Over the decades, a lot of comic book crossovers have taken place. Many are inside the companies and shine nicely. However, there have been cases of intriguing inter-company crossovers that took fans by surprise. Marvel and DC have managed to put aside their differences for events from Spider-Man vs Superman to the epic JLA/Avengers crossover. Before they became regular partners, DC did numerous crossovers with Top Cow and Image and the X-Men met with the WildCATS. Of course, not all crossovers of some wild degree work. Just look at the X-Men/Star Trek ones that make almost no sense whatsoever. Others are done for little but pure nuttiness such as the DC/Looney Tunes specials.
Some crossovers can link together properties that feel utterly natural. Thanks to how so many classic cartoons or properties have inspired new comics, they can be used in unique ways. Other times, two properties that seem to have nothing in common end up forming an actually fun crossover event. They can click very nicely together and the creators clearly enjoying the thrill of using these characters well. Often, the more offbeat the properties are, the better the storyline while fans can thrill to seeing characters they never thought of crossing paths united in grand adventures. There have been slews of good examples but here is the cream of the crop. 25 comic book crossovers fans never expected but turned out to be awesome to pay off on years of fan dreaming.
James Robinson’s Starman is acclaimed as one of the best DC comics of its time. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy has been a massive favorite for years and inspired three big-screen movies. Putting both creators together and throwing Batman into the mix makes for a fantastic mini-series. It starts with Ted Knight, the original Starman, abducted by Neo-Nazis while in Gotham City. Batman and Hellboy are soon on the case and obviously, Ted’s son, Jack, the current Starman is helping as well. The Nazis want Ted to help craft a device that can summon an ancient demon.
Mignola’s artwork is as terrific as always to craft a foreboding Dark Knight and a great Hellboy. It also helps Starman look better than usual. Robinson’s writing is top notch, capturing all the characters well and keeping the plot moving at a brisk pace. It’s only two issues but it still shines wonderfully with two creators at the top of their game to let all three characters shine in an offbeat adventure.
24 STAR TREK KELVIN/DS9/TNG
For those who don’t know, the “Kelvin” timeline is the official name for the reality of the 2009 Star Trek movie and its sequels. It explains how time was altered to create an entirely new history. It inspired a hit IDW comic which included a fantastic crossover storyline. In the main Trek universe, Q sees Picard is missing the late Spock so decides to pop into the Kelvin reality where he exists. For his own amusement, Q brings the Enterprise forward in time nearly a century and into a reality where a Klingon/Cardassian alliance dominates the galaxy.
Thus we have the big-screen Enterprise stars mingling with the crews of TNG and DS9. Naturally, they’re in different lives with Picard and Sisko each leading bands of rebels made up of familiar faces against the Alliance while Worf is a major Klingon commander. Q himself pops by to see what’s going on as he enjoys testing Kirk. Things take a turn as it’s revealed the Founders are behind the Alliance as part of their quest to rule the galaxy. Worse, Gul Dukat is out to harness the power of the Pah-wraiths which can rival Q. It’s all settled in the end but it’s still fun seeing the newer versions of the Trek crew meeting the past spin-off characters.
23 BATMAN/CAPTAIN AMERICA
John Byrne wrote and drew this terrific 1996 one-shot that takes place under DC’s “Elseworlds” label. In a 1945 where DC and Marvel co-exist, Steve Rogers is sent to “guard” Bruce Wayne who the brass thinks is a Nazi spy. The classic misunderstanding fight leads to them teaming up as the Joker is out to get his hands on “the Gotham Project” aka the atomic bomb. What the Joker doesn’t know is that he’s working for the only man on Earth as crazy as he is: The Red Skull.
Byrne wonderfully captures the 1940s vibe in his drawings with some great action. The rivalry between Bucky and Robin is well done as is the threat of the Joker. The best moment is when the Joker discovers he’s been working for a Nazi and his priceless outraged response “I may be a criminal lunatic but I’m an American criminal lunatic!” Plus, the final scene is utterly brilliant and makes one wish Byrne had a done a sequel to the Caped Crusader and the Star-Spangled Avenger together.
Before it was a blockbuster Jim Carrey movie, The Mask was a Dark Horse comic. The idea has been that whoever puts on the mystical mask has their inner desires freed and often acts in an insane manner. So just imagine what happens when the most insane man on Earth dons it. Yep, the Clown Prince of Crime steals the Mask from the museum which just makes him crazier than ever before, not to mention super-powered. Even Batman is nearly helpless to stop this far deadlier Joker who becomes a TV sensation.
