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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #187

Well, since the subject of inter-company crossovers came up, it’s time to look at the other worthwhile one. It was way more fun than the dental fillings of the same name. Also, there’s a peek at my shocking secret origin. (Remember to bookmark that archive while you’re at it!)

7/6/07

187. Amalgam Comics

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Here was an odd semi-crossover. On two separate occasions, Marvel and DC got together during a skip week and created a brand new company, Amalgam Comics. Its purpose was to take properties from both companies and, basically, mush them together into one. Some of the combinations made perfect sense– others were completely ridiculous. Not every one-shot was great, but a few of them were terrific comics. Yes, this is something that worked far better as a concept than it did in execution, but it holds a special place in my heart.

Birthed from the Marvel vs. DC mini and some “All-Access” minis I never read came Amalgam Comics, a great little comics experiment from a time when DC and Marvel actually got along. From Dark Claw (Batman/Wolverine) and Amazon (Wonder Woman/Storm) to Generation Hex (Jonah Hex/Generation X) and Lobo the Duck (Lobo/Howard the Duck), Amalgam was filled with kooky ideas. Some worked, some didn’t. Let’s look at the ones that worked.

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The two Spider-Boy (Superboy/Spider-Man) books were the pinnacle of Amalgam, and I’m going to have to thank Karl Kesel for that. He put a lot of effort into ‘em. I didn’t think the concept would work– I mean, yeah, it made sense at the time because of the Clone Saga, I guess, but combining Spider-Man with Superboy, of all characters? But then we got the awesome Arach-Kid with his web-shooting gun and his leather jacket, and enemies like Bizarnage and King Lizard. It was great fun. And the sequel, Spider-Boy Team-Up, was just as cool, and featured a Legion of Super-Heroes/Guardians of the Galaxy combo. The artists for these projects? Mike Wieringo and José Ladrönn. Only the best, yo.

The Challengers of the Fantastic (Challengers of the Unknown/Fantastic Four) book was also terrific, as that too came from the mind of Karl Kesel and the pencil of Tom Grummett. They faced down the Silver Racer and saved the Earth from Galactiac! It was a Kirby fan’s wet dream.

The Super Soldier issues were a lot of fun, especially the Man of War one from Mark Waid and Dave Gibbons that teamed the Superman and Captain America amalgam up with all sorts of hybridized war heroes as they took on the Green Skull (Luthor/Red Skull) and Ultra-Metallo (Metallo/Ultra-Humanite/Sleeper robot).

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Iron Lantern, from Kurt Busiek and Paul Smith, is worth buying if only for Oa the Living Planet (Oa/Ego) and HECTOR (Hector Hammond/MODOK).

Thorion of the New Asgods was given to us by Keith Giffen and John Romita Jr, and it’s a huge favorite of mine. But then, I’m a huge fan of Giffen, Romita, Thor, and the New Gods. It was pretty much designed to excite me. It showed us Thanoseid and L’ok D’Saad and was filled with crazy energy. Great stuff.

And then there were the rest, like Dr. Strangefate, Speed Demon (Flash/Etrigan/Ghost Rider), the JLX, X-Patrol, Bruce Wayne, Agent of SHIELD, Bat-Thing, and more. I haven’t read every single one. I can’t say all of the issues I own were great. Some were just plain awful. But if the idea’s the thing, then they were cool little beasts.

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One of the first websites and forums I really got involved with was an Amalgam fanfiction ring. I’m not into fanfic anymore, but I was back then, and I used it to take my non-existent writing abilities and turn them into something better. So, yeah, I got my start as a writer because of Amalgam Comics, in a way. And my God, those fanfics were great idea factories, creating amalgams that were wonderful matches and some that were just plain ridiculous (I myself created Strange Lantern and Aqua-Hulk, among others, if you can believe it). It was a lot of fun while it lasted. It’s all dried up now, but I know a few of the old websites are still out there somewhere. I know of one old poster who reads this blog. I wonder if there are others. If you’re out there, say hello. I wonder if you’re like me, and still have an occasional amalgam idea pop into your head.

