Greetings from the Odinson,
Mercenary. Bounty Hunter. Gun for Hire. Hitman. Sellsword. Assassin. They have many names. These are the killers for hire. Their actions can start wars, or end them. This line of profession is comprised of some of the most highly trained killers the world (or galaxy) has ever seen. These are the deadliest people walking the earth. Some use guns, others knives. Some use huge explosions, while some wouldn’t even be noticed right up until the moment they strike. An assassin can get his man from long range with a sniper rifle, or up close with a simple lethal toxin slipped into a mark’s cup of Joe. The men and women that have chosen this line of work are not White Hats, nor are they particularly evil. They are professionals, professionals that get the job done, no matter what.
For centuries the ninja clan known as the Hand has bribed, betrayed, and murdered their way into every aspect of Eastern society in hopes of one day bringing about the End of Days. The Hand is comprised of deadly assassins with mystical abilities. They have on several occasions crossed swords with the mutant hero Wolverine and the Protector of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil. With the help of Hydra they even tried to murder the super hero population and turn them into zombie slaves under their power (see Wolverine: Enemy of the State). Another ancient society of assassins is the Coda. The Coda is a race of immortal Amazonian women who, since the dawn of mankind, have trained to become the deadliest living weapons alive. Lady Zealot was a member of this deadly society, but she now uses her great physical skills to protect mankind as a member of the super strike force known as the WildC.A.T.s. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fight a never-ending battle against the evil Shredder and his army of assassins known as the Foot Clan. The Hand, the Foot, the Coda, and the League of Assassins are all ancient societies devoted to murder, mayhem, and chaos. They collect a paycheck by spilling the blood of others. Another aspect of this type of profession is the Bounty Hunter.
The bounty hunter sets out to find those that the law cannot, but for a price. They have no qualms about using lethal force. Most fugitives (especially in Old West, Sci/Fi or Fantasy settings) are wanted dead or alive. It makes no difference to the bounty hunter which way he brings the fugitive back, but dead is easier. These are not lawmen. They are grizzled vets of a hundred battles and are completely jaded when comes to “frailties” like compassion and understanding. The bounty hunter does not care about the fugitive’s back story. All he cares about is the reward. And in some cases if that means an innocent man hangs, so be it. The assassin and the bounty hunter are two sides of the same coin. They definitely don’t walk the path of angels, but they aren’t necessarily evil. But make no mistake, these are not the good guys. For these unpleasant people, killing is not personal, it’s business. For these guns for hire and professional killers it’s all about the money.
So, who are the greatest assassins/bounty hunters in the realms of Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Comics?
10) Lobo – Profession of Choice: Assassin/Bounty Hunter. Why he makes the List: He assassinated Santa Claus. The Main Man is the last surviving member of an alien race known as the Czarnians. He is the last surviving Czarnian because he murdered the rest of them. He has super human strength that rivals even Superman and Captain Marvel. He can track a fugitive across whole galaxies and he has a healing factor that may be even more ridiculous than Deadpool’s. Guns, knives, and a twenty-foot chain with a meat-hook on the end of it are his weapons of choice. He doesn’t particularly like Green Lanterns, Batman or the Omega Men, but this self-proclaimed “Scourge of the Cosmos” has an almost unnatural affinity for dolphins. Lobo is as tough as they come, and even though his callous nature and devil-may-care attitude make him hard to take seriously, he should never be underestimated.
