Wolverine and Deathstroke share captivating scenes, and the banter between the two teams never gets old.
Published under DC’s Elseworlds imprint, Daredevil/Batman: Eye for an Eye released early in 1997. Dan Chichester (Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil) wrote the book, with art by Scott McDaniel (Daredevil, Nightwing). This marked the first meeting of the two characters -- however, it is not the last. In 2000, Marvel and DC published Batman/Daredevil: King of New York with writer Alan Grant (Judge Dredd, Batman) and Eduardo Barreto (The New Teen Titans) at the helm.
Eye for an Eye features the two meeting under fortuitous circumstances, as both work the same case from different angles.
A Wayne Tech theft has Batman on the trail of Two-Face and Marvel villain, Mr. Hyde. His investigation leads him to New York City, where Daredevil is working a similar case regarding technology thefts. Of course, the Bat’s initial run-in with Hell Kitchen’s vigilante does not go well. As comic book crossovers in the '90s would have it, they duke it out before eventually uniting to take on their common enemy. The book’s reception is divisive. For one, Daredevil isn’t particularly himself, which is most evident in the character’s dialogue. On this Earth, Harvey Dent and Matt Murdock attended law school together. Unfortunately, the few positives don’t outweigh the many missteps.
8 SPIDER-MAN/REN AND STIMPY
The Ren and Stimpy Show seems a seldom remembered cult classic cartoon from the '90s. Like many animated series from this bygone era, the show had a token superhero. Yet, unlike Doug’s Quailman or Kablam’s Action League Now heroes, Ren and Stimpy’s hero has a large slice of toast for a head. Powdered Toastman’s remarkably unique physique isn’t the only thing that separates him from his fellow cartoon superheroes -- he has had the honor of battling one of Earth’s Mightiest, Spider-Man.
They meet during the sixth issue of the show’s comic run, aptly titled “The Amazing Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man.” Of course, their reasoning for featuring in the same comic is not a positive one. Dan Slott, who would later write for The Amazing Spider-Man comic series, scripted the issue, which involves Powdered Toastman’s subjection to mind-control. The mind-control overtakes him via an injection of yeast infection. The hero’s greatest nemesis, the evil genius Dr. Dough-Naught, is deemed the responsible party. Consequentially, Spider-Man is called by the Commissioner to put a stop to Powdered Toastman’s wild rampage throughout the city. Once he’s saved, Powdered Toastman and Spidey work together to defeat Dr. Dough-Naught. It’s all truly as silly as it sounds.
7 ARCHIE MEETS THE PUNISHER
Archie and the gang have had several run-ins with other comic book characters and pop culture figures. George Takei once beamed to Riverdale, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have partied with the Archie crew, and a four-part crossover saw the cast of Glee and Archie Comics unite -- the list goes on. One of Archie’s more entralling ventures includes a crossover featuring Marvel’s Punisher/Frank Castle. Supernatural Law’s Batton Lash penned Archie Meets the Punisher and the one-shot has two artists. John Buscema, who’s worked on The Silver Surfer and Conan the Barbarian, drew the Punisher-centric characters. Meanwhile, characters that belong to the world of Archie Comics were drawn by Spider-Man colorist, Stan Goldberg.
Punisher is tasked by the government with apprehending Red, a dealer who bears an uncanny resemblance to one Archie Andrews.
The vigilante is not the only person who confuses the two, as enemies of the dealer make the same mistake. Fortunately, Punisher quickly descries the difference and works with Archie and friends to protect Riverdale. This protection mostly extends to his aiding them in their search for Veronica, since the drug dealer kidnaps her. Archie Meets the Punisher makes for a compelling one-shot that receives little exploration following its 1994 release.
6 TRANSFORMERS VS. G.I. JOE
Both Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises began as toy lines that eventually spun out into animated series and comics. Thus far, the 21st Century has seen the two properties flourish in other media. Neither has done particularly well in the animation sphere. However, success at the box office is assuredly keeping someone happy. Might that success extend to comic sales? It’s possible. IDW Publishing, at least, took initiative and used the momentum to their advantage. In 2014 Transformers vs. G.I. Joe combined the two brands. This pairing of '80s nostalgia results in a long-lasting series, which ran from 2014 to 2016.
Existing beyond the confines of each brand’s mainline continuity is a story where Optimus Prime is exiled from Cybertron. Thus, the planet is left to the rule of Megatron. When Decepticons travel to Earth to declare Megatron’s domination, the G.I. Joes fight back. Inevitably, war breaks out between the two factions. The Joes dispatch a special unit to Cybertron, where allies are made with Autobots ready to rebel against Megatron and his Decepticons. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe’s overarching narrative is filled with myriad twists and turns, many of which are well developed, making the series worth a read.
5 SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI
In 1978 DC published a lengthy book wherein The Greatest and the greatest superhero were pit against each other. Prior to this monumental crossover event, the Man of Steel had worked with many real world figures. Professional wrestler Antonio Rocca, television personality Bob Hope, and John F. Kennedy constitute but a few most notable famous names. However, Superman and Muhammad Ali featuring in the same comic was unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Dennis O’Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Batman) developed the story for this unique pairing. Writing duties for the one-shot went to Neal Adams, who years prior co-created Ra’s al Ghul with O’Neil and Julius Schwartz.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali kicks off with both Lois Lane and Clark Kent interviewing Muhammad Ali.
