It’s summer and that means that it’s time for Marvel and DC do to large company-wide crossovers that affect all of their books. We decided to look back over the years and select the ten most epic crossovers that Marvel and DC have done over the years. These are the ones that either had lasting effects on both universes or were just awesome in concept.
While Marvel had a Contest of Champions in 1982 and Secret Wars the year before, this is the big one and the one that really invented the massive universe-spanning crossover that would forever be copied. DC’s first attempt to repair their convoluted continuity with multiple versions of major characters not only changed the DC Universe forever, but also how fanboys talked about it. After this crossover, when discussing DC comics you had to clarify if you were talking “Pre-Crisis” or “Post-Crisis”. It was that big of a change.
Secret Wars, where the Marvel Heroes and Villains were teleported to Battleword to fight it out, was really just an excuse to sell toys. That said, the series is remembered for being one of the first epic stories that combined all of the Marvel characters and it did have lasting repercussions. New characters were introduced, others changed, and Spider-Man found a black suit (and we all know how that worked out).
Thanos takes the six Infinity Gems and puts them on his gauntlet and then wipes out half the life in the universe instantly. This was a cosmic crossover with the remaining heroes on Earth having to fight and defeat Thanos. In the end, everything is reset to how it was but for the last half of 1991 this was the crossover everyone was talking about.
Despite the attempt to fix the continuity with Crisis, there were still some nagging problems following it (Hawkman, for example) that needed to be fixed. This would actually be a vicious cycle for DC over the years, and one attempt to fix Post-Crisis continuity was Zero Hour. To do so Hal Jordan became Parallax, went insane, and decided to remake the universe to his liking.
In the Hulk comics, it was decided that Hulk was too dangerous for Earth so he was launched into space. The ship he was on crash landed on a planet where Hulk became a gladiator and eventual leader. That was Planet Hulk. World War Hulk is the sequel where Hulk returns to Earth for revenge…and he’s pissed.
House of M is a relatively recent crossover where the events are still being felt in the Mutant books to this day. When the Scarlet Witch has a mental breakdown, an alternate universe is created where Mutants rule the world. At the end of the main event, the world appears to have been returned to normal; except for the fact that the vast majority of the world’s Mutants have been de-powered.
The Black Lantern rings begin resurrecting dead DC heroes, and all of the other Lantern Corps (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Sapphire) have to deal with it. While some people may feel that this crossover turned the Corps into the Care Bear Corps, there are some awesome moments in the series. It was so popular, Marvel even copied it with an X-Men crossover around the same time.
I debated about whether or not to include Infinite Crisis on this list (the second Crisis), but decided that Final Crisis was bigger. While Grant Morrison gets some well deserved hate for what he did on X-Men, Final Crisis was pretty awesome and it lead right into Blackest Night. Even bigger, Batman broke his “no killing” rule to kill Darkseid right before Darkseid’s Omega Beams killed him.
The aftermath of Civil War is a very dumb time for Marvel comics. From the death of Captain America to the mind-numbingly stupid changes to Spider-Man that drove readers away in droves; it had probably the worst effect on any comic universe of any crossover on this list. But the main event was pretty cool with Iron Man and Captain America on opposite sides of the core issue and other heroes having to choose sides.
This was a crossover that just had an awesome concept. Taking the idea that the 1 millionth issue of a DC comic would appear in the 853rd century; Grant Morrison sets the story there. There weren’t any lasting effects on the DCU with this one, but the characters from the 853rd century do pop up from time to time; most recently in Superman/Batman just a few months ago.