09) Elektra - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Mercenary. Why she makes the List: She saved Wolverine’s soul and brought the feral X-Man back from the edge – twice. She was created by Frank Miller and even though she was the Kingpin of Crime’s number one assassin, Elektra was also Daredevil’s greatest love. After she was murdered by Bullseye, Elektra was resurrected by the Hand and had to fight for her soul to free herself from their control (see Elektra: Assassin). She is reported to be the deadliest woman alive. After the events of Fatal Attraction when Magneto forcibly pulled the Adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and a failed experiment to replace it, Logan went totally feral and became a danger to anyone he came into contact with. Elektra was there and helped him find his lost humanity (see Wolverine #102-106). A few years later, in Enemy of the State, the Hand had murdered Wolverine and turned him into a murderous slave to their cause. Elektra, having herself gone through this ordeal was there to help Wolverine shake off the brainwashing and get revenge on the ones responsible. She defeated Catwoman (see Marvel vs. DC) in one-on-one combat and even the Black Widow is wary around her. These days, Elektra pays the bills as a member of Heroes for Hire, and she would be the deadliest woman around…if it weren’t for the next woman on this list.
08) Lady Shiva - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Martial Arts Teacher. Why she makes the List: Shiva is a martial arts master and an assassin that specializes in killing her marks with her bare hands. She can stand toe-to-toe with Batman and Richard Dragon, two of the world’s greatest fighters. So in love with fighting is Shiva, that if an opponent survives an encounter with her and earns her respect, they may also earn her help, as the Question and Black Canary have done. At one time, during A Death in the Family, Jason Todd thought that Lady Shiva might actually be his mother. This brought her into direct conflict with the Dark Knight. She is, however, the mother of Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl. From the League of Assassins to Red Robin, from Huntress to the Bronze Tiger, Lady Shiva has fought against and alongside the greatest fighters in the world and is considered by many to be the deadliest woman alive. After Bane broke Batman’s back in Knightsfall, Shiva retrained the wounded hero and helped him get back to fighting form (see Batman #509).
07) Artemis Entreri - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Bounty Hunter. Why he makes the List: He is the only man alive that can match Drizzt Do’ Urden in combat. He is an assassin of unparalleled skill. Hired by a crime lord to retrieve a gem with hypnotic powers, stolen by the halfling Regis, this is how he crosses paths for the first time with his greatest enemy, Drizzt, the dark elf hero (see The Icewind Dale Trilogy). Armed with his lethal saber and a jeweled-handled dagger that drains life force from its victims, Entreri has proven to be the most dangerous and tenacious enemy Drizzt has ever faced. Their battles are the stuff of legends. These agile combatants, Entreri with his saber and dagger and Drizzt with his whirling scimitars, move so fast that onlookers have a hard time following their speedy movements. Over the course of the great Dark Elf Saga, Entreri has become Drizzt’s Moriarty, the one opponent that can match his every move and provides an obstacle that even our hero may not be able to overcome.
06) Jango Fett - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Bounty Hunter. Why he makes the List: His DNA created an army. Hired by the Separatists to start a war, Jango attempted, with the help of doomed assassin Zam Wesell, to assassinate Senator Amidala. And they would have succeeded to if it hadn’t been for the brave efforts of Jedi Knights Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Jango, armed with his Mandalorian battle armor, murdered several Jedi Knights and fought Obi Wan Kenobi to a standstill before meeting his end at the hands of Mace Windu, the second most powerful Jedi in the galaxy. But before his death, it was from Jango’s genetic make-up that a clone army was created, a clone army that would win a war and pave the way for the iron-fisted rule of the Galactic Empire. One clone Jango took as his own son. He raised the boy and trained him, and that boy would grow up to become one of the most feared men in the galaxy.
05) Deadshot - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Mercenary. Why he makes the List: This guy is so deadly that even the Batman is afraid of him. Whether it is using his twin wrist-guns or a sniper rifle, no one is a more accurate shot than Deadshot. His affinity for guns and killing for money immediately put him at odds with the Caped Crusader. Upon his capture and imprisonment, Deadshot was given a chance (or rather forced to participate) in the government sponsored Suicide Squad. On their very first mission, it was Deadshot that took the shot that stopped the fiery titan Brimstone from destroying the planet. Later Deadshot joined the Secret Six. Here he and his villain cohorts travel the globe looking for work and try to stay out of jail. Even Batman in the final issue of Legends of the Dark Knight admitted that Deadshot could have killed him. That’s deadly.