It soon comes out that the Joker has met his match as the Mask has a mind of its own and its madness may overwhelm the Joker’s. More importantly, the Mask wants to be in charge and the Joker’s ego won’t let anyone else steal the spotlight from him. It’s a zany trip in a lethal manner to show that the Joker can always reach a new level of insanity.
This four-issue series was aimed at kids but adult fans of both properties could enjoy it too. Centuries ago, an ancient spirit named Kitsnue attempted to revive the evil Iron Demon which traps her more wicked brother Chi-You. Centuries later, the Ninja Turtles are fiddling with a dimensional transporter and end up being sucked into a different New York City. It’s the world of the Ghostbusters who at first assume the Turtles are some sort of escaped demons. The Turtles’ journey accidentally frees that ancient ghost who starts possessing people as he gathers his army.
That the Ghostbusters just accept four talking turtles who know kung fu as perfectly normal sets the tone for the book. It’s good seeing the banter of Ralph and Venkman, Egon and Don bonding as scientists and April and secretary Janine handling being normal ladies around this insanity. The cartoonish art aids the storyline with some fun action as both teams have to handle a different method of attack. It comes together for a fun conclusion that makes these offbeat quartets a good unit.
In 1995, Marvel and DC finally got together for a mini-series pitting their characters against one another. The main book was criticized for the fan polls deciding battles (Wolverine over Lobo and Storm over Wonder Woman) and being too short. However, the gem was an unexpected event occurring after the third issue that “merges” the two universes into one. Creators thus went wild putting together amalgamated versions of DC and Marvel characters: Super Soldier (Superman and Captain America), Dark Claw (Batman and Wolverine), Spider-Kid (Spider-Man and Superboy) and more.
The issues were wonderfully put together, complete with in-universe “letter columns” that made it sound like these characters had been around for decades. Some combinations were obvious (Dr. Strangefate) while others were more offbeat (Dr. Doomsday) but all were enjoyed by fans. A second set of one-shots followed and fans are still hopeful for a return to this universe one day. It showed that combining some characters could make for some pure fun comic book reading.
19 FUTURE QUEST
This epic series needed 12 issues to pack in so many incredible characters. It all begins with Johnny Quest and his family checking in on crashed alien ship which turns out to belong to Space Ghost. The Quests' old nemesis Dr. Zin attacks with Birdman aiding the Quests. Before long, the battle brings in the Galaxy Trio, the Impossibles, Frankenstein Jr., Mighty Mightor, Dino Boy and the Herculoids to face a threat that could wipe out Earth.
Balancing so many characters is a challenge but Jeff Parker pulls it off. The story manages to mix so many space and action properties together well and pull it off into a terrific storyline. The artwork captures the feel of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons with a modern edge to stand out nicely. Mixing everything from time travel to psychological fights, this is an underrated crossover event that fans of all ages can love.
18 BATMAN/SUPERMAN VS ALIEN VS PREDATOR
At first, it was going to be just one crossover event. Yet somehow, this massive clash has grown into numerous other series. It all began with Batman vs Predator as a lone alien hunter travels to Gotham City for criminal prey and realizes Batman is a perfect trophy. Batman has to don armor to defeat it but knows it’s just the first. Various sequels followed that showed Batman and also Robin facing the Predators. Meanwhile, Batman also had some conflicts with the Xenomorophs where he was clearly out of his league against these aliens.
Superman fared little better against the Aliens himself as their acid blood could harm the Man of Steel. On paper, Superman against a Predator should be no contest but the story smartly had them fighting under a red sun to put them on even ground. It all built up to a massive crossover as the World’s Finest have to choose sides when a Predator/Aliens battle threatens all of Earth. Seeing the iconic heroes battle these alien menaces make for the best DC/Dark Horse crossover events you can ask for.
17 ROBOCOP VS TERMINATOR
Back before he appeared to have lost his mind, Frank Miller crafted this excellent crossover. The artwork is by Walter Simonson who perfectly showcases a terrific showdown between the sci-fi properties. A lone soldier appears in Detroit and starts hunting down RoboCop, claiming he’s responsible for the end of the world. It turns out the technology within him will eventually be used to create Skynet and thus set the world on the path to the machine takeover. Naturally, some Terminators follow with RoboCop forced to defend himself.
The story is quite well done with some intriguing twists to time travel. Just when it looks like RoboCop has been eliminated and changed the future, Skynet manages to get a Terminator to prevent that. It leads to a wild future battle as a swarm of Robocops take on an army of Terminators. The series ends in a way that seems to settle the future but leaves things open for a follow-up. It’s still worth checking out for some true heavy metal mayhem.
