This week on The Wednesday Club, hosts Amy Dallen, Taliesin Jaffe, and Matt Key were joined by Damion Poitier to talk about the big events and crossovers that shake up the universes of your favorite comic books. They also shared some of the landmark events that left a lasting impression–good and bad.
Crossovers, team-ups, and events are similar in concept, but aren’t quite the same thing, explained the hosts.
Team-ups usually star two heroes together in the pages of one character’s book and are common, and can also occur within a crossover or event.
“A crossover is when you have one sort of meta-narrative or bigger story told across several different comic book issues,” said Matt. “If you have to buy more than one title to finish the story, [it’s a crossover.]”
All events are also crossovers. “Events have farther ramifications,” said Damion, and typically limited series are released as part of the event.
The hosts then went on to talk about some of the biggest and best crossover events they’ve loved over the years from both Marvel and DC.
Understandably confused with Secret Wars II (1985), Secret Wars (2015), and Secret War (2004); the major Marvel crossover event in the summer of 1984 was the first Secret Wars. In the event, an entity called The Beyonder brings the heroes and villains of the Marvel universe all together on Battleworld. “It was literally a god playing with superheroes,” said Taliesin.
The tie-in toys created for the event brought back fun memories for Taliesin and Damion, and the event itself had a lasting impact on the Marvel universe. Spider-Woman Julia Carpenter was introduced in the limited series, along with the debut of Spider-Man’s black costume that would later be revealed to be an alien symbiote. Even better, the series introduced readers to characters they might not have been familiar with.
“It introduces everyone and tries to put [readers] on a level playing field as it tells the story,” said Amy.
(Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton)
The 1991 crossover event The Infinity Gauntlet pitted just about all of the heroes of the Marvel universe against Thanos in an unforgettable series. Adam Warlock (“big gold space Jesus,” described Matt and Taliesin) played an important role in the story, organizing the heroes in their fight–and getting a few of them killed along the way.
“It’s a nice, weird, little self-contained book,” said Taliesin.
“Infinity Gauntlet, in a lot of ways, set the stages for the nineties,” said Matt. Infinity War and Infinity Crusade soon followed.
(Marvel Comics, Jim Starlin and George Pérez)
Hal Jordan transforms into the villain Parallax in this 1994 DC Comics event. He attempts to destroy and remake the DC Universe according to his own desires, and it’s up to Earth’s heroes to stop their one-time friend. With Kyle Raynor taking the spotlight as Green Lantern, the crossover endeared that character to new readers. It’s the reason companies do huge events, said Matt, to bring new readers to characters they might not otherwise encounter.
“[Zero Hour is] very underrated,” said Taliesin. “It’s showing its age a little bit, but once you’re comfortable reading an older book, there’s a lot to like in there.”
(DC Comics, Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway)
The showdown everyone wanted to see finally happened in this 1996 event. Heroes from the DC Comics and Marvel Comics would battle, and reader votes determined the winner. Hulk vs. Superman, Storm vs. Wonder Woman, Flash vs. Quicksilver: They were the matches comic book readers dreamed of.
“We had a three month long debate about who would win, Superman or Thor, at my comic book store when I was a kid,” Taliesin happily recalled.
The crossover later led to Amalgam Comics, merging together characters from DC and Marvel into new incarnations.
(DC Comics and Marvel Comics, Ron Marz, Peter David, Dan Jurgens, Claudio Castellini)
All of the DC universe’s deceased heroes and villains–including Barry Allen–return from the dead in the Green Lantern-centric event Blackest Night. While opinions on the event are divided among the hosts (and fans), Amy experienced the event “live” as one of her first introductions to the DC Universe when she began working in a comic shop.
“For me, it was perfect, because they kept explaining who everyone was,” she said. “They would take [Barry Allen] around the universe explaining everything that had changed.”
“That’s one of the powers of the event,” said Damion, “that it brings in new readers.”
(DC Comics, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis)
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What is your favorite crossover event? Tell us in the comments.
Images: Geek & Sundry, Marvel Comics, DC Comics