04) Jonah Hex - Profession of Choice: Bounty Hunter. Why he makes the List: Jonah Hex is the best bounty hunter and most feared gunman in the Old West. He learned how to hunt, track, fight and ride while living among the Apache as a boy. His face is horribly scarred, a scar wrongfully given to him when he was betrayed by a jealous rival. There are few situations that Hex cannot fight his way out of, and lawbreakers everywhere know that their time is up once Hex takes up the search. Once he was even blasted to the distant future and even in this post-Apocalyptic world Jonah Hex was the toughest, meanest gunman with a bad attitude around. Jonah Hex always gets his man even if it takes years, just check out the tenacious bounty hunter at his absolute best in Jonah Hex #5. He even matched wits with Ra’s Al Ghul 100 years before the Dark Knight (it happened in Batman: The Animated Series).
03) Bullseye - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Body Guard. Why he makes the List: He murdered Elektra with own weapon. Bullseye is so deadly that absolutely any object he can get his hands on, from a playing card to a paper clip, becomes a lethal instrument of death. He is a highly skilled martial artist and very few men can even survive an encounter with him. If it weren’t for healing factors, Bullseye would have ended both Wolverine and Deadpool on several occasions. As a member of both the Thunderbolts and the Dark Avengers, even among demi-gods, super humans and criminal masterminds, Bullseye is still the one everyone keeps an eye on. Only a fighter as skilled as Daredevil is actually able to take Bullseye down - a fighter as skilled as Daredevil, or a man as stubborn as the Punisher. Though, after the events of Shadowland, Bullseye is currently pushing up daisies, if (or rather when) he comes back, caution should always be used when he’s around.
02) Boba Fett - Profession of Choice: Bounty Hunter. Why he makes the List: He captured Han Solo. Solo had crossed Jabba the Hutt, the most powerful crime boss in a galaxy far, far away and was the most wanted man in the galaxy. The galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunters searched far and wide but no one could find the elusive space pirate, no one except for Boba Fett. Boba is the son of Jango Fett, and like Jango he wears Mandalorian battle armor. Armed with many gadgets that can baffle a Jedi Knight and enough firepower to take down a Rancor, Boba Fett is prepared for any situation. This guy has actually stood toe-to-toe with Darth Vader and gave the dark lord of the Sith all he could handle. Boba Fett is, without a doubt, the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. There is only one man with more skins on the wall than Fett, and that is the man who comes in at number one on this list.
01) Deathstroke - Profession of Choice: Assassin/Bounty Hunter/Mercenary. Why he makes the List: He completely dismantled the Teen Titans in The Judas Contract and he has single-handedly fought the Justice League of America to a standstill. Need more proof that Deathstroke is the king of the hill? How about the fact that he beat Batman to within an inch of his life? Plus, Deathstroke orchestrated the murder of Ryan Choi, the All New Atom. Slade Wilson is arguably one of the greatest tacticians alive. A government experiment gave him super human strength, speed, and reflexes. He is the evil Captain America. He’s so influential that two of his children attempted to follow in his killer for hire footsteps. His son, the first Ravager, met his end in the pages of New Teen Titans #2. And his daughter, the second Ravager, did her father’s bidding, even going so far as to try to defeat Batgirl and recruit her to his cause. These days, Ravager has seen the error of her ways and now fights alongside the Teen Titans. Even Superman respects Slade’s abilities. The Man of Steel once asked Deathstroke to lead the attack on Warworld. However, Slade isn’t done manipulating others, as he has convinced both Jade and Arsenal to join his new team of dark Titans. Time and time again, Deathstroke has proven one thing over years - he is one super villain that actually wins.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries for month: May 2011
May 27, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
May 20, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
I have always known that Magneto was powerful, but I guess I never quite fully gave him his due. That is until I saw him go toe-to-to with Proteus, a creature with reality-warping powers and easily one of the deadliest enemies the X-Men have ever faced (see X-Men: Proteus). Not only did Magneto fight Proteus, but he fought Proteus and won! Growing up, when I read Uncanny X-Men #126-128, I thought Proteus, along with the Dire Wraiths from the pages of Rom, was the scariest thing I’d ever seen in super hero comics. So to see Magneto vanquish this nightmare was quite impressive. And that’s saying something, considering Magneto has stood toe-to-toe with heavy-hitters like Thor, Phoenix, and Apocalypse. Like I said, I always new Magneto was powerful, but defeating a creature like Proteus puts him in the conversation for Big Dog in the Marvel Universe.
