DC Comics and Marvel Comics have always been publishing rivals. However, once upon a time, the two companies would join forces to produce crossover event comics, stories that superhero fans went wild over. The crossover comics sold like hotcakes. This began in the ’70s, only ending in the mid-2000s. With separate mega corporations now owning each comic book company, the chances we’ll ever get events like these again are slim. In fact, these comics are all out of print, and unlikely to ever get reissued. But if you can track these down online, or at your local comic shop back issue bins, we think these are the greatest DC and Marvel Comics crossovers.
10. Darkseid vs. Galactus: The Hunger (1995)
by John Byrne
This is one of the more off-the-wall Marvel/DC crossovers of the ‘90s, written and illustrated by John Byrne at the height of his popularity. It takes place in a universe where both the Marvel and DC characters co-exist, and always have. (In fact, most of these crossovers retain that conceit). In Byrne’s one-shot tale, two of Jack Kirby’s most powerful alien villains meet at last. Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds comes to Darkseid’s home planet of Apokolips to consume it for energy. Darkseid throws everything a literal God of Evil can throw at a galactic force of nature, including armies of Parademons. The Silver Surfer gets caught in the melee. We won’t spoil the twist ending here, but it’s a fun one. Of all the DC and Marvel Comics crossovers, this one counts as perhaps the most Biblical in its proportions.
9. Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk
by Len Wein, José Luis García-López, and Dick Giordano
There should be no question; the Hulk could trample Batman in a cold minute. So this seems like a very odd premise for a crossover. In 1981 though, Batman was still a superstar thanks to endless reruns of Batman ’66. The Hulk was a household name thanks to his TV series. So, kids wanted to see them interact. Somehow, writer Len Wein and DC style guide artist José Luis García-López made this crossover comic work. Hey, if Batman can use his genius to beat Superman, why not Hulk? The story finds Bruce Banner working in the science division of Wayne Enterprises, hoping to find a cure for his condition. Although the two team up against the Joker, the truly wild thing here is that the main villain is the cosmic entity the Shaper of Worlds, an obscure Marvel baddie. Track this one down for the stellar art and wacky premise alone.
8. Superman/Fantastic Four: The Infinite Destruction (1999)
by Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert
This was the first-ever crossover of DC’s first superhero and Marvel’s “First Family.” It was printed in an oversized Treasury Edition one-shot, in the style of the first crossover editions. While it should probably be better than it was, it has interesting things that make it worth reading. Revealing that Galactus destroyed Krypton is a cool twist to the Superman mythology ,as is Galactus trying to make Kal-El his new herald. And since the evil Cyborg Superman was originally a character from DC’s own twisted version of the Fantastic Four, it’s cool to see him included. Some of the interactions between the FF and the Man of Steel are truly enjoyable too. However, the oversized format actually hurts the art by Dan Jurgens and Art Thibert. The Dan Jurgens/Alex Ross painted cover is killer though.
7. Daredevil/Batman: An Eye for an Eye (1997)
By D.G. Chichester and Scott McDaniel
As much as Batman and Spider-Man were no-brainers for a team-up, so too were urban vigilantes Batman and Daredevil. It finally happened in 1997’s Daredevil/Batman: An Eye for an Eye. While enjoyable, this story could be better, despite some pretty good art from Nightwing artist Scott McDaniel. Two-Face and Mr. Hyde team up in this story, becoming the primary villains. One of the more enjoyable reinventions in this one has former lawyer Harvey Dent/Two Face having a history with attorney Matt Murdock, which leads to some juicy character moments. The best part of this one-shot is how much the (very similar) Dark Knight and the Man Without Fear do not get along. The initial “fight before we team up” makes this one worth a read.
6. Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds (1995)
by J.M. DeMatteis and Mark Bagley
Batman and Spider-Man were the biggest heroes of their respective companies in the mid ’90s, dominating comic sales (and Fox Kids’ cartoons). For all their differences, both heroes were born of tragedy, and have the two best rogues galleries in comics. Fans wanted a meetup for decades. It finally happened in 1995 in Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds. Written by longtime Amazing Spider-Man scribe J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Spidey artist Mark Bagley, it pits the two heroes against a union of villains Joker and Carnage. Both are deranged serial killers locked away in creepy asylums, so the two merging makes sense. As it turns out, Joker enjoys the theater of murder more than Carnage does, who just wants to kill for killing’s sake. Not that Bats and Spidey got along any better. This one’s a true time capsule of where Batman and Spider-Man were as characters in the ’90s.
5. Superman and Spider-Man (1981)
By Jim Shooter, Marv Wolfman, and John Buscema
Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man was the first DC and Marvel Comics crossover in 1976, making comic book history. But it was their second meeting that was really the most fun. In the 1981 sequel, Superman and Spider-Man, written by Marvel EIC Jim Shooter and Marv Wolfman, and illustrated by Marvel legend John Buscema, Superman and Spidey join forces to stop Doctor Doom. Not traditionally a Spidey villain, the Latverian monarch was a big enough threat to unite Clark and Peter. What makes this one better than the original is that we get our first-ever Hulk vs. Superman fight in it, and Spider-Man takes on Wonder Woman too. All four characters were media superstars in 1981, with TV shows and movies in the zeitgeist. For the readership of the time, this was the ultimate comic book. Yes, it’s dated in many ways, as it’s 40 years old. But we still love it.
