Amid the sea of the comic book Bad Girls, gimmick covers, and the market implosion on the 1990s, once the nice thing was that the people at Marvel and DC got along. With goodwill between companies, in late 1995 the two publishers launched the one comic book crossover all comic fans had always dreamt about: DC versus Marvel. Or Marvel versus DC, depending on which company was publishing that particular issue
DC Versus Marvel/Marvel Versus DC #1
Writer: Ron Marz (with thanks to Peter David)
Pencillers: Dan Jurgens & Claudio Castellini
Inkers: Josef Rubinstein & Paul Neary
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editors: Chris Duffy & Joe Andreani
Editors: Mike Carlin & Mark Gruenwald
On Sale Date: December 12, 1995
Cover Price: $3.95
Published by: DC Comics
The series opens with Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) swinging around Manhattan when he is suddenly interrupted by his Spider-sense, which draws his attention to a strange glowing box in an alley below. As the web-slinger approaches, the box erupts in a blaze of light, causing Spidey to vanish. When the hero wakes up, he finds himself in Gotham City, and standing over him is none other than the Joker!
Meanwhile, in Westchester County, Gambit, Storm, and Wolverine are in the middle of a battle with the unstoppable Juggernaut. Just as Juggy is about to pound on Wolvie’s face, he blinks out of reality, reappearing outside the Daily Planet Building in Metropolis. As he tries to figure out what the heck is going on, Juggernaut gets the traditional super-villain Metropolis welcome: a punch in the face by Superman.
Back where we started in Manhattan, that refrigerator box that sent Bent Reilly to Gotham starts emitting beams of light. The homeless man guarding it tries to hold it back, but it’s to no avail. We then get single-page scenes to introduce the rest of the key characters. First, we see Captain America who is fighting someone from Hydra, until he too vanishes. Next in Gateway City Wonder Woman saves some people from a bridge and she too vanishes.
At the same time back at Marvel land, the Hulk smashes some trees to make firewood for him and Betty. She doesn’t find the smashing bit funny, as she prefers the Professor Hulk persona. But before either can say anything else, the Hulk vanishes. We then jump to Hawaii where Superboy is getting to know a pair of lovely ladies. The fun ends when Superboy’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Tana Moon catches him in the act. But before she lets him have it, Superboy also vanishes.
Somewhere in space, Lobo is in the middle of a brawl with some thugs just before he vanishes. Back at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, the X-Men try to figure out what happened to the Juggernaut. As Professor X searches for answers, a glowing light surrounds Wolverine, Gambit, and Storm… and they vanish just like Juggernaut did earlier. But all these characters are not alone, as dozens of DC and Marvel heroes and villains are overtaken by the light.
I can’t explain the level of excitement I had when DC versus Marvel came out. The day the first issue came out was the same day I took the drivers test for my license. Since I passed the test, the first place I drove to was New England Comic in Quincy Ma. Guess I wasn’t alone in the excitement department, because there was a line waiting for the store to open that day. As soon as the doors opened I ran to the new release rack to make sure I got a copy.
Once I read the issue however, the results were mixed. I’m a Ron Marz fan, but the story here felt rushed. It was like they were trying to cram a 64-page story into a 32-page book. That ended up with almost zero character development or answers as to what force is bringing the heroes and villains to these worlds. Some scenes demanded more time, but in most cases only got a few panels of action.
At the time it was easy to say this was only the first issue, but the entire mini-series was the same way. Everything happened so fast that we didn’t get a chance to enjoy every moment, I’ll give you an example: In what is arguably the best scene in DC versus Marvel #1, Batman is in the Batcave where Bullseye suddenly materialized and took Robin hostage. Batman hurls a Batarang at Bullseye, who catches it and sends it and throws it back, but by then Batman has leaped into action and takes Bullseye out.
Just before he passes out, Bullseye mumbles “You’re even faster than Daredevil.” But when the dust settles, Robin begins to glow and vanishes, reappearing at the Massachusetts Institute that Generation X calls home. Good stuff, right? Too bad we joined the action mid-scene and what we do get to see only lasts a few panels. Even today I feel like we got robbed of what could have been an epic showdown between Batman and Bullseye.
The art in the issue also looked rushed. It doesn’t help that artists Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini have very different styles. Jurgens is more traditional, but his art in DC versus Marvel #1 is not up to par with any of his previous work. Castellini was extreme 90’s at its best and worst, with characters looking like possessed versions of themselves. And don’t get me started on what he did to Wolverine’s hair!
When DC versus Marvel was announced, they said the fans would vote on who the winners would be. Right there I thought it’s gonna be Marvel in a landslide. But that didn’t diminish my excitement for the mini-series. If I recall correctly, there were even rumors that depending on the voting, Marvel and DC might trade a character for a year or so. The thought of Thor joining Wonder Woman on adventures or Catwoman battling it out with the Black Cat was too good to pass up.
The character switch never happened, but we did get the Amalgam comics line, some of which were quite good. Still, I think DC versus Marvel could have been better. If I’d had a say I would have made the even a year-long saga. The main book lasts 12 issues, but all the monthly books tie-in, that way we could have seen Spider-Man adjusting to working at the Daily Planet, Robin as leader of Generation x, Lobo and Wolverine in a team-up book, Captain America teaming up with Justice Society and so much more.
An event of that size may have helped the comics industry during a time it nearly went out of business. But I guess the quick buck was the easier way to go for Dc and Marvel. With all that said, would I recommend checking out DC versus Marvel? Well, yeah. Even though it’s not the best crossover the two companies ever published, it was still fun seeing some of this character interact with one another. And the way things are between DC and Marvel today, we’ll probably never see this again.