16 ANY BATMAN '66 CROSSOVER
The Batman ’66 series has long been acclaimed for replicating the campy flavor of the classic TV show. Even better are the various team-ups that put the Caped Crusaders together with some surprising forces. The Green Hornet makes sense as they actually did cross over on the original show. More original was a series with The Man From Uncle as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin need the duo’s help fighting a THRUSH plot. This includes the fun bit of Batman “disguising” himself as Bruce Wayne. Another series has them with Steed and Emma Peel of the Avengers TV show in some nice action.
Better was a crossover with the Wonder Woman TV show. First in the 1940s, a young Bruce Wayne sees Diana in action. They work together in the “present” against Ra’s al Ghul. Then in the “future” of the 1970s, Bruce is retired, Robin is now Nightwing and a reformed Catwoman aids Diana in a new fight. Another one-shot has them transported to the future of the Legion of Super-Heroes and another features the Bat-villains trying to take over Archie’s Riverdale. All of them capture the campy fun of the show so well, you can almost hear Adam West’s voice coming off the pages.
15 MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE/THUNDERCATS
It’s amazing it took so long to get two of the most popular cartoons of the 1980s together. Always out for more power, Mumm-Ra discovers Eternia and tricks He-Man into giving him the Sword of Grayskull. He also sets Eternia and Third Earth on a collision course that rocks both worlds. Mumm-Ra ends up taken out by Skeletor which bonds them into a single body. They briefly fight for control before realizing they’re better off working together. Thus, a unique partnership is born as they try to take down their mutual foes.
The comic does well with He-Man and Lion-O both feeling the weight of being leaders and heroes. The action is nice with fan-favorite teamings of Cheetara and Teela and Man of Arms and Panthro. It’s also fun how Skeletor and Mumm-Ra find common ground on being surrounded by idiot minions. It packs some great power as befitting a teaming of these properties and more than worth the wait for any kid of the ‘80s.
Hasbro has recently been trying to get into the “shared universe” game with plans for a movie series of various properties. IDW is firing the first shot with this series which links G.I. Joe, Transformers, Rom, Micronauts and MASK together. It begins with the Autobots and Decepticons in a temporary truce on Earth with G.I. Joe called in for a summit. Rom picks this moment to blow away disguised Dire Wraiths, not realizing that to the Joes it looks like he’s vaporizing their comrades. The Joes think Rom is with the Transformers and declare war. This gets Miles Mayhem to debut his new MASK unit while also having his own secret plan.
Into the chaos, the Micronauts find themselves in a dimension where they’re only a few inches tall facing these “monsters.” The battles between the sides are goaded on by the Wraiths and the evil Baron Karza. It’s wild yet it does work out well with fantastic action that lets all the properties shine. If the movie universe is half as amazing as this mini-series, it’ll be a wonder for fans of ‘80s toys.
13 FREDDY VS JASON VS ASH
This was actually a movie treatment and could have been the event of any horror movie fan’s lifetime. It picks up five years after Freddy vs Jason as Freddy is stuck inside of Jason’s mind. Freddy is manipulating Jason to get the Necronomicon which can restore Freddy to life. As it happens, Ash Williams is working at the Crystal Lake S-Mart and quickly realizes what’s going on.
This kicks off a massive three-way fight as Freddy and Jason have a rematch while Ash just tries to stay alive. Big moments include Freddy enlisting the ghosts of all of Jason’s past victims while Jason is actually given intelligence. It’s a wild affair that could have been a great movie. As it is, it’s a stellar crossover of three iconic figures of the horror genre.
12 DOCTOR WHO/STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION
Scott Tipton crafts this masterful teaming of the two most iconic sci-fi properties on television. The Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory end up landing on the TNG Enterprise circa season 5. This causes the Doctor to remember how, in his Fourth incarnation, he was on the original Enterprise which is tied in to current attacks on worlds. It turns out the Cybermen and the Borg made a brief alliance which is now turning into open war. Given his past experiences, Picard is perfectly willing to sit back and let the Borg be wiped out.
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to show Picard how, if left unchecked, the Cybermen will take over the universe. Picard thus realizes a fragile truce with the Borg is needed to stop the greater threat. The idea of the Borg and Cybermen going at it is so natural that it’s brilliant and leads to great clashes. It’s also fun seeing the always eccentric Doctor mixing with the TNG crew. There’s plenty of action as well as “timey-wimey” antics to make this a perfect melding of two TV favorites.