Whether you call him Max, Eric, or Magnus, the man known as Magneto has always been one of the most complicated characters in the history of comics. In the Marvel Universe the mutants have always had to deal with hate and prejudice. Magneto and Professor Xavier are two of the most powerful and influential mutants alive. However, one of them believes mankind and mutants can live together in harmony, while the other believes mutants should rule over man with an iron fist. This puts Magneto and Professor X on opposite sides, a fact made more interesting considering these two men are friends. They weren’t always enemies, as seen in Uncanny X-Men #161. And the upcoming movie X-Men: First Class will explore their past together even more, and more than likely expose the moment where they went in opposite directions.
He’s not an evil man. There are many reasons for Magneto’s hatred toward mankind. As a boy during World War II, he was sent to a Nazi concentration camp. It was here that his mutant powers first started to be manifest (see Magneto: Testament). Time and time again throughout his life he was met with rejection and out and out attacks from humans that fear and hate his kind. His child was murdered during a mutant hate crime and the woman he loved rejected him once she found out he was a mutant (see the back-up tale in Classic X-Men #12). His own children, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, were taken from him and hidden for fear of what he might turn them into. And on top of it all, the one man in the world that understands him best, Charles Xavier, stands in his way of obtaining true dominion over the world.
Though not evil, make no mistake, in the Marvel Universe, Magneto is a villain. As a villain, Magneto has had one of the most interesting character arcs in comics history. Very rarely is a “villain” given such an arc. It all started in Uncanny X-Men #150. Here Magneto makes his ultimate move. He gives the governments of the world an ultimatum. Turn over governing power to Magneto or he will destroy the world. When the Soviet Union responds with the threat of nuclear war, Magneto sinks the submarine and its nuclear missiles, along with the entire crew, to the bottom of the ocean. This is an act that will come back to haunt him in the future. The X-Men, of course, thwart his mad scheme, but this is the beginning of the decade-long story arc that would redefine Magneto as a character.
When next we see him in the pages of God Loves, Man Kills, Magneto has come to a crossroads in his life. For the first time he begins to doubt himself. He sets aside his megalomaniacal crusade against mankind and actually begins to listen to his friend, Charles Xavier. The change is not easy. Magneto still has no patience for mutant injustice and his kind of vengeance is final. Just ask Reverend William Stryker. Oh that’s right, you can’t. Though he was not quite ready to walk the path of angels, the fact that Magneto was actually talking with the X-Men instead of trading blows with them, revealed that there was inner conflict going on inside the man.
It was perhaps this inner turmoil, and maybe guilt, that led Magneto to pursue his next course of action - amends with his children. Ever since Uncanny X-Men #4 it had been suspected. And in the pages of Avengers #187 it was all but confirmed. But it was in Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1982 1st Series) #4 that it was revealed that Magneto was in fact the father of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. The joy Magneto displays when he holds his grandchild in his arms shows a side of the man the reader had never seen before, a humane side.
