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Comic Book / Deathmate


"Their love will end worlds!"
Deathmate advertisement; it proved to be right in an ironic way.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a tragic story. Once there were two friends who worked at two different comic companies. Steve Massarsky worked for Valiant Comics, and Jim Lee worked for Image Comics. The two came up with an idea: why not initiate an Intercontinuity Crossover? After all, it's The '90s and crossovers are all the rage!

So, having arranged the crossover, called Deathmate, each company gets to work. Billed as "THE BIGGEST CROSS-OVER EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF COMICS!!" Deathmate was doomed from the start. Designated by color rather than issue numbers (namely Yellow, Blue, Black, and Red) plus two book-end issues, "Deathmate Prologue" and "Deathmate Epilogue", the four main issues were written so they (in theory) could be read in any order. In practice, however, they were a disjointed and snarled mess, not at all helped by the Valiant side keeping a tight editorial leash, and the Image side letting the writers and artists do whatever they wanted.

The premise behind Deathmate was weak to begin with: Solar: Man of the Atom, and WildC.A.T.s' Void met, had sex, and this "begins to unravel the strands of time, creating an Alternate Universe where Image and Valiant characters exist side by side".

If the weak premise wasn't bad enough, Valiant's and Image's writers knew nothing about the other company's characters, resulting in a ton of Character Derailment, even though most of Image's side barely qualified as "characters" to begin with. The art, done in the over-the-top Image style, was disgusting to behold, and to top it all off, Deathmate may have been responsible for The Great Comics Crash of 1996.

You see, Valiant (as a byproduct of its unique real-time continuity system) was super serious about shipping schedules and deadlines, and produced all its contributions on time. Image, on the other hand, was notorious for its Schedule Slip, so, the Valiant half of Deathmate was produced on time, but the Image half was produced late. (Rob Liefeld produced his issue, Deathmate Red, a year late, and his contribution to the Valiant-published Prologue issue was completed only after Valiant editor-in-chief Bob Layton came to his house, refused to leave until it was done and inked it in a hotel room.)

By the time the Image half came out, interest in it had dried up, but shop owners had pre-ordered massive numbers of issues when the cross-over had started, and were now left with mountains of unsaleable comics. This, more than any other single event, contributed to the collapse of the comic industry in the '90s. Deathmate was also one of the events that lead to the fall of Valiant Comics, as it flooded the company with Image artists, and caused a fundamental shift in the way the company was run.

The advertisement for Deathmate said "Their love will end worlds!" While it was talking about Solar and Void, it could also be said to be true of Valiant and Image. This disastrous "pairing" did indeed destroy worlds: It destroyed the world where the comic book industry makes $500 million per year. It destroyed the world where Valiant Comics so much as existed, much less was the third highest selling comic company. And it destroyed the world of small comic book shops, many of which went out of business.

Not ever to be confused with Death Note, which thankfully had a set schedule, cohesion, and didn't end up crippling its own medium.

In 2016, a new take on the DeathMate storyline was confirmed to be in the works - one that should hopefully avoid crashing the industry again.


  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: People fleeing Toyo Harada's dystopia live in the sewer.
  • Canon Welding: Due to Doctor Solar and Void making out in Unreality, the Image Comics and Valiant Comics universes combine.
  • Crossover: Of Image Comics and Valiant Comics.
  • Dystopia: Two of them: one ruled by the genocidal tyrant Toyo Harada and another controlled by Mother May I.
  • Deus ex Machina / Eleventh Hour Superpower: Union somehow shields the two universes from the effects of Void and Solar kissing.
  • Legacy Character: The Geomancers.
  • Punny Name: Mother May I.
  • Puppet King: The Council that supposedly rule along side Mother May I is actually controlled by the latter.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Many subplots are left unresolved such as Ivar and Adam going to the past to find the Geomancer of that era, or Magnus trying to kill Battlestone and overthrowing Toyo Harada. The destruction of the combined universe means these plotlines will never be resolved.

Alternative Title(s): Death Mate