It was twenty years ago today, Dr. Strangefate saved the day.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly 20 years ago, to the day, and I am no Lennon/ McCartney, but that does not change the facts.
The Amalgam line of comics, one of the most interesting and singular events of comic publishing, ever, debuted twenty years ago!
The Amalgam line of comics spun out of the much hyped, Marvel Vs. DC (or was it DC Vs. Marvel) miniseries.
This miniseries pitted characters from each of Big Two against one another to once and for all settle the nerd-arguments of who would win.
There were eleven fights in all, with fans deciding the result of five of them.
Aquaman beat Namor. (No way!).
Elektra overcame Catwoman. (A peculiar matchup, but I could see it going either way).
Flash outraced Quciksilver. (No contest).
Robin (Tim Drake) defeated Jubilee. (Another peculiar matchup, but I won’t argue the result).
Silver Surfer bested Green Lantern (Kirby FTW!).
Thor was victorious in combat vs
Captain Marvel Shazam. (A push, could have gone either way).
And in the fan-voting: Superman over Hulk (No. Way.), Spider-Man over Superboy (It was the 90s, but Spidey still gets the edge), Batman over Captain America (My heart says this is a push, but I will say Batman has a slight edge), Wolverine over Lobo (See Spidey and Superboy, but yeah Wolverine. Snikt!), and Storm over Wonder Woman (Nope).
This event itself was pretty huge, although there had been battles between singular heroes (and team vs. team matchups) in the past, this was far more epic and orchestrated.
Prior to this epic series all we had were Supes vs Spidey (which came before Superman vs Muhammad Ali), Supes and Spidey, Batman vs Hulk, Uncanny X-Men vs. The New Teen Titans, Batman/ Punisher, Darkseid vs. Galactus, and Spidey and Batman. And, unofficially, we had Mantis in the Justice League (Justice League of America #142) .
Post-Amalgam, there have been more, but that is neither here nor there.
Although these crossovers were uncommon, they did happen. And of course, the Big Two often had nerd fun with their own publishing.
And sometimes real life made it even more interesting.
The premise of Amalgam was simple: The Big Two universes merged, creating a new universe. Characters in this Amalgamated Universe consisted on one part Marvel, and one part DC.
The internet is awesome, and you can very easily find a breakdown of all the titles, instead how about i give you some highlights: John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, Ron Marz, Mark Waid, Jim Balent, John Ostrander, and Mike Wieringo were all involved with Amalgam books released in 1996. So, this was not a shim-sham event, they brought out the big guns. In terms of original ideas, Assassins gets my vote! Catsai (Elektra+Catwoman) and Dare the Terminator (Daredevil+Deathstroke)! The latter sounds like it should be an MC name. What was coolest… they were both female!
Twelve titles were released, and we all thought that was cool. Until…
DC/Marvel: All Access, a miniseries that continued the story of Access, the character who can move between the worlds. Most notable is this cover, which is just too cute. In this series we got more fighting.
Until 1997, when a second wave of Amalgam-verse titles were released!!!
Once again, they got some pretty big names, though I would argue, none as big as Byrne, but this time, the creators were more relevant to the time period: Peter Milligan, Priest, Kurt Busiek, Bryan Hitch, and John Romita Jr. The latter had the book that in my opinion encapsulated a perfect amalgam, one that made a reader say “Sweet Christmas! Why had no one thought of this before?” Thorion of the New Asgods! Unless Kirby came back, or Tom Scioli could be had, the art is absolutely spot-on! Find this in the your local back issue bins and pick it up now!
And after this wave of Amalgam titles was over, another miniseries came out: Unlimited Access, this one was awesome because it gave us even more amalgams!
And of course, it was the 90s, so there were trading cards, which gave us more details about the Amalgam-verse.
If you’re obsessive, as I have been known to be, you might love perusing the wikipedia stuff for Amalgam, but before wikipedia, there was this site which remains the definitive source for the deep cuts.
But, you’re probably saying, it is done, forgotten, a footnote in comic history, perhaps worthy of entry with a numerical Marvel Earth designation, but little else. Certainly, there were less issues published than for Heroes Reborn, which also happened around this time. Or, what about John Byrne’s Genesis, which
we can only no one hopes is coming back with the DC Rebirth non-event.
Wrong! It lives on, in the hearts of fans, some of whom are creators. Joe Mad (above) even gets involved, because that guy isn’t a fan! Bendis pranks us all on March 31, two years ago.
But then Secret Wars and Convergence happened. And at AoG HQ, as we tend to do, we got out the white boards and started speculating… talk about a perfect cap to these two very similar events, the return of Amalgam comics!
It didn’t happen, or should I say, it hasn’t happened yet!
NOTE: Most of the art below is from various artists on the interwebs, and not necessarily reflective of what my art direction would be, but also is a fine example of the thriving community of people interested in the amalgam concept.
It’s fun to see what other amalgams are out there. Take a character or characters you like and see what folks have created. I like the idea of amalgam so much that my home RPG campaign is set in an amalgam universe. I let the players come up with ideas for amalgams, not just for their player-characters, but for some NPCs as well. It is awesome, because we I introduce a new character, I say they are an amalgam of X and Y, and just knowing that gives the players some info about what to expect.
Because my home game has been going on for so long, and so many characters have been made, I can say that some of the amalgams work, and some also work, just not as well. So, I think about what I would do if I could make an amalgam-verse. Boy, have I put too much thought into this over these many years, and now you get to see some the results of my madness.
I think for an amalgam to be successful, they should capture the core essence of the character, as well as the related characters. So, as much as I think the idea of a Batman+Daredevil amalgam is awesome in so many ways, it fails because DD doesn’t have nearly the supporting cast that Batman does, I am thinking specifically of members of the Bat-family, sidekicks and the like. So, I have to chalk this one up as a non-starter.
I always come back to the Big Three, resolve these characters and I think much of the rest will fall into place.
Superman: Noble, heroic, and several characters with related powers and origins.
Captain America seems like a good choice, but after years of deliberation, I think I have an even better amalgamation.
And then falling into place are: Powergirl+Jessica Drew, Ben Reilly+Superboy, Supergirl+Silk! Etc… I call this one a success!
Onto the Dark Knight. The stumbling block with him has always been the sidekicks. The sidekicks need to work. And who in Marvel has embraced this trope of sidekicks? Captain America. I don’t have a name for my amalgam yet, my creativity often fails me with some of the details, but I present to you the 2nd of the Trinity:
Batman+Captain America! This one works especially well when all the dominoes fall into place: Falcon+Nightwing. Black Widow+Batgirl. And, most significantly, the two most famous dead sidekicks now amalgamated into one… The Red Soldier!
Onto the last of the Trinity, Wonder Woman. (whenever I put those words together, I always hear the Lynda Carter show music!) I have considered many ideas over the years, and am going to present an idea so out there many will call me crazy. (too late).
Wonder Woman+Iron Fist.
I couldn’t an amalgam for this pairing, so the image to the left will have to…. suffice. Female, of course. Champion of a people from a mystic locale? Check. Mystical origin? Check. I considered many other combinations, but this one feels right, and works. You might be asking, what about Troia? What about Luke? I have to be honest here, this idea is so full of awesome-sauce, I know when Quesada and Didio get in touch with me, working with Johns and Bendis I will work out those minor details.
Maybe this character might look more like this?
I think there is a lot of potential with this Amalgam-verse, and I know I will continue working on this project, because I’m nerdy like that.
I know in my heart, that Grant Morrison has Secret Convergence Wars all plotted out somewhere, and we will get together and realize how great minds do indeed think alike.
MAKE MINE AMALGAM!