It is at this point in time when even the universe itself starts to look at Magneto in a different light. In the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, a nigh omnipotent being known as the Beyonder kidnaps the prominent heroes and most dangerous super villains of Earth and whisks them to the far side of the galaxy to do battle for the ultimate prize. Typical comic book stuff. However, in a twist of events Magneto has been placed among the heroes. This, of course, causes all sorts of issues with the heroes that still think of him as the mutant terrorist that threatens the world ever other week. So what did this mean? Did the Beyonder see something in Magneto that the rest of the Marvel Universe could not? The fact that Magneto was now placed in the ranks of the White Hats was a harbinger of things to come.
Magneto’s journey reaches its crescendo in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #200. Here his past finally catches up to him. Remember the Russian sub he sank in Uncanny X-Men #150, well now he will be put on trial for that and all his past crimes against humanity. And, once again, showing that he has really turned over a new leaf, Magneto agrees to face his accusers in a court of law. However, the proceedings are interrupted by an organization trying to start a mutant/human war. During the battle Professor X is mortally wounded and must immediately leave Earth for the stars with his beloved Lilandra if he is to survive. But before he departs for the Shi’ar Empire, Xavier makes Magneto promise him that he will take care of his students as if they were his own. Magneto agrees and in the pages of New Mutants #35 becomes the Headmaster of Xavier’s School for the Gifted.
However, as seen in New Mutants #40, the rest of the world is not quite ready to forgive and forget. Has Magneto, one of the greatest threats mankind has ever faced, really become a good guy? His dealings with the notorious Hellfire Club would surely cause doubt. Plus, the Soviets wanted justice for the fallen crew of the submarine Magneto sank in Uncanny X-Men #150. What follows is a free-for-all between the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Soviet Super Soldiers. The X-Men, even if they still don’t fully trust Magneto and doubt whether or not they are fighting on the right side, decide to defend “one of their own.” In the pages of X-Men vs. Avengers, not only does Magneto finally stand trial for his crimes but he also seems to come to terms with his past. It is left ambiguous whether his path will lead him back down to the dark side or if he will remain on the side of angels. But what happens next might have been the deciding factor.
During the Fall of the Mutants, the next generation of X-Men disobey their Headmaster and head off to help their friend. Unfortunately, during this mission Doug Ramsey is murdered (see New Mutants #60). Overcome with grief and wracked with guilt over the fact that one of Xavier’s students was killed while under his watch was too much for Magneto to bear. It is during this dark time that Magneto began to wear his old armor and once again donned the helmet that symbolizes terror to so many around the globe. It was also at this time that Magneto was invited by Loki to join his secret cabal of arch villains as they plotted against their hated enemies. This would become known as the Acts of Vengeance. His association with these criminals left little doubt in the minds of heroes like Captain America where Magneto’s loyalties lay. However, what the world at large did not see was that Magneto actually used this “Acts of Vengeance” not to seek revenge against the heroes of the Marvel U, but to, as a Holocaust survivor himself, take vengeance on the Red Skull and the cyborg Geist, Nazi criminals from World War II.
Then in the Savage Land, Magneto, along with Rogue, Ka-Zar, and Nick Fury set out to stop the insane machinations of Zaladane (see Uncanny X-Men #274). In Uncanny X-Men #250, Zaladane had stolen the magnetic powers of Polaris, the as yet unrevealed other daughter of Magneto. Zaladane now attempted to do the same to Magneto himself and threatened to destroy the world as we know it. Pushed to the limits of physical and mental endurance, Magneto had had enough, and his judgment of the villainess was swift and final. Magneto had once again crossed that line that heroes shouldn’t. This marked the end of Magneto’s good guy experiment with the X-Men.