The Amalgam Comics “events” produced some great comics and some even greater ideas, and was a simple spot of fun in an ever more complicated industry. I’ll be forever grateful for them, as well, because of the ripple effect. Amalgam Comics created a spark that led me to be a writer, that let me meet some folks who helped me improve my craft, that catapulted me across the internet and now into this very column. It’s been a long, strange journey, and I’m eager to see where it goes next. Maybe one day, I’ll be some guy at the Big Two writing the next wave of Amalgam Comics. You never know.

What say you, readers? Who’s got some Amalgam books tucked away in their long boxes? You can admit it. Which ones were your favorites?

For more on Amalgam, check the Wiki or the Who’s Who, which are filled with information on every mash-up that appeared in comics form. And you know, there’s still the ghost of a fanfic board floating around. There may even be a piece or two from me on there, but I ain’t saying. Ha. If you’re brave enough to read some of that, well, good luck. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t. A lot like the comics themselves, actually!

18 Comments

Excellent column today, man. Brilliant choice, too. You covered most of my favourites, although I’d add the Magneto/Metal Men book to the list.

And I have to say- what with yesterday’s reason, and now this, it’s really nice to be back to reading about fun and positive reasons to LOVE comics, after all the negativity that crept into Ditko week.

(I know I’m a moany git with my complainy comments most of the time, so I thought I’d try and be nice for a change!)

Ian Astheimer

July 6, 2007 at 9:11 pm

it holds a special place in my heart.

Mine, too, man. Mine, too.

I know of one old poster who reads this blog.

That’d be me.

I wonder if you’re like me, and still have an occasional amalgam idea pop into your head.

To this day, I cannot read (about) a comic without trying to mix and match it with another. My mind won’t quit.

Superman melded with Captain America? *That* is at least seventeen different kinds of awesome, starting with the fact they kept the pirate boots and working around to Bucky Olsen there in the background.

Iron Lantern and Bruce Wayne: Agent of SHIELD also look legitimately great. And – for some reason – I love that ‘Dark Claw’ is drawn in the Batman: TAS house style.

Yeah…it’s nice to get back to the unabashed comic love.

Let’s see, I read Dr. Strangefate, X-Patrol, Speed Demon, and the JLX books. I eventually picked up Spider-Boy Team-Up for the Legion/Galactic Guardians amalgam.

If anyone’s interested, I have a Speed Demon Profile on Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning.

Assassins was a personal favorite. I really liked how they treated it like it was an ongoing book and just tossed you into the mix, and I found myself really wanting to read the issues of the fictional “Bullets and Bracelets” that led up to it!

But it was a really fun idea, and I’d actually really like to see a sequel.

I bought the whole series, as well as the little minis that followed. If I recall, the whole thing was tied to a ‘vote for who would win’, fight before hand. That is, Storm v. Wonder Woman. Hulk vs. Superman (Okay, that was an easy one.) Then the ‘worlds’ snapped and there was Amalgam. And it was cool. Very very cool.

In some cases, it showed that the characters weren’t that different. (Challengers of the Unknown and Fantastic Four, with their origins and such.) In others, it just made them niftier.

Unfortunately, it will probably never happen again. The two companies had a rare moment of synergy and communication that I think is long gone.

But darn it was cool.

…So, how about talking about DC’s Tangent line next? The first effort was rather cool.

Funny thing: Lobo the Duck is considered “outside continuity” to this entirely non-canon event! They mention some major Amalgam characters as being murdered – which upset fans – and LtD is investigating.
Strangefate is almost a proto-Onslaught; an amalgamation of Drs. Strange and Fate along with Prof. Xavier, he was the one character who remembered the Amalga-verse, and wanted to return there to reign supreme.

I’ve got all of Marvel/DC & the Accesses, and all but 4 of the related xovers. Almost all the Tangents too. (Which have become DC canon, having appeared in IC.)

I loved these when they came out especially the first Spider-Boy one. Really want to read again now. I’ll never find my copy though, it’s probably buried under a load of Clone Saga comics….

Man, this was such an awesome concept. Even the crappy issues were worth checking out. I’ve always wished DC & Marvel would revisit this universe. Maybe work out some kind of ongoing or quarterly series.

[blockquote]Man, this was such an awesome concept. Even the crappy issues were worth checking out. I’ve always wished DC & Marvel would revisit this universe. Maybe work out some kind of ongoing or quarterly series.[/blockquote]

that definitely won’t happen while Quesada is still around… apart from the fact that the DC brass hates him, he’s gone on record as really loathing Amalgam and hence, working vigorously to reignite the DC/Marvel enmity.