11 DC UNIVERSE/MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE
The idea of linking the DC Comics and the famous 1980s cartoon is older than one might think. Way back in 1985, an issue of DC Comics Presents has Superman sent to Eternia and tricked into doing battle with He-Man. The duo actually have a good fight before realizing the true enemy is Skeletor. In 2014, a mini-series had Skeletor invading the DC Earth in search of a massive power source. He-Man and his allies followed with the Justice League mistaking them for enemies. The revelation of just who the big bad behind all this really is will blow your mind.
Perhaps a wilder crossover was one that set the Masters against the characters of the popular Injustice game. After Superman uses Brainiac’s tech to reconquer his dark world, Batman reaches to Eternia for aid. Given Superman, Wonder Woman and others are no longer heroes, the conflicts are far more brutal and even involve the destruction of an iconic DC force. It’s a good mix of what happens when “the most powerful man in the universe” tangles with the DC icons.
10 TOMB RAIDER/WITCHBLADE/FATHOM
Back in the late 1990s, Michael Turner was one of the hottest artists around. He had helped make Witchblade a hit and also provided cover work for the Tomb Raider comic. Naturally, Top Cow turned to him for a special that teamed Sara Pezzini and Lara Croft together. Lara was hunting a black pearl that houses a demonic force in New York. Sara, thanks to her own experiences, believes her and the duo join together to stop an evil millionaire from unleashing this power.
In 2000, Turner began a storyline in his Fathom series where the duo team up with main character Aspen. Sadly, Turner began facing the start of his long battle with cancer which delayed the story’s conclusion for over two years which robbed the story of some of its drive. Worse, due to various legal issues, the story can’t be reprinted with Fathom collections cutting Lara and Sara out completely. It was a fun story that shows the late Turner’s genius at art so it’s a bit sad it’s so hard to find today.
9 CONAN AND WONDER WOMAN
Louise Simonson has written some great stories for both the Amazon warrior and the fabled Barbarian. It thus makes sense she’d be terrific mixing them both together in this mini-series. Set in ancient times, Conan is told of a great beautiful warrior who’s winning in gladiator contests and goes to see her. It’s an amnesiac Diana who Conan believes might be a former childhood love of his. The duo break free of their jailors and soon on the run from hunters. These include agents of a dark goddess who want to destroy both heroes.
The chemistry between the two is terrific as they banter but also deeply respect one another as warriors. It doesn’t culminate in a grand affair but it does lead to them becoming a fantastic force in combat. The artwork is great and further touches like Diana leading her Amazon sisters aiding Conan in an assault on an evil king. It’s a natural pairing that comes together well and a unique coda at the end to cap off a fine adventure.
8 STAR TREK/PLANET OF THE APES
At first glance, this sounds crazy but the more one thinks about it, the more it makes sense. Subtitled “The Primitive Directive,” the series has the Enterprise crew discovering the Klingons are making moves to arm some planets against a treaty. The Enterprise follows them through a portal and enter an alternate Earth. Beaming down, Kirk and company are thrown to discover a future where apes rule. They soon run into George Taylor, the human astronaut from the classic movie who begs them to help.
Kirk uses the loophole that the Prime Directive doesn’t count since this isn’t their universe and decides to aid the humans. This leads to battles as the Klingons are arming the apes while a pair of chimp scientists aid the Enterprise crew. It all works out pretty well with the ending lining up with the Apes movies and even setting up one of them. Thus, as weird as it sounds, this crossover nicely fits in with both seemingly vastly different properties.
7 DARKMAN AND ARMY OF DARKNESS
Sam Raimi wanted Bruce Campbell to play the title role in his 1990 cult hit Darkman. Instead, it went to a then-unknown named Liam Neeson. It took a while but this comic series finally brings the two beloved Rami properties together. When Peyton Westlake’s love, Julie, accidentally reads from the Necronomnicon, she becomes possessed by the Queen of Darkness and out to bring the Deadites to New York. Trying to save her, Darkman accidentally brings Ash through a portal and into the fight.
There’s conflict between the duo as Ash thinks taking out Julie may be the only way to stop this invasion and Darkman won’t let him. Making it worse is the Queen resurrecting Darkman’s old enemy Durant who wants revenge. Adding to the fun is how the spell causes darkness to swallow New York, meaning Darkman can wear his disguise constantly without light ruining it. It’s a short series but still good mixing two of Raimi’s best characters together in a wild adventure
6 BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA/ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
For fans of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, this is a dream come true. Jack Burton, the loudmouth, boastful, not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is truck driver from Big Trouble in Little China is taking a drive in 1986 when he hits a weird storm. He flashes into an alternate 2001 where he meets Snake Plissken, the one-eyed rebel from Escape From New York. This reality’s version of Jack’s buddy Wang Chi accidentally brought both men here to defend from a major threat.
