The rivalry between Marvel Comics and DC Comics goes back decades before I was born. But during my teen years, the two publishers actually got along and produced several crossovers like: Marvel vs. DC, All Access, and Amalgam Comics.
The two companies also published a slew of one shots during this time, uniting some of their biggest characters. I remember buying the Batman/Daredevil, Darkeseid vs. Galactus, and Green Lantern/ Silver Surfer books at New England comics.
My favorite of these one shot crossovers however, was 1996’s Batman/Captain America written and drawn by John Byrne.
I know it’s crazy for me to say a Byrne book is one of my favorite anything. But please keep in mind that in the mid 1990’s, John Byrne was still THE John Byrne. And as far as I’m concerned, the Batman/Captain America book is the last great comic he worked on.
One of the things that I enjoy about Batman/Captain America, is the World War II setting. This gives the book the feel of one of those old movie serials from the era. John Byrne delivers in the art department from page one with a car chase through the streets of Gotham City, as the Batmobile chases the Joker-mobile.
Everything from the costumes, the cars, even the buildings fit the early 40’s setting. Kudos to Byrne for putting so much work into the details.
While Batman continues to search for the Joker, Captain America’s mission takes him back to the States. As Cap and Bucky prepare to land in Gotham City, they see that a flight from Gotham carrying a VIP has been hijacked. Acting quickly, Captain America leaps out of his plane, but not before telling Bucky that if he misses the landing, then it will be up to Bucky to try the same feat. Cap’s jump is unsuccessful, leaving him hanging by a thread hundreds of feet above Gotham. As the end looks near for Captain America, Batman appears!
I may have been 17-ish when I read Batman/Captain America, but I squealed like a five-year old when I saw Cap and Bats working together to save the airship and slap down the thugs onboard. Not only do they save the day, but the do so while smiling! I couldn’t ask for anything more.
At this point in the story, Captain America and Batman don’t know each other’s secret identities. But this changes when Private Steve Rogers is assigned to civilian duty as bodyguard for the man helping to bankroll the secret Gotham Project… millionaire Bruce Wayne!
This sequence is a riot, and another reason why I love this comic book. In just a couple of pages, we get to see the two iconic characters in their “normal” lives. Bruce womanizing, playing tennis, and taking a girl on a shopping spree. Then, Steve Rogers putting all his skills to good use when he begins suspecting Bruce is hiding something. And finally, the moment the two men realize they are Batman and Captain America.
From this moment on, Captain America and Bucky are welcomed into Batman’s world, and they are treated as equal. Now friends, this frees up Batman to investigate the leads about The Joker, with help from Bucky. All the while, Robin answers the Bat-signal with some assistance from Captain America. And what is there to say about John Byrne’s version of the Batcave? It’s a fanboy’s dream come true.
And oh yeah, in this comic we learn the Joker may be a homicidal maniac, but he’s an American homicidal maniac dammit!
Finally, we cut to a scene 20 years later, as a Bat-Submarine travels through the icy waters of the North Atlantic, and discovers a strange form trapped within an iceberg…
Batman/Captain America is as good now as it was in 1996. This is one of my favorite inter-company crossovers for several reasons, but the main reason is simple: Batman/Captain America is just plain fun! If you can track down a copy, I highly recommend reading John Byrne’s Batman/Captain America.