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Comic Theme Time Month – Best Superhero Crossover

All December long, I will be doing daily installments of Comic Theme Time. Comic Theme Time is a twist on the idea of a “Top Five” list. Instead of me stating a topic and then listing my top five choices in that topic, I’m giving you the topic and letting you go wild with examples that you think fit the theme.

Today’s topic is “was the best company-wide superhero crossover?”

Some examples include…well…you know, there’s one every year!

What’s your pick?


Man, so much good and so much bad, usually in every crossover.

Of course Crisis and Secret Wars are really the ground zero for company crossovers, and both certainly did a lot right.

To me, the best company crossovers were the ones DC did in the 90s: The main crossover miniseries would come out weekly, it would stretch into every title for one issue, and the whole thing would be done in a single month. That was the best of all worlds, because you got the cross line continuity that unites a whole universe without turning every individual book into nothing more than a series of editorial mandates which shackle the writers into stories they don’t want to tell for months on end.

On that note, Zero Hour came out when I was first starting to seriously read more than just the Image founders and the x-titles, so I have fond memories of it despite it’s flaws, and the #0 issues of all the DC titles served as entry points for me with several of them, including Green Lantern, Flash, Starman, Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Spectre.

I also remember thinking Final Night and One Million were amazing at the time, though when I reread One Million last year, it didn’t hold up nearly as well.

As far as 80s stuff goes, I thought Invasion was a lot of fun. And for more recent stuff, as unpopular as it is with most commenters of this blog, I loved Identity Crisis. Back when Brian did the Top storylines poll, I wrote a long defense of it when it showed up.

As a side note, and correct me if I’m wrong, but was Civil War the first Marvel crossover that actually went through the entire line? Or did Secret Wars II hit every title? I know Secret Wars, Onslaught, and House of M really only went through the core titles, Infinity Gauntlet/Crusade/War didn’t hit the x-titles at all, and I don’t count things like Acts of Vengeance, Evolutionary War, or Atlantis Attacks because those were more of a theme than a real crossover (they had no central narrative, just all peripheral stories).

For DC: Final Crisis
For Marvel: Infinity Gauntlet

My favourite crossover was the one in which Thor battled the evil Darl Elf Malekith and Surtur in a massive storyline that ended up in most of North America being thrown into a new Ice Age. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and a number of other characters like Spider-Man and Daredevil (I think) were all thrown into the mix. I always preferred the crossovers BEFORE they became a “yearly stunt” and were just a natural consequence of all these characters living in New York.

John Byrne also did a number of Fantastic Four issues in which he often had Spider-Man, The Avengers, and others show up out of the blue. My favourite issues were the ones in which the team fought the Gladiator (a Superman pastiche) and ended up including Captain America, Spider-Man, and the X-Men (although there was a twist to their appearance). Sometimes, as in the Annhilus storyline where he took over the Baxter Building we’d get the story from another team’s POV from their own comic book.

Marvel in the eighties rocked when it came to these natural crosover scenarios.

As for DC, well the most memorable crossovers for me was the “Legends” one that rebooted the universe after Crisis (I only read Crisis afterwards) and Cosmic Odyssey by Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola.

The Ultimate Galactus Trilogy. It didn’t interrupt any of the Ultimate titles, but it offered some interesting background on the reinvented characters, and gave Ellis a chance to do some really awesome sequences with very unique reinterpretations of the cosmic Marvel concepts.

Armageddon 2001 was probably my favorite. The botched ending was a travesty and the main series was only so-so, but I thought most of the tie-ins were fun. They even came up with a good way to use the tie-in hook on the multiple bat/super books.

Third Man is right–there’s so much good, and yet so much bad. And let’s be honest–this is going to end up being a Marvel vs. DC poll, as I’m not sure any other company has successfully carried out a crossover of DC or Marvel’s caliber. (I really liked the “Vector” story that ran through Dark Horse’s Star Wars line in 2008, but this is a Marvel poll, so….)

From Wikipedia, here’s Marve’s list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_history_of_Marvel_comics_crossover_events

And here’s DC’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_history_of_DC_Comics_crossover_events

From Marvel, I’m going to have to go with Age of Apocalypse, just for the sheer fun factor involved at the time. Alternate universe, had an ongoing “Where’s Waldo” element to it (what happened to my favorite character in this universe), every chapter was relevant, and it had a nice closure by the end.

From DC, I’m torn between DC One Million and Blackest Night. DC1M, because it was Grant Morrison at his apex telling probably the most grandiose JLA story imaginable–and again, it closed nicely at the end. There’s been some cute revisits to elements of DC1M, but nobody’s tried to drag the story out past its closure. Blackest Night, because I like zombies, and because it had so many elements that I just found fun, darn it (zombie Batman; the deputy lanterns; the “resurrected” cancelled titles).

I have fond memories of Acts of Vengeance, but for Marvel I have to vote Secret Wars.

For DC … this won’t be a popular choice but I liked Blackest Night a lot. It had a lot of interesting ideas, especially bringing back cancelled titles for one more issue and giving Lex Luthor and the Scarecrow power rings. I also liked 52, but I don’t really consider it a crossover, and I can’t fault anyone who votes for Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Bloodlines isn’t going to win many other votes but I enjoyed all the annuals and appreciated how few additional books it made me buy,

DC1M. Great storytelling.

Civil War. Waaaaay too many tie ins but the main series was solid and a little surprising.