The artwork wonderfully makes the two different Russell characters stand out. The banter is great as the moronic Jack and the all-business Snake clash constantly and there’s the fun touch of how Burton has a special “curse” that allows him to win despite all odds. Even wilder is the demonic Lo Pan bringing in the Snakes of other realities (including a woman) to face the duo. It all comes together into a fantastic romp that shows how two Russell cult characters are better than one.
5 ARCHIE MEETS THE PUNISHER
You can’t do a list of wild comic book crossovers and not have this. When it was announced in 1994, fans were convinced it was some sort of huge practical joke. The plot is that a crook named Red goes on the run after making a deal to testify against his bosses. The government offers amnesty to the Punisher in exchange for bringing Red in. The kicker is that “Red” is a dead ringer for Archie and, of course, has landed in Riverdale.
So we have some mistaken identity comedy as Veronica and others accept “Red” as Archie despite the latter’s darker nature while the Punisher hunts Archie down. It’s truly offbeat yet it somehow works. A great touch is the Punisher marveling at how crime-free Riverdale is and deciding not to bring his brand of violence to this innocent town. It’s still a comic few can believe actually happened but are glad it did.
4 WONDER WOMAN '77/BIONIC WOMAN
The artwork on this comic is so good that you’ll swear it’s Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner in their primes. A special mission teams Jamie Sommers with Diana Prince and it’s not long before Jamie figures out who Diana is. The simple mission turns deadly when the robotic Fembots make a return to attack both heroines. They soon realize that old enemies of both women have banded together into an alliance out to invade Paradise Island.
The comic mixes in elements of both TV shows well, including Diana’s feelings for the Steve Trevor she knew in World War II. It also has cool bits like Jamie wearing Amazon armor to do battle and opening up to the existence of magic. The final scene has a nice turn that sets up a sequel. In any case, it’s terrific to see two of the best on-screen TV heroines of the ‘70s teamed together in an adventure that does justice to both of them.
3 ARCHIE VS PREDATOR
You thought meeting the Punisher was crazy? That’s nothing compared to this completely insane series. Yes, one of those alien hunters has decided to invade Riverdale and the comic doesn’t hold back on the gore. Beloved characters are taken out with ease with scary sights like Dinky’s head on a spear. The fact it’s drawn like your typical Archie comic just makes it crazier.
Yet it’s also fantastic to watch as Veronica and Betty have to let go of the “girls in distress” characters to fight for survival. Archie gets into it himself with a truly bizarre turn for him. The dark humor sparks up the storyline which is surprisingly smart at times. Thus, as nutty as it seems, this is a great romp for those who’d like a little horror sparked into a classic property.
2 BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
A truly offbeat pairing, the original series has the Turtles brought into the DC Universe thanks to a device from Krang. They’re trying to find a way back home with Batman mistaking them for the bad guys, leading to conflict. Shredder also made the trip so Batman and the Turtles have to work together. But things get worse when Shredder joins forces with Batman’s old enemy Ra’s al Ghul to turn the inhabitants of Arkahm into mutated monsters.
The sequel is just as good as Donatello accidentally brings Bane into the Turtles’ world. It doesn’t take long for Bane to take control of the Foot and use them as an army to conquer the city. Donatello is so desperate to fix his mistake he actually uses the drug Venom. Perhaps more daring is that Batman figures the only way to stop Bane is to team the Turtles with Shredder. Both series boast great artwork to enhance the action and make it (as Michelangelo says) “A totally awesome team-up!”
1 JUSTICE LEAGUE/POWER RANGERS
Boom Studios has been having great success with their comic book focusing on the classic Rangers team. But few could have seen this fantastic team-up coming. A sneak attack by Lord Zed causes him and Zack to fall between realities. Zack lands in Gotham City where he mistakes Batman for a monster and attacks him. The Rangers are soon backing him up, forcing Batman to call in the Justice League for help. It’s a brief but fun fight before they realize they’re on the same side.
Meanwhile, Zed has forged an unlikely alliance with Brainiac that leads to the Rangers losing their powers and Angel Grove shrunk into a bottle. A cool bit has the Rangers taking on the costumes and weapons of various Leaguers and their enemies to fight Brainiac and Zed. Not to mention the priceless sight of a giant Alpha battling a monster. It captures the Rangers fighting against all odds and the League helping them out to make a dream team of an event.