Six Decent Reasons Why 'Marvel Versus DC' Doesn't Entirely Suck
The 90's were hard times for comics. I could spout off an abundance of cliches regarding Rob "Pouches" Liefeld and the general bombast of the industry at the time, but that would be cheap.
All I really have to say is: Superman had a mullet. Anything else one can say about the dark blot of comic book history between 1986 and 1998 becomes redundant in light of this.
The Marvel Versus DC paperback is a prime case in point of why the 1990's were rough. Within these pages, the DC universe and the Marvel universe are embodied by two immense titans who aim their 'champions' at one another... to duke it out for apparently no reason, on the premise that the losing universe must cease to exist. At some point after reaching a tie, they fuse into one being and the Amalgam Comics universe suffers through its agonizing and mercifully short life before Access, a character you've never heard of, splits them into autonomous universes once again. I'm not kidding. It's that silly.
Like I said, Marvel Versus DC exemplifies the 90's. It has the loud, shimmeringly photogenic and yet enormously plasticky artwork of Claudio Castellini, bowlcut Hulk, Superboy in Lennon shades and a biker jacket, unrealistically-shaped women, Supermullet, cheap dialogue, Deodato-esque “Stripper Thor,” and a few significant appearances of Jubilee, the worst character ever.
But let's look closer and make sure we retain the baby while disposing of the bathwater. I'm here to make six solid arguments that suggest perhaps this is not the steaming pile it may initially appear.
1) THIS. PAGE.
Yes, Thing and Martian Manhunter. Yes, Human Torch and Firestorm. Also Hawkman, Archangel, Starman, Dr. Strange, She-Hulk and Supergirl. IT'S MY DREAMS, COME TO LIFE ON THE PAPER. AUFHAEBVSNUVN.
2) Aquaman is a badass long before Geoff Johns. One of the most memorable scenes of Aquaman is his clash with Namor—during which he proceeds to make an absolute fool of Marvel's Atlantean prince before pulverizing him with—and I'm not joking at all—a whale dropped on his head.
3) Thunder Woman: Wonder Woman lifts the hammer of Thor. I don't care who you are or who you think you are; if you're a fan of both DC and Marvel and have not imagined this happening, now you will for the rest of your life.
4) Doctor Strangefate #1. This unprecedented piece of awesomeness combines Dr. Fate and Dr. Strange in one magnificent cluster of eldritch helmeted sorcery. With surprisingly decent art and a tone befitting the best type of supernatural-style adventure comic, this single issue included in the paperback was another wad of sweet, fan-servicey deliciousness with a bit of a twist at the end. (It's totally inconsequential, but I'll admit I'm a sucker for surprises.
5) Amalgam Comics fanboysplosion—when the universes merge, the heroes merge too. Batman and Wolverine become a fused entity known as Dark Claw. This is too good to exist. And the cobbled-together villain, half-Sabertooth and half-Joker, is called Hyena: which you have to admit is hilariously clever despite the worst visual design ever.
6) It's FUN, dammit. This is one of four books that got me into comics as a skinny bespectacled kid. That's something. I needed that something. I was painfully incompatible with other kids my age and comics left me feeling like I owned a piece of this world—a piece I'd someday protect, when I discovered my alien heritage or got bitten by a radioactive wombat. That never happened, off course, but I did grow up being inspired by my heroes to be the best I could be. Discouraging as life is, I'm proud of myself so far.
You remember the gateways that lead to the discovery of your passions. You remember your first comic, as awkward and regrettable as it may have been, and look back with fondness and nostalgia. And, if for no other reason than to be that bony four-eyed library waif again, Marvel Versus DC is worth a re-read.
...well. Also there's Dark Claw.