As they converse, an alien crashes to Earth, claiming that they fear Earth poses a threat to his species. To settle his grievances, the alien demands a fight between his greatest warrior and Earth’s finest fighter. Since Superman isn’t Earth-born, Ali is the ideal candidate. But, to truly determine the world’s best, the Kryptonian and the boxer duke it out in a ring, where the fight is broadcast across the galaxy. Ali bests the Man of Steel and is left to battle the alien fighter. Unsurprisingly, he comes out on top in this match, too.
4 STAR TREK/X-MEN
A Paramount Comics imprint at Marvel, though short-lived, became home to some fascinating projects. In fact, the first Mission: Impossible film’s prequel launched in comic form under this imprint. Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is another comic printed under the banner, which ran from 1996 to 1998. As the partnership between Marvel and Paramount fell apart, many ongoing titles were struck by cancellation, Starfleet Academy included. Start Trek/X-Men marks one of the more intriguing works engendered by this brief union between the two companies. Furthermore, it counts as the first time Star Trek crosses over with another company’s characters.
Scott Lobdell of Uncanny X-Men and Generation X fame wrote the comic. Meanwhile, numerous artists were responsible for the work’s illustrations -- upwards of 20 artists contributed their talents to the project. Captain Kirk’s crew aboard the Enterprise meets the X-Men when the Marvel team of heroes travel through a spatial rift. The X-Men are on the hunt for the villainous mutant, Proteus, and a vicious alien named Deathbird. They fortuitously land on the Enterprise, and it isn’t long before the two crews meet. As with several other crossovers, a few blows are thrown as confusion ensues. Ultimately, though, common ground is found and the story proper begins.
Sometimes the unlikeliest of pairings make the most sense. Such is the case with regards to Spawn/Batman, a one-shot published by DC and Image in 1994. Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, 300) scripted the story, while Spawn creator Todd McFarlane illustrated the work. The narrative takes place outside of both companies’ main continuities. However, Spawn/Batman is considered a part of the continuity in which The Dark Knight Returns occupies. It’s worth noting that this would not be the last time the two characters featured in the same comic. A second one-shot, Batman-Spawn: War Devil, launched the same year. Unfortunately, it does represent their final meeting, which is likely to remain the case.
Recently, McFarlane revealed that he and artist Greg Capullo (Batman) had plans to develop a Batman and Spawn narrative, but the project was scrapped.
Batman and Spawn’s first union in Spawn/Batman sends the Dark Knight to New York. While there on a case regarding high-end technology, he runs into Spawn and the two instantly butt heads. After conflict that comes to blows being thrown, the two begin to understand they are after the same target. Reluctant, but driven by a determination to solve their mutual case, the two team-up.
Prior to The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans’ hitting shelves in 1982, DC and Marvel were in talks to publish a team-up comic featuring the Justice League of America and Avengers. The long and arduous process, which already had a creative team attached, collapsed, as a dispute between the big two derailed the project’s progress. Consequently, a sequel to the Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans pairing was disrupted as well. Two decades passed before DC and Marvel finally reached an agreement that would allow the JLA and Avengers to meet. In 2003, JLA/Avengers launched and the series lasted until spring of 2004.
Kurt Busiek (Conan, The Avengers) wrote the title, with George Pérez (Wonder Woman, Infinity Gauntlet) providing artwork. The catalyst for the union is Krona, a Green Lantern villain and Oan who travels the multiverse in search of the answers to life and creation. Krona’s arrival in Marvel’s universe puts him face-to-face with the Grandmaster, who challenges him. The JLA will participate on the side of the Grandmaster; the Avengers are to represent Krona. Should Krona’s team win, the Grandmaster promises to deliver the Oan the answers he seeks. Technically, no one loses as both universes are spared and Krona achieves the wisdom he sought.
1 SUPERMAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE
The summer of 1982 spawned crossover between Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures and DC. Under the DC Comics Presents banner, Superman typically teamed with other characters. The first of such ventures, published in 1978, united the Man of Steel with The Flash. Superman and the Masters of the Universe amounts to the 47th of several dozen similar crossovers. Paul Kupperberg (Superman, The Brave and the Bold) wrote the project, entitled “From Eternia with Death,” with art from famous Superman artist, Curt Swan.
Superman’s cross-dimensional travels land him on the planet Eternia.
Skeletor believes Castle Grayskull holds the secrets to taking over all of Eternia. Thus, he and Beast attempt to siege and overtake the castle. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, then, require the assistance of Superman. Only a few select Masters of the Universe are present for the happenings of “From Eternia with Death,” including Teela, Man-at-Arms, and, of course, He-Man. The characters come together once more in the miniseries, DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe. Instead of fighting on the same side, though, the heroes clash in the 2013 release. Writer Kyle Giffen and artist Dexter Soy helmed the limited run, which lasted six issues.