The 1980s came to an end, and so did Magneto’s time as a White Hat. In X-Men #1-3, Magneto decided to leave the hatred between humans and mutants behind. To do this he would recreate his orbiting space fortress (Asteroid M had fallen to Earth during the events of X-Men vs. Avengers). He would offer asylum to any mutants that wanted to live among their own kind, in peace, away from the mutant hating humans. So, to protect his mutant haven Magneto revisited his past. Using his awesome powers, Magneto raised the Russian submarine he had sunk in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #150 (this seems to be an event that will follow Magneto for the rest of his life), and planned to take the nuclear missiles it held within. Now, of course, the X-Men were not going to allow him to just take weapons of mass destruction and aim them at planet Earth. Thus, the conflict of Mutant Genesis began, and the days of Magneto being a hero ended, if only for a little while, but more on that in a moment.
Since then, Magneto has done many horrible things (see Fatal Attraction) and many heroic things (see Age of Apocalypse). He seems to ever be walking that thin line between good and evil. He has been given what he thought was his ultimate dream in House of M only to have the cost of it be the soul of his own daughter. For the next twenty years after the end of his character redefining story arc, Magneto’s life has been a roller coaster of contradictions, triumphs, and failures. Now, Magneto has come full circle and resides once again among the X-Men. He has stood by their side through the nightmarish Necrosha campaign and the tragic events of Second Coming.
Has Magneto really, truly seen the light, or will he ultimately betray the X-Men and pursue his own agenda once again? Only time will tell. One thing I have learned about this extremely complicated character over the years is that Magneto is completely unpredictable.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
May 13, 2011 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
A couple of weeks ago Action Comics #900 hit the stands and boy, did it stir up a hornet’s nest of controversy. The fact that the year-long Lex Luthor-driven The Black Ring storyline and the high octane Reign of Doomsday crossover both climaxed in this issue was completely overshadowed by a 9-page back-up titled “The Incident,” written by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Crow: City of Angels). Within this quick story, the Man of Steel, to protect America from any blame by his actions, renounces his U.S. citizenship. No longer will Superman’s pledge be Truth, Justice, and the American Way. In 1986, in the pages of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Superman was the epitome of government stooge. He did whatever his country asked of him, without question, even going so far as to try to take down that troublesome Batman fellow causing all that trouble over in Gotham City. Boy, in the last twenty-five years the pendulum sure has swung. Both of these examples are extremes. The Superman I know and love falls somewhere in the middle. A funny little side note, just two weeks later in the pages of Superman #711, the Man of Steel talks about the American Dream and what it means to him. Whether this was reactionary to the controversy or just plain irony that this bit came out so quickly after Action Comics #900 is up for debate. However, the juxtaposition of these two issues is interesting, to say the least.
So which Man of Steel are we dealing with now? The Big Blue Scout, or the rogue freelancer with no country affiliation? Why does “…the American Way” interfere with Superman’s obligations to protecting the entire world? Like Captain America, Superman is an American icon. He was created by Americans. He grew up in the Heartland of America. A character like Superman does not need to be concerned with the negative connotations of what others may think about the United States. His job is not to fix what’s wrong with this country. Heroes like Superman and Captain America are here to set an example and show those around them the potential we all have in ourselves, the potential for a brighter tomorrow, the potential for peace and brotherhood among mankind. Superman should always stand for Truth, Justice, and the American Way because even though many of us may fall short of this ideal, it’s the Man of Tomorrow that represents the best we can possibly be.
Now on to the next topic…
The Thor movie came out on May 6th and many people, knowing what a big Thor fan I am, have been wondering what I thought about it. I absolutely loved it! It was simply amazing! When they were showing the opening and fabled Asgard was revealed, and then the throne room, and Thor and the rest of the Aesir, and then Odin spoke…a single tear rolled down my cheek. For there, on the Silver Screen, the comic book I so loved my entire life was coming to life right before my very eyes.
The cast was absolutely perfect. Chris Hemsworth, who played Thor, looked the part and did a great job with a role that if done wrong could have made the thunder god completely unlikable. Natalie Portman as Jane Foster was, of course, beautiful and funny. What can I say about Sir Anthony Hopkins that hasn’t already been said? He is Odin. But my standout cast member had to be Tom Hiddleston. His Loki was absolutely perfect. I am so proud of the actors, writers, and director. The best thing to ever happen for comic fans was Marvel getting control of their characters in Hollywood.