One of my favorites was “Inferno”, which logically just involved the titles for characters that lived in New York City (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Avengers, etc..) and the X-books. “Infinity Gauntlet” is up there too, just for the sheer scale of it. I honestly haven’t enjoyed a single one of Marvel’s crossovers since the new iterations began with “Disassembled” and “House of M”.

As for DC, it’s “Final Crisis” all the way, baby!

I vote for Acts of Veangeance only because Peter Parker punched a flying shark. Wake me up when you see something that awesome in Avengers vs. X-Men.

Sorry, I meant Inferno not Acts of Veangence. Peter punched the shark in Inferno.

I’ve only really read the DC ones, but I still stand by the original Crisis on Infinite Earths for shear impact across the entire line – not so much all the changes that happened afterwords, but just the feeling in the book that this stuff that’s going one is really serious, and really matters.

My other favorite was DC One Million – the grand scope of the story was amazing.

Blackest Night started out strong, although a bit more gruesome than I like, but fell to pieces in the second half, with what seemed like a bunch of random points (eg the Deputies) that really didn’t amount to much. And I enjoyed Legends and Invasion. I found Final Crisis intriguing but a bit impenetrable, and thought Infinite Crisis was agonizing.

Do cross-company crossovers count? Because if so, JLA vs Avengers was the best from either company, ever.

From DC: Crisis on Infinite Earths.

From Marvel: Infinity Gauntlet.

I’ve got to go with Age of Apocalypse and Civil War. Both really captured my imagination and were executed really well. And both interested my non-comic fan friends, which has to count for something.

for DC Final Crisis even though it didn’t really cross over into much and the tie ins were mostly anything but, it still had a bursting at the seams feel and anything can happen vibe that I associate with line wide crossovers and actually delivered with a story that sums up why I like comics and the DCU in particular.

For Marvel: Infinity Gauntlet still brings the larger than life feel, lots of gods and beings mightier than gods laid low and all popular marvel characters making a good showing, but what I liked about this is for all its epic bombast it was about subverting and questioning superheroic tropes: fighting is largely pointless, anything of consequence is done by Starlin characters and even they mostly screw up. Ultimately power is elusive and pointless to chase and the main villain receives no narrative comeuppance. It was great.

DC One Million without a doubt. It really shows the potential of Grant Morrison to tell great superhero action while also examines some of his recurring themes (superheroes as sigils and whatnot), it has an immense scope, unlike most crossovers some of the tie-ins are great stories in their own right and it only lasted one month. Also, Solaris is one of my favorite characters.

Eff your nostalgia, Marvel’s Civil War was the pinnacle of crossovers.

Does Amalgam count? A literal “crossover”, eh? Good stuff there.

Let’s see…I like Zero Hour from DC, some of the Armageddon 2001 stuff. I dunno what others, though. Although I am liking that there’s plenty of love for Final Crisis.

Marvel…hm. hm…Secret Wars was decent when I read it, I suppose. Otherwise….

Other than Marvel and DC, there really aren’t any other company wide superhero crossovers. Worth mentioning, that is. Altered Image was…ok. I haven’t read Shattered Image but have heard it’s…not ok.

Everyone has got some interesting suggestions.

Bloodlines?!? … haha… but there WAS actually some good annuals in the bunch. And Moench had Ballistic show up during his Batman run a few times which I enjoyed.

DC One Million was really good, including some of the tie in series issues.

Best thing about Final Night (that I can remember) was Immonen…. would LOVE to see him drawing Superman again!!

And yeah, I really enjoyed Blackest Night ( Zombies, Mera, Lex, Firestorm and amazing artist Reis) – but then, because it was pretty recent – its front and centre in my mind.

Really enjoyed AOA form Marvel – but because their expensive now, I haven’t really picked up anything from the last few years. Then again, the reviews of some of them haven’t been that great….

JLA/Avengers was great. I have to agree with moon- Infinity Gauntlet was fun to read, but really most of the superheroes didn’t do anything. You could have stuck anybody in there, all they did was react and provide background to the stuff the Starlin characters did.

So I won’t vote for that. I think I’ll go with Acts of Vengeance just because it was the first one I ever read. Also I loved how they sort of stuck Magneto and the Red Skull in the same group of evil villains and nobody really noticed how weird that was (well, I didn’t) until Mark Gruenwald addressed it in Captain America.

Actually, add that to the Fantastic Four beating up about 70 D-List bad guys mostly off screen and Spider-Man getting cosmic powers, I think it was probably great because of how the individual writers really went their own ways with it.

Batman in Wonder Woman Costume. That would be interesting

For Marvel, I have to go with Age of Apocalypse. It’s not only the greatest X-Men cross-over of all time, but one of the best period. I personally think the X-Men have a great pedigree of cross-overs, and I get much more excited theirs than Marvel’s huge inter-company ones. I still say the problem with Onslaught was making it a company-wide event, nobody wanted to see the other Marvel characters brought into an exciting X-men cross-over except non-xmen Marvel fans who’d been missing out on all the fun that x-overs can be. From Mutant Massacre all the way up to AoA, the X-Men had consistently good good x-overs every year, but AoA remains the best.

For DC, I have to say Crisis on Infinite Earths. You can’t beat George Perez drawing DC’s A-through-Z list, and it had many a memorable moment thanks to Wolfman’s scripting. From first seeing heroes and villains from across the multi-verse and time in the same room, to the Monitor’s death, then Supergirl and barry Allen, to the largest team-up of super-villains in DC history in crime wave spanning multiple Earths, to the Spectre’s showdown with the Anti-Monitor, and finally Superman-2 out badass-ing anyone in the history of showdowns – it was an awesome tale.

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