This is definitely a series that deserves a spot on this list, yeah. It’s always a treat to find Amalgam Comics in the fifty-cent bins where most all of my comic book shopping is done.

Looks like we all have our rose-colored glasses on. Because damn, were those some bad comics. I mean, yeah it was fun to see the concepts and combinations. I wouldn’t mind a whole jam book on that subject!

But the comics themselves were really poorly written, and didn’t really bother with stories or characterization, just relying on the novelty of seeing the Amalgamized versions.

They were fun, yes, but good? Not even close.

The Ultimates version of Bucky immediately came to mind when I saw Bucky Olsen there. Another little ripple perhaps?

I loved the idea, but the only issue that I ever enjoyed was the one that got reprinted in the Marvel vs DC tpb. I can’t remember which one it was, but I do remember that it was also the only decent part of the Marvel vs DC

One of the first comics that I remember reading that wasn’t one of Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog books was the Amaglam Spider-Boy book.

-M

Cool web page. Besides Dr. Strangefate and Access knowing the truth about what happened to the two universes, superman came the closet to entering the amalgam world. Too bad he died when he was a baby.

WOW i absolutely enjoyed your electifyingly informative and opinionated writeup. I am a writer and I’m 20. As a kid I started my first “book” lol. I later became fascinated with comics thanks to my eldest sister who had posters and statues, collector’s cards and figurines of Spawn, Batman, X-men, Spiderman, along with the classic read-a-long book and cassettes of the greatest like Superman, Supergirl, and Wonderwoman. I so let my imagination run wild with these characters and when I received my first real comicbook that actuallly belonged to ME from a sixflag theme park visit, It was a Batman Beyond issue, I got out my artist pad, notebook paper and utensils and began creating my own versions and continuations of him. I remember when my dad set a expertly detailed statue of the hulk in front of me and my sister and promised a cash prize to the one who could draw him. Basicly without telling telling every story, I am so excited and blessed to have read this great addition to my favorite things lists… perhaps i sound a little geeky, but i hope the ressurrect amazon or spiderboy or anything,…..right now that could be fantastic if done right. so wonderful piece you have here, i’ll be looking for you in the future however long until your next inspiration comes. Thanks for your fanatiscism and …aquahulk lol.
by the way, my comic was like….terry mcguiness (batman beyond) was involved in is sistuation that partly took place in big house with a creepily isolated location reminiscent of an old episode of batman the animated series where the escaped clayface was attempting to be reconstructed with the help of an enamored doctor. Anyways, B.Beyond is investigating this girl because she is the daughter of the late Poison Ivy and long story short the innocent daughter who happened to deep into the episode develope feelings fors
mcguiness is torn when her abilities along with a few bizzare disfuctions and the clues lead up to the mystery’s revelation that she in fact is the last sicko yet somewhat endearing clone creation from P.Ivy. Taken from Ivy’s own D.N.A. She battles with her inner conflicts of if she’s even human or if the part o,f her that is human is villaneous and destined for the same flowery fate. =) It seems that there’s a sort of catwoman/batman chemistry with these two towards the end, as she still refers to Poison Ivy as her mother despite the fact that…she has no parents. In the beginning she wanted to discover her real identity as she knew her mother’s past but was firm about her choice to not go that route but to use her love of nature and hidden gifts for good, but when she learns the truth she must choose redemption….or to go the path of her former self. Terry believes in her, Bruce is aware of the former Poison Ivy and her Delilah-like deception and is no fool. What will happen duh duh duuuuuuuuh. I don’t think I ever told neone that story,in fact i hid the artwork and script under my bed. Well If you’ve made it to the end of this, Be blessed and thankyou.
Godbless!

Hey I know this is a year old article but I saw it and I just wanted to say hi from another old Amalgam fanfic writer from back in the day. I used to frequent that forum you linked to as well as the other Amalgam forums, under this name, back in 1999 and 2000. Even though it was 8 years ago I still occasionally still think of ideas, haha.

I didn’t write much but I remember that I wrote a long story about a Batman/Iron Man amalgam called Iron Bat, where he meets Robin (I forgot who I combined Robin with) and tries to catch a Riddler/Carnage combination. Then I wrote a story about a Dr.Doom/Darkseid character.

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