Monday, October 15, 2012

Retro Review: Spider-man/Batman

This was the first Marvel or DC comic I bought with my own money. Sure I had bought comic books before this, Ninja Turtles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Nintendo comics, but never Marvel or DC. I had read some various Marvel and DC comics, mostly from an older cousin or at friends house, and I had watched the 90's Batman, X-men, and Spider-man cartoons up until this point but Marvel and DC just seemed so daunting. I didn't know where to start. And then I saw this. Batman and Spider-man together? I thought, how the fuck is that even possible? But I loved both of their cartoons so I had to get this.

There are two types of inter company crossovers, the type where it is acknowledged that the two franchises exist in separate universe and the meeting occurs through some time of dimension hopping, such as JLA/Avengers, or this type where we just pretend they exist in the same world and for some reason have just never run into each other before. I prefer the former, as those are at least arguably in continuity, but if you just take them as an 'Elseworlds' type story the latter can be fun too. The fact that this book just pretends Spidey and Batman exist in the same world actually pissed me off a little as a kid. I felt a little ripped off having paid six bucks for a story that didn't 'count'. But it was still a damn good story.

Our story starts off with some brief introductions to Spider-man and Batman, recapping their origins and explaining what the deal is with each of them. Then we get into the meat of things. We see Spidey at Ravencroft, he has been asked to help them transport Carnage to Gotham where both he and the Joker are going to undergo an experimental procedure. Both of them are going to have a chip implanted in their brain that will make them docile as kittens. This book does briefly touch on the, shall we say questionable morality of forced brain surgery, but those deeper questions are quickly brushed aside in favor of the coolness factor. I mean this issue has Joker and Carnage in it, you really want to stop and have a fucking philosophical debate here people? Yeah, I didn't think so.

So it appears that the procedure was a smashing success. Both Carnage and Joker are now completely non violent and the Carnage symbiote is dormant. But of course it's fucking not. Carnage goes all symbiote on us, saying his little alien buddy actually shorted out the chip as soon as they put it in but he wanted to wait for the perfect time to strike. He grabs Joker, and despite the intervention of Spider-man and Batman, manages to get away. He takes Joker to an abandoned warehouse, because Gotham has more of those then Detroit, and slips a symbiote tendril up Joker's nose to short out his chip. Joker and Carnage become buddies because they are both murderous nihilistic assholes, and decide to work together. Joker shares his plan to poison orphans with Carnage and Carnage is not impressed, declaring that plan too slow and fucking boring. The two argue for a bit, Joker making the interesting statement that he considers himself the "Orson Welles of murder" but Carnage is just the "David Hasselhoff" The two sorta part ways, but both end up attacking the same place in Gotham at the same time. Spider-man takes down the Joker, and Batman takes down Carnage. The two heroes shake hands and go their separate ways.

This was a blast, two of my favorite heroes, two of my favorite villains. Even re-reading it, I was impressed with how good it is. Aside from JLA/Avengers I think this is my all time favorite inter company crossover, and like I mentioned before, I've read a ton. I've often commented on how similar Joker and Carnage are, but this demonstrates how different they are also. I also loved how at first Batman is a douche to Spider-man, with the whole "Get out of my city" and "I don't need your help" schtick of his. Batman is such an asshole sometimes. Spidey of course lets Batman's dickishness roll off his back with his typical good natured humor. The art is by Mark Bagely and it is just beautiful. The final fight scene with Batman and Carnage leaves a little to be desired, you would expect Batman to pull out a sonic or fire based weapon, but he literally just punches Carnage out. Yeah, I call bullshit on that. But other then that, this one shot was a blast and if you haven't read it, you should be rushing to your local comic book shop right now and pulling this gem out of the back issue bin.

1 comment:

  1. I really, really like it as well. One of my favourites. And I find it off Battsy tolerates Spidey at all. I did find Carnage watered down but he's been like this since Maximum Carnage and it's sad to say I don't see it changing...

    As far as alt. universes goes... I just consider, Marvel comics has it's own universe and DC has it's own... but analogues of each hero exist in both realities. So 'DC's' Superman exists in DC comics, but Superman also exists in Marvel, albeit with a lesser profile - for whatever reason - than he has in DC.

    That can also go for Marvel. So Marvel heroes exist in the DC universe, but less of a profile.

    So this explains some things. For example, in Nightwing, at one point the Batman / Punisher team-ups are mentioned as in continuity for DC, but how can they be? It wasn't that Punisher was from another reality, he was part of the same reality as Nightwing, Azrael, Batman etc.

    Also, 'Clark Kent', 'Lois Lane' and 'Jimmy Olsen' keep appearing in the MU all over the place. The Joker and Two-Face were often drawn into scenes in a cameo role by Mark Bagley in the 90's.

    So when I read the DC / Marvel team-ups, unless the book states clearly they are from opposite universes - i.e. the 'truth' DC / Marvel guys, then they are simply less famous analogues in each universe. Does that make sense?

    Now to why the heroes keep forgetting each other... well, this IS the MU where Wolverine learned Spidey's ID four times and kept forgetting it (Bendis had him learn it twice alone!). So who knows what heroes forget?