4. The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman (1999)
by Roger Stern and Steve Rude
It’s probably the oldest superhero nerd debate of all time. Who is stronger, Superman or the Hulk? Well, despite brief fights in other crossovers, their real smackdown took place in The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman one-shot, published in 1999. What elevates this one over the other Man of Steel vs. Jade Giant fights is that it actually has a strong story and superlative art, and isn’t treated as just one long battle, like Superman vs. Doomsday. Written by comics legend Roger Stern and illustrated by Steve Rude, the story takes place in an alternate 1960s Silver Age, with both Clark Kent and Bruce Banner reflecting their depictions during that time. Rude’s art also has a very retro flair which fits right in with this interpretation. So who won? We won’t ruin the outcome in case you read it. But this brawl is a doozy.
3. DC Versus Marvel/Marvel Versus DC (1996)
by Peter David, Ron Marz, Dan Jurgens, and Claudio Castellini
This crossover event was born purely out of necessity. In 1994, the speculator boom of the early ’90s led to a massive crash in the comics industry. Desperate for a big hit, Marvel and DC teamed up to bring fans the knockdown brawl they’d been waiting decades for. This four-issue series was written by Peter David and Ron Marz, and illustrated by artists Dan Jurgens and Claudio Castellini. The two publishers would alternate issues, so when DC Comics published an issue, their brand name came first. When Marvel Comics did, the title changed to Marvel Versus DC. It’s hard to call this series “good” in any traditional sense, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and will bring out the inner child of anyone reading it.
The story of DC Versus Marvel is a pretty basic one, highly reminiscent of Marvel’s Secret Wars. It has two godlike beings, one from each reality, using the heroes of each universe to fight it out, determining which universe is stronger. Super basic plot or not, it delivered what every DC and Marvel fan wanted—to see these superhero icons duke it out. Comic book fans actually got to vote as to who would win each fight, leading to the story becoming more of a popularity contest than a real match between characters. (Sorry, Wolverine would NOT beat Lobo.) Having said that, this series led to the brief Amalgam Universe, where DC and Marvel fused together. That was even more wildly silly fun. For all of its faults, it’s hard not to remember this one fondly.
2. JLA/Avengers (2003 – 2004)
by Kurt Busiek and George Pérez
In many ways, JLA/Avengers is the ultimate DC and Marvel crossover, over 20 years in the making. A version of this crossover event was nearly completed by artist George Pérez in 1983, before Marvel’s EIC Jim Shooter killed the project. Pérez gave up hope that he’d never get the chance to bring the greatest heroes of two Earths together in one epic story. He finally got to illustrate this magnum opus crossover event in 2003/2004. Unlike previous DC and Marvel crossovers, this comic absolutely hinged on the fact that the Marvel and DC Universes were separate and that their colliding together was the entire plot. This series emphasized the DC and Marvel universes were inherently different, almost destined to conflict.
Kurt Busiek, famous for writing Avengers and Superman, understood that the actual plot of a series like this was secondary. It was all about the small moments between iconic characters. What makes this book great is Black Canary dating Hawkeye instead of Green Arrow, or Wonder Man and Wonder Woman arm wrestling in a panel. And, of course, seeing every character ever to call themselves an Avenger or Justice Leaguer appearing on the page together was nerd nirvana. The four-issue mini-series is always an engaging fan service of a read, and a joy to look at in every issue. Sadly, it was the final DC and Marvel crossover. But man, what a way to go out. It’s truly criminal that this seminal comic is not perpetually kept in print. It should be, just to honor the late, great George Pérez.
1. The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans (1982)
by Chris Claremont, Walter Simonson, and Terry Austin
What could possibly be better than the Justice League meeting the Avengers? How about DC and Marvel’s two biggest-selling teams of the ‘80s, the X-Men and the Teen Titans, joining forces? In 1982, both comics ruled the sales charts, and were at their peak creatively. So teaming them up for the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans one shot was a true event. X-Men writer Chris Claremont wrote this special edition issue, illustrated beautifully by Thor artist Walter Simonson. The story is truly an epic one, featuring DC’s Darkseid resurrecting Marvel’s Dark Phoenix to use as a way of conquering all known reality.
Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans was written a mere two years after The Dark Phoenix Saga, when the death of Jean Grey was a fresh wound for the X-Men. Even out of continuity, this was a devastating moment for the mutant heroes. This special issue had Claremont writing at the peak of his abilities, foreshadowing many things that would occur in the regular Marvel continuity, such as Jean’s return. On the DC front, this story also predicted Darkseid becoming the DC Universe’s biggest bad, and Beast Boy developing a crush on Kitty Pryde foreshadowed his crush on the Titans’ own “evil Kitty,” Terra. Because of its high emotional stakes, incredible art, and iconic moments, Uncanny X-Men/New Teen Titans takes our top spot.
Hopefully, one day both DC and Marvel Comics find a way to reprint these issues. Perhaps the companies could collect them in an omnibus, with all proceeds going to charity? These are seminal comics, which don’t deserve to be deleted from history.