The action sequences were fantastic and this fanboy got to see the mighty Thor be just that, mighty, and doing all the super hero things he does in the comic books. The humor of the film was great. Many, many laugh-out-loud moments spliced in with the action pieces made the two hours go by all too quickly. And then the epilogue that ran after the credits (little cliffhangers that Marvel movies are becoming known for) simply gave me goosebumps for the potential of what may challenge Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in their movie next year.
As I watched the Thor movie, I got that same feeling, that same joy as I do when I watch the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeves. To this day Superman is the best comic book movie ever made. Iron Man came close, but when I watch Superman, which was directed by Richard Donner, I am watching the comic book I read come to life, and that is how I felt while watching Thor. Batman is the favorite of some and for others it’s the X-Men or Iron Man, but my personal all time favorite heroes have always been Thor, Superman and Captain America. So it should come as no surprise that I am beside myself with joy that Marvel hit a homerun with this one.
Odinson’s Movie Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunder Strike!
Now my fingers are crossed for the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger. But after Iron Man and Thor, Marvel has my full confidence.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
May 06, 2011 · 3 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Dark Horse has Star Wars, Buffy, and Hellboy. IDW has GI Joe, Transformers, and 30 Days of Night. And Image has Spawn, Invincible, and The Walking Dead. Every one of these titles makes for a fine tent pole for any company. But make no mistake, when it comes to the cream of the crop, nobody beats Marvel and DC. For decades these two giants of the industry have set the standard by which all other comic companies are measured. They have the biggest icons in the industry and they have the biggest rivalry. Speaking of which, I’m not sure why Dark Horse and IDW or Image and Dark Horse don’t strike up friendly rivalries and jab at each other the way the Big Boys do. If they did huge company crossovers every now and again like Marvel and DC did with Marvel vs. DC and JLA/Avengers it would be really cool.
However, Marvel and DC set the standard when it comes to company crossovers. It all started in 1976 with Superman vs. Spider-Man. The Man of Steel crossed paths with Your Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler and the fans gobbled up this chance meeting of a lifetime like nothing else. It really happened. The two biggest comic companies in the industry had their two biggest icons meet in the same book. It was a success and other crossovers soon followed. Most notably, the Caped Crusader came face-to-face with the Jade Giant in the pages of Batman vs. the Hulk. The Children of the Atom had to team-up with the DCU’s next generation of heroes to stop the diabolical plans of Darkseid in Marvel and DC Present: The X-Men and the Teen Titans.
Alas, the good times were not meant to last. Soon after the X-Men and Titans saved the world, a rift between Marvel and DC, a rift born out of creative differences, put the kibosh on a much anticipated Justice League of America/Avengers crossover. So for years there was silence on this front. Then suddenly in 1990s, the rivalry between the Big Two exploded. It started with Unholy Alliance. Here neophyte Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and the Silver Surfer must team up to stop the Parallax and Thanos from destroying all creation. This very well done story served as a prelude for the Marvel vs. DC event. In this event, the voices of the fans were heard as they voted and decided the outcomes of the battles that would decide the fates of two universes. During the course of this storyline, and thanks in no small part to a cosmic snafu, the Marvel Universe and DC Universe merged and for one month became the Amalgam Universe. Fans got to see what the comic landscape might have been like if these two companies operated under the same roof. Superman and Captain America merged to form Super-Soldier. Storm and Wonder Woman merged and became the Amazon. Batman and Wolverine became Dark Claw. A couple of my personal favorites were the Fantastic Four/Challengers of the Unknown amalgam known as the Challengers of the Fantastic and the mighty Thor/Orion of the New Gods amalgam known as Thorion. Sure, it was a gimmick but it was fresh, interesting, and fun. This is certainly not a formula that I would want these companies following all the time but every now and then it’s good to throw a little spice into the mix.
