What do you get if you cross Marvel’s What If? and DC’s Elseworlds?
You get Amalgam Comics.
It’s probably fair to say that even the most casual fan of comic characters has heard of crossover events before.
This is because even the most casual fan of comic characters has probably seen most of the movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Nick Fury appears in many of the movies, as does Iron Man. Even the previously-obscure Captain Marvel shows up in Avengers: Endgame.
But that’s just a Marvel crossover – what about a crossover between Marvel and DC?
Well, that’s happened before. Here’s a Fun Fact: The very first thing DC and Marvel worked on together was – believe it or not – for a comic adaption of the Wizard of Oz!
However, the very first crossover of DC and Marvel characters was in Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man, which was published in 1976.
The next crossover would come less than a decade later, in 1981: Batman vs The Incredible Hulk.
It seems strange to think of such a thing happening now.
DC and Marvel have always had a friendly rivalry but the success of the MCU has made Marvel more popular than ever.
Superman might be the most recognizable superhero of all time but the recent DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films haven’t even been in the same league (get it?) as the MCU films.
Imagine a crossover between the MCU and the DCEU. The Tom Holland Spiderman probably wouldn’t last more than nine seconds against the Henry Cavill Superman, so retelling Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man wouldn’t really work.
But do you know what would be even more interesting than a DC/Marvel film crossover?
Of course you do, because you’ve read the title to this article!
A prelude to Amalgam Comics: DC vs Marvel
In the ‘90s (also known as ‘where a lot of the really good music comes from’), DC and Marvel did a HUGE intercompany crossover event which was aptly named ‘DC vs Marvel’.
The basic gist of the story is that there are two cosmic entities known as ‘The Brothers’. One of them represents the DC universe, and the other one – wait for this you, won’t see it coming – represents the Marvel Universe.
They’d both been dormant for a very long time, so long that multiple galactic civilizations had come and gone. They both awaken at roughly the same time and begin to notice each other.
You might be asking: If they’re brothers then why didn’t they know about each other?
It’s an excellent question, and the answer is: It’s unclear.
Perhaps there also existed ‘The Mother’ and ‘The Father’, who had ‘The Divorce’ around the same time ‘The Brothers’ were born and so ‘The Brothers’ were split up at birth.
The thing with brothers – and if you have one (or more) then you’ll probably know this from experience – is that they’re often quite annoying. So the moment ‘The Brothers‘ noticed each other, they began to annoy each other.
This resulted in DC and Marvel characters clashing, and the outcome of the matches was decided by votes from the readers.
This was quite risky because the previous time something was left up to the readers, a Robin ‘died‘.
Unsurprisingly, neither universe wanted to give in.
This would eventually result in both DC and Marvel getting completely destroyed and neither company ever made comics again except for the part where everything in this entire sentence was a lie.
To cut a long story very short: To stop both universes from being destroyed, they were merged into one.
Which finally brings us to The Amalgam universe, a joint DC/Marvel venture.
Amalgam Comics Characters
See if you can guess which DC/Marvel characters Amalgam used to create Dark Claw:
Obviously, that’s Batman and Wolverine.
Logan fills the title slot, and his sidekick is ‘Sparrow’ – a mashup of Robin and Jubilee (who was Wolverine’s part-time sidekick at the time).
The villain of the issue is Hyena: A mashup of Sabretooth and Joker.
But if Logan is
Batman Dark Claw, then what’s Bruce Wayne up to?
He’s working for Nick Fury.
Yes, that’s right – Nick Fury survived the Amalgamation and is still just Nick Fury, head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Speaking of the word ‘shield’…
Superman and Captain America combine to make Super Soldier, a name which is clearly a reference to the Super Soldier serum which gave Captain America his superhuman attributes.
Continuing on, see if you can guess who Wonder Woman was merged with. Here’s a clue: The X-Men were pretty popular at the time.
But you’ve already noticed the picture below, haven’t you?
And there are many, many other Amalgam characters: Iron Lantern (Iron Man and Green Lantern), Speed Demon (The Flash and Ghost Rider), Spider-Boy (Spider-Man and Superboy) to name a few.
There are also Amalgamated groups: The JLX (Justice League and the X-Men), Challengers of the Fantastic (Challengers of the Unknown and the Fantastic Four), X-Patrol (X-Men and Doom Patrol) and so on.
If you haven’t heard of the Challengers of the Unknown or Doom Patrol, they were basically the prototypes for their Marvel counterparts. Doom Patrol even has a guy in a wheelchair who’s the team leader!
This shows us why Amalgam was such a great idea: It was a great way to learn about comic history and a fun way to celebrate the contemporary comics too.
Amalgam Comics: Too Short A Season?
How does it all end, you might ask?
Eventually, the two Brothers realize that their behavior is destructive and they stop fighting, and everything goes back to normal.
The Amalgam universe only lasted a month (specifically April 1996), but the comics were written as though they’d been around for years. The letter pages were full of questions about past issues that didn’t exist, and the comics themselves even played into it by referencing events that had never (technically) happened.
DC and Marvel revisited the Amalgam universe nearly a year later (July 1997) but – sadly – that’s where it stops.
Imagine an Amalgam series of movies!
Wouldn’t it be great to see Ben Affleck or Hugh Jackman as The Dark Claw? Imagine seeing Henry Cavill or Chris Evans as Super-Soldier! Perhaps even Gal Gadot or Halle Berry as Amazon. Okay, that last one’s possibly a bit problematic but you see our point, we’re sure.
And with the wonders of modern CGI we could literally have an actor who doesn’t actually exist, an actor made up of the faces of Henry Cavill and Chris Evans to ‘play’ Super-Soldier.
Although, if removing a mere mustache can cost millions of dollars, then maybe we’re not ready to go full CGI when it comes to actors.
In the meantime, maybe we should just (re)read the Amalgam comics and imagine the movies they’d inspire.
Unless, of course, DC and Marvel could do an animated version?
I don’t know about you, but I’d pay good money to see that!