This was a successful endeavor and throughout the ‘90s Marvel and DC came out with a myriad of company crossovers. And surprisingly enough, some of these were pretty darn sweet. In Deadly Knights, how would Batman, a man whose whole life was shattered by a gun, respond when he came face-to-face with the shoot first, ask questions later vigilante known as the Punisher. Two determined men with similar circumstances that set them on their paths, but two men that have taken very different paths. How about the no-brainer team-up of Batman and Spider-Man as they take on their most insane enemies, Carnage and the Joker? How could any comic fan not love the world’s greatest super hero teaming up with Marvel’s First Family to take on the mighty Galactus in the pages of Superman/Fantastic Four. Two of my personal favorites were the ultimate showdown between Galactus and Darkseid in the pages of The Hunger. Here we learn what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. And I really enjoyed the retro style of The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman. From the look and voice of the characters, it really feels like a story that could have taken place in the early days of the Marvel Age.
But all of this was just a warm up. Kurt Busiek and George Pérez, fresh off their triumphant run on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, united for the granddaddy of all company crossovers – JLA/Avengers. I just recently re-read this masterpiece and it is utterly fantastic. The story is nearly perfect and Pérez is at the top of his game and his artwork is nothing short of spectacular. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the World’s Greatest Super Heroes must first battle each other, then team-up to face down the greatest threat either of their respective universes has ever faced before. This is a battle on par with Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Infinity Gauntlet. And it is an epic adventure worthy of such a gathering of legends.
Sadly, this magnificent tale marked the end of Marvel and DC playing nice with each other, which brings me to why I am writing this column in the first place. It’s been ten long years since these two have done anything significant with each other. Sure we’ve all seen the battles, the team-ups, and even a Teen Titans/X-Force amalgam. But I’ve got a radical new idea that just may breathe a little life back into the company crossover.
The Company Switch...
For six months, Marvel and DC trade two of their characters, but not just any characters, their biggest icons – Batman and Spider-Man. For six months, Spider-Man will not appear in any Marvel comics but only DC comics. And the same goes for Batman. He will only appear in Marvel comics for six months.
Just imagine the Caped Crusader coming face-to-face with his insane Marvel counterpart, Moon Knight. How would a man who prides himself on being in control handle being ordered around by Captain America. Where would he fit in? Would he join the Avengers? Would he fight Wolverine? How would he get along with other genius level intellects like Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, and Reed Richards? I would love to see Batman and Daredevil team-up and take on the Hand. The story possibilities are endless.
Just imagine Spider-Man as he tries to adjust to a world where super heroes are loved and embraced rather than jeered and hunted. Just seeing Spider-Man take on the Flash’s Rogues Gallery would be worth the price of admission. I would love to see an interaction between Spider-Man and one of my personal favorites, Nightwing. In a JLA meeting, who would annoy Auqaman more, Plastic Man or Spidey? Again, the possibilities are endless.
For six whole months these two heroes would be stuck in the universe of their company’s biggest competitor. They would interact and mingle with the heroes of these worlds, fight villains strange to them, and do it their way. For who more embodies what Marvel is all about than Spider-Man, the everyman hero? Who would be more fun to watch interact with the egos of the Marvel Universe than Batman, the biggest ego in the DCU? The whole thing could culminate with another huge team-up between Marvel and DC, with the heroes discovering why this happened to them and save both realities from what ever evil threatens them. Then at the end of the tale, the two icons can be placed safely back in their respective U’s with a better understanding and appreciation for the heroes in that other Universe.
Marvel and DC would, of course, share the profits of the sales of these books and the readers would get a new take on an old trick. Everybody wins. It would be great to see Batman appearing all the Marvel titles as a guest-star for six months. Just imagine Spidey swinging from DC title to DC title, meeting and teaming up with the Flash and the Teen Titans. At the very least, it would